I enjoy a gathering with close friends around a table full of delicious food at any time of the year and time of the day. Yet, there is something extra-special about a table illuminated by the Spring sun on a Bank holiday Sunday. What is even better is a lunch that gradually turns into a dinner, while the wine still flows and the food resources seem endless. That’s the kind of lunch/dinner I had with my dearest friends recently, to celebrate Easter and the first rays of the warm(ish) sun. To accentuate the lightness of the day, I chose white linens and white tableware, with a little accent of colour coming from the flowers. The food was also all about the lovely contrast of pale and bright colours, as well as creamy textures and sharp flavours.
Our entree was a plate of beetroot pickled eggs stuffed with herbs. Followed by a creamy cauliflower soup with herby dressing. For main we enjoyed a creamy mushroom pie served with roasted new potatoes and a crunchy salad of broccoli, sugar peas and asparagus. The desert will be left out of the picture until I find the tune the recipe well enough for sharing. The meal was enhanced with some wonderful drinks: a white wine Sangria, and some beautiful South African wines – a red Cab Sav from Vergelegen and an amazing ‘special edition’ white from Steenberg. Add to that the wonderful company of the people I love, and I think this day would be by Groundhog Day of choice.
Cauliflower soup with roasted hazelnuts and a herb dressing
for the soup
1 large cauliflower
2 large shallots
3 large cloves of garlic
100 gr unsalted butter
100 ml double cream
Maldon sea salt
for the dressing
lemon juice, 1/4 lemon
1. Roughly chop the shallots and garlic and fry them on a medium heat in a pot until softened in butter and oil with a pinch of salt.
2. Roughly divide the cauliflower into florets, chop them into equal size chunks and add to the pot.
3. Keep adding a bit of water to prevent sticking and burning.
4. Once the cauliflower softens add more water (or veggie stock) to just cover the florets and cook for another 20 min. Add more salt if needed
5. Add the cream and using a hand blender blitz the soup until it reaches a smooth creamy consistency. Add cream/water and seasoning if required.
6. Leave to rest.
In the meantime
1. Toast the hazelnuts till golden brown (or even a tiny bit burnt)
2. In a food processor combine fresh parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and quickly whiz together
Ladle the soup, sprinkle with crushed hazel nuts and drizzle the herby dressing in circular motion