Tag Archives: beetroot

Spiced beetroot soup with orange

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The recent mild weather fooled us into thinking spring was here but winter is still holding on with determination. Soups naturally come into their own during the winter months and they deliver a big warming hug in a bowl: nutritious, belly-filling and soothing all in one. They lift and nourish the soul; comforting but good for you too.

You could reach for one of the usual roots – carrot, onion, parsnip – to make a fine soup, but beetroot, with its shocking crimson and honeyed earthiness, makes a more interesting choice. Be warned though, cooking with beetroot can sometimes be a messy affair. Our first attempt at making Thai beetroot soup at Food at 52, where I teach, ended up like a bloody scene from a Quentin Tarantino film. That aside, cooking with beetroot is definitely worth a bit of drama in the kitchen.

In this Moroccan inspired recipe, the beetroot is roasted to intensify the natural sweetness and gives a lovely rounded nuttiness. I find a generous glass of water inside the foil-wrapped tray helps the cooking process and to also keep things moist. Always peel the beetroot when it’s still warm (disposable gloves highly recommended unless you want pink hands for a few days) and if the skin is proving stubborn to remove it means it’s not quite cooked. But because it’s going to cook further in the soup, use a peeler if you need to.

A whole bulb of garlic is roasted alongside the beetroot until deliciously caramelised and golden. I like to roast an extra bulb so I can make some ultimate garlic butter – smeared on freshly baked bread it’s heavenly. Then, onions and celery are sweated gently in a large pot with the garlic and fragrant spices – the heady aroma fills the entire kitchen. The warm aromatic spices work so well with the beetroot and a hint of orange, using strips of the zest and juice, bring a touch of freshness.

This isn’t super-quick to make but your efforts will be rewarded with a special soup – its eye-popping colour looks stunning and the beetroot with the subtle spicing is utterly delicious. It is, indeed, happiness in a bowl. Make a bit more as it freezes really well, too.

If you love beetroot but have never tried it with chocolate before, then why not give my delicious beetroot and brownies recipe a go – the beetroot providing a subtle background to the rich dark chocolate.

Ingredients
750g beetroot, scrubbed, leaves removed and pat dry
Large whole garlic bulb
Olive oil
1 onion, small dice
1 stalk of celery, small dice
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground ginger
1/4 freshly ground nutmeg
1 litre vegetable stock
1 orange
Dill and toasted flaked almonds to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Line a high rimmed oven tray with foil then put the beetroot inside with a good pinch of salt and a generous drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to coat evenly, add a large wine glass of water and cover tightly with some more foil. Put on middle tray in the oven for 1-2 hours depending on the size. A skewer should go through easily if cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the spices in a small frying pan till fragrant then grind to a powder in a pestle & mortar or spice grinder.
  4. Cut the top third off the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in an individual piece of foil. Pop the garlic in the oven at the same time as the beetroot for 1 hour and leave inside foil to cool.
  5. When the beetroot are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and remove the top and tail. Chop into 2cm dice.
  6. Heat a generous glug of oil in a large pot over a gentle heat and sweat the onion and celery till soft but not coloured, about 8 minutes. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add, along with the spices.
  7. Cook for a few minutes (adding more oil if you too dry) then add the beetroot, stock, orange strips and juice. Turn up the heat up and bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Blitz the soup till smooth and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve with a swirl of yogurt, some toasted almonds and chopped dill.

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Ultra gooey chocolate beetroot brownies

Beetroot brownies

Beetroot brownies

When I worked near Borough Market, every Friday was brownie day and I devoured an obscene amount of brownies in my quest to determine which stall sold the best. They were judged purely on taste and sheer eating pleasure, although it was very tempting to take the size into account ­­as some of them were ginormous slabs, the size of books.

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Blood orange, fennel & beetroot salad

 

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The arrival of the gruesome sounding blood orange in January is a happy moment for anyone that’s been seduced by the deep crimson flesh and distinct citrus flavour with a raspberry edge. They can be deliciously sweet such as the beautiful red-streaked Sanguinello, to the more bitter deep-red Moro variety. They are smaller than navel oranges with pitted skin and some have a dark-red rind; a hint to the alluring vivid interior. The colour is influenced by how far into the season the fruit was picked – more orange at the beginning and then more red towards the end – but when cutting into one, the element of wonder and surprise never ceases to amaze me.

Blood oranges have a season of only a few months so grab them by the crate load and use abundantly while you can. Fortunately, they are incredibly versatile and it’s not a problem to think of a multitude of mouthwatering uses: beautiful salads with simple, clean flavours; zingy feel-good juices; classy cocktails; citrus singing cakes and tarts; elegant puddings such as soufflés and Panna Cotta; and jewel-toned marmalade. And don’t get me started on icecream and sorbet. Just like asparagus and Jersey potatoes, their special status is preserved by their swift season and my excitement would definitely not be so palpable if available all year round.

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Although grown in California, most of the oranges in our shops come from southern Mediterranean and Italy in particular. The best fruits are meant to grow in the volcanic rich soils of Sicily, where the classic winter salad of blood orange, fennel and olive oil is popular – throw in some plump olives and you’ve got heaven on a plate. This stunning Sicilian salad of blood oranges and fennel provides the inspiration for the recipe here.

It’s a simple salad with vibrant colours and palette-awakening flavours; perfect for a weekend lunch or light starter. The earthy sweet beetroot provides a perfect platform for the slightly tart orange, salty feta, delicate aniseed from the fennel and distinctive taste of the walnuts. Toasted hazelnuts or almonds are also particularly good. There’s a mix of textures to keep things interesting and a scattering of mint gives a lovely freshness to the whole dish. With one bite of this salad, you will forget the grey winter outside and be temporarily transported to the sunshine blessed island of Sicily with azure seas, stunning coastlines and majestic mountains.

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 medium cooked beetroot, cut into rounds
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
2 blood orange, peeled and cut into rounds
70g feta, cut into cubes
30g walnuts toasted and roughly chopped
Handful of mint leaves

Dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Half tsp runny honey

  1. Steam the beetroot for about 1 hour, depending on size. Allow to cool and, with gloves on your hands, slide off the skin. Cut into thin rounds and set aside.
  2. Remove any tough exterior of the fennel bulb and cut in half lengthways. Using a mandolin carefully shave the fennel into thin slices. Alternatively, use a sharp knife and cut as thinly as possible. If preparing in advance, squeeze some lemon juice over to prevent it going brown.Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over a low-medium heat until golden. Keep shaking the pan so they don’t burn. Roughly chop.
  3. Cut the top and bottom off the oranges so they are flat, then using a sharp knife cut the peel and pith from each orange. Cut into thin rounds.
  4. Cut the feta into cubes and set aside. Then for the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified.
  5. Assemble by laying the beetroot on the bottom and then the fennel and oranges. Scatter over the feta and walnuts, finishing with a drizzle of the dressing and a handful of mint leaves.

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