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Brassica Tacks

I love broccoli. I love this much-maligned brassica so much that I get withdrawal pangs if I go too long with it. I love it so much I may have entered into broccoli eating contests with a friend on occasion. So imagine the excitement I felt when I discovered the new world of cape broccoli at the farmers’ market on Sunday…

This excites me far more than the oh-so fashionable purple sprouting broccoli, which can have very woody stalks and a slightly fusty flavour. It looks much prettier to me even if it is basically a purple cauliflower. I was intrigued to know how it would taste and would the colour last on cooking?

I decided to try some of it slightly steamed as I would with the normal stuff, but to encorporate the rest in this delicious sounding dish of slow cooked broccoli with buttermilk and serve it with pasta for a brassica-tastic midweek dinner. I am well known for my tendency to under cook broccoli so I thought I would challenge myself with this different style of dish.

I went for half cape broccoli and half regular broccoli with this very easy to make dish and it looked fantastic in the pan. I added an anchovy to the recipe for a bit more oomph, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. This all required about 5 minutes preparation, before simply leaving it to gently simmer for around an hour.

Unfortunately, this made my entire flat smell like a cheap boarding house as the dreaded musty sulphurous smell of overcooked brassicas permeated everything while it simmered. I figured I could overlook this minor annoyance since the dish was bound to taste delicious. I decided to serve it with pasta and while my bucatini cooked, I took the broccoli off the heat and added the lemon zest and buttermilk, along with some grated parmesan before plating up.

The broccoli did not look at all appealing at this stage. It looked like suspiciously how I imagine ectoplasm might look if you are unlucky enough to have a poltergeist about the house. But I refused to judge this book by its cover and tucked right in…and was instantly disappointed.

This just tasted of watery overcooked broccoli with a slightly warming kick from the chili. Admittedly it would have been better with pasta shapes so that the pasta and the sauce mixed better, but this shouldn’t really have affected the taste. I just think the long slow cooking actually cooked the taste right out of this lovely vegetable.

I ate the lot because after waiting an hour for it to cook, I was starving and because I can’t bear to squander food. But I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this dish and feel that I rather wasted my poor cape broccoli on it. I will be sticking to my tried and tested 3 minutes steaming in the microwave with broccoli in the future and leaving longer cooking of brassicas back in the 50s where they deserve to stay!

Lemon Cupcakes

As you probably all know, cupcakes are the sweet treat du jour so when I was invited out for a rather girlie teaparty this Sunday, it seemed like the perfect excuse to use the copy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook I was given for Christmas since this bakery is one of the hottest cupcake spots in London.

I flipped through this stylish little number several times for inspiration before deciding that since there would be many other sweetmeats at the tea party, I would go for lemon cupcakes as hopefully the citrus would be sharp and cleansing after tonnes of sugar. Plus I had accumulated a lot of lemons in the fruit bowl…

The recipe seemed straightforward, except that it calls for an electric mixer or whisk to make the batter. I don’t usually bake this way, so I was a little bit apprehensive about how easy this would be since I only have the whisk attachment to my handblender. I feared it would make more of a mess (and washing-up!) than the usual hand made method, but I figured there was only one way to find out!

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