Cauliflower stem and leaf pizza with egg

Cauliflower leaves make an excellent pizza topping

Cauliflower leaves are quickly becoming my go-to zero-waste staple. This non-traditional pizza recipe came about when I ran out of baby spinach but was craving a spinach and egg pizza. The closest thing I had in the crisper was a whole cauliflower + extra cauliflower leaves (everyone left them behind at the grocers, so I sneakily grabbed a handful and put it with my cauliflower bag hehe). I thought…I COULD USE CAULIFLOWER LEAVES!

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I was going to use tomato paste on the base but decided to use kale stem pesto because I had some fresh. I usually make a big batch and keep some in the fridge, then freeze the rest in sheets so I can break off the amount I need. You can also just use readymade, but if you want to give it a go here’s my recipe for kale stem pesto.

Kale stem oesto spread on a pizza base

It’s pretty easy. Seperate the leaves and stems, cut the stems into small pieces and baked quickly to soften a bit, then pop it on a pizza base spread with kale stem pesto (my recipe here, you can also use store bought). Add a few other bits and pieces, pop it back in the oven, add your egg towards the end and there you have it! YOUR OWN. PERSONAL. PIZZA.

All the ingredients below can be subbed for whatever you have available…I just used what I had for this very last minute pizza. For the cheese go ahead an use something fancier like mozzarella or bocconcini (it’ll be better, obviously, but sometimes you just need to offload a few slices of cheese) or scale it back to the tasty cheese slices…nobody will know, not even Instagram. If you don’t have pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts would work just as well. The pizza base I tried happened to also contain cauliflower (Picasso kitchen cauliflower base – a regular base with cauliflower added to up the veg content). It wasn’t bad! I’d buy it again for quick meals like this. It was thin and became nice and crispy. I’d usually have less toppings but my slight distrust of the pizza base and hunger meant I piled it on a bit more.

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RECIPE

EASY CAULIFLOWER LEAF & EGG PIZZA

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower leaves, 4 large pieces, stems attached
Pre-made pizza base
2 tbsp kale stem pesto (or pre-made pesto alternative)
10-12 kalamata olives, drained
1 tsp capers (optional – can just use a pinch of salt instead)
2 slices gouda cheese, torn into pieces (or whatever cheese you have)
100g pistachios, shelled and chopped
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
1. Pre-heat a fan forced oven to 180°C. Rinse and trim the cauliflower leaves. Pat dry. Line a large oven tray with baking paper and set aside.

2. Pull leaves off cauliflower stems, keeping leaves and stems seperate. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Chop stems into 1cm pieces, halving any large ones, then pop onto your lined baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and 1 tsp of capers and pepper. Toss to coat in oil, place tray in oven for 2 minutes or till stems are beginning to soften slightly (this pre-cooking ensures they’re not undercooked at the end).

3. Spread pesto evenly onto your chosen pizza base using a spoon leaving a bit of a border for the crust edge. Scatter the cauliflower stems and capers, cauliflower leaves and pistachios on top making sure to leave an egg-sized bare circle on the middle of the base for the egg later on (one or two leaves on the circle are ok you just don’t want a mound of things there messing with the egg and popping the yolk). Top with cauliflower leaves and put back in the oven following the packet directions for the pizza base (my thin one required 8 minutes). Halfway through add your cheese on top (still avoiding the middle bare bit).

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4. Meanwhile crack your egg into a ramekin so it’s easier to place it. Take out your pizza and drizzle with a little olive oil (the cauliflower leaves should be crispy, this addition of oil just ensures they don’t burn).
Carefully slide the egg out of the ramekin into the middle ensuring the yolk doesn’t break (no biggie if it does, it’ll just cook quicker). Use a spoon to spread out the egg white slightly to fill any gaps between it and the fillings. Place the olives anywhere the egg isn’t and put back into the oven for 2-3 minutes or until your pizza crust is golden and the egg is just starting to turn white on the edges (without clear bits).

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5. To serve sprinkle with some chopped pistachios, fresh basil leaves and pepper (there’s probably enough salt with the capers and olives). Season the egg with salt and pepper. Cut into 4 slices, ensuring all bits get a bit of egg/yolk and enjoy!

I’d love to hear your spin on this pizza! What did you add?

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MORE OF MY CAULIFLOWER LEAF RECIPES:
Easy Cauliflower Stem Breakfast Salad

WHAT ABOUT KALE STEMS, YOU SAY?
Save your stems! Easy raw kale pesto

Zero Waste veggie peel fritters

How often do you peel a carrot or a potato and chuck away the skin? Imagine if these nutritious strips could be turned into a whole ‘nother meal.

Well dream no more.

Recently I was cooking a bunch of carrots and parsnips, and didn’t have the heart to bin the peels — so I developed this frugal fritter recipe to make the most of them. It actually transforms them into caramelised discs of savoury goodness, with a subtle earthiness. You’ll never bin a peel again.

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RECIPE

ZERO WASTE VEGGIE PEEL FRITTERS

Serves 2 with leftovers. Cooking time: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 cups parsnip and carrot peels*, chopped finely (peels of approx 5 carrots and 4 small parsnips)**
  • Half a brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp whole fennel Seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • For serving: Greek yoghurt, salsa or chutney

METHOD

  1. In a biggish bowl mix together the eggs, onion, parsnip and carrot peels and any other veg. Add the flour, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.

  2. Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick fry pan on medium heat. Add heaped tablespoonfuls of the fritter mix in the pan pressing it flat into 1cm thick fritters before the mixture sets. Cook in batches for 2-3 mins per side or till golden.
  3. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and keep warm. Serve fritters with salad and greek yoghurt, salsa or chutney.

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COOKING NOTES

* You can swap in and out any of the following veggie peels with this recipe: potato, sweet potato, beetroot and zucchini (if you weirdly were peeling zucchini for some reason, though it might make the mix watery so add flour to counteract).

** If you’re peeling veg but don’t feel like fritters, the peels will store well in a ziplock if used within a few days.

Ghetto Elderflower Cordial

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“Is that elderflower?” I wondered, while out on a walk with my partner one late spring eve. The tree was just off a main road by a bicycle path, near where highschool kids smoke pot and people walk their dogs.

Elderflower is a bit tricky to find. It grows wild in spring, dying out toward summer. Keep an eye out for a bushy tree of small white flowers in any parks, nature strips, yards or scrub you happen to be in. Up close, the flowers have four tiny white petals with light-green stems. The leaves are about as stock-image as you can get, think and green. Once you’ve confirmed your find, come back with scissors to claim your prize. You can hold onto your discovery tightly, or share it with friends or public forager groups.

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Needless to say I pocketed the flowers as quickly as I could (especially since the bush was already dying from the looming summer heat), and refined a recipe for a delicious cordial that would preserve these flowers’ hard-to-find and beautiful taste well into summer.

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RECIPE

ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL
Yields 2 big bottles. Takes 15-30min to cook, plus a wait overnight.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.25 kg white sugar
  • 3 medium lemons (washed)
  • 50 grams citric acid
  • 15 large elderflower heads, stalks trimmed

METHOD

  1. Using a small knife pare the zest off the lemons in strips, then juice the lemons. Reserve the squeezed lemon halves for later.
  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water and give the flowers a dip to wash off any bugs or dirt. Gently shake off excess water and set aside on paper towels.
  3. Pour 750ml of water into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and heat on low (without boiling) until the sugar dissolves, stirring every now and then. Once the sugar has dissolved and thickened into a syrup bring it to the boil, then turn off the heat.
  4. Add the elderflowers, reserved lemon halves, zest, lemon juice and citric acid to the pot of syrup. Stir well. Allow to cool.
  5. Once cooled, pop a lid on the pot and leave to steep overnight.
  6. Now your syrup has become elderflower cordial! Strain it into sterilised bottles and refrigerate to store.

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Just add water and a few ice cubes for a refreshing summertime drink. You can also use it undiluted as a syrup for desserts such as pavlova or ice cream to add a lemony highlight, or fold through whipped cream.

Supercharged Instant Ramen (feat. old mushrooms)

So late one night, my partner and I were watching a Bon Appetit video – the one where Claire painstakingly recreates a gourmet version of instant ramen – and suddenly we felt super-inspired to pimp up some packet ramen for ourselves.

We found some ageing mushrooms holding on for dear life at the bottom of the fridge. Usually I’d just throw them in with something meaty to add flavour, but I figured adding them to ramen would be a far more interesting way to use them up and extract their umami goodness.

But for any good ramen you need a good broth — and given its vital role, it’s preferable to use a homemade stock. It’s nicer than the salty store-bought versions — but in a pinch you could easily use a good quality liquid stock (with added pan-fried mushrooms), or even a stock cube or flavour packet if you really cbf.

Luckily, in the freezer, we rediscovered some frozen homemade chicken & miso mushroom stock that we decided would be an easy and tasty base. I won’t go into the detail now (of how this stock was made), but the short of it is, I’d made a regular chicken stock a few months ago, and just for the heck of it added some rich umami juice obtained from roasting huge miso-covered mushrooms. If you’re interested in the full recipe, please comment below!

From there, we got way too enthused — the resulting ramen was so light and satisfying, and although it wasn’t a thick, 24-hour tonkatsu broth, it was super flavourful for the amount of time we put into it. Enjoy!

IMG_20181202_085156_body.jpgRECIPE

SUPERCHARGED INSTANT RAMEN

Makes 2 servings. Cooking time 15-20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 litre of chicken and miso mushroom stock (or good quality liquid chicken stock)
  • 2 bricks of instant ramen
  • 300g almost-bad mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly*
  • 2cm piece of ginger, sliced
  • Few pinches roasted ground Szechuan pepper (or white pepper)
  • 2 tsp neutral flavoured oil (like rice bran, vegetable or grapeseed)
  • Sesame oil (to serve)
  • 1/3 cup dried seaweed (miyeok or wakame)
  • 2 tbsp dried diced porcini mushrooms
  • 3 eggs

METHOD

  1. Put 3 eggs into a small pot and cover with cold water on medium heat. Once boiling turn heat down to medium-low and start a 5 minute timer for slightly set (not runny) soft boiled eggs. Once done run under cold water till eggs are completely cool to stop them cooking.**
  2. In seperate small bowls, rehydrate dried porcini mushrooms and seaweed with boiling water. Reserve the liquid from both to add more umami flavour to your stock in Step 4.
  3. Heat a medium fry pan on medium heat and add 2 tsp neutral flavoured oil. Throw in sliced mushrooms with salt and ground Szechuan pepper to taste. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or till roasty and slightly golden. Take off the heat and reserve.
  4. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, bring your frozen stock to the boil – adding in the sliced ginger plus the reserved liquid from both the rehydrated seaweed and porcini mushrooms. Taste your stock – if it needs more flavour add soy sauce to taste, but keep in mind when soup’s too salty you get sick of a whole bowl. Break both bricks of ramen in half (they’re probably too wide for a small pot) and drop into the pot to cook ensuring they’re submerged in the stock. Stir to ensure even cooking. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes or till ramen has reached your desired doneness. ***
  5. Peel eggshells off the eggs and cut each into halves. To serve tong the noodles into 2 deep bowls and pour over the soup. On top of the noodles in each bowl place half the seaweed, mushrooms and 3 egg halves. Sprinkle with a dash of sesame oil to taste.

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COOKING NOTES

* If your mushrooms are slightly dried out and look a bit worse for wear we can work with that – new ones are totally fine too but I just had sad ones!

** To level up your eggs: make soy sauce eggs (shoyu tamago) the day before. This Momofuku recipe sounds great!

*** I took the ramen off when it was al dente, with a bit of bite. This is okay as they’ll sit in the stock for a few minutes while you prepare everything else, so they’ll cook further without going too soft.

Filipino With Puff: Adobo Pie and Banana Ketchup

Growing up, my Filipino mum would whip big batches of chicken adobo for dinner each week. This classic mix of chicken, soy sauce, vinegar and garlic makes for a punchy flavour that hits the spot between sweet, sour and salty. 100% comfort food.

This recipe puts a new spin on that classic Filipino taste, by encasing it in a classic Aussie crust. This dish is kinda like me! A mix of my Filipino and European heritage, with ghetto banana ketchup – a tropical innovation that stemmed from a WWII tomato shortage, and pairs surprisingly well with the pie.

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RECIPE

CHICKEN ADOBO PIE WITH HOMEMADE BANANA KETCHUP

Makes 4-6 pies. Cooking time 1.5hrs

INGREDIENTS

Chicken adobo

  • 1.5kg bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs or whole chicken cut into 8)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (can also use white Filipino cane vinegar or white vinegar)
  • ½-1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves

Pie pastry

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Banana ketchup

  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed till smooth (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup eschallots, finely diced (or brown onion)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 60ml white vinegar
  • 60ml water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon, ginger finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, finely grated (1 teaspoon if using ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste

METHOD

  1. To make the chicken adobo filling place the water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaves in a large pot. Place the chicken skin side down in the pan. If the chicken it isn’t covered in liquid add ½ to 1 cup water.
  2. Bring liquid to the boil on medium high heat, then turn down to medium low and simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour (or till chicken is cooked and juices run clear). Stir and turn the chicken every once in a while.
  3. While the chicken is cooking prepare the banana ketchup. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot and cook the eschallots till translucent, then add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and all spice. Cook till the spices are fragrant.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring well. Follow with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and mashed banana. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often till it starts to thicken.
  5. If the banana ketchup is too thick add a bit of water to reach desired consistency. To store allow sauce to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  6. Once chicken adobo is cooked take it off the heat and allow to cool, however if the sauce is too runny remove the chicken and allow sauce to thicken on medium high heat. Next pull the meat off the bones and into bite sized pieces. Toss it with the thickened adobo sauce ready to go into the pies.
  7. Preheat oven to 220C and place a baking tray into the oven. Grease your pie pans of choice with butter (I used a medium 6 cup muffin tin). For the pie bases cut 6 x 15cm circles from the shortcrust pastry to line the base and sides of your pie tins. Brush the top edges with water. Fill with cooled chicken adobo mix. For the pie lids cut 6 x 15cm circles from the puff pastry. Place over meat and press to seal with a fork. Trim the edges to neaten and brush the tops with egg.
  8. Place pies onto a hot tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve with the banana ketchup.

It’s a long one, but I swear it’s worth it! Deliciously crispy pastry, filled with salty-sweet fall-apart chicken, finished with a fresh tang from the banana ketchup… As an extra tip for your effort: Make a double batch of the chicken adobo and freeze half of it for more pies later or to chow down with rice. You’ll thank yourself later!

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Cauliflower leaves become deliciously crispy when roasted

Whenever you have a cauliflower with the outer leaves and stalks in tact it’s almost second nature to pull them all off and bin them. I started this process recently and noticed there was almost as much leaf as actual cauliflower. That got me thinking…there had to be a way to utilise them…

cauliflower leaves

To clarify by ‘leaves’ I mean the green outer leaves and the stems they’re attached to. After a few experiments I whacked them in the oven with some seasoning I’d typically use on cauli. Once roasted, the leaves become incredibly crispy, in a kind of unexpected way. They taste like deep fried kale chips and nori (roasted seaweed, often used for sushi), while the stalks retained their cauliflower nuttiness.

I mixed the roasted cauliflower leaves into a little breakfast salad – but you could also enjoy them as a side, with other roasted veg or in a more substantial salad.

roasted cauliflower stems

RECIPE

EASY CAULIFLOWER STEM BREAKFAST SALAD 

Serves 1 as a light salad

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower leaves (middle stalk intact)
Olive Oil
Cumin
Smoked paprika
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

TO SERVE
Fried egg
A few big handfuls of mixed salad leaves
Caramelised white balsamic

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Rinse the cauliflower leaves off and trim any woody ends off. Pat dry, then place on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well to coat.
2. Sprinkle cauliflower leaves with a bit of cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, salt, pepper.
3. Pop into the hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until the leaves start to become golden and crispy. 10 minutes is enough for some light colour on them – while at 15 minutes they’ll look more like mine did with more char on the stalks and super crispy (almost deep fried looking) leaves.
4. To Serve: I tossed them with mixed salad leaves, a bit of caramelised balsamic and a fried egg on top.

roasted cauliflower leaf salad

roasted cauliflower stem salad with egg

BAM!

I definitely want to have another play around with these next time I get a leafy cauli and I can’t believe how many times I’ve just mindlessly thrown these delicious stalks away. Never again.

What do you use cauliflower leaves for?

 

Homegrown sweet potatoes are easier than you think

Recently I visited my dad and he gave me a gift: An old sweet potato from the very back of his fridge. It was sprouting and looked mostly unsalvageable.

“Ummm… thanks… dad…?”

He pushed it into my hands, “You should plant it.”

I assumed this was another one of his harebrained ideas, but I googled it and was surprised to find that it’s a thing. There’s a bit more of a process to it than just digging a hole and chucking in your sprouting sweet potato though…

1. Grow the slips

Slips are long, vine-like and leafing growths near the tip of a sweet potato – and it’s these that sprout baby sweet potatoes for you to enjoy (you can actually grow up to 50 slips per half). To grow slips, use a new sweet potato or one that’s already begun sprouting by itself. Cut it in half and place each cut side down in a bowl, glass or jar half submerged with water (pictured below). Leave it in a warm place and change the water daily to keep it fresh. I left mine for 2 weeks.

growing sweet potato sprouting slips

2. Let the roots grow

Once the slips have developed nice and long, it’s time to separate them from the mamma potato so they can grow on their own. Carefully twist the slips off where they connect to the sweet potato and place them in a shallow container with a little water to cover the bottom half of the stems.

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The roots will begin to grow and sprout leaves within a few days. When they’re 2-3 cm long they’re ready to be planted.

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3. Plant the slips

This step’s pretty straight forward. Dig 10cm deep holes and 7cm wide holes for each slip to be placed into. (P.S. I know this soil is suuuuper dry – but I’m going to try these tips here to rejuvenate it: https://soiltosupper.com/simple-ways-to-fix-dry-garden-soil/ ).

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4. Water!

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Soon I’ll never have to shop for sweet potatoes again – well at least that’s the plan. Stay tuned for updates on my sweet potato babies!