Posted in Dinner Party

How to cook Beetroot

The beetroot have been bulging through the soil lately with their leafy tops waving frantically ‘pick me’, ‘pick me’ and as there’s only so long that those red veined leaves will wave so frivolously for, their time has come.
Beetroots in the garden
As I began assembly for this year’s Beetroot Relish I deduced that I must have cheated and bought some in to supplement their masses last year as there was no way I had reaped the 1.3kg that the relish recipe required.  This year I had about half that so I just adjusted the recipe downwards and don’t have a plethora to dispense just yet but I do see myself buying some additional beetroot to make more relish as gifts for Christmas.
So ‘How do you cook beetroot?’
If you’ve dug it up from your own garden you will firstly need to top the beetroot to remove the leaves and most of the stalk (the leaves can be cooked like spinach leaves if you like – wilt them down and add butter, salt and pepper).  Remove most of the leaves and stalks by cutting with a scissors leaving about an inch of stalk remaining.
Beetroos topped
I wear rubber gloves when preparing beetroot.
Once topped then gently wash each beetroot under the cold tap being careful not to be too vigorous and damage the skin.  Place on kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
Beetroots washedOnce washed they are ready to bake.  I prefer to bake/roast beetroot as I think it retains their flavour better and requires minimal monitoring.
Roast Beetroot:
Pre-heat the (fan) oven to 180C.
Place the prepared beetroot on a tray lined with baking paper.
Roast in the oven until the beets are tender enough to allow a knife pierce through, still bitey but yielding to the knife.  Roasting time will vary depending on size.  My small ones took around 50 minutes+ with the bigger needing 1 hr 10 minutes.
Once cooked remove the tray from the oven and leave the beets to cool for a bit until able to handle.
Wearing rubber gloves the skin may gently rub away or use a small paring knife to peel them.
Delicious served warm with some goats cheese and wilted leaves or you could allow them to cool and prepare a beetroot relish/chutney.

Beetroot on tray
Beetroot on tray before roasting

As mentioned previously I do like to make Beetroot Relish and think it makes a lovely Christmas gift combined with some great Irish cheese and crackers.
jar beetroot chutney
homemade beetroot chutney
Relishes and chutneys are a great way of making cheese a little bit more special and there are numerous variations on offer at farmers markets and on the shelves of the supermarkets.  Recently I came across the Lara range in Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty and I tried both their Plum Compote and Beetroot Chutney .  Tipperary brie by Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese was on offer on the day so I picked up two wedges and it was delicously creamy and ripe.
tipperary brie cheese board
lara beetroot chutney

I do hope you get to try some delicious Irish Beetroot Chutney soon.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Dinner Party

Christmas Day Nibbles – Pate with Beetroot Relish or Pickled Cucumber & Cranberry

What do you want from Christmas nibbles?  You want something easy, tasty and quick to prepare that is going to take the edge off the hunger of the gathering hordes. Even if you simply want to invite people over for some Christmas drinks you’d better be prepared for the fact that at least one of them will arrive absolutely staaaarving and will hoover up a plateful of nibbles as if vying for a Guinness book of records placing.  Have a few platters of nibbles set up and be prepared to refill the plates with these easy to put together bites.
Beetroot Relish Pate Crackers
You will need some good quality crackers, some great locally produced pate and then some tasty topping alternatives.  I suggest either Beetroot Relish (above) or Pickled Cucumber with pate and cranberry (below).

Chicken Liver Pate, Pickled Cucumber & Spiced Cranberries Don’t be put off by what you are about to see here because you are not expected to grow your own beetroot for this recipe as you can pick them up at the supermarket and I am merely showing off.  I was aghast to see that I could buy a bunch of three beetroots for a euro and wondered at the effort it had taken to grown mine and in terms of labour (weeding) was it worth it?  It is of course satisfying to grow and eat your own vegetables and I will be doing it again purely for the satisfaction and pleasure of eating what I’ve grown.  My beetroots were small but adequate enough and taste sensational.
Beetroot from the garden
Beetroot harvest
Beetroot Relish jarsAs well as buying the beetroots you can also skip the preparation step and buy your beetroot relish pre-prepared though do try to source locally if you can.  This recipe is from one of my ‘go to’ food magazines which bills itself as  ‘Ireland’s food and drink bible’ – Food & Wine Magazine.  A subscription to this would please anyone with an interest in food.  So to give proper credit to the provenance of the recipe it is from Maire Jones of GIY Rush/Skerries who in turn passed it on to Michael Kelly who writes for the magazine. (not exactly rewritten – as I cut corners when I can and prep. as I go)
Beetroot relish:
You will need:
1.3kg cooked beetroot
540g onions
720ml red wine vinegar
450g cooking apples
1 tsp salt
900g granulated sugar (yes, that is a lot isn’t it!)
Method:
Peel and finely chop the onions.
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples
Peel and cut beetroot into cubes.
Splash a little of the vinegar into a large pan with the onions and soften them over a medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the apples and 4 tbsp of the sugar and cook until apple is easily squashed with a spoon.
Add the cubed beetroot, salt and half of the vinegar.  Simmer until thick.
Stir in the sugar and remaining vinegar and continue until thick.
Pot in sterilised jars.
Use within six to eight weeks.

Pickled Cucumber:
Again this can be easily bought and I love the one from the Just Food range available in my local SuperValu.  If you fancy a go at making your own it is incredibly easy and very satisfying.  I did so last year and you can click here for that recipe.
Christmas Canape 2

Christmas Nibbles:
With your beetroot relish or pickled cucumber either made yourself or shop bought the assembly of this nibbles is just a simple smear of pate on some delicious crackers topped with the relish or cucumber and maybe a blob of cranberry sauce if desired.
Enjoy,
x Sheila