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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

  1. Beetroot, Kale and Walnut Salad

    March 8, 2014 by sarah

    Winter is a tough time for salads; the seasonal ingredients are limited to brassicas and root vegetables and then the weather leaves you wanting nothing but stodgy comfort food. But I craved a salad this week and when I found a beautiful bunch of beetroot in the supermarket I knew I had the makings of a satisfying winter salad. My heart did a little leap for joy.



























    If your experience of beetroot so far has been pickled beets from a jar or even the vacuum packed ones then you need to try cooking your own. The difference is like the difference between canned and fresh tuna; incomparable. And there really isn’t much hassle in their preparation and I actually quite like the ‘I’ve just murdered someone’ hands (or you could wear rubber gloves). I wonder if that could be a Halloween freak night event; preparing raw beets!

    Beetroot, kale and and walnut salad

    enough for 4 people as side salad or 2-3 as main event
    bunch of raw beetroots, about 500g
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
    bag of prepared kale, about 350g
    handful of walnuts, about 50g
    150g goats cheese – I used ewes milk Wensleydale as it was on offer
    lemon vinaigrette – juice of half a lemon, a splash of white wine vinegar, same volume of olive or virgin rapeseed oil, large pinch of salt
    Preheat the over to 200 °C (fan) and line a baking tray with foil. Clean the beetroots and trim off the tops and roots; cut into chunky wedges. Put on the foil lined baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil and cumin seeds; toss until well covered. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender and slightly caramelised around the edges. While the oven is on and hot toast the walnuts for 5 minutes. All both to cool.
    Blanch the kale in boiling water for a minute, drain and dunk into cold water to stop the cooking. You then need to fully dry the kale; either put in a salad spinner, pat dry with clean tea towels or wrap in a clean tea towel and whizz around your head like a lasso (you may want to do this outside, and don’t let go).
    Make up the vinaigrette by whisking the ingredients together.
    Make up the salad by layering the kale on the bottom, followed by the beetroot, crumble over the cheese, toss over the walnuts and drizzle over the dressing. Enjoy!
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  2. Spice Up Your Life – Masala Chai

    January 1, 2014 by sarah

    Here is my first new project for 2014; 40 spices in 40 recipes in two years. This was inspired by the spices seen (and smelt) in Morocco; the lines of market stalls piled high with multi-coloured powders, roots and barks, the pungent spiciness tickling the nose. If you have ever seen inside my ‘flavour additive’ cupboard you will know that spices and the like feature frequently in my cooking. But in this series of blogs I want to take my use of spices to new places so each recipe will highlight one spice, though the recipe may contain other spices and flavour additives the ‘main’ spice will be the predominant flavour. Also, I want to discover new spices and unusual ways of using familiar ones, so look out for traditionally sweet spices in savoury dishes and visa versa.

    What is it about spices? Any flavour additive (a term of my invention) turns a basic dish into something extra-ordinary, something special. Think of the sensations of eating a warmly spiced curry; the burning feeling in the mouth that is exciting and somewhat shocking, dangerous even. But then subtleties of a delicately spiced Christmas biscuit or the richness of vanilla in ice cream.

    So first we need to know what we are using i.e. what is a spice? Well it turns out not to be an easy question to answer. The fountain of all knowledge that is Wikipedia (wink, wink – they like to think they are the bible but some of the information is flawed so take it with a pinch of salt) says a spice is ‘a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetable substance primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food’. So a dried part of a plant other than the leaves because the leaves are herbs. Ok, I think I’ve got it. But what about fresh spices like ginger root or garlic, they don’t HAVE to be dried do they? If they aren’t spices (or herbs) then what are they in a culinary sense? Ginger can be fresh or dried but both forms taste and act differently. Looks from a whiz around the internet that things like ginger, garlic, horseradish and capers are considered vegetable or flavourings rather than spices. Ok, we will stick to dried forms then.

    So we come to our first recipe. I am not going to call this one of the official recipes of the project, because as the name implies, it contains several different spices and not one over-riding flavour. This recipe is adapted from a packet of ‘Chocolate Chai’ I bought in a Whittards shop and had been languishing in the back of the cupboard for a year until I made a pot a few weeks ago and discovered how delicious it was. The bought version was based on coco kernels which look and taste exactly like coco nibs (available from health food shops) so feel free to substitute them for the black tea. It made a fantastic mildly spicy and faintly chocolaty drink.


    Masala Chai

    You can add or substitute in really any spice you like, typically things like coriander, fennel, black pepper, star anise.
    3 cups loose black tea (about 100g)
    36 green cardamon
    1 teaspoon pink pepper corns
    2 teaspoons cloves
    4″ piece of cinnamon broken into small shards
    8 pieces of candied stem ginger in sugar, finely cut up
    Mix all the ingredients together and then store in a kilner jar or other similar jars for gift giving. I bought some empty tea bags with drawstrings which can be filled and then used like regular tea bags.
    Brewing Instructions
    tea for one
    200ml of water
    100ml of milk (preferrably whole milk)
    1 tablespoon of Chai Mix placed into a tea bag
    Sugar or honey to tasteBring the water to a boil and add the teabag. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Add the milk, turn on the flame and reheat until hot. Remove from heat, discard teabag, sweeten to taste, enjoy!