Tag: chopped onions

Posh peas

In my brief but intensive 2-year study in parenting I have arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to children, it’s all about picking your battles.

It is so easy just to spend all day shouting at your kid(s) but is that nice for anyone? No. One gets such a sore throat. So what I have ended up doing is spending all day wondering whether I should make a fuss about this or that thing that Kitty is doing or just let go. I don’t always get it right. But neither do I end up shouting very much.

Here are some things that I have decided not to fight her about:

1 Drawing on the walls
2 Throwing marbles
3 Covering herself in fingerpaint when we are fingerpainting
4 Wanting to stand up while her nappy is being changed
5 Playing on an unattended iPad
6 Eating an unattended eye-level chocolate or biscuit
7 Finishing food

I even often, unbidden, let her behave like a complete animal, such as this evening, when she ate her dinner, standing up, straight from the pan with a wooden spoon:

Here are some things that I am a massive horrible strict bitch about at all times:

1 Bedtime
2 Physical aggression towards any Apple product
3 Pabbling her fingers in her water glass
4 Smooshing her hands into her food
5 Charging into the road
6 Snatching things off children we don’t know. With the children of friends, it’s basically every toddler for himself

Cooking is often about picking your battles, too. When asked about catering, I am always preaching on about making something simple that isn’t going to stress your head, like spaghetti bolognese  or shepherd’s pie or toad in the hole. But then whenever we DO have people round, I leave everything to my husband, who makes some giant complicated thing with eight side dishes and all I have to do is the washing up and light some scented candles.

But it means I have come to fear mass catering again. So this weekend, after I had invited Katie Razzall off the Channel 4 news and her terrifically handsome actor husband Oz and their two children round for lunch, I said that I would do the cooking. After consulting this blog for advice, I decided to make a Shepherd’s Pie and peas and also Spotted Dog, just because it was so incredibly popular last time I made it. The pudding was the battle bit, but I just bought the custard – Madagascan Vanilla something or other from Waitrose. Delicious.

But I decided that the Shepherd’s Pie would also have an element of battle in it – the topping. I insist on a reasonbly time-consuming topping for Shepherd’s and Cottage Pie, which involves passing the potatoes through a ricer or a mouli legume, which gives a crunchy sort of rosti top, rather than just mashing it up and spreading it on top.

(Incidentally, my husband had a mouli legume when I moved in, the like of which I had not seen since I last saw one in my mother’s house. This was very surprising as he had no cafetiere, or food in the fridge and had long run out of loo roll so there was some kitchen paper in the downstairs bog. He also kept the Flymo in the kitchen. But he had this mouli, some pearl caviar spoons and a £300 Japanese sushi knife. It made no sense.)

I also decided to do battle with the peas. Just boring old peas won’t do if you are dishing up such an unglamorous, although delightful, feast as Shepherd’s Pie and a suet pudding. So I thought I would do that thing where you tart them up with bacon and onions and cream – and it was absolutely terrific and well worth the fight.

Posh peas
With thanks to Tom Parker Bowles, who’s cookbook Let’s Eat is brilliant. All this royal in-law puffing is getting a bit suspicious isn’t it? As it happens, I can’t honestly say I’d turn down a gong, just in case anyone is listening.

Frozen peas (1 ladleful pp)
Frozen baby broad beans (1tbsp pp)
1 packet lardons, or 10 bacon rashers cut up smallish
1 large or two small onions
1 glass of shitty white wine
some cream if you have it
a scattering of chopped mint, if you have it

1 Fry the lardons over a medium heat until coloured.

(If you have been forced, like me, to buy reasonably cheap lardons, they will release the most ghastly amount of dribble and spit – just pour this off, while puckering your face in disgust, so that the lardons don’t just steam grimly in the liquid, and carry on frying until done.)

2 Add the chopped onions and fry all this up together gently for a good 15 minutes. Add your glass of shitty wine, turn up the heat and bubble down until the bottom of the pan is about 90% dry.

3 Turn the heat down and add about 2 tbsp of cream if you have it.

4 About 10 minutes before you want to eat, add your peas and beans to the onion and bacon mix and cook all this over a medium heat for about 10 mins. Scatter over the optional mint.

Eat, while ignoring the scribble all over the walls.


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Cauliflower Watercress Soup

Cold winter nights call for hot soup. We were hit with a snow storm yesterday, and we’re expecting another tonight. After shoveling myself out of my parking spot and coming in from the cold last night, this soup hit the spot. It’s healthy and light, with a creamy texture from the cauliflower that’s perfect served with a crispy whole grain piece of bread and a drizzle of olive oil on top, yet it’s light enough to serve with a sandwich or a first course.

This recipe was inspired from someone who tweeted me the idea to add watercress to my Dad’s cauliflower soup[1]. Such a great way to incorporate watercress into soup which is considered a superfood. It’s rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron and adds a bright green color to this soup.

Cauliflower Watercress Soup
Servings: 4 • Size: 1 3/4 cup • Old Points: 1 • Weight Watcher Points+: 2 pt
Calories: 93 • Fat: 3 g • Carb: 12 g • Fiber: 4 g • Protein: 6 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 623 mg  • Cholest: 8 mg


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp unbleached flour (all purpose is fine too)
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (vegetarians can use vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped (about 1 1/2 lbs florets)
  • 4 cups watercress (3 oz)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste


In a medium nonstick saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and cauliflower and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Add the watercress until wilted, about 1 minute and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 7 cups


  1. ^ Dad’s cauliflower soup (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)

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Dad’s Creamy Cauliflower Soup

We’re getting some cold weather here in New York for Autumn, temperatures are in the thirties – a perfect day for soup. This recipe is an oldie but goodie, one I make quite often and grew up eating as a kid and since I was making it today, I thought I would highlight it for those of you who haven’t tried it.

Both my parents loved to cook and no doubt that has rubbed off on my brother and I. My Dad’s style of cooking was very different from my Mom’s since he was born in Prague, Czech and she was born in Colombia. As you can imagine, the meals we group up with were pretty eclectic, but one of the simplest recipes my Dad made was this soup.

As a kid, we had a cup of homemade soup almost every night before dinner. I wasn’t always happy about this, because believe it or not, I was pretty picky. But on the night’s we had this soup, I never complained. 

My father lost his vision a few years ago, so sadly he no longer cooks. But thankfully he is still with us, and I’ve been trying to learn some of the dishes he once cooked. This one is EASY, only 5 ingredients and you have yourself a warm, delicious bowl of soup that is so light you can serve this as a first course for dinner or with a half sandwich for lunch.

There is no cream added, the silky texture is simply from pureeing it.  Dad used water and chicken bouillon which I often do (I use Better Than Bouillon) but here I used chicken broth instead; use whatever works for you. Sometimes I add some diced carrots, or even celery – there are no rules here.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Servings: 4 servings • Size: 1 1/2 cups • Old Points: 1 pt • Points+: 2 pts
Calories: 80 • Fat: 3 g • Carb: 11 g • Fiber: 4.0 g Protein: 4 g • Sugar: 0
Sodium: 494 mg (without salt) will vary by brand of broth • Choles: 8 mg 


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp unbleached flour (all purpose is fine too)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower – chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth (vegetarians can use vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter on low heat. Add the flour and stir about 2 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth, onions and cauliflower and set heat to medium. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

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