All posts tagged “beetroot

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Kohlrabi and beetroot salad with honey mustard dressing

Earthy summer salad with spicy and sweet undertones
Kohlrabi salad

Kohlrabi is quite a comical vegetable, both in name and shape. It’s got nothing to do with Jewish rabbis, but the name is old Austrian German for “cabbage turnip”. But since its appearance is so endearingly strange, I decided to try grow them in our terrace garden. I had to weed some out to give space for a very dominant cabbage, and discovered that it adds great crunch and a mild cabbage flavour to salads. It’s great mixed with sweet, earthy beetroot, bitter salad leaves like rocket, salty cheese and savoury chives, and topped with a sweet mustard dressing. The thin kohlrabi slices look rather posh too, if you’re trying to impress someone.

Kohlrabi

The kohlrabi you grow at home can be harvested before it grows larger than an apple, as it might become too wooden later. If you buy from the shop, it might be fully grown and therefore have a hard peel which you need to remove. Either way, you can slice it very thinly, and eat it raw to best appreciate the mild flavour.

RocketYou need:

– 2 handfuls rocket,
– 2 large beetroots, cooked and roughly chopped
– 2 young thinly sliced kohlrabi, with chopped leaves (if they look cheery enough)
– Half a bunch scallions, chopped
– Half a feta cheese bloc, cubed
– Half a handful chives, chopped
– Honey mustard dressing (mix one quarter each of apple cider vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and a neutral oil + 1 teaspoon salt)
– Salted peatnuts

No complicated instructions needed here: just toss all the ingredients together and add a few tablespoons of dressing. The dressing benefits from standing for a while, so it’s good if you can make it in advance. To slice the kohlrabi as thinly as possible you might want to use a potato peeler, unless you have some sort of kitchen gadget that will do that for you.

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Beetroot & goats cheese swirls

Beetroot swirls

Beetroot is a strong vegetable. Its earthy flavour is not everyone’s cup of tea, and a small beetroot spill can ruin the most sturdy clothing. In Sweden, beetroot salad is eaten with cold meatballs in a “köttbullsmacka” (meatball sandwich) and I remember ruining my first trendy coat with a small but powerful dollop of beetroot salad on my sleeve. However, it did nothing to chill my love for the vegetable itself. I believe we should eat much more beetroot, not only because it’s so healthy, but because its sweet, earthy flavour is delicious. Even more so when tossed with blue cheese, or baked in the oven with feta. The following recipe -beetroot swirls – is a perfect picnic snack, very moreish, but not too unhealthy. The carrot in the dough keeps them moist and fresh for longer than usual buns.

Small dough

You need:

– 4 beetroots
– 200 grams goats cheese
– 2 carrots, grated
– 2 dl polenta
– 8 dl wheat flour
– 25g fresh yeast
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– A few sprigs thyme
– 1,5 dl water
– 1 egg
– 1 tbsp olive oil

Big dough

Start by setting the oven to 200 degrees. Crumble up the yeast and dissolve it in the water, which should be finger warm. Add the olive oil, salt, carrots, all the polenta and almost all the flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, until it’s supple. Let is rest under a kitchen towel for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, grate the beetroot and mix it with the chopped goats cheese.

Beetroot and cheese on doughOnce the dough is done resting, divide it in two, and use a rolling pin (or in my case, a wine bottle) to knead it out the first half over a floured surface. Roll it out into a large rectangular shape, and then spread half the beetroot mix over it. Roll it all up (just like when you make cinnamon rolls), and divide it into 15-16 bits. Cut off the ends if they look dry. Repeat with the second lump of dough. Put the pieces on two trays lined with baking paper, brush with an egg and garnish with some crumbled thyme.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden (the lower played tray will need a few more minutes than the top one). Eat with the next two days, or store in the freezer for picnics.

Small swirls

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Smoky sausage with dill creamed potatoes (Isterband med dillstuvad potatis)

Isterband med dillstuvad potatis

It is time for another post on traditional Swedish food – husmanskost – and this time one of my father’s absolute favourites. Isterband is a smoky, slightly acidous and grainy sausage made of heart and tongue, originally from the Småland region. It is typically served with stewed potato and pickled beetroot, and to me it tastes of autumn like few other things – it belongs with the smell of burning leaves and crisp air. It is hearty, warm and packed with flavour.

Isterband ingredienser

You need:

– 1 pack of Isterband (this will be difficult to get a hold of outside of Sweden, but could probably be substituted with some other kind of large smoked sausage).

– One heap of fresh dill, chopped

– A few tablespoons of flour

– About 100 grams of butter

– A few decilitres of milk

– 1/5 kg of potatoes, a firm variety.

– Nutmeg

– Salt and white pepper to taste

– A jar of sliced pickled beetroots

Stuvning

Dill stewed potatoes is a mild, standard side to any smoky Swedish food, and very easy to make. It relies on the usual suspects for flavouring (dill and white pepper) together with the creaminess of milk and butter. Start by peeling, slicing and boiling the potatoes. Make the slices thick so that they don’t break in the water, and be careful not to overcook them. Start frying the sausages on a low heat in a wide pan (they should fry for about 25 minutes). Then make a bechamel base by melting the butter in the pan, and carefully whisking in flour until you have a thick paste.

Stuvning

Add milk slowly to the paste, to make a thick, creamy sauce. You can choose how voluptuous you like the sauce to be – if you want the supreme, extend it with cream or a bit of creme fraiche. If you’re feeling frugal, go with milk, which is the classic way of making it.

Stuvning

One you’ve reached a thick, smooth consistency, add salt and white pepper (you can be rather generous). Add the chopped dill and some nutmeg, then pour the sauce over the potatoes. Take the sausages off the pan and serve immidiately. The heavy smokiness of the sausages is rather dominant, and the potatoes are there to provide a smooth, mild balance. By serving this with pickled beetroot you also get a sweet contrast to the rest. It’s a well-balanced, autumnal and most warming meal.

Stuvad potatis

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8-course luxury at La Buvette

Potted rabbit and celery

I had my first eight course dinner this week, and given my complete inexperience with these kinds of luxuries, it is possible that this review will be biased. But it was so much fun! When you eat eight little meals, it feels like you’re eating the Eurovision song contest. Each dish has its own character, and looks nothing like the previous one. Given the tiny size of the dishes, it’s more about tasting than eating – sometimes like an investigation, trying to figure out what is on the plate. Although we were left the menu at our side, we only had very vague ideas about what we were actually eating at times (and had to google some of the ingredients like sorrel and verbena).

Seaweed and trout

But aside from my excitement at the four-hour activity of eating eight little dishes in one evening, La Buvette in itself is a lovely place. It’s situated opposite its sister restaurant, the brilliant Café des Spores, but feels a bit more upmarket. When I asked for a nice red wine at Café des Spores, I was served a glass of their excellent house wine. At La Buvette you can only order by to the bottle, and if you ask for advice, the waiter goes to fetch the sommelier.

Carrot, sorrel and ricotta

La Buvette is a tiny resturant, a little bit like someone’s house – the front still looks like the old butcher’s shop it’s housed in, and the upstairs like someone’s living room. The decor is simple.  Getting lost trying to find the toilet, I ended up in someone’s artist studio at the top of the house. While the location far away from the centre, it is obvious that La Buvette doesn’t need a grand location to attract customers. The clientele seemed like local Bruxellois food lovers, not eurocrats.

Leek, plaice and potato

As soon as we were seated, we were given sourdough bread with candied sunflower kernels and truly delicious porcini butter. We ordered a bottle of red organic Merlot at the recommendation of the sommelier, which was probably the biggest disappointment of the evening – it was a bit too dry, and not very special. The first dish, however, was very exciting: sea trout, seaweed, cucumber and some kind of vinegar-y wasabi-flavoured dressing.

Confit lamb and red cabbage

The second dish was delicious, and perhaps the most visually appealing – potted rabbit with celeriac and lemon creme. The crunch of the celeriac against the tender, savoury rabbit was lovely. Fredrik, who opted for the vegetarian menu, was was served beetroot with blue cheese and celeriac, and wasn’t the biggest fan of the composition. However, the rest of the evening, I was impressed by how well they catered for a non meat-eater. The third dish was pretty: a colourful salad of sorrel, carrot, red onion, squash and ricotta cheese. Although we were delighted by the sorrel, which we used to eat wild in Sweden as kids, I thought the ricotta was too heavy, and there was not enough salty tangyness to the dish. It felt like a dessert-salad.

Vervier sorbet

The fourth dish was one of our favourites: plaice with hay potato in a buckwheat broth. The fish was perfect: crispy brown on the outside, but falling apart into tender flakes, and soaking up the flavoursome broth perfectly. This was followed by the second main, which was confit lamb with aubergine cream and red cabbage. This was absolutely delicious, and I savoured every little bit of it. Fredrik’s option was also very tasty: Peeled, fried aubergine in some kind of soy vinaigrette. We were both very pleased with our mains, and I began to feel a little full.

Rice pudding

The first dessert was absolutely perfect: white chocolate ice cream, meringue, blackberries and verbena sorbet. I think it was one of the nicest desserts I’ve ever tried. The fresh verbena sorbet unlocked a whole forest of flavours, which contrasted beautifully with the blackberry and the crispy meringue. The second dessert was a rice pudding with buckthorn sauce and salted caramelised almonds. This was also nice, but the least special dessert for me. The final dish was incredibly heavy, so it was lucky it was so small: dark chcolate tart with salty hazelnut praline. It was a grand finish of the evening, with very heavy flavours.

Dark chocolate tart,  salty hazelnut praline

We were then served a small acidic coffee each, which was best combined with some sugar – somehow very apt for the kind of meal we’d had. While the eight course dinner in itself is not entirely unaffordable given the high quality of the food (45 euros), the wine, water and coffee upped the bill quite a lot. But for a very special treat, I would completely recommend La Buvette – great service, beautiful food, and actually quite exciting entertainment for a couple of hours.