Piccalilli

Piccalilli is the perfect preserve for your festive table. Bite-sized pieces of Autumn vegetables fragrant with curry spices which is excellent with any kind of cheese or cold cut.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

There was one word with which people always used to describe me; my school teachers, my work colleagues, my family, friends, strangers on the bus, the butcher, the baker, the weirdo on the corner. All of them would mutter a singular word in my direction as I floated past, filofax in one hand, iphone in the other. Organised.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

I never really took kindly to that word, as surely it’s just another way of saying god she’s boring, always making those lists and getting things done. What a teacher’s pet. Boo, let’s all go off down the pub and leave her at home. Ha ha, what a loser.

I would also get the bum job of booking our holidays. This meant researching the itinerary, making a powerpoint with appropriately fun fonts to share with the world on a domain specifically bought for the purpose, taking all the photos on the trip then sorting them into the photobook on our return complete with on point bon mots, then printing them out for Christmas presents, sourcing personalised wrapping paper for every recipient and ribbons to match; finally making sure everything was couriered off a week before to ensure a proper punctual Christmas.

Ah, the good life. The me I knew and loved and now have lost. As then came baby.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

My house keys are currently misplaced. For the third time in the past month. No doubt I will find them in a shoe or the blender in a week or two. I have forgotten numerous vet appointments (sorry Billy Buddy), play dates (sorry Cole). I have been to weddings and sent thank you cards three months after the fact, if at all (sorry all of this year’s newlyweds). I have a multitude of blog posts half finished, mostly for recipes that are now irrelevant with the changing seasons. I haven’t been out for dinner in about four months as I can’t be bothered to find a babysitter and I’m now just about to cancel our anniversary holiday at the end of the month as I haven’t got around to booking the hotel as quite frankly it sounds more hassle than it’s worth. Just the thought of another wrestling match with the travel cot from hell is enough to make me shudder.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

There is one job though that I have forced myself to do, and blimey if I haven’t gone and completed it with weeks to spare. And that is my Piccalilli. To be fair, I had to finish it really as I’m planning on selling it at the Christmas fairs I am attending later this month and empty jars just don’t sell as well.

My Piccalilli is so important to make as it is the most popular preserve on my stall. Without fail it is the first to sell out but I have to make sure I keep a couple of jars back for my family each year, otherwise there will be cheese knives at dawn on Boxing Day if there is no Piccalilli to enjoy with the cold cuts.

For years I would make it just for us, sometimes along with another chutney or jam but the Piccalilli was the break out star and soon became the number one preserve that was clamoured for and I pretty much set my whole preserve stall up around it.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

Now is the best time to make it as although you can eat it freshly bottled and has a lovely bright taste if you do, if you allow the Piccalilli to rest for a few weeks, the vinegar has a chance to mellow and the spices are given room to breathe and really envelop the vegetables.

The only real labour of making a Piccalilli is the chopping of the vegetables which I like to be bite-sized so they can nestle happily in a sandwich or on a cracker without weighing it all down. The vegetables should then be brined overnight which helps them retain their crunch. Then all that’s left to do the next day is to quickly poach them in vinegar and sugar before adding them into your delicately spiced curry dressing. I stick to the traditional vegetables of cauliflower, green beans, cucumber and onions. Although by using romescu and purple cauliflower the Piccalilli is given wonderful texture and a beautiful rich colour.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

If you are thinking of making homemade gifts this year then I don’t think you can ever go wrong with chutneys and pickles, at least that’s what I say whenever I hand a festively wrapped jar over to an unsuspecting recipient. They always give a good show of being appreciative and that’s the main thing. Plus I think if I can pull myself together enough to knock up a few jars then it gives me hope that one day I can be that organised loser so beloved once more.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.
Print Recipe
Piccalilli
Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.
Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
10x 300ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 white cauliflower
  • 1 purple cauliflower
  • 1 romescu cauliflower
  • 800 g small onions
  • 700 g green beans
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 3 red chillies sliced
  • 100 g salt
  • 1500 g malt vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoons ground allspice
  • 525 g granulated sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • 50 g cornflour
  • teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder I used a Jamaican curry powder blend but any will do
  • 3 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
10x 300ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 white cauliflower
  • 1 purple cauliflower
  • 1 romescu cauliflower
  • 800 g small onions
  • 700 g green beans
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 3 red chillies sliced
  • 100 g salt
  • 1500 g malt vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoons ground allspice
  • 525 g granulated sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • 50 g cornflour
  • teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder I used a Jamaican curry powder blend but any will do
  • 3 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.
Instructions
  1. Cut the cauliflowers, onions, green beans and cucumbers into bite-sized pieces then place in a large bowl, along with the chillies and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day drain the vegetables and rinse with cold water to remove the excess salt.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large preserving pan with the malt vinegar, nutmeg, allspice and sugar. Crush the garlic with the salt and add that in too. Bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat then remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon leaving the liquid behind. Pour the liquid into a separate jug and set aside for a moment.
  5. Sift together the tapioca flour, cornflour, turmeric, ginger, curry powder, mustard powder and pepper. Add 200ml of the reserved liquid and blend together to make a smooth paste.
  6. Pour the paste into the preserving pan and with the heat on very low, slowly pour the rest of the reserved liquid into the paste, whisking all the while.
  7. Bring to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  8. Add the vegetables back into the sauce, stirring to coat thoroughly. Turn off the heat.
  9. Decant into sterilised jars and store in a cool dark place until needed.

Roasted Cauliflower with Saffron Buttermilk and Black Olive Pangrattato

Roasted Cauliflower, Saffron Buttermilk and Black Olive Pangrattato

I was reading a food blog recently, I can’t remember which one, believe me I read far too many, and the blogger admitted that she lives in a food bloggers’ bubble. She meant by this that she is always baking and cooking recipes weeks in advance so she can eventually publish them perfectly timed to coincide with holidays and special events. Easter, for example. Well I am definitely doing something wrong. I only perfected my hot cross cinnabon recipe yesterday which now is so late in the day I can’t even bring myself to post it. Don’t worry, I’ll just rebrand and post it another time to disguise the fact I live in some backward bloggerdom.

cauliflower

Pangrattato prior to frying

I have been thinking about this a lot today as just this afternoon I have finally got round to making the recipe I wanted to post today. I live in the here and now so much so that I have just put down the camera and am expecting to post this in the next half hour, that is 1 hour exactly after I made this dish. Don’t get me wrong, this is no brag, it is a horribly detrimental way to plan, especially if you are a food blogger and want your lovely readers to have the option of making the recipe on the time of year it was intended. But hey, that’s what archives are for right?

saffron buttermilk

I’m definitely an advocate for making resolutions after Easter once all the chocolate has settled. Just so I can course correct the fine resolutions I make in January. I had two this year; not to procrastinate (If my creative writing tutor is reading this I promise I’ll send my two weeks late homework soon) and to forward plan so everything is not last minute. The forward planning I actually have down pat, in fact too well. I am so busy planning things months in advance I fail to see deadlines looming before me, hence the last minute kick bollock scramble that dominates most of my life.

Roasted Cauliflower, Saffron Buttermilk and Black Olive Pangrattato  |  Stroud Green Larder

Happily, this recipe worked out just deliciously first time round. It’s just as well as if it had failed then you would still be admiring last week’s Easter Welsh Cakes. I didn’t really doubt it would be a success though as the best parts are cribbed from chefs who know what they are talking about. The saffron buttermilk recipe is adapted, as all good recipes often are in my world, from Yotam Ottolenghi, he uses it without the saffron as an accompaniment to roasted aubergine. The black olive pangrattato is pretty much down to me but inspired by many a Jamie Oliver creation where I’ve seen him go to the pangrattato well a lot. It sounds impressive but it’s pretty much just a fancy term for breadcrumbs. I used gluten free breadcrumbs here, as I mentioned I have been making and eating a lot of hot cross cinnabons this Easter and am feeling a familiar leaden stomach associated with such indulgence. Obviously if you’re not of a weak disposition like me then feel free to use fully gluten loaded bread, I think Jamie Oliver advocates ciabatta.

I did scoff most of this directly after I put the camera down but whatever is remaining is going to wait until tonight to sit beside a big juicy pork chop where I know it will be an absolute dream. It would also go equally well with a lovely fillet of salmon or as part of a spring buffet table.

Roasted Cauliflower, Saffron Buttermilk and Black Olive Pangrattato  |  Stroud Green Larder

Roasted Cauliflower with Saffron Buttermilk and Black Olive Pangrattato
Serves 4

2 heads cauliflower, about 800g each
2 tbsp olive oil

Saffron Buttermilk
140ml buttermilk
100ml greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
A pinch saffron

Black Olive Pangrattato
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh chilli
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g gluten free bread
1 clove garlic
15 pitted black olives
1 red chilli, seeds removed
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. First make the saffron buttermilk as it has to be left for an hour to infuse.  All you need to do is whisk all the ingredients together with some seasoning, then rest it in the fridge for an hour.  Stir through before serving to make sure all the saffron is mixed in.
  2. The next job is to prepare the cauliflower.  Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and break into florets.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop the cauliflower florets in. Bring back to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the cauliflower by tipping into a colander then leave to rest for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower has dried.
  5. Pre-heat an oven to 180°C, then warm a roasting pan with 2 tbsp olive oil inside it. Roast cauliflower for 25-30 mins, turning every 10 minutes, until it begins to brown.
  6. For the pangrattato place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and whizz up until everything has turned into fine breadcrumbs.
  7. Heat the olive oil for the pangrattato in a wide frying pan and then when hot add the breadcrumbs. Fry on high for about 10 minutes until they are golden and crisp.
  8. Serve the roasted cauliflower with a drizzling of saffron buttermilk and then sprinkle over the black olive pangrattato and some parsley and extra chilli.

Fragrant Cauliflower Rice

Fragrant Cauliflower Rice

I love rice. I could live on it forever. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner. You can have rice with curries, with stir fries, with stews. It’s my desert island carb. However, I occasionally do have to pull myself back. It’s not that rice is bad for you, but it’s not really giving much back either besides filling a hole.

Recently I have been substituting in cauliflower rice for my beloved carb staple, in particular with my curries or in my salads. Cauliflower loves a bit of spice to pep it up so it marries beautifully with a hot spicy curry and to be honest you just don’t notice the difference. I know that it sounds like cauliflower rice is a bit of a faddy thing but prepared this way it really doesn’t feel like you are eating a vegetable dish and means you can add naughty little knobs of butter at the end without the slightest bit of guilt. Not that I have any guilt when adding butter to things, but then I think my food guilt switch is permanently switched off.

cauliflower rice ingredients
CardamomThe key to achieving the perfect consistency is to keep some bite and texture to the cauliflower so just ensure that it doesn’t touch any water in the process. I will either wash the cauliflower the day before and leave to dry overnight or if it’s not too dirty just brush over with a kitchen bristle brush, the same way you would with mushrooms.
Cauliflower in mixer2
cauliflower rice2

But to treat cauliflower rice as just a couscous or rice substitute is doing it a disservice. This fragrant cauliflower rice recipe is excellent with grilled chicken or lamb or as a meal on its own.

I have also used coconut oil in this recipe which is such a lovely ingredient. It imbues your kitchen with a wonderful fragrance and of course is a natural flavour enhancer to this dish. It’s not a strong taste but just sits in the background.

Fragrant Cauliflower Rice

Fragrant Cauliflower Rice

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large head of cauliflower
1 tsp cardamom pods, de-shelled
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
knob of butter

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook on a very low heat until the onion has caramelised. This might take about 20 mins.
  2. Meanwhile snap the florets off your head of cauliflower and blitz in a food processor until it is in very fine flakes.
  3. Once the onion is ready, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the cauliflower rice, the cardamom seeds and the cinnamon to the pan and continue to cook on a very low heat until the cauliflower starts to brown, which should take about half an hour.
  4. Stir in the almonds, the onion, a knob of butter and serve.

Pickled Purple Cauliflower Salad

Pickled Purple Cauliflower Salad

I lucked out in an obscene manner at the farmers market at the weekend. It’s as if all the produce had got together and artfully arranged themselves adjacent to each other so I didn’t have to use my imagination at all. The purple cauliflower sang out immediately. Of course it would – it was purple. Purple veg are actually the best, they make everything a lot more fancy. I am absolutely addicted to purple carrots at the moment. But then carrots are complete rock stars in my eyes anyway and can do no wrong, the purple is just an added bonus.

Bulls BloodSo, the purple cauliflower was in my bag and I immediately knew I wanted to pickle it which would keep the cauliflower as raw as possible so as not to lose any of its vital colour. Then, just as I was wondering how to incorporate it into a salad, what should be sitting next door to Ole Purple Brains, but bulls blood leaves. That’s right, an unassuming salad leaf handily named something gruesome – perfect for my Halloween week. I hadn’t heard of bulls blood leaves before but they are from the beetroot family and these ones had been organically groomed to take on the beetroot’s purple hue which makes them sweeter. So, in the bag they went.

Now what goes the bestest with cauliflower? If you said cheese then you are completely correct. My husband point blank refused to eat cauliflower at all when we first got together but once he had tried homemade cauliflower cheese suddenly it all made sense to him. In fact a lot of things can make sense with just a spoonful of cauliflower cheese, it really makes you think clearer.

Wilde's CheeseAnyhow, the farmers market. So next door… Next Door!..to the veggie man was the cheese stall. Wildes Cheese are a self proclaimed urban cheese makers who make the most wonderful artisan cheeses from their micro dairy in Tottenham. They recommended The Howard to go with my haul, a softer cheese but with a slight blue note to it which would lend its robust flavours to the sweetly pickled cauliflower and the strong slightly bitter bulls blood leaves. The final ingredient to this wonderful array of ingredients was the walnuts which I wish I could tell you I foraged on the way home along the Parkland Walk but no, I just stopped off at Sainsbury’s.

The thing is with this salad is that you might not be able to get hold of bulls blood leaves but you can easily substitute it with any salad leaves. Radicchio would go very nicely. The same with the cheese, if you live in North London then I would definitely recommend sourcing from Wildes Cheese but if not, then any soft light British blue would go just as well. The pickled cauliflower is just as lovely if you can only get white cauliflower. The purple one just makes it prettier.  The pickled cauliflower can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks and makes brilliant snacking if you are standing in front of the fridge at 10pm on a Tuesday night.

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

Makes about 2 x 500ml jars

2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp celery seeds
1.5 tbsp salt
400ml cider vinegar
180g caster sugar
1kg cauliflower florets
1 large onion, halved then sliced thinly

  1. In a large saucepan toast all the spices for a minute or so.
  2. Add the salt, vinegar and sugar and boil for around 10 mins.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and onion and bring back up to the boil, then boil for around 3 mins.
  4. Remove from the heat and bottle into jars.
  5. Leave for a day or so for the flavours to come together.

For the salad

A large handful of salad leaves
A chunk of cheese, crumbled
A handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven then cooled
A couple of spoonfuls of pickled cauliflower
Dressed with the dressing below

Salad dressing

1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tsp honey mustard (I used Maille’s honey dijon)
1 tbsp olive oil

Whisk the vinegar, seasoning and mustard together, then drizzle in slowly the olive oil, whisking all the while until it emulsifies into a thick dressing.