If you whisper “what’s that?” to Marco very quickly and excitedly, he goes nuts.  He bounds up to the livingroom window and looks up and down the street growling and wuffing ready to protect us from those crazy neighbourhood cats or the odd buggy wielding mother.  It’s a habit we shouldn’t encourage really but I couldn’t help but laugh this weekend when David walked into the kitchen and spotted the above vegetable.  “Whassat?” he asked loudly and Marco went mental. 

Fair question though.  Romanesco do look odd with their strange geometric patterns and almost luminous green colouring.  If martians had veg, I reckon they’d look like this.

In actual fact, romanesco do not have an intergalactic ancestry; they are part of the brassica family and can best be described as a funky cross between brocolli and cauliflower.  As a fan of both of these vegetables and as someone who appreciates pretty food, I am always excited to find a romanesco on sale.  More often than not, it ends up being cooked in the following way.

 A fabulous end for a fabulous veg, I think.  🙂


Romanesco with Coriander and Chilli (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey)

(serves four as a side dish – two as a main)

1 large head of romanesco or brocolli or cauliflower

Large thumb of ginger, chopped roughly

2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

1 tblspn ghee

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 hot chilli, chopped

Big handful of coriander, chopped roughly

1 tspn cumin

1 tblspn coriander

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt to taste

  • Cut the romanesco into florets, halving any particularly large ones.  Rinse and set aside.
  • Whizz the ginger, garlic and turmeric in a blender with a little water to create a paste.
  • Heat the ghee over a medium-high heat and add the ginger paste.  Stir and cook constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chilli and coriander.  Cook for another minute.
  • Add cauliflower and the rest of the spices and lemon juice.  Stir well to combine then add 30 mls of water. 
  • Cook over a high heat for a few more minutes then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan.  Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season very carefully and serve.

Egg Drop Soup

A few days ago I shared a recipe from my Italian-Austrian friend, Annalisa and today I’d like to share a recipe from a Chinese friend, Qian.

I met Qian on a bus in Finland.  She coincidently asked me directions to the exact street I was heading to and then as I was walking her there we discovered that her home town (Qingdao) was the same city my Dad had worked in a few years earlier.  She was astonished, I was charmed and the friendship was sealed.

From then on we met up every few weeks to chat over coffee or giggle over beers or to cook for one another.  Whenever it was Qian’s turn to be the hostess we always started the meal with some variation of egg drop soup.  And I loved it!

The name of the soup is a slight misnomer, I think.  Egg Drop suggests that one should just plop the egg into the soup when, in fact, that would result in lumpy, congealed egg bleugh.  The secret to this velvety, satisfying soup is a steady hand and a slow stream.  Get that right and you’ll have silky egg ribbons bathed in a deliciously fragrant bowl of broth.  Yum.

Egg Drop Soup with Tomato and Coriander

(serves one as a meal or four as a delicate starter)

500ml chinese stock or normal stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 tspn vegetable oil

3 sping onions, white and greens seperated and chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

4 stalks of coriander, stalks chopped and leaves reserved

1 tblspn soy sauce

2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and cut into quarters

1 egg, beaten in a jug

  • Heat the oil over a medium-high heat and add the spring onion whites. garlic and coriander stalks.   Fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the stock and soy sauce to the pan and bring to the boil.
  • Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 4 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and very slowly add the egg in a constant stream stirring in one direction with a fork.  The egg will turn into ribbons.
  • Serve in a bowl topped with the spring onion greens and coriander.