My sister is a clever old thing: Editor, cookbook writer and restaurateur. She recently launched a cookbook, ‘Roots, Shoots & Leaves’, it is a vegetarians dream and an inspiration to those of us who find potato bake an adventurous veggie dish. Cover to cover, it’s packed with heirloom vegetables, drooling soups and sexy salads.
Here is an extract from her book:
'Why do I love heirloom vegetables? What is it that attracts me to them? For a start, it’s the rich romantic history inevitably attached to these ancient varieties. By definition, a true heirloom is one that has been open-pollinated (by bees or the wind), nurtured and handed down from one family member to another. I have always been drawn to the gnarled and knobbly shapes of those ancient varietals with their quirky names – Box Car Willy tomatoes, Purple Dragon carrots, Painted Lady beans – and all the unusual colours. Who knew that once upon a time carrots where purple? Long before the Dutch started mass-producing carrots and developing strains that were orange (to suit the nation’s favourite colour), carrots were long and thin – and purple! And before mass production, vegetables tasted the way they were meant to taste – full of flavour, with vibrant colours, interesting shapes and superior texture.'
Roots, Shoots & Leaves, by Bernadette Le Roux is available at Exclusive Books, Wordsworth and selected Pick n Pay stores countrywide. Or from her website www.livetoeat.co.za.
I am particularly fond of this recipe as it tastes like posh cauliflower and cheese sauce, but in a liquid form. I like a little melba toast with this too. Very moreish indeed!
2 leeks, finely sliced
1 small onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil
400 g cauliflower, broken into florets
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 cup (250 ml) cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 cup (250 ml) grated Parmesan, for the crisps
snipped chives, to serve
Sauté the leeks, onion and garlic in the butter and oil until softened. Add the potato and stock, bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potato has started to soften. Add the cauliflower and simmer for another 6 to 8 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. By this time the vegetables should be tender.
Remove from the heat and blend to a silky smooth consistency. Stir in the cream, lemon and mustard, and keep warm while you make the Parmesan crisps.
Using a greased baking tray, make 4 piles with the grated Parmesan and spread out slightly. Place in the oven under the grill, and grill until the Parmesan melts down and turns golden. (Watch closely!). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When the Parmesan cools it will harden, forming the ‘crisps’.
Garnish the soup with snipped chives and serve with Parmesan crisps on the side.