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Cauliflower (and Butternut Squash) Cheese with Wild Garlic

Comfort eating? Me? Never.

A global pandemic and international quarantine seemed as good a time as any to show my face on my own website again. Sharing recipes with you feels like a nice way to use the approximately six million hours a week of spare time I have on my hands now that I’m not allowed to go the pub, see any of my friends or family or even venture outside of my own postcode.

A recipe for wild garlic feels all of a sudden potentially less useful now that you might not be permitted to wander about foraging for it. I was lucky enough to get a bag in this week’s Riverford box, so I hope some of you might find a way to track it down, too. If not, you could try baking whole cloves of garlic with the cauliflower and squash to achieve a similar flavour.

Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Cheese with Wild Garlic

I roast the cauliflower as opposed to boil it for this recipe. I avoid boiling vegetables wherever I can – a habit I adopted from my Mum, who insists that boiling them reduces their nutritional content in some way. I’ve never thought to check, but trust her blindly on these matters. Everything tastes better roasted anyway, there’s something so boring about boiling a vegetable.

This would serve as a beautiful side to roast chicken or a nut loaf, or you could add cooked pasta just before the second bake to make it a main course in itself. Personally, I shoved half of this tray down me without accompaniment before work, and it was the highlight of my day.

Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Cheese with Wild Garlic

1 whole cauliflower
½ a butternut squash

50g butter
2 tbsps flour
600ml milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
150g cheddar
Big handful wild garlic

  1. Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 6 (180 fan).
  2. Prepare the vegetables for roasting first. Cut the cauliflower in to florets. Chop the butternut squash in to very small pieces (it cooks more slowly than cauli, so we need to keep them small so that they can keep up). Arrange in a roasting tin that they fill comfortably. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are baking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook for a minute or so. A paste(ish) should form. Gradually add milk a splash at a time, stirring constantly, until you’ve got a thick sauce.
  5. Keep the sauce on a very low heat, thickening all the time, while you (very finely) chop your wild garlic and grate your cheese.
  6. Pour the grated cheese (reserving some for sprinkling on the top) and wild garlic in to the sauce, along with the dollop of mustard, and stir to combine. Take off the heat.
  7. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked vegetables and stir to coat. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top and bake for a further 25 minutes.

I hope you’re all keeping safe and happy, in whatever ways you’re able. Eat as well as you can within the parameters of our new reality and look after yourself. You know where I am should things get weird or lonely or scary or boring.

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Vegetarian Sausage and Marmite Casserole

I’ve decided in this – the second week of October – to accept that Autumn is our current reality. Freshly laundered clothes will no longer dry in a matter of hours, beer gardens are cancelled until further notice, darkness reigns on the way too and from work but, most importantly, the le creuset is back on top of the cooker and ready to make me feel better.

You’ll have to excuse the potentially poor formatting in this recipe, I’m in between laptops and using the app but wanted to get it out into the world before I forget. It’s a quick, cheap, easily repeatable vegetarian meal – and I know that’s what you come to me for.

Serves 4

2 carrots / 4 potatoes / 1 onion / 1 leek / 4-8 vegetarian sausages / 1 litre stock / 2 heaped tbsps plain flour / 1 heaped tsp soft dark brown sugar / 1 heaped tbsp marmite

Cook sausages according to pack instructions (I use Quorn frozen, 18 mins at 180)

Peel and roughly chop the carrots, onions and potatoes into medium chunks (see pictures if you’re not sure on what ‘medium’ should look like). Cut leek down the middle to wash (they can get mud and grit almost through to the centre) then roughly chop those too.

Put a heavy based saucepan or casserole dish on a high heat and add 1-2 tbsps oil (rapeseed, olive, vegetable, whatever you have).

Add all the vegetables and the flour, and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add stock and stir to ensure flour has dissolved into it, then add marmite and sugar.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes, adding the sausages as soon as they’re finished in the oven.

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5-Ingredient Carrot and Feta Fritters

I’m of the opinion that fritters are really quite good at capturing the tail end of summer and the very beginnings of autumn. They’re best served with fresh, crunchy salad, but are themselves shallow fried, edging us in to the comfort of stodgier treats to come.

Plus, they’re orange.

Anything that practically brings itself together and has an ingredients list I can count on one hand is always alright by me, and this ticks both of those boxes. You can whip up a quick salad while the fritters are frying and have the whole shebang on the table in 15-20 minutes, if you’re inclined towards speedier kitchen habits.

If I could give you two tips, they’d be the following:

  • Serve the fritters with sweet chilli sauce, or a spicy chutney, anything sweet and dippable, it brings everything together beautifully.
  • When clearing up afterwards, pour excess oil into a container for recycling (this is a thing) and then mop up the very last dregs with kitchen towel before attempting to wash up, to avoid greasy slicks in the sink that take 3-5 business days to disappear

Makes 6 fritters

2-3 medium sized carrots, coarsely grated
1 block feta, crumbled
3 cloves garlic, grated/minced
2 tbsps plain flour
2 large eggs, beaten
(dried mint or parsley are welcome but non-essential)

  1. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to fully combine.
  2. Heat 1cm of oil (vegetable, rapeseed and sunflower are all fine, olive oil is not recommended due to smoke point but I’m sure you can get away with it in an emergency) in a heavy based or non-stick frying pan.
  3. Divide the batter into roughly six gently flattened mounds and add to the pan.
  4. Fry until golden brown on the underside (around 4-5 minutes or so but keep a close eye) then flip and fry for a few minutes longer.
  5. Remove from the pan onto kitchen towel to soak up excess oil.
  6. Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.

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