Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate Salami


 

At this time of year it’s always handy to have a little something that you can whip up faster than 2 verses and a chorus of Jingle bells.

With no baking and minimal dexterity required this chocky treat is utterly splendid. Wodged together to resemble salami, thin discs cut as you go are best served alongside pre Christmas gossip and a calming cup of tea.

I love things as easy and simple as this, which somehow makes one look all homemade and creatively kooky all at the same time. The recipe is blindingly simple. You can mix it up and substitute whatever bits and bobs you have on hand, but I was particularly chuffed with the addition of ginger nuts as they added some good crunchy texture and aren’t too sickly sweet. As for the red and green of the pistachio/cranberry combo, well; ‘tis the season.

Wrapped up in waxed paper and string this is a happy deviation from the more traditional gift repertoire.

 
150g gingernut biscuits

100g butter

2 Tbs golden syrup

60 g Cocoa

100 g pistachio

50 g craisins (dried cranberries)

1)      Clear some bench space and lay out a piece of alfoil topped with baking paper about 30cm long in readiness for the mixture.

2)      Pop the bickies into a sturdy bag and bash in a firm, yet restrained fashion. (This is an ideal outlet letting out some pre Christmas stress, but it’s a fine line as it you go too vigorously they will spay everywhere and make you swear loudly)

3)      Heat the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat, once melted stir in the cocoa and then add the remaining ingredients.

4)      Stir well to create a thick lumpy mass then plonk it alongside the long edge of the baking paper. With clean slightly damp hands wodge the mixture into a sausage shape. Then working with a bossy disposition roll the paper, foil and mixture into a long, firm sausage shape. Squeeze and twist the bits on the end and crunkle the resulting log to create the wrinkly textured surface.

5)      Chill for2 hours or until firm.

6)      To serve. Unwrap and dust with icing sugar and then loosely wrap in baking paper and some bits of string. Marvellous with a cup of tea and lashings of festive chit chatt

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Relish the moment - beetroot edition



Whilst I am on a festive roll I think it’s time we had a chat about beetroot relish. Its a failsafe part of my Yule arsenal. I have given it numerous times as gifts to great accolades and have found it a saviour to have on hand to jolly up any summer entertaining efforts.

The flamboyant red flesh is sublime in a meaty hamburger or it can add an intriguing twist to a cheese plate or bbq. I have even added it with equal parts sour cream to make a luridly pink dip.

The only tricky part is grating and preparing the largish quantity of beetroot. Thankfully beetroot does not need to be peeled, just give it a good soak and scrub then away you go. As for the grating, I tend not to rely on gadgets, but a food processor makes this chore an absolute doddle. If you are going down the path of using a simple box grater, my advice would be to pop on a latex glove. Stained fingers aside, a sacrificial layer of skin when dealing with knuckle loving blades is always a good thing.
The quantity given is on the high side, generally it tends to make 4 large jars, which is rarely an issue given the long shelf life and general deliciousness of the preserve.

It truly is as simple as popping all of the ingredients into a big cauldron and boiling like mad. The time taken to boil into a thick mass is quite variable- the best indication of readiness is when your can swipe along the base of the pan and see a clear line that does not instantly fill with liquid. Most of the juices should be evaporated or become soaked up by the beets, err on the side of extra cooking if things are looking on the flimsy side.
It does make your house smell like a pickling factory, but I quite like that, its just another little sensory reminder that happy summer days are not far away.

Beetroot relish

The lively combination of beetroot, orange and fennel seed combine to make this gloriously coloured relish.  It makes a wonderful accompaniment to festive cold meat and is marvellous to have on hand for summer entertaining.

1.5 kg raw beetroot coarsely grated

3 onions sliced

3 granny smith apples peeled and grated  

Zest and juice of 3 oranges

2 Tbs mustard seeds

1 Tbs fennel seeds

1Tbs ground cloves

1 Tbs ground cinnamon

700 ml red wine vinegar

700 g brown sugar.

 

1.     In a preserving pan or your largest saucepan, mix together all the ingredients well. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 1 hr, stirring occasionally, until the chutney is thick and the beetroot tender.

2.     While the relish is cooking, prepare your jars by running through a short hot wash in your dishwasher. Or wash thoroughly by hand, and then put in a hot oven to sterilize for 10-15 mins.

3.     Once the relish is ready, let it settle for 10 mins, then carefully spoon into the jars and seal while still hot. You can eat it straight away but it will be even better after a week or two.

4.     Will keep for up to 6 months in a cool dark place. Once opened, refrigerate and eat within 2 months.

The quantity given makes 4 large jars, the recipe can easily be halved to yield a more modest amount.

Relish the moment (rhubarb and cardamon edition)



Rhubarb relish

This peppy scented relish is a surprising detour from traditional condiments. Richly spiced with festive flavour its rather delicious with sharp cheeses and can transform a ham sandwich it something really rather special.

1 Tbs olive oil

2 onions

2 Tbs finely chopped rosemary

2/3 cup dried cherries

70  g crystalised ginger

5 bruised cardamom pods

1 quill of cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of each -cloves , nutmeg, allspice

A generous pinch of salt and pepper

750 g brown sugar

3 apples peeled and cored

1large bunch of rhubarb (roughly 1kg)

500ml apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs brandy

Finely slice and dice onion then sauté in a large wide based preserving pan with rosemary until soft and translucent.

Meanwhile prepare apples by peeling and slicing into large chunks, cut rhubarb into 2cm lengths- set to one side

To the pan add cherries, ginger, spices and heat until fragrant then add sugar, fruit and vinegar.

Bring to a brisk boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and then simmer for up to an hour or until chutney is thick and jammy. Remove woody cardamom pods and add brandy, allow to boil for 1 min, then allow to cool for 10 mins.

Ladle the cooled chutney into clean jars, cover, seal and store in a cool dark place. Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a month or two. 


An astonishing knowledge of fruit cakes

When it comes to Yule baking the lines between being eccentric and prepared are somewhat blurred.

On one hand it makes perfect sense to spend considerable time constructing multi layered origami collars with a fit so precise a Saville Row tailor would be proud. Then there are the days of massaging and anointing the hand selected fruit, the temperature being kept consistent by one of the cotton muslin wraps I used to wrap my babies in. I have even been known to wait for an elusive rainy day to optimise ambient moisture in the air.
“Dryness” being the nemesis of any fruit cake connoisseur, most of the fastidious little rituals are all about maximising plumpness and taking the manufacture of a once a year treat with due ceremony. Preparing the fruit marks the beginning of the festive season in much the same way as the last toothsome slice heralds the start of the business end of the year and end of holiday fun.

And there is the crux, this is a once a year gig. I like the rhythms and ritual of festive fare. It is the very antithesis of the quick and zesty mid week suppers we bang out night after night to our hungry brood.
You cannot hurry a Christmas cake, nor can you trick one into being something that it is not. Your labours should result in something bold dense and wonderful. All of the seeming phaffing about will (hopefully) result in a wonderful companion that accompanies many post Christmas piping hot cups of tea and good gossip sessions.

And whilst I love the making of the cake it is the subsequent eating that thrills me most. It is made to be shared and is an omnipresent guest at happy times. This is our family cake recipe, used for weddings, christenings and Christmas. I am yet to find one I enjoy more and it really is a pleasure to revisit it every year.
 

(Mum’s) Rich Fruit Cake

Step one – fruity goodness.

The first step is to get the fruit brewing along nicely. All fruits given here have a degree of flexibility, just obey the weight and tailor to suit your favourites.

3 cups (500g) sultanas

1 ½ cups (250g) raisins, chopped

2/3 cup (140g) red glace cherries, quartered

¾ cup (125g) dried currants

¾ cup (125g) mixed peel

2 tablespoons marmalade

½ cup (125ml) booze

More than 12 hours in advance (preferably up to a week) mix fruit, marmalade and booze in a large non reactive bowl. Give it a little stir every now and then and sniff it occasionally to fill your little heart with festive cheer. I tend to cover mine with glad wrap to lock in the moisture, then I drape a cloth over it to make it nice and dark and cool.
Purists opt for brandy, but we tend towards rum as a nod towards my Dads preference for a rum and coke after a hard day of bowling. Port is you budget option. Orange juice or tea for goody two shoes.

On that note....often I am asked about doing an alcohol free version for kids. I tend not to, as I think, without putting too finer point on things, that enough of Christmas revolves around the little darlings. I have no issue with saying to my kids; no you can’t have any cake- it’s for grownups.  This is my cake recipe – not theirs.

Step 2 – origami
 
Save this task for a day of robust disposition. The aim is to create a good protective sheath around your pride and joy as it cooks. Please don’t mock me when I confess to doing up to 8 layers. You can not do this step with noisy children about, or under the influence of any alcohol. It should be a zen like moment in the hurly burly haze of pre Christmas preparations- good luck with that....

I make mine every year in a 22 cm round pan. Square tins are notorious for dry corners and therefore terrify me.

Step 3 - the baking bit.

This bit is even more fun if you make a nice little montage of ingredients and pretend that you have your own cooking show.
 
Note the wildcard addition of freeze dried cherries this year - I await the ceremonial cutting on the 24Dec for Santa to let you know if this flippant substitution for mixed peel was a success.
 
You will need:

250g softened butter

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 cup (200g) firmly packed brown sugar

4 eggs

2 cups (300g) plain flour

2 teaspoons mixed spice
Method
Beat butter, rinds and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until just combined and then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until just combined between additions.

Fold the butter mixture into the fruit mixture then mix in the sifted flour and spice.  Spread mixture into the prepared cake pan using the precision of a surgeon; you don't want any gloppy bits on the paper sleeve.


 
Bake in a slow oven for 3 hours. (Refer to table below for cooking times and temperatures)  Whilst cooking you may wish to cover the cake with brown paper if top is browning too fast and for extra added insurance you may wish to use a cardboard collar cut from cereal boxes around the outer side of the cake tin.

When cooked, brush extra rum over top, (this is the highlight of my culinary year as the warm cake sizzles with the excitement of the extra booze and you can almost hear it sigh with gratitude.)

Step 4 – Nativity scene

The last part of the cooking process is a long slow wafty incubation of all of that festive goodness. Remember your cake has endured 3 hours of cooking, so the secret to making sure it if properly cooked is a long slow, moisture locking, cool down.
In the spirit of the season I opt for the newborn effect of multi layers of swaddling, and pity the fool that messes with my baby.


In a perfect world your cakes are made about 2 months before eating. That said I have made them only a week before and they have still been glorious.

Here are some notes from the years of running cooking classes on the topic. I am delighted to report that I have had  numerous people tell me that their cakes turned out fabulously using these tips:
A good deal of time and effort has gone into your cake. Here is how to keep it in good condition until Christmas.
      Wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and then in double foil. Secure it all with an elastic band, then keep it in an airtight container till needed

For those that like it boozy….little 'feeding' of the cake at odd intervals (say, weekly) before Christmas will add an extra dimension to it. This is done by making small holes in the top and bottom of the cake with a darning needle, then spooning over teaspoonfuls of brandy to soak in through the holes and permeate the cake.

COOKING DIFFERENT SIZED CAKES.

There is no definitive timing for cooking smaller cakes - Small cakes have to be watched carefully if they are not to be dry; a few minutes either way can be the difference. You can always juice a cake up a bit by force-feeding it with brandy through holes pierced in its underside, which can be a handy insurance policy!

Here is a table which through trail and error I have devised as a guide to cooking times for smaller cakes. I think I nabbed the original from a Delia Smith book, but I have scribbled and scrawled my own little numbers all over it so I think I can safely call it my own. It’s impossible to be exact on cooking times as the moisture of the fruit and personality of the oven are very dominant factors, however a soft oven and a keen eye can guarantee success.

Use 160 for first hour, 150 for second hour then 140 for all remaining time. Allow 25% leeway either side and remember the best test for “doneness” is a fine metal skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.


DiameterCooking timeRemarks
Cupcake40Use 4 patty pan thickness
15 cm round1.5 hours 
18 cm round2 hours 
20 cm round2.5 hours 
22 cm round3 hoursUse a cardboard shield around outside for any cake larger than this
24 cm round3.5 hoursCover any cake larger than this with baking paper cut with a hole in the centre for last 2 hours of cooking
26 cm round4 hours 

Scaling up is more difficult with fruit cake recipes – they cannot simply be doubled or tripled. However, as a general rule, square tins hold about 25 per cent more than round tins of the same size (fastidious engineer husband has verified this by doing some tricky sums - he concurred it was more like 27% but we agree to disagree). The cooking temperature would be the same, but it might take longer to cook, and it’s a good idea to turn the cake tin round in the oven a few times because the corners tend to cook faster than the middle.

ICING YOUR CAKE
Sieved marmalade or apricot jam
2 x 500g packets almond flavoured cake paste
pure icing sugar
2 x 500g packets soft icing (fondant)
75cm ribbon

ROYAL ICING
1 egg white
1 cup (160g) pure icing sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon


1. Trim the top of the fruit cake flat and turn upside down on the board. Fill the holes in the cake with small pieces of the almond cake paste.

2. Knead the cake paste until smooth on a surface dusted with sifted icing sugar. (If cake paste is too firm, remove the foil pop it in the micro for a jiff.) Roll the paste on a surface dusted with sifted icing sugar until large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake.

3. Brush the cake all over with the warmed jam or marmalade then gently lift the cake paste onto the cake with a rolling pin. Smooth the icing onto the cake with sugared hands.  Trim the excess paste from the base with a sharp knife. Stand the cake at room temperature for several hours or until firm to touch.

4. Knead the soft icing until smooth on a surface dusted with sifted icing sugar. Roll the icing as for the cake paste, brush the cake with warmed jam or marmalade and cover with the soft icing as before.

 Royal Icing: Beat the egg white in a small bowl with a fork until frothy; discard half of the egg white. Beat in the sifted icing sugar, about 2 teaspoons at a time, with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms very firm peaks; stir in the juice. Keep the surface of the icing covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

 Attach the ribbon to the cake with a small amount of the Royal Icing at the join. Attach any additional adornments to the top of the cake with tiny amounts of icing. Stand until set.



Stay turned for the next chapter which is more detail of icing, decorating and running the gauntlet that is international customs, but if you need that info faster than my blogging allows hope you got the general gist....


to be continued...





 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some very scenic breakfasts


The Floral Apron family tour bus has been busy of late. It’s has been a delight to discover that Kiwi’s take their public holidays very seriously and in the month of November we have enjoyed 2 long weekends!! This has resulted in some outrageously scenic breakfasts,
 
And yes; standing out in the elements cooking breakfast for the family was a little chilly. The scientifically minded might put two and two together and work out that gas bottles are not at their most efficient in freezing conditions, there is very good reason that the neighbouring tables are not teaming with fellow bacon enthusiasts.
Then there was the honey toast and tea in the mid south farming heartland;
As you can see it was a hum dinger of a day, but owning to the last few nights spent in a freezing campervan the children or my husband were not interested in trying to recreate scenes from The Sound of Music and had little tolerance for excessive cheer. Onwards we went..
Pies from a bakery always hit the spot for an outdoorsy weekend and the Fairlie bakehouse was notably fine.Then there was this;

If you look very closely in this picture you can see a little campervan parked amongst the pines. If you look even closer you can find me drinking wine and reading a book in that same vehicle and generally sulking that my husband had picked a very very ugly place to call home for the night.
Imagine the surprise and delight the next morning once the storm clouds had quite literally broken and this is the scene that greeted us.


 
There was celebratory rock skimming,



All was forgiven and thoughts turned to lamb for dinner.


 As you can see; life is never dull or colourless in New Zealand.
 

 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mussel time


They say that calm seas do not a skilled mariner make, and so with the hurly burly of family life and notable absence of an IT department my fledgling blogg has suffered.

But I am guessing that I am not the Lone Ranger in having an erratic ebb and flow of domestic demands. “We’ve been so busy” seems to be the all encompassing excuse that blurts out so easily these days. And I get it, I really do. There are bills to be paid and mouths to feed and only so many hours in a day that one can indulge in pretty picture and jaunty new recipes.

Times like this call for instant gratification, and I happen to think that nothing pleases the senses more than a big bowl of steaming fresh mussels. I am a tactile creature, and whilst shell fish may not be every ones first choice to regain culinary momentum, I just love their holiday like rhythm of preparation.

First comes the simple and repetitive diddling about with scrubbing and debearding, and actually that’s about as difficult as things get. Then its just a quick (less than 5 min) hot sauna in a boozy juice before being served in a large bowl that invites busy fingers to uncover the plump juicy jewels of meat.

It is not a meal that can be hurried and one that demands a certain level of joyous and enthusiastic participation. As the discarded shells pile up, the juices dribble down your fingers and conversation bubbles freely it becomes abundantly clear that it is impossible not to love a meal that takes longer to eat than it does to cook.

 

Mussels in white wine

 
One of the perks of living in New Zealand is the cheap and fabulously good supply of beautiful vibrant green lipped mussels.

 

1.5 kg cleaned mussels

30 g butter

1 large shallot fined chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 sprig of thyme

1 cup of dry white wine

 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

 

Scrub and de beard mussels. Discard any that have broken shells or do not close when tapped. Cover and refrigerate until required.
To cook the mussels: In large pan melt butter, add chopped shallot, garlic and thyme. Cook over a moderate heat until softened. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil.
Over a high heat add the mussels to the wine bath. Cover with a tight fitting lid and give the pan a good shake to ensure an even distribution. Cook for 3-4 minutes by which time the shells should have opened (if not give them another minute or two).
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices and a big old rustic bowl for the shells. Keeping with the NZ theme; a cheeky little sav blanc goes rather magnificently too!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

King of the Kingstons


 


Fighting with your siblings is a rite of passage. It instils such fine attributes as a sense of passion and the ability to make sure you are not duped. And let’s face it a dash of guile and cunning is an essential life skill, one might as well learn it young.

So let it go on public record that The Kingston biscuit, nestled in amongst its mediocre fellow Arnott’s assorted, was a prize worth fighting for. Perhaps it was the presence of chocolate, or the fact that there were only 4 of them but 8 crappy old Monte Carlos per packet, but the Kingston gave the greedy kids of Australia a lesson in tactics.

There was the quality over quantity trade option; one Kingston for 3 custard creams would always conquer my brother and his Labrador pup approach to food. Then there was the Red Riding hood esq going solo to visit Grandma routine, which always resulted in a non competitive dip in the bickie barrel. However my greatest manoeuvre was the biscuit by stealth option, which set me up for a lifetime of thinking that if no one sees you eat it then the calories don’t count.

Not so long ago I got the chance to nibble on a Kingston(which I didn’t have to endure a dead leg for) and frankly it was a great dissapointment. How could it be that the token of victory from my youth was way too sweet and miserably small?

I have taken it upon myself to reinstate some glory to this fallen hero. Hence the following recipe is not completely accurate, but it does capture the best nostalgic highlights of coconut and chocolate to great effect.

It is gluten free but that is merely a happy coincidence of this simple recipe. The absence of any flour or binding agent creates a beautiful light airy biscuit which gives an almost toffee like crunch. I just wodged mine together with some chocolate icing I had hanging around in the freezer, the Achilles heel of this plan is that not everyone has bits of surplus icing on hand. Happily I can report they are remarkably good with a glop of nutella as a substitute, or you could go the whole hog and whip up a chocolate ganache if you were really being fancy.

But whichever route you take with the filling, be sure to make sufficient to go round – as some people think that there is little dignity in fighting for biscuits.


Coconut Kingstons
These yummy biscuit sandwiches are a cinch to make, the trick is to try and keep the size of each biscuit small and dainty.

55g butter, softened
115g white sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
150g desiccated coconut

Nutella or chocolate icing


Pre-heat oven to160 degrees and line 2 trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in the egg and the vanilla. Using a spoon, stir through the coconut.

Place small teaspoonfuls of dough onto trays lined with baking paper, leaving space for spreading, and flatten slightly with a wet fork. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden, and cool the biscuits on the paper on a wire rack.

Sandwich together using a teaspoon of Nutella (or if you are a purist melt 150 g of chocolate with a Tbs of butter over a low heat to make a shiny mixture)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Whoops - forgot to go to the shops this weekend!


Come Sunday eve a quick peek reveals that Mother Hubbard is alive and well and has ransacked my pantry.

I actually find it strangely thrilling to be able to feed a family of four with a couple of potatoes and afew pieces of ham retrieved from the depths of the fridge. It makes me feel that I could protect my brood if things turned grim. 

There was little complaint as the kids and husband gobbled their way through these tasty little morsels. So, if you are scant on ingredients, cashola or a spot of inspiration, give this quick chip chopped potato and corn fry up a whirl.
 

Crunchy potato rosti.

3 large potatoes peeled and coarsely grated

1 small egg lightly beaten

2 Tbs corn kernals (I use frozen)

80 grams of grated cheese

 chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

 butter

2Tbs olive oil.

 

Place grated potato in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible from potatoes. (I know this sounds like a phaff – but it really does make a difference and really isn’t that hard).

Lightly whisk egg and combine with potato, corn, cheese, parsley and seasoning.

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan. Working in batches drop rounds of the mixture into the pan. Fry for at least 4 mins or until base is golden and crunchy. Flip and cook remaining side.

Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a low oven. Serve with assorted remnants from the crisper of your fridge and a Sunday night movie.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spring Fling


Spring is a series of double edge swords. Sunny days are delightful but the horror of having to reveal legs that have been enjoying a fuzzy winter hibernation is enough to cancel out some of the magic.

Then there are the jolly little blossoms, bursting forth to declare good times ahead, seems such a shame that many of them make me sneeze and wheeze.

Mother Nature has a curious tendency to keep us on our toes.

Undeniably the best bit about spring is the reappearance of bright green veggies. I nearly wept with joy the other day when I spied iceberg lettuce at a reasonable price. However the poster girl for spring veg is unquestionably the asparagus.

The temperate crop only pops up its pointy head after the winter chills have passed. Its pencil thin spears require just a mere steam, and for my preference retain a subtle crunch. Only in season for a short window it creates a giddy sense of luxury to feast upon on it.

In the spirit of celebrating seasonality I can’t help but notice that the tomatoes haven’t quite hit their stride yet, still looking a tad pale and appley.  It seems a shame that these 2 splendid vegetables should not grown in greater unison.

I have taken it upon myself to bring them together and have employed a dash of perky piquancy from a jar of shop bought harrissa to make the whole thing sing.

This is the sort of lunch skinny people eat, and I can’t help but commend them for the restrained deliciousness a plate like this delivers. Yes indeed afew more days of lunches of this calibre and I may well be feeling fit and foxy enough to reveal my winter legs.

 

Harrissa tomatoes with Asparagus and Haloumi -

Serves 2 would be skinny ladies for a glorious sunny lunch.

 

I bunch of jolly spring asparagus

2 tomatoes

1 block of haloumi

A wedge or two of lemon

A teaspoon of harrissa paste

A glug or two of olive oil

1.        In a small bowl combine the harrisa, juice of ¼ lemon and a tsp of olive oil, whisk about then tumble through the chopped tomatoes.

2.       Snap off any woody bits from the base of the asparagus and pop the remaining stalks into a steamer and give them the sauna treatment for 4-6 min. They should remain firmish and definitely not droop.

3.       Whilst the asparagus is cooking fry the haloumi in a frying pan under a thin film of olive oil. Aim to have it beautifully brown and crunchy on both sides.

4.       Divide a slender bundle of asparagus, a hearty blob of tomato and pitched rooves of haloumi on each plate.

Tickled pink



Whilst recipes are all fine and dandy, a large part of this blog is meant to illustrate the progressive growth and development in my meagre photographic skill.

So let this be the official starting point where I free myself from the trainer wheels of the AUTO function of my new fancy camera.  Hold on to your hat's folks I am experimenting with aperture. There is a whole new world of artsy fartsy focusing now at my beck and call.

Flouncy flamingos somehow seem the perfect backdrop to the lurid pink vibrancy of the salad. Actually they were the accidental heroes of this sunny Sunday photo shoot, but some how they capture the slight hysteria beetroot always brings to the kitchen.

Stained fingers and astringent pickling juices are not my cup of tea. So this is the route I tend to take to weave the beautiful earthy veg into the mix. I prefer not to peel the beetroot, a good soak and scrub does the job and then the raw beetroot is grated along with a carrot or two to form the base of this addictive and refreshing spring salad.

 

Beetroot salad

1 large beetroot

2 carrots

1 orange cut into dainty segments

A handful of green herbage (optional)

 

For the dressing

2 Tbs good quality white wine vinegar

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

1.       Give the beetroot a good soak, and peel the carrots, grate coarsely and combine all of the grated goodness.

2.       Make the dressing by popping all ingredients in a jar and shaking like mad.

3.       Pour the dressing over the carrot and beetroot then artistically slot in the orange segments and sprinkle about the green herbs.