inspiration everywhere

parsnip & cauliflower mash

One of the unexpected upsides that I’ve experienced since I started my cookbook writing journey has been that I’ve found myself having food conversations that I would never have had previously. There’s nothing like a cookbook (or masterchef) it seems to get people keen to talk about food and cooking. And the best thing is that it’s been people who I haven’t ever shared cooking stories with before. Some real surprises.

There’s been people from work, taxi drivers, friends of friends, punters at the Good Food & Wine Show, and even my Dad – who cooked his first gluten free pasta the other night. I’m not sure that I’ll be following Dad’s recipe any time soon – apparently sauce for your pasta is overrated – he just eats it straight up or maybe with a splash of tomato sauce (and I mean ketchup). But at least he’s happy and giving his neglected kitchen some attention.

A few weeks ago when I was in Adelaide for work, a taxi driver told me the secret to amazing scrambelled eggs. Just stir through a heap of feta when you start to cook the eggs so it melts though as they cook. Simple and good.

Then there was a lovely lady at the Good Food and Wine show who dropped by and sang the praises of caramel slice before passing on one of her most successful sweet treats. She cuts a sheet of puff pastry into 16 triangles and then puts a chunk of her favourite chocolate on each triangle before folding them up to encase the chocolate. Then she bakes them until lovely and golden and serves hot with icecream. A speedy family dessert that I haven’t tried yet but have definitely added to my list of things to try.

But my most surprising and passionate food exchange has come from my new hairdresser, Graeme. Not only is he a star with the scissors, but he’s a big fan of cooking, especially roasting meats. One of the things I love about talking to Graeme is that he’s very honest about his motivation.

‘I cook because I love the compliments’ – he once told me.

A cook who’s in it for the glory – there have to be worse reasons to get amongst the pots and pans. When I quizzed Graeme about his signature dish he said that his latest favourite thing was parsnip and cauliflower mash simmered in chicken stock and finished with lashings of sour cream. Sounded good to me so I soon gave it a whirl served with my mum’s simple roast chook from ‘and the love is free’ and a green salad. Lets just say it was a success and that I’m looking forward to my next haircut even more than usual – who knows what treats Graeme will have for me next time.

parsnip & cauliflower mash
serves 3-4

Inspired by my hairdresser, Graeme – not only a keen cook and the BEST hairdresser ever but also able to meditate for up to 4 hours at a time (thankfully not while he is cutting hair).

This mash makes a lovely change from potatoes. The cauliflower makes it a bit lighter than regular mash and the parsnip adds a lovely sweet flavour. Even the Irish contingent gave it the thumbs up and that’s really saying something.

Use it wherever you’d normally serve mashed potatoes. It would make a lovely Wintery accompaniment to fish such as my salt crusted salmon or a lovely balance for a rich roast pork belly or even a good mate for pot roasted duck legs – a cheats version of duck confit. So versatile.

1/2 head caulifower, chopped
4 medium parsnips (approx 500g or 1lb), peeled & chopped
2C chicken or vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic peeled
4T sour cream or creme fraiche

Place all ingredients except the sour cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20-30mins or until the cauliflower and parsnip are very soft. Drain and reserve both veg and the stock.

Transfer drained veg to a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add reserved stock a little at a time until you have the consistency you’re after. Add sour cream and whizz until combined. Season well and serve hot.

A big THANKYOU to everyone who made it along to my Sydney book launch on the weekend. Such wonderful support – I feel very lucky.

For those of you who missed out – get your own copy of ‘and the love is free’ from my online bookstore HERE. Don’t miss out on the FREE SHIPPING anywhere in Australia.

I’ve just booked my flights to Melbourne town for a book signing on Sunday 16th August. Watch this space for details.

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  • congratulations on the book! i am liking this recipe very much and it looks so creamy and velvety. i am one guilty of usually sticking to potatoes for my mash but i’ll be sure to venture out when fall comes around here in la.

  • thanks susan.

    it really is delicious. I now it can be hard to veer away from potatoes but you’ve hit the nail on the head – the creamy velevty texture and gorgeous sweet flavour of the cauliflower and parsnip are really really lovely. It’s also a lot lighter than regular mash.

  • I love both cauliflower and parsnip, even if I never thought about serving together. Will have to try this, though without the sour cream. Might be even better if the cauliflower and parsnip were roasted first?

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