it was a chelsea morning

Mandarin & Lavender Almond Butter

When things start getting too big in my head there are certain songs that can manage to hold the expanding edges for a minute. It’s a lovely thing about music. And the big things I’m talking about are not happening in a ‘woe is me’ kind of way, more like just a ‘whoa slow down please’ kind of way. One of the current big things is time (I can’t be the only one freaking out at how quickly things are spinning huh?). As in, how can this year’s almond blossom be cotton-tailing it all over the Valley when last year’s haul of almonds are still sitting in their shells in a basket in the kitchen? I only just picked those. Who nabbed that year that falls somewhere in between? I’d like to share it please. Even if I could get just a little bit so my brain doesn’t hurt trying to figure out the time space continuum. Craziness.

To songs. And in particular to Joni Mitchell. She softens the edges on all big things so after seeing the first of the season’s almond blossoms over the weekend, I decided we’d have a little Chelsea Morning out on the hill. Milk and toast and honey, and a bowl of oranges too. I can’t recall her mentioning mandarin and lavender almond butter in her lyrics, but that joined the scene as well. It was the fastest way I could think of to get rid of the evidence from last year’s almond harvest before this year’s were being picked. In a minute or so.

 

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Mandarin & Lavender Almond Butter

makes 1 cup

 

 

1 cup organic raw almonds

peel of 1 organic mandarin

3-4 heads of fresh organic lavender

pinch sea salt (optional)

drizzle of sweet almond oil

 

Add the dry almonds to the bowl of a food processor and blitz for 10 minutes. You might need to scrape the almond meal from the sides but this is all you need to worry about to make any kind of nut butter. It’s way easier than you might first think. Good news.

Bad news is, your food processor might get a little weary if it’s as old as mine, so rest it every 3 minutes or so to avoid burning out the motor.

Once the almond meal has started to come together in a paste, you can add a little drizzle of almond oil if you’d like it to be a bit runnier, and then add the mandarin peel and lavender flowers.

I just went with what I had on hand, you can seriously flavour nut butters with whatever takes your fancy, or just add a pinch of salt and leave it as a pure nutty taste. Either way, super good for you.

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the first cauliflower

Cauliflower & Toasted Mustard Seed Soup with Macadamia Parmesan

The first cauliflower of the season arrived in our garden over the weekend. It was a little on the small side but was bound to continue shrinking if it was left to the fat green grub that was sharing it with us. Fair’s fair, he’d eaten the equivalent of a small acreage so it was our turn to make soup. Actually there were a hundred other things I imagined making with the cauliflower but the day seemed to finish before it began and soup was the only thought left. I don’t want to say it as though soup is in some way a secondary option but it’s not exactly rocket science. Either way, I love it, and as simple as it is, I’m always keen to find new ideas for blending things into a puree to dip sourdough into, so hoping the soup thing can still be helpful to other ‘meal in a bowl’ lovers. I’ve been adding macadamia parmesan to everything lately so it went on top with some rocket flowers and surprisingly the spice of the toasted mustard seeds didn’t seem out of context with the pseudo Italian theme the ‘cheese’ and rocket started. Fifteen minutes to a warm belly worked too. It has been crazy cold out here on our hill. Yep, soup and more soup. And then some watching of hungry caterpillars while you eat it. Dinner and a show. How low can lo-fi go you ask?

 

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Cauliflower & Toasted Mustard Seed Soup with Macadamia Parmesan

makes a big saucepan full

 

1 head of organic homegrown cauliflower, or similar

3 organic homegrown potatoes

1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds

1 litre organic veggie stock

2Tbsp organic coconut butter, or extra virgin olive oil

 

1/2 cup organic, raw macadamia nuts

1 Tbsp organic savoury yeast flakes

1 tsp sea salt flakes

 

fresh organic rocket flowers, if available

 

 

Roughly chop the cauliflower and potatoes and panfry for 4-5 minutes in the coconut butter until nicely browned around the edges.

Add the vegetable stock to cover and leave to simmer until the cauliflower and potato are cooked through. 

 

Toast the mustard seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop. Remove from heat and grind with a mortar and pestle into a powder. Add to the soup.

Puree the soup with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Check seasoning and salt to taste.

 

To make the macadamia parmesan, simply blitz the nuts, yeast flakes and salt in a food processor until they pull together and resemble crumbs.

Serve the hot soup with a sprinkling of parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and some rocket flowers if you have them.

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