Posts Tagged ‘beetroot’

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Lazy Sunday: weekend cooking

November 28, 2011

Sunday is my favourite day for cooking, especially as the weather warms up. It helps that the Addison Road grower’s and farmer’s market happens on Sundays, and is within walking distance from our house. My favourite Sunday morning involves a couple of lazy coffees and checking out the recipes in the weekend papers for any inspiration, then tootling off up the road with my big ol green Rolser (we have had this old workhorse for over a decade, and it’s done service as an off-road camping equipment buggy and firewood collecting vehicle, among other things – it’s completely indestructible!) to fill up with market goodies. 

I especially like Sunday cooking if I’ve been away as I have been a bit lately – last week at the fab Varuna, The Writer’s House where I got to hang out with some excellent writers and artists (like this and this and this) and make a start on my new novel (ugh). Then tomorrow I’m off again, this time to Melbourne (would love any of you to pop in to this event and say hi if you’re free?) and then away again elsewhere on the weekend.

What with all the coming and going, a good solid Sunday’s worth of messing about in the kitchen not only means a fridge full of lunch goodies for the week, but more importantly it just makes me feel right. It’s the best way I know to get that home-and-grounded feeling that makes me feel I’m in my right skin again.

Yesterday’s market haul included a couple of kilos of organic tomatoes, some hot smoked salmon, a few eggplants, a little bag of dutch cream spuds, a bunch of beetroot, some zukes, a couple of gorgeous-looking red capsicums I couldn’t resist, a dozen eggs, couple of bunches of kale, onions, six mixed lettuce seedlings and some olive oil soap. At other times I might stock up on nuts and dried fruit, maybe throw in some good bread and a bit of cheese or yoghurt. I like Marrickville market because it’s relatively pretension-free, though it is growing a bit crowded for easy strolling these days …

Anyhoo – once home I bunged on the boil the chickpeas and white beans that I’d had soaking since Saturday, and thought about what to do with everythign. First stop was to chuck the eggplants on the barbecue for some good smoky baba ghanoush, swiftly followed in the food processor by the chickpeas for some hommous (I never made good hommous until I struck gold with the lovely Fouad’s foolproof recipe here, which I use every time).

Then I bunged the beetroots and capsicum in the oven for roasting. The roasted, peeled capsicum I tore into strips and tossed in with a salad of chickpeas, garlic, herbs, lemon & oil, and the beetroot I made into the salad below.

With the kale, I made half a fantastic dish – it was pretty good, but as I failed to include a couple of crucial ingredients I don’t want to post it here until I get it right! Ever have those moments where you’re halfway through a dish and thinking, ‘This would be great if there was just a little crunch … oh, that’s right. In the recipe there is a little crunch…’ So stay tuned for that one, which I’m going to try again tonight I think – with all the ingredients this time!

All this stuff made for a lovely impromptu Sunday night dinner with our friend miss J, my sister and her bloke whose birthday it was last week. Miss J made an incredible beetroot and chocolate cake – fudgy, velvety and gorgeous – in honour of the birthday boy, and I roasted a nice organic chook and served all these veg things on the side.

The hit of the evening was the beetroot, both in the cake and in this walnut, beetroot and feta salad. I have till recently been a bit confused about walnuts – for some reason they, alone among all the nuts, invariably give me a small, unpleasant and instantaneous pain in the upper stomach as soon as I eat them. Don’t really understand this and am loath to investigate too much in case I am banned from eating delicious things – so my preferred tactic has always been to grin and bear it.

Recently, though, someone on Twitter – I can’t remember who, so if it was you, remind me! – suggested caramelising walnuts in balsamic vinegar. This not only makes some deadset delicious crunchy bombs of divinity, but weirdly seems to have eradicated the gutbusting pain on ingestion. Everyone’s a winner!

Roast beetroot, balsamic walnuts & marinated feta

  • 3 beetroots, roasted in foil for about an hour or until tender
  • handful walnuts (on advice from Saint Maggie Beer I keep all nuts in the freezer now to prevent rancidity & pantry moth)
  • olive oil
  • about 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon or two marinated feta (I usually have a jar of this stuff in the fridge but it would be a piece o’piss to make yr own – must investigate!)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. When beetroots are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and cut into quarters or biggish chunks.
  3. Lightly toast the walnuts in the oven until just crisp but not coloured. As mine came straight from the freezer they took about 10 minutes but be careful not to burn them – burnt nuts are hideous and inedible. If your walnuts are whole, break them up a little with a wooden spoon.
  4. In a small frying pan over a medium heat, toss the walnuts in a little olive oil and the vinegar, cooking till the liquid has evaporated. Set nuts aside to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Toss the beetroot with the warm nuts, and season well with salt.

So there you have it. But I want to use walnuts more in cooking – I do love their superb crunch and slight bitterness – so if you have any walnut favourites let me at em. And what about your weekend cooking – get up to anything interesting? Do share …….

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Beet poetry

January 18, 2011

Is it a particularly Australian thing to love beetroot? I have never heard other Anglo people praising it as we do, and clearly the idea of a tinned slice of beetroot on a hamburger is just weird where other Western cultures are concerned.

My childhood was full of tinned beetroot, and I grew to dislike it. I still gag at the thought of soft, gluggy white-bread salad sandwiches soaked in beetroot juice – ugh.

But once I discovered fresh, real, roasted beetroot as as an adult, it became one of my favourite things. Roast beetroot seems to have a deeper, earthier flavour than boiled, I find. Or it could be my imagination – but the excess of leaky pink juices in the boiling takes me back to that sandwich-soaking issue, so roasting is the only way in our house.

Beetroot chunks are especially good in a salad with some feta, don’t you think? Not to mention grated  in the Empress’s delectable beetroot dip courtesy Madhur Jaffrey.

Unaccountably,  the other day I had a craving for beetroot curry. It’s unaccountable because I had never eaten such a thing, or was even sure it existed. The internet yielded quite a few recipes, many of which sounded to my ears either rather bland or too sweet, so instead I experimented a little with a couple of made up versions. The best was this riff on the aforementioned beetroot and feta combination – basically a palak paneer with beetroot. And I have to say, it is rather good – the cheese is essential, it seems to me, to balance out the otherwise rather watery potential of this dish, and since I discovered paneer in the supermarket alongside the haloumi (more on that soon – a festival of salt and fat; is there anything finer?), I’ve become a major fan.

Beetroot palak paneer

  • 2 medium beetroots, roasted, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable / olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch English spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 birdseye chillis, roughly chopped
  • 1 small pack paneer (Indian cottage cheese), cubed
  • a few curry leaves
  • pinch garam masala
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill leaves & stalk

1. Fry garlic, onion, ginger till soft, then add spices and curry leaves and fry till aromatic.

2. Add spinach and fry a few minutes till wilted and coated in the spices, then season liberally with salt.

3. Add tomatoes & chilli and bring to the boil.

4. Add beetroot and simmer gently, covered, for 20 or 30 minutes for flavours to develop.

5. Add cubed cheese and garam masala and stir to combine.

6. Sprinkle with chopped dill.

7. Serve with rice and split peas for a sturdy accompaniment, with yoghurt and lemon wedges on the side.

 

Now, what about you? Do you too love beetroot, and if so, may I urge you to count the ways?