Simon Rimmer on the new Sunday Brunch Cookbook – and how to make his cauliflower biryani salad

Sunday Brunch chef and host Simon Rimmer talks recipes, dietary requirements, and that pulled pork claim…

Is it even a Sunday if you’re not eating brunch, or watching Sunday Brunch on Channel 4? Well now, Sunday Brunch duo – chef Simon Rimmer and presenter Tim Lovejoy – have combined the two, with their new recipe collection, The Sunday Brunch Cookbook.

However, Rimmer, 55, is quick to point out that the culinary love, friendship and TV workload between the two might be a 50-50 split, but when it comes to inventing dishes, the bulk of the work falls to him.

“Obviously, in the 100 recipes we have in this book, Tim’s written one of them,” he says jokingly – although it is true. Check out Tim’s Kung Fu Tuna on page 96 – apparently comedian Johnny Vegas is a fan, although Rimmer is adamant that Lovejoy doesn’t know it at all and that a home economist wrote it: “Every interview we have done, I’ll say, ‘So what’s in that recipe, Tim?’, just to put him on the spot. That is the running gag.”

“It’s actually hilarious that his name is on the front of this book. If we do a second one, my name will be in a bigger typeface than his. Or next time, I’ll do one recipe and he’ll do 99 of them,” the Wallasey-born restaurateur adds with a laugh.

Lovejoy’s skills aside, Rimmer says the cookbook is a way of “getting people into the kitchen” – because it’s for the ‘I can do that’ crowd. It features everything from chorizo breakfast burritos and brioche French toast, to duck meatballs and rosemary and garlic flatbread – which, according to Rimmer, even the most inexperienced cook should be able to tackle.

“There’s a lot of dishes you could do if you have no experience at all. I don’t think anything is technically difficult, but there are some [recipes] that might take a little bit of time,” he explains. “I never want the recipes to be, ‘Oh look how clever I am’. I want it to be: ‘Oh that looks OK or quite easy’.”

Vegetarians are well catered for as well, and his Sunday Brunch interactions with celebs has made Rimmer adept at finding dishes that’ll work for people with different dietary requirements.

“Somebody’s PR will say they don’t eat anything that begins with a Y if it’s a Sunday, and they will only eat anything that’s purple if it’s after 11, and then when they actually come on, they don’t think that at all. From a preference they might do it, but in reality, they won’t, but that’s always a challenge,” he muses.

And some celebs are actually a real joy to invent things for. “We had [comedian] Romesh Ranganathan on quite a few times and I made vegan doughnuts for him and he still talks about that now, which is brilliant.”

In fact, some guests have rather inspired him. “[Actor] Babou Ceesay brought in this amazing Gambian curry and I had never had anything like that before.”

Then of course, Rimmer has inspired all the rest of us as the well known “inventor” of pulled pork, for which he’s constantly ribbed about on social media.

“We did that on the show years ago and then we pretended I invented it, and to this day people still talk about it. If I put on Twitter now that I invented pulled pork, I can guarantee that we will get so many people responding saying, ‘No you didn’t!’

“One guy one day didn’t let it go, saying, ‘Pulled pork’s been around as long as pigs’. and I said to him, ‘Well, my granddad invented pigs’, and it sort of ended there.”

How to make The Sunday Brunch Cookbook cauliflower biryani salad

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

1tbsp ground turmeric

1 head of cauliflower, cut or broken into large florets

40ml white wine vinegar

75ml extra virgin olive oil

For the paste:

1 onion, roughly chopped

5cm piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1tbsp curry powder

2tsp ground cumin

50ml vegetable oil

2 red chillies, chopped

For the quinoa salad:

400g cooked quinoa (from a packet, or from

200g uncooked)

100g frozen peas, defrosted

100g fine green beans (kept raw), halved

50g cashews, toasted

Handful of chopped coriander

For the carrot garnish:

4 carrots, cut into fine matchsticks

1tsp granulated sugar

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

3cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

5g cumin seeds, toasted

Cauliflower biryani from The Sunday Brunch Cookbook by Simon Rimmer and Tim Lovejoy (Dan Jones/PA)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas 6.

2. For the carrot garnish, combine all the ingredients and leave for at least 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the turmeric. Blanch the cauliflower florets in the turmeric water for one minute, then refresh in cold water and drain.

4. Blitz all the ingredients for the paste in food processor, blending until smooth.

5. Gently fry the paste in a frying pan for four minutes, then cool.

6. Take one third of the paste and rub it over the cauliflower florets. Spread out on a roasting tray and roast for six minutes.

7. Blend the rest of the paste with the vinegar and oil, to make a dressing.

8. Mix the salad ingredients together and fold in the dressing.

9. Serve the quinoa salad topped with the roasted cauliflower florets and carrot garnish.

The Sunday Brunch Cookbook by Simon Rimmer and Tim Lovejoy, photography by Dan Jones, is published by Ebury Press. Available now.

- Press Association

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