Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot & Orange Salad

Sometimes, when I am cooking for the blog, I will have tried the recipe out a few times then, when I am happy with it, I will make it for the photo.  Then I will faff about with it a bit, taking shots, pretending I know what I am doing.  Then I’ll download the photos onto my laptop only to find that (if I am lucky) I have one or two acceptable photos out of the 200 or so that I took.  Then I’ll clean up the kitchen.  By time I have done all this the last thing I want to do is eat the food.

Not so in this case.  I couldn’t keep my hands off it!

I love the beautiful colours, the fresh, zingy flavours, the textures, everything.  I love everything about this salad and I hope you do too.

I have made variations of it in the past (beetroot and orange are a classic combination) but this is definitely my favourite.  It comes from Plenty by Ottolenghi and if you like this salad you should definitely check out the book (your local library may have it).

I admit to cheating.  I only cook beetroot from scratch when I have grown them.  If I am buying beetroot I buy it pre-cooked and vacuum packed; it is much less messy and I think it tastes fine – just make sure you don’t buy pickled beetroot!

Ingredients

Serves 2

400g Raw Beetroot (or a 250g pack of pre-cooked beetroot)

2 Oranges

1 Red Endive (chicory)

1/2 small Red Onion (thinly sliced)

3 tbsp Chopped Parsley

40g Black Olives

3 tbsp Rapeseed Oil

1 tsp Orange Blossom Water

1 1/2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Method

If you are using raw beetroot you will need to cook them first.  Put them, whole, into a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for 1 – 2 hours until tender.  Leave them to cool down in the water.  Once cool remove them from the water and peel them.

Cut each cooked beetroot in half and then each half into wedges about 1cm thick at their base.  Put the wedges into a mixing bowl.

Segment the oranges.  Peel them with a sharp knife and, holding each orange over the mixing bowl, remove the segments by slicing between the membranes.  Let the segments and juice fall into the mixing bowl.  Discard the membrane.

Cut the endive vertically into 2cm thick slices.  Break them up into individual leaves and add them to the bowl.

Finally add the rest of the ingredients, toss together and adjust the seasoning, then serve.

Orange Marmalade Cake

I saw this recipe in the Jamie Oliver magazine some time ago and thought it looked like a plate full of sunshine.  I filed it in the “make later” part of my brain and waited for an opportunity.  That opportunity presented itself in the form of a wet afternoon and a fruit bowl full of oranges.

The cake didn’t disappoint – it is moist and soft with a bitter orange note from the fruit topping.  This is definitely one for the grown ups.

Ingredients

200g / 8oz Butter (softened) plus a large knob for greasing

4 tbsp Demerara Sugar

2 Small Oranges (thinly sliced)

200g / 8oz Golden Caster Sugar

6 tbsp fine-cut Marmalade

4 Large Eggs (beaten)

200g / 8ozSelf-Raising Flour

50g / 2oz Ground Almonds

Finely Grated Zest and Juice of 2 oranges

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°C / Gas Mark 4.

Generously grease the base and sides of a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with butter.

Sprinkle the base with the Demerara sugar – this may seem like a lot of sugar but it counteracts the bitterness of the orange so be liberal with it. Arrange the orange slices on the base of the tin in a slightly overlapping layer.

Cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in 3 heaped tablespoons of marmalade followed by the beaten eggs.

Fold in the flour, ground almonds, a pinch of salt, and the orange zest and juice.

Pour the cake batter into the tin taking care not to disturb the orange slices.

Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, till golden and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate whilst still warm.

Prick holes in the cake with a skewer. Make a glaze by warming the rest of the marmalade in a pan with a little water. Spoon the glaze over the cake.

You can eat this cake cold as normal but it also makes a great dessert served warm with cream or ice cream.

 

Cardamom and Orange Biscuits

While I was making these I started pondering on the difference between a cookie and a biscuit.  I think that originally cookie was the American name for what we Brits call biscuits but as we can now buy / bake cookies and biscuits in Britain I guess a greater distinction has developed.

In my mind cookies are bigger and softer and maybe rise a little whilst baking whereas biscuits are crisper and somehow flatter.  There is no science to this theory and maybe someone can put me right on the subject but in the meantime I have to decide whether these are biscuits or cookies and quite honestly I think they are somewhere between the two!

Once they have cooled they crisp up beautifully around the edge but the ground almonds ensure a softer, almost chewy centre – a combination I love.

In addition these (shall we call them biscuies or cookuits?) have a really grown up scent and flavour – the cardamom offers a strong perfume and distinct high note whilst the orange zest brings a softer, deeper undertone.  They are satisfyingly rich and sweet and one (oh go on two) will probably be enough.

This recipe is based on an original recipe from The Hairy Bikers for Cardamom and Lemon Stamped Cookies (yes cookies!).  I substituted orange zest for lemon and used more cardamom but otherwise it’s the same and I thank them for it.

Ingredients

225g / 8 oz Butter (softened)

150g / 5½ oz Caster Sugar

The grated zest of 1 Orange

250g / 9 oz Plain Flour

100g / 3½ oz Ground Almonds

1 heaped tablespoon of Cardamom Pods

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.

Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle and grind roughly until the pods are cracked. Remove the seeds and discard the green pods. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. This may require some patience and elbow grease. You could buy ground cardamom but the flavour is so much better when you grind your own.

Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the flour, almonds and 2 generous teaspoons of cardamom seeds until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough.

Roll the dough into 24 evenly sized balls and space 12 out evenly on each baking tray.

Press each biscuit flat with your fingers or the flat base of a glass.

Bake in the centre of the oven (you may want to do this 1 tray at a time to ensure even cooking) for 12–14 minutes until the biscuits are pale golden brown.

Leave to cool on the tray for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack. The biscuits will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight tin and eat within a week.

 

Fennel and Orange Salad

In a quiet moment this week I found myself idly flicking through the pages of one of my favourite food books:  The Flavour Thesaurus is perfect for browsing and often throws up surprising flavour combinations.  I opened it at random on a section called Green & Grassy and found Anise and Orange.  These flavours are best known in a Harvey Wallbanger (vodka, orange juice and Galliano (a liqueur flavoured with, amongst other things, star anise) but I was reminded of a particularly scrummy salad I first ate in a pub in the New Forest.

Juicy orange segments are teamed with fine slices of aniseedy fennel and sharp red onion rings.  I love serving this with grilled fish or barbecued chicken but it makes a perfect light lunch on its own or with the addition of a few walnuts and/or black olives to ring the changes.

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a side dish

2 Oranges

1 Small Bulb Fennel

1 Small Red Onion

1 Lemon (juiced)

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Method

Snip and reserve the green fronds from the top of the fennel, remove the outer layer if it is a bit brown and wrinkly, finely slice the remaining fennel and toss it in the lemon juice to stop it browning.  If you have a mandolin it’s the perfect way to get nice fine slices.  Peel and slice the onion into rings and add to the fennel and lemon juice.

Segment the orange (See here for a “how to” video) over a bowl so that you catch the juice.  Place the fennel, orange segments and onion into a large bowl.

Make your dressing from the olive oil, orange juice and lemon juice.  You want about 3 parts oil to 1 part citrus juice but adjust according to your own taste and how sweet / sharp you want it to be.  Whisk together, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add a few snipped fennel fronds.

Toss the salad in the dressing and serve.