Healthy and delicious

 

It's pizza, but not as you know it. Crumbed and roasted cauliflower makes a gluten-free alternative to dough, writes DOMINI KEMP

My sister-in-law is gorgeous. Doris Choi is a raw food, detoxing New York chef and is absolute proof that you are what you eat. She wasn’t always this abstemious, but a few years ago she hooked up with raw food guru Natalia Rose and together they have combined their talents in the recently published, Fresh Energy Cookbook.

It’s a great book full of interesting nutritional bits about detoxing, food combining and making the body less acidic, all of which to help promote a better, healthier lifestyle.

I can attest to the fact that Choi’s food is great. Every summer she comes to Brittas Bay to spend two weeks in the freezing cold with her Irish husband, their baby son and extended family. Together, we cook up vast quantities of food each night – some healthy, some not so healthy – for a massive number of friends, family and a herd of children. I love hanging out with her in the kitchen.

Each year, we swap notes, recipes and ideas, as well as drink a beer on the sly and steal the children’s crisps. (Yes, even health-nut-angels can fall off their perch for a pack of Tayto.)

So I was delighted to get a copy of her book from Amazon. I knew that December was not the time to introduce these recipes, but that January is. With cupboards bare of chocolate and crisps, it’s time to let the games begin.

This cauliflower pizza is superb. I am a big, big fan of cauliflower but tend just to roast it with curry powder, turmeric, olive oil and a little salt. In this recipe, the florets get blitzed to form cauliflower crumbs that then get bound up with some goat’s cheese and an egg. When you spread it out and bake it, you end up with a fabulous golden brown base that is veggie, gluten-free and very good for you.

The kedgeree was also fantastic – the three-year-old wolfed it down after some adjustments were made to it (see below) and it will definitely fit into a midweek supper repertoire. It took less than 45 minutes from start to table.

CAULIFLOWER, COURGETTE AND GOAT’S CHEESE PIZZA

This would easily serve four to six, but it is quite more-ish and surprisingly filling. I think it’s better when it cools down to room temperature. I used Old MacDonnells Farm goat’s cheese, though St Tola would also be soft enough to use.

For the base

1 head cauliflower

200g soft goat’s cheese

1 egg

1 tsp dried thyme

Sauce

Good glug olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 red pepper, cored and roughly chopped

Pinch chilli flakes

1 tin tomatoes

1-2 tsp dried oregano

2 bay leaves

Pinch smoked sweet paprika or cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

Topping

1 courgette

Olive oil

Black pepper

100g of your favourite goat’s cheese

To make the base, remove the green stalks (these are good when you’re roasting cauliflower, but don’t work here) and cut or break the florets into small pieces. Blend in a food processor on pulse mode until you make white “breadcrumbs” that look a little damp. Don’t over process, but do make sure it’s fully ground up.

In a large bowl, mix the crumbs with the goat’s cheese, thyme and egg. It’s almost like beating sugar and butter together with no electric beater. I just did it with a spatula, and it’s easier if the cheese is soft and at room temperature. Eventually you will feel that everything isreasonably well distributed.

Get a baking tray or brownie tin and generously line it with parchment paper. Then spread the “dough” onto the paper and pat down with the spatula. Put another sheet of parchment over it and smooth out the cauliflower with your flat hands so that it spreads out to about half an inch inch thick. You can set this aside and chill it (even overnight), while the sauce is cooking away.

Cook the base on its own for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees/gas 6. It will start to look a little pale golden on top. Lift up the paper to check the underneath is okay. The edges may char a bit, but this is fine. Set aside to cool down.

Heat up the olive oil and sweat the garlic, onion and red pepper. Do this for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over gentle heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and when the sauce has cooled down, blitz until smooth in a blender. This will make too much sauce, but it can be frozen so you have some ready to go next time you want a homemade pizza sauce that’s a bit fruitier than normal.

Cut the courgette on a mandolin, or very finely with a knife. Toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

When you are ready to do the final 10 minutes of cooking, spread a few tablespoons of sauce onto the pizza base, then top with slivers of courgette and scatter some goat’s cheese on top. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cheese is just starting to melt.

Allow to cool and settle and serve. This is just as good cold, if not better.

KEDGEREE LIGHT

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

2 bunches spring onions, chopped

1 tbsp mild curry powder

150g mushrooms, finely sliced

300g brown basmati rice

Approximately 600ml vegetable stock

100g frozen peas

4 eggs

To garnish

Smoked mackerel

Chopped cherry tomatoes

Handful pistachio nuts

Bunch coriander or parsley

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and sweat the spring onions with the curry powder. Mix well, but be careful as it will burn quickly. Have the mushrooms ready to go in, as they will add some moisture to the pan. Then add the rice. Mix well so the grains are well coated and then add the stock. Put a tight fitting lid on the pot and cook for about 30 minutes over a gentle heat. Remove the lid; practically all of the water should be gone at this stage. Add the peas and put the lid back on and leave it to sit and steam. You can add the raw eggs now and stir them around. The heat will cook them, but if you feel you’ve lost too much temperature, you can heat it up for another minute or so.

If it’s too dry, add a splash of water from a boiled kettle. Or you can boil the eggs separately and serve them on top of the rice, with the chopped coriander, nuts, bits of smoked fish, cherry tomatoes, or even some avocado.

Whatever the troops fancy.

The Fresh Energy Cookbook by Natalia Rose and Doris Choi is available on amazon.com

DOMINI RECOMMENDS: Diana Henry’s book on preserving, Salt, Sugar, Smoke, is lovely to flick through as you contemplate a quiet January that could feature all the preserving you never did in December

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