Thursday, 12 March 2020

Beetroot – An Ocklye Dressing And A Pomegranate Dip

I know that there are plenty of people around who outwardly look quite normal but inexplicably don't like beetroot. I'm definitely not one of them. Recently I made a mistake and bought too much beetroot. Actually, that was a good thing. It gave me the chance to make a couple of special but really simple beetroot treats.

Beetroot In A Sort of Ocklye Dressing

This is based a little loosely on a recipe from the Ocklye cookery book published in 1909. The book is described as ‘recipes by a lady and her cook’, which might sound a bit off-putting but it's actually a very usable and varied set of recipes. Well, mostly usable - I wouldn't advise trying to find sun-dried turtle in your local supermarket. Eleanor Jenkinson (the lady) was the author of the book but I think we should be celebrating the skill of Annie Hobden (the cook), who had rather a lot to do with it.
Sort Of Ocklye Beetroot
1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp tarragon vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp crème fraîche (reduced fat versions will work)
Salt and pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together and dress some cooked sliced beetroots or whole baby beetroots generously. This should dress enough beetroot for at least 2 people.

Beetroot Dip with Pomegranate Molasses and Walnuts

I know that everyone and their dog has a produced a recipe for a beetroot dip but I don't care, here's my extremely easy version anyway. This dip is a reflection of just how much I love pomegranate molasses and the combination of the molasses and walnut is a classic that's used in many of the versions of muhammara that I've come across.

You can use a thick yoghurt or cream cheese for the dip but I used faisselle. If you're not familiar with it, faisselle is a sort of enriched, strained fromage frais which is very common in France but which is now available in the UK in some supermarkets. It's extremely useful stuff for both savoury and sweet dishes.
Beetroot Dip
This should be enough dip for around 4 people.

300 g cooked and peeled beetroot
5 tbsp faisselle (or thick yoghurt or cream cheese)
60 g walnuts
6 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice (have a bit more on standby in case the dip needs it)
A generous amount of salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar or lemon-infused olive oil for a drizzle on top of the dip

Just put everything except the balsamic or olive oil drizzle in a food processor and whizz until it’s as smooth as you like it - a little bit of texture from the walnuts is no bad thing in my opinion. Put in a bowl and drizzle the top with a little balsamic or lemon-infused olive oil if you're so inclined.

Serve with your choice of flatbreads. Breads containing rosemary work particularly well with this dip.

8 comments:

  1. Phil, these sound delicious. And they're so pretty, dressing up the table and also looking that little extra bit of special. I'm glad you chose the beetroot recipe rather than one with sun-dried turtle. Did you do anything with the beet greens?

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    1. Sadly at this time of year the beets are usually sold without greens attached. In the summer I can grow my own and that's a different story, although the slugs often seem to get there and eat them first.

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  2. We're of the beetroot loving generation, having been brought up with it. My dad grew a long row of it every year and would proudly present a fresh bunch of it for my mum to cook every weekend. Sadly we only had it cooked, sliced and served with a salad, such was my mum's limited repertoire of dishes in the 50's and 60's, mostly dictated by what my dad was prepared to eat!
    These recipes sound delicious and as I have yet to see anyone panic buying beetroot I might even get the chance to try them!

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    1. There's nothing wrong with beetroot in a salad but I must admit that it did get just a bit repetitious when I was growing up. I couldn't find any fresh food at all in the shops yesterday and that includes beetroot. You know people are really panicking when they even empty the beetroot shelf.

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    2. I read somewhere that around 20% of all meals eaten in the London area are taken in restaurants or sandwich shops. With those establishments now closed it would help to explain some of the increase in supermarket shopping, on top of the stockpiling. Even of beetroot.

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    3. I don't doubt the 20% at all. I'm older and lazier these days but there have been a number of times in my life when 20% would have been a very low estimate of the time I spent in restaurants. It's certainly true that the lockdown will be changing the way people shop round here but, even so, I'm surprised that people have been buying up beetroot when so many people I know refuse to eat it. (I feel I should be honest here, though, and admit that I've recently visited a local supermarket and, despite an absence of eggs, paracetamol and a number of other items, there was a fair amount of beetroot on the shelves.)

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  3. Interesting ways of using beetroot. Like Jean, I grew up with it cooked and sliced, and that was it!

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    1. Thinking about it now the odd thing for me about the beetroot when I was growing up was that it was always pickled in really harsh vinegar. Vinegar on beetroot isn't necessarily a bad thing but some of the vinegar back then would certainly have been useful as paint stripper.

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