I have suffered some real kitchen nightmares recently. I’m talking serious nightmares and major defeats. Having not had a weekend at home in weeks, my kitchen adventures have been confined to the few dark hours left after work, or the small ones before. The results have been seriously frustrating, disheartening, time consuming and worst of all, wasteful.

First there were the macarons. Ah, macarons, you highly temperamental little things. I have never loved something so much, yet hated it just as much if not more at the same time.

The feet didn’t form evenly and the tops cracked and split, I suspect due to over mixing and too high a heat. It was a massacre in my oven, the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. I conceded that macarons probably need a little more care and attention than what I’m capable of giving on a Tuesday night. Until next time, mes amis.

Moving on from the failed macaron making, I turned my hand to the simpler version, the trusty coconut macaroon cookie. Having forgotten to add any flour to the mixture they emerged from the oven as shiny, coconut studded omelettes. Straight in the bin they went, no one wants to eat that.

Amongst other kitchen mishaps there has been a loaf of banana bread forgotten in the oven and left to dry out to a point where no amount of peanut butter could turn things around, red velvet cupcakes which turned out more rust coloured AND peppery in taste down to natural food colouring in the form of beetroot and paprika (bad move), and an experiment involving wakame that I don’t even want to go into.

Not wanting to cook anything in fear of inevitable failure, I’ve been getting by on endless cup of coffee, Hummingbird cupcakes and soup. Soup is always kind to me and there for me when times are tough. If I’m cold, it’s soup. On a diet, it’s soup. Sad/worried/angry/tired – it’s soup. There’s just nothing more comforting… and foolproof.

(I wanted to add in a comment about how if Ryan Gosling were a soup, he would be this one, but it sounds weird, plus I reckon he’s more likened to something sexy like chocolate fondant or crème brûlée.)

Za’atar Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

Sunflower or vegetable oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large cauliflower head, leaves and stems removed and florets roughly chopped
large potato, skin removed and peeled into very thin slices
1 litre vegetable stock
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
Knob of butter
Sour cream
2 or 3 raw Brussels sprouts, shredded or thinly sliced (optional)

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add the onion. Saute for 5 minutes until softened but not browned, add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. Add the cauliflower, za’atar and rosemary and cook for a further few minutes. Pour in the hot stock and slip in the potato peelings. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and using a handheld blender, blitz the soup until smooth. If you’re using a stand alone blender then add the soup in 3 or 4 batches, transferring the smooth soup to a saucepan as you go. Once all the soup is smooth and creamy, return to a low heat and stir in a knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a few dollops of sour cream, Brussels sprouts shavings, fresh rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil.


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