Beetroot Waldorf Salad

I got a juicing box this week but funnily enough it wasn’t a juice which first sprang to mind – it was a salad. A good old fashioned Waldolf Salad. Created at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 not by a chef but by the maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky, the Waldorf salad was an instant success and famously features in Fawlty Towers!

The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise but beyond that no one seems to be able to agree. Some add lettuce, grapes or raisins, often walnuts and most recently the mayonnaise has sometimes been replaced with more healthy alternatives such as yoghurt. Since there are so many variations, I thought I might add my own rather unusual ingredient of beetroot and I thought it worked very well.

Beetroot Waldorf Salad

2 apples, cored and sliced

6 sticks of celery, chopped

2 beetroot, peeled and grated

A handful of walnuts, lightly toasted in the oven

6 Tbsp mayonnaise

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in the apple, celery and beetroot. Scatter with walnuts.

Thousand Island Slaw

When I was a kid one of the first things I ever learnt to make for myself to eat, apart from of course countless cakes and biscuits, was a salad that I recreated from Tootsies burger restaurant in Wimbledon village. They had the highly sophisticated, so I thought at the time, salad mix of red cabbage, grated carrot and most exciting of all – sweetcorn. I suppose that the influence had come from an American slaw, but to me it was revolutionary. And most exciting of all was there was a choice of four dressing. This was back in the day before the idea of “choice” was really embraced in restaurants. French Dressing, Vinaigrette, Blue Cheese or my absolute, total favourite Thousand Island Dressing. I loved the stuff! I still knock up “Thousand Island Slaw” as I have now named it using whatever I have at hand. My kids love it too!

Thousand Island Slaw

A selection of what you have to hand. I recon fresh sweetcorn would be lovely. Just boil the cobs and then cut down the husks to remove the kernels.

Pointed cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage etc. very finely shredded

Carrots, peeled and grated

Thousand Island Dressing

5 tbsp. mayonnaise

2 tbsp. tomato ketchup

Juice of half a lemon

Dash of tobacco

Mix up the dressing ingredients and adjust to your taste. Dress the salad and serve.

Butternut Squash Falafel with Tahini Sauce

The thing I hate most about the school holidays, apart from having two squabbling children under my feet for most to the day, is having to produce endless lunches.  Weather permitting the best option by far is picnics every day. Kids are out of the house, so much more space, less mess and no clearing up. These falafel are great stuffed in a pitta with some salad. They are baked rather than fried, so healthier too. Add some hummus for the kids and chilli sauce for you.  Lunch sorted!

Butternut Squash Falafel with Tahini Sauce

1 small butternut squash

3 tins chickpeas

Small bunch of chopped coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cloves garlic, minced

45g gram flour

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Tahini Sauce

3 tablespoons tahini

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Peel butternut squash, cut in half, lengthwise, remove seeds and chop into bite size pieces. Toss the butternut squash with salt, pepper and olive oil and tip onto a backing sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Roast butternut squash until fork tender, 40-45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Place butternut squash in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the chick peas and pulse until you have a course mixture. Add mixture to a large bowl. Add the coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic, flour and cayenne to bowl and use your hands to mix until everything is evenly combined. Form the mixture into patties (however large or small your like) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each falafel with a small amount of olive oil and bake falafel patties at 180 until browned on both sides, flipping once, 35-40 minutes.

Make the sauce while the falafel is baking. Mix all ingredients together the tahini and lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Add enough water until you get a drizzling consistency. Drizzle desired amount of sauce on top of falafel before enjoying and eat with salad or in a pita if desired.

Labneh with Roast Beetroot and Sweet and Sour Red Onions

I know this is maybe a little weird, but I recon this is honestly the nicest thing I have made in quite a while. It is strangely moreish and I polished off the whole lot whilst writing this blog.

Lebanese food has always been one on my favourites and I always order Labneh as part of the meze. But it is so easy to make your own. Buy the best yogurt that you can.

Labneh with Roast Beetroot and Sweet and Sour Red Onions

Serves 2

250 g Greek yogurt

1 kg raw beetroots

Sweet and Sour Red Onions

1 large red onion

1 tbsp. dark muscovado sugar

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley

Mix the Greek yogurt with a good pinch or two of salt and wrap in a clean J-cloth, fasten with string and hang it over a bowl over night to strain it. I hang it off the tap over the sink.

The next day, pre-heat oven 180C. Scrub the beetroot and wrap each one in tin foil. Put in the oven for about 45 mins to 1 hour. A skewer should insert easily into the centre of the beetroot. Leave to cool. Then make the sweet and sour onions. Peel the onion and slice as finely as you can, into rings. In a bowl, combine the sugar and ½ a teaspoon of sea salt with the vinegar, stirring until dissolved. Add the shallots and leave to stand for 45 minutes, stirring every so often. Unwrap the beetroot when cool and with your hands, slip off the skins. You can use surgical gloves if you like.

Unwrap the strained yogurt and tip it into a clean bowl. Spread over the bottom of the bowl and up the sides. Arrange slices of beetroot on top. Season lightly with a little salt and pepper. Scatter over the onions and finish with parsley and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.

Peperonata

Peperonata is a Sicilian pepper stew and amazingly, for such a simple recipe, no two versions seem to be the same.  I add not only capers and basil but Balsamic vinegar to mine, just to really nail that sweet and sour kick, but I also leave out the tomato which is often present in other versions.  Use the best Balsamic you can, which not only means one obviously from Moderna, the home of  Balsamic vinegar but also one that has also been aged at least 12 years.  A decent one will set you back at least £12.00 for 250ml but it will be worth it.  You will not need very much and it’s mellow sweetness and integrated acidity will add an amazing depth and complexity to many sauces especially tomato based ones.

I love this pepper stew, not only on its own with a rocket salad but also with meat or fish, especially wild salmon or mackerel.  The acidity works really well to cut the oiliness of the fish.  All you need is a few boiled new potatoes and you have a little taste of much needed sunshine.

 Peperonata

6 peppers (red, yellow and orange are best)

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and sliced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 medium-sized bunch of basil, roughly chopped

A handful of baby capers

A splash of very good balsamic Vinegar (Aged 12 years at least)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by slicing the peppers in half, scooping out the seeds and slicing into one-inch strips lengthwise. Now place a medium-sized heavy- based pan over a gentle heat. Add a tablespoon of the olive oil and allow to warm through. When the oil is warm but not hot, add the onions, a pinch of salt and sweat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and sweat for a further 10 minutes – the onions should not have browned at all. Add the peppers and stir to combine. Cook until the peppers are soft and almost falling apart; this should take about 45 minutes. Give the capers a good squeeze to get rid of any excess vinegar and add to the peppers. Drizzle with balsamic and season with freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Cook until the vinegar has the right sweet and sour balance.   Add the basil and taste for seasoning. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

 

Vanilla and Lemon Panna Cotta with Roasted Rhubarb

I remember my first panna cotta. It was in Riva in Barnes and I must have been about 20 something. I was determined to try and recreate it but try as I might, I could never get close. A few years later whilst working at The River Café, I learnt how to make their version, which was different, but just as superb. I always thought though that it was so delicious due to the quantity of Grappa in the recipe. But in this recipe, I have omitted the Grappa, mainly because I did not have any, and now realize that it is the combination of vanilla, lemon and cream which actually results in its complete amazingness. Delicious alongside roasted rhubarb but also wonderful with poached figs or just some fresh raspberries.

Vanilla and Lemon Panna Cotta with Roasted Rhubarb

Serves 4

70 ml milk

2 vanilla pods, scored and seeds removed or 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste

1 lemon, finely grated zest of

375 ml double cream

1½ leaves beef gelatine, soaked in cold water

70 g icing sugar

250g rhubarb

65g golden caster sugar

Put the milk, vanilla pods, vanilla seeds, lemon zest and half the cream into a small pan and slowly simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and stir in the soaked gelatine leaves until dissolved. Stain through a sieve and then allow to cool a little, then place in the fridge, stirring occasionally until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Whip together the icing sugar with the remaining cream. Mix the two cream mixture together. Divide into four serving moulds. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Rinse the rhubarb and shake off the excess water. Trim the ends and cut the rhubarb into little finger-sized pieces. Put the rhubarb in a shallow dish or baking sheet with sides, tip the sugar over, toss together, then shuffle the rhubarb so it’s in a single layer.

Cover with foil and roast for 15 mins. Remove the foil. The sugar should have dissolved, so give everything a little shake and roast for another 5 mins or until tender and the juices are syrupy. Test with a sharp knife; the rhubarb should feel tender, not mushy, and still have kept its shape.

To serve, sometimes I’ll dip the mould or cup into some simmering water to loosen the pannacotta a little, then turn it out on to a plate next to some rhubarb with its juice Or you can just put the rhubarb on top of your cups or glasses of pannacotta and serve from there.

Grilled Sweetcorn Slaw

Another salad featuring the wonder cure Apple Cider vinegar. This is quite an unusual recipe in that the slaw is lightly pickled and if there is one thing more fashionable and fashionably good for you it is pickled food.

Grilled Sweetcorn Slaw

Makes tonnes so feel free to half the recipe. Yotam Ottelenghi

100 apple cider vinegar

200ml water

¼ white cabbage, shredded (300g net)

3 carrots, julienned or grated (175g net)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (140g net)

4 corn cobs, lightly brushed with olive oil (600g gross)

2 red chillies, finely chopped

20g picked coriander leaves

20g picked mint leaves

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Dressing:

50g mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

Place the vinegar and water in a small saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Place the cabbage and carrot in a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the salty liquid and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining liquid over the onion and, again, set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the vegetables and onion well, pat dry, place together in a large bowl and set aside.

Place a ridged char-grill pan on a high heat and, when it starts to smoke, lay the corn over it. Char-grill for 10-12 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour (this will create quite a lot of smoke). Remove from the heat and, when cool enough to handle, use a large knife to shave off the corn in clumps and add to the salad bowl.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chilli, coriander and mint, along with a grind of black pepper, give everything another gentle stir and serve.

Kohlrabi, Apple and Beetroot Salad

Vinegar seems to be the latest thing. Not only is it fabulous for cleaning your house, but it turns out it is fabulous for you too. Whereas white vinegar is best for your house, apple cider vinegar is the one that is best for you. New research means doctors and scientists are calling it one of the ‘functional’ foods – foods that are not only nutritious but help prevent and protect against disease.

It contains the same important nutrients as apples – including pectin, beta-carotene and potassium – plus enzymes and amino acids formed during the fermentation process.

Its high potassium content encourages cell, tissue and organism growth, and the enzymes help boost chemical reactions in the body.

It also contains calcium, which maintains healthy bones, helps transmit nerve impulses and regulates muscle contraction, and iron, essential for healthy blood. Magnesium is another component, with many beneficial effects on the body, especially the heart.

Low potassium levels can make us feel permanently tired, and potassium-rich foods help prevent age-related illness.

It also enables the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid, which aids digestion. We lose acid as we age, but apple cider vinegar can help prevent common digestive disorders as we get older.

And if that was not enough, apparently it can help with dementia as well. Is there nothing vinegar cannot do?

Here are two salads this week which feature vinegar. Oh, and lots of healthy vegetables too!

Kohlrabi, Apple and Beetroot Salad

This salad probably serves about 12 people. I halved it and still had loads!

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

2 large kohlrabi

3 apples (cox is best)

2 medium beetroot

Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 garlic clove, crushed

55ml apple cider vinegar

50ml extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Peel the kohlrabi, cut in half and slice thinly. Core the apples and slice to the same thickness. Peel the beetroot and grate coarsely on a cheese grater or shred on a mandolin.

Mix together all the vegetables in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, taste and season – you can afford to be generous with the salt. Pile up on a serving plate and garnish with extra chopped coriander.

Insalata Caprese

Tomatoes are really good for you, so I am always trying to add them to salads, but to tell you the truth, I don’t really like eating them on their own. Cherry tomatoes are fine, but the large ones are just a bit too acidic for me. That is until you put them  together with bufala mozzarella and basil. Once combined I could eat platefuls. Obviously the creamy, mild mozzarella cuts the acidity of the tomato, but it is the big mouthfuls of basil which really make this recipe work. I quite like to add a little vinaigrette but traditionally it is just olive oil. Make sure to season your tomatoes well though.

Insalata Caprese

(serves 4 with bread)

About 600g tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

250g buffalo mozzarella

Small bunch of basil

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices. Cut out the core if it looks chewy. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper leave to sit for 10 minutes, then add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and gently toss with a couple of spoons.

Arrange the tomatoes on a platter, spooning over their juices. Thickly slice the mozzarella and scatter with basil leaves. Drizzle with more oil and season with a little more salt. Serve.

Blackcurrant Ripple Parfait

Blackcurrants are back! I love them. Just the smell of them transports me back to a child, on holiday in the South of France, eating my favourite sorbet – Cassis. Unbeatable, except maybe by this Blackcurrant Ripple Parfait. The intense, sharp and slightly sherbety flavour of blackcurrants combines beautifully with the creamy custard. And best of all, you don’t need an ice-cream maker to make it. Serve it in slices as a posh dessert or scoop in into cones for the kids.

Blackcurrant Ripple Parfait

Serves six.

3 large egg yolks

105g caster sugar

125ml water

300ml double cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

350g blackcurrants

Put the egg yolks into the bowl of a mixer and attach the whisk attachment; or pop them into a mixing bowl and have a hand mixer at the ready.

Put 80g of the sugar and the water in a small pan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat and boil, without stirring, until it thickens and turns slightly syrupy, or until a sugar thermometer reads 110C. Switch on your mixer and start whisking the egg yolks. Slowly pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking continuously. Beat for about four minutes, until the mixture is thick, pale, glossy and cool – it should leave a ribbon trail in the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream and vanilla to soft peaks and fold into the egg and sugar mixture. Pour this into a lidded plastic container and freeze for about two and a half hours.

While the parfait is freezing, put the blackcurrants in a saucepan, along with a dribble of water to get them started, and the remaining sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the blackcurrants are soft and the juices have run. Rub through a non-metallic sieve into a bowl, then chill.

When the parfait is chilled enough to hold its shape but soft enough to work a little, roughen the surface with a spoon and make several channels, grooves and holes in it. Into these, trickle little pools of the blackcurrant purée. Cut the mixture a bit to spread the ripples around, but don’t overdo it or they’ll get too mixed up with the parfait and you’ll lose your pretty contrasts. Smooth over the top and freeze again for another three hours, until solid. Allow to soften for about 15 minutes before serving in scoops or slices.