Cauliflower soup – getting ready for the cold days

At the market, last weekend, I was looking for some veggies to make some soup. In the summer, I like the soups where you can still detect the original ingredients, the types of soups that we have in South-Eastern Europe, however autumn time is a different story. Then, I really love a hearty, creamy, rich soup. 

And this time the cauliflower draw my attention…together with some celeriac since was laying all alone next to the cauliflower. Since both are very earthy, thought they will marry perfectly in a soup. To bring in some extra flavour, I just added some watercress and crispy bacon on top.

cauliflower and celeriac soup with crispy bacon and watercress

2 tablespoons olive oil

one large onion or 2 shallots

3 garlic cloves

thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg

3 cups vegetable broth

1 head of cauliflower

1/2 celeriac root

watercress

few slices of bacon

 

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened. Add chopped garlic and the thyme, cook until the garlic softens, add the cauliflower florets and the cubed celeriac. Sautee them and the add the broth, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover the pot and bring to
a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer, keep covered, and let cook until the cauliflower and the celeriac are tender. 

Puree with an immersion blender. Serve warm topped with crispy bacon, watercress or shredded cheese.

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Papoutsaki, the most delicious shoes ever

The greek flavours are coming come back to my blog. This time in the form of papoutsakia. The little fancy shoes are great either as main dish or as an appetizer. This dish came to mind when I have seen the September challenge of the  Dulce Romanie Project . unfortunately, I couldn’t participate to this contest during the previous months even though I would’ve loved to do it, the proposed ingredients were simply great. This time, the dishes had to contain one of the following ingredients: eggplant and/or pear. As I couldn’t find any pears at the market and all the greek flavours that I encountered during my holidays in Greece were still fresh in my mind, I made some papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia consists mainly of stuffed eggplants topped with bechamel sauce.

The name – little shoes come from the fact that the eggplant sliced in half and stuffed with aromas, veggies and meat resembles some pretty shoes. Ok, ok  – not really Manolo Blahnik material, but pretty damn tasty ones.

papoutsakia

serves 2

Stuffed eggplants

2 large eggplants

1 big onion

2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts chopped in small pieces or 250 grams ground meat

one can of tomatoes or 300 grams chopped tomatoes

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt, pepper, oregano

graviera or kefalotyri cheese

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the eggplant flesh using a spoon and a knife. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with salt and let them “sweat”for 10 minutes, Meanwhile chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh and cook them olive oil, in a pan over medium fire, until browned and wilted.

Separately, pat dry the eggplant shells and then grill them until they soften slightly without loosing their shape.

In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and over medium high heat, cook the onion until golden brown and soft. Add the garlic, cook it for 30 seconds and then add the ground meat and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Add the cooked eggplant flesh, season everything with salt and pepper and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, oregano, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 30-40 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat and set meat sauce aside.

 
Bechamel sauce

30 grams butter

30 grams flour

250 ml milk

1 egg

125 grams graviera or kefalotyri  cheese

1 half teaspoon nutmeg

salt, pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, over low heat, and as soon as it starts bubbling stir in the flour,  whisking constantly until the flour gets slightly toasted. Add in the milk and continue whisking for about 8–10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, add 125 grams of graviera or kefalotyri  cheese and the egg. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven at 170-200C. Set the eggplant shells in a baking tray, spoon the meat sauce in the shells.  Spoon bechamel sauce over the shells, sprinkle graviera or kefalotyri  cheese (gouda  and parmesan cheese in my case, since I couldn’t find any greek cheese around) and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top of the eggplants reaches a golden brown colour and the eggplants are tender and cooked throughout.