Tag Archives: beetroot

Sort of borscht

12 Oct

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love beetroots. I never used to, but as a child my only experience of beetroot was from a jar full of vinegar. Whenever I see fresh beetroot in my local farmshop or farmer’s market I buy it. And then it often sits in my fridge till the following weekend for me to do something with it (what could I do with a beetroot quickly on a weekday evening after a long day at work and the train journey home)?

So there was a bunch of beetroot in my fridge this morning, wasn’t there? Three large beetroot. They could have become a tart, or another jar of spiced beetroot relish. Or that salad with dill and shallots and oranges.

Or borscht.

I don’t know if it really was borscht or not, I just made it up.

Valley Borscht

  • A bunch of beetroot
  • a large onion
  • a couple of sticks of celery
  • a knob of butter
  • caraway seeds
  • a chicken stock cube, or some chicken stock if you have some kicking about (use veg stock if you’re vegetarian, obviously!)
  • a bay leaf
  1. Chop the onion and celery finely (ish) but don’t fret about it if it’s not all teeny wee chunkies
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the onion and celery; sweat them gently
  3. Peel the beetroot and grate it coarsely (if you don’t have a food processor then you might prefer to just cut it into wee chunks)
  4. Pop about 1 TBsp of caraway seeds into a pestle and mortar and smoosh them up a bit. They might have been even better if I’d quickly toasted them first
  5. When the onion and celery is looking slightly translucent add the caraway seeds and stir
  6. Then add the beetroot and stir again
  7. Add the bay leaf
  8. Cook it for a wee minute and then add the stock cube and hot water from the kettle. I added enough water to cover the beetroot plus an extra centimetre
  9. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes
  10. Remove the bay leaf
  11. Use a handheld blender and zizz it all up (or pour it into a liquidiser and liquidise it that way)
  12. Ladle into bowls and add a swirl of cream, or a couple of basil leaves, or a swoosh of basil oil or some chopped dill sprinkled over it

Perfect lunch with a chunky slice of homemade bread (preferably sourdough).

And now I’ve made the borscht, I have a perfect quick supper for later this week. Perhaps with a poached egg on toast. Imagine that dark yellow yolk on a plate next to a bowl of dark beetroot soup. Lush.

 

Autumn days

22 Oct

Yesterday was a beautiful autumnal day today. The sun shone all day long, and my wee chickens scrubbled about out in their yard chuntering away to one another. I discovered that my few remaining plants in the greenhouse were all beginning to get covered and smothered in greenfly, so I took a couple of pots of greenfly-ridden chilli plants out to the chooks for them to nibble at. Minutes later the leaves were stripped off and gobbled up by my happy girls.

So, with chooks happy in the garden, it seemed like a good day to spend in the kitchen, preparing this and that to make the meals easier through the week when I get home from work each night.

So meatballs are cooked and in the freezer, with a tomatoey sauce in a separate pot.

making meatballs

shaping meatballs

There’s a big old pot of lentil soup for lunches, made with a smoked ham hock and a wee smidgin of curry spices.

There is of course a lovely sourdough loaf (wholemeal) and the bread machine also made a half and half (granary/white) loaf. The meat from the ham hock has been cut up into wee cubes to be added to a frittata or omelette later in the week.

I made a big tub of granola with nuts and oats and fruit – mixed with apple juice, a wee bit of syrup and some ginger and cinnamon.

In between times I made some delicious cinnamon squirlies. I blame delicious magazine – they featured them on their facebook page and I just caved and had to make them. They were totally worth it, really easy to make and absolutely scrumptious, especially warm with icecream.

cinnamon squirlie dough

cinnamon squirlies – just pull apart and eat

And as if that wasn’t enough, I had already decided that for supper we were having roast pork with all the trimmings. The trimmings on this occasion included roasted apples, curly kale, a beetroot and potato gratin and roasted beetroots and caramelised onions, all brought together with a jus made with juices from the roast pork dish and apple juice reduced down till it was concentrated flavoursome perfection.

Autumnal roast pork

I don’t cook roasts too often, but after this success I may do it more often. And there were delicious leftovers for through the week: we’ll have sliced pork and chutney sandwiches for lunch and this evening we had the rest of the beetroot and potato gratin, served with spicy roast butternut squash and chicken wrapped in smoky bacon.

I think my focus in the next few weeks will be on how to make really good meals quickly on weekday evenings – some will be from scratch, others will involve some prep the weekend before. Watch this space.

Beetroot and orange salad

10 Jul

I mentioned this treat the other day, in my post about my Scottish tapas style meal.

When I was wee the only beetroots I’d ever come across were in a jar, and covered in vinegar. Some were even crinkle cut (presumably to make sure they soaked up as much of that vinegar as possible). Now I’m sure there’s a place for pickled beetroot, but those overwhelmingly sharp wee purple nuggins gave me quite the wrong impression of what beetroot is all about.

And so I didn’t try beetroot again for years. In fact probably not until I was in my 40s, when I was tricked into buying some fresh beetroot by the sheer exuberance and joy in the bounty of a farm shop one day. Into the wicker basket went locally grown carrots, courgettes, tomatoes, strawberries and cauliflower. Pears were placed on top, so as not to bruise them. And a bunch of herbs (this was in the days when I didn’t have my own established herb patch). And then there they were – bunches of beetroot, grubby with soil and with their tops on, looking as though they had just been plucked from the garden minutes before (I now know that if you leave the tops on beetroots for any length of time, they start to suck out the nutrients from the roots, and while the tops are wilting, they are also depleting the goodness from the bulbs).

There are so many things to do with beetroot, from the frankly outrageously delicious chocolate beetroot cake (think pimped up carrot cake) to simply roasted with a blob of sour cream. Or make a quick tart with goats cheese and beetroot grated into a horseradish creme fraiche on whatever pastry you have to hand, filo, puff or shortcrust. The earthy flavour marries well with horseradish or with balsamic vinegar and beetroot is of course the ideal companion to game or smoked fish, It’s a strong vegetable and not just in colour.

But one of my simple beetroot salads just combines it with shallots, oranges, balsamic vinegar and dill. And lots of black pepper… but then I’m a bit of a pepper addict. The dark purple and bright orange of this salad will make you smile even before you’ve popped it in your mouth.

If you’re starting with raw fresh beetroot, this isn’t the salad to start making ten minutes before you sit down to lunch. However, for speed and convenience, you can make this with pre-cooked vacuum packed beetroot – get the stuff that doesn’t have any vinegar in it though. It won’t be quite as nice, but still pretty good.

Beetroot and orange salad

  • a bunch of fresh beetroot bulbs – their size is immaterial, and you can just vary the quantity of everything else to match how much beetroot you have
  • shallots – probably one medium shallot for every 2 medium beetroot
  • oranges – one whole large orange for every 2 medium beetroot
  • fresh dill – about 1TBsp of chopped up dill for every medium beetroot
  • balsamic vinegar – a good old glug of it
  • olive oil – not much, in fact it doesn’t really need it at all
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Maldon sea salt
  1. Cook your beetroot. You might already have a preferred method, but if you don’t then I would recommend you cut off the leafy tops about 0.5cm above the root, then wrap the roots all together in kitchen foil and pop them in a medium oven until they are done. If they are small and you don’t have many of them they’ll take less than an hour, but if you have anything bigger then teeny weeny roots then you’re looking at a couple of hours in the oven to ensure they are cooked. To check they are cooked, unwrap them (carefully) and insert the tip of a sharp knife into the largest one – if it meets no resistance it is cooked. The alternative is to boil them in a big pan of water.
  2. Once the beetroot is cooked let it cool for a while so they are cool enough to handle. With a wee bit of pressure, the skin will slough off and you are left with wee naked purple balls of beetrooty tastiness. 
  3. Chop the beetroot into wee cubes and put in a bowl
  4. Add segments of orange – you don’t want any pith or skin on the segments so take a large orange and a very sharp wee knife and slice off the top and the bottom of the orange. Sit the orange on its bottom, and slice off the pith and skin in big slices all the way round the orange, cutting sections off at a time, from top to bottom – you’ll get the hang of it. Once you have a wee naked orange, hold it over the bowl with the beetroot, so you catch the juicy drips. Using the knife, cut out a segment – you need to cut alongside the natural segment ‘skin’ so you get perfect wee skin free segments of orange. Again, you’ll get the hang of it, but perhaps not on the first orange. Once you’ve released all the segments into the bowl, squeeze the remainders of the orange to capture all the juice in the bowl. 
  5. Now finely chop your shallot and add it to the bowl
  6. And finely chop the dill and mix it in too
  7. Glug in some balsamic vinegar, and wee splash of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper
  8. Taste to see if it needs more balsamic or pepper
Serve, preferably with some sourdough bread, to mop up those juices and smoked trout. And lots of other wee bowls of tasty things to pick and choose from.

Beetroot cheesy muffins

2 Feb

I owe some colleagues some home baking. I’d promised one muffins and another doesn’t eat sugar, so it was clearly time to make another batch of  savoury muffins.  It would have been the Parmesan and Courgette Muffins again, if Tesco’s had any courgettes. But at 7pm I wasn’t about to go traipsing round town hunting down a courgette, so beetroots became a worthy substitute.

Now, if only I’d consulted with the facebook fairies before  I went shopping – the recipe could have been enhanced with feta cheese, goats’ milk, smoked salmon and creme fraiche. But there’s always next time.

Pink savoury mufflets

Savoury beetroot mufflets (a mufflet being a mini muffin)

8oz plain flour

1tsp baking powder

4 small beetroot, cooked and coarsely grated

2oz parmesan, finely grated

2oz mature cheddar, finely grated

200ml milk

about 1/3 tub of plain yoghurt

1 egg, beaten

75ml olive oil

about 3 -4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

Line a muffin pan with paper muffin cases.

  1. Mix together flour and baking powder in a big bowl (everything else will be poured in here eventually)
  2. Add beetroot and cheese and mix – try to get rid of the claggy lumps of beetroot
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, milk, yoghurt and egg together. Add the herbs
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix quickly together. Don’t over-mix, just bring everything together so the pink colour suffuses the whole mixture and it has no lumps of flour. The mixture needs to be quite soft and wet, but not runny
  5. Spoon a large soup spoonful of mixture into each muffin case
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden) in a medium hot oven (Gas Mark 5)

OK – they are out of the oven now. They are more like mufflets than muffins, slightly on the wee size, and not quite enough oomph in the flavour. So this is what I would do differently next time:

  1. Use baking powder that wasn’t past its best
  2. Use the correct size tin for the muffin cases
  3. Swap the milk and yoghurt for goats milk and yoghurt (thanks cousin!)
  4. Add some salt and pepper
  5. Use more sage or some nutmeg, or possibly orange zest, or dill, that would work
  6. Add some finely chopped scallions
  7. Cut some of the milk by volume, as the mixture was a bit too sloppy

Go on, have a go yourself – they are too easy.

And yes, they would be just delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche and some smoked salmon on top. Thanks Barry Bryson.

Lemons, beetroot and cheese

13 Feb

Some of my favourite flavours, and such is the stuff of the perfect Valentine’s feast.

I call it a feast, but actually it’s a series of feasts really.

Yesterday (Saturday) we indulged in some exquisite stilton from Mellis the cheesemonger (a special trip into the west end of Glasgow specifically to buy Valentines cheese!). We had it with freshly baked rolls, sliced relatively thinly like a wee loaf.

For lunch today I made a warm beetroot and goats cheese tart.  And later we’ll be having more beetroot, lightly pickled in a sweet vinegar, with salmon and fresh linguine.

Afterwards we’ll have vanilla panna cotta, which looks delicious, but the coffee gelee on top seems to be liquid coffee, and not a gelee at all.  And for real afters there’ll be a cheeseboard.  Yum.

Lemons.  Where do the lemons come into all of this?

I made a batch of Lemon Kisses – in an assortment of heart, flower and helicopter shapes.  The helicopters will of course be the most popular.  And, I prefer biscuits on their own, not squidged together with cream or icing, or whatever. But the recipe calls for squidging them together with Lemon Curd, so I’ve just made a batch of Lemon Curd, one of my favourtie things to make, and absolute favourite flavours.  I love that sharp lemoniness.  I must experiment with lime and orange curds in the coming months.  Blood oranges are in season right now (and I have three in the fruit bowl ) – I suspect they would make a pretty spectacular curd.

Large jar of lemon curd - store in fridge

Lemon curd

Makes one relatively small jar

60g unsalted butter
130g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1½ large unwaxed lemons
2 large eggs, beaten

  1. Chop the butter into a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest
  3. Warm over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves
  4. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan, stirring rapidly as you pour
  5. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture thickens.  This will take 5-10 minutes.
  6. Once it is thickened, pour into a sterilised jar.  DO NOT allow it to boil as it will curdle.
  7. Once cool, seal the jar and keep in the fridge.
  8. Use within 4 weeks.

Delicious on hot buttered toast, stirred into yoghurt, sandwiching biscuits or sponge cakes.

Beetroot and goats cheese jalousie

Earthy beetroot and horseradish, goaty goats cheese all encased in buttery flaky puffy pastry

  • 1 1/2 medium beetroot, cooked
  • a few slices of goats cheese
  • 2 Tbs yoghurt / creme fraiche
  • 3 tsp grated horseradish
  • 1pkt all butter puff pastry

Grease a baking tray. 

  1. Cut a third of the pastry and roll out into an oblong.  Cook in a GM 7 oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Grate the beetroot and mix with the yoghurt or creme fraiche and horseradish. Season
  3. Cut into the pastry base, squishing down the pastry in the middle, creating a ‘wall’ round the edge and an oblong hole in the middle.
  4. Place the beetroot mixture into the hole in the pastry
  5. Put slices of goats cheese on top
  6. Roll the remainder of the pastry into a larger oblong.  Cut slashes into this pastry, to create diagonals on the pastry lid
  7. Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg
  8. Carefully place the pastry lid over the top of the tart (do this by carefully rolling the whole lid round the rolling pin and then unrolling it back on top of the tart base)
  9. Brush the pastry lid with egg wash
  10. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and cooked
  11. Eat while warm, served with a watercress salad

The lemon kisses recipe will follow.  Eventually

Winter salad

5 Jan

After Christmas, I’d been craving vegetables, and particularly fresh salad-type vegetables.

I was also determined not to do more shopping so did a search in the fridge and the cupboards to see what could be rustled up.  I had a couple of little gem lettuces, but no other real salad veg. But I also had some vac packed beetroot and some pears.  I could see something tasty coming together…

Winter salad

This serves two, and is plenty as a starter, or a light snack with some crusty bread or oatcakes, or part of a legendary Wolffe Lunch.

Enough lettuce for 2 people – I used a whole little gem, but you could just as easily use part of a bag of mixed leaves. Watercress or spinach would be nice

1 beetroot, cut into small cubes – use fresh if you have one, if not those vac packed beetroot are fine. I HATE pickled beetroot though – why smother that deep earthy flavour with all that sharp vinegariness?

1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into equally small cubes

Some crumbled blue cheese – I used stilton, predictably, it being Christmas and there being leftovers in the fridge.  I’ve got some Bleu D’Auvergne which will be tried next

A small handful of walnuts, toasted to bring out the real walnuttiness of the flavour, and extra crunch

Put all of the above in a decent-sized bowl, big enough that you’ll be able to mix them all up once you’ve dressed it.

Now make the dressing.  You can, of course use your own favourite dressing, but these are the flavours that are doing it for me right now:

A good glug of olive oil

A sploosh of vinegar – I’ve been using a combination of a wee bit of balsamic, with a healthy slug of homemade elderflower vinegar (made with elderflowers and white wine vinegar).

A big teaspoon of dijon mustard

An equally big teaspoon or more of runny Scottishflower honey

Put all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a twist of freshly ground black pepper and give it a good beating with a teaspoon, or perhaps more conventionally a fork.

Pour the dressing over the salad and lightly mix everything together.

I’m tempted to swap the cheese out for some smoked trout which was pressed into GMC’s hands on the street in Gatehouse on Boxing Day. Another story.

 

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