If there’s one place in the world that I could say is on my proverbial ‘bucket list’, that’s Russia, that land that was once prohibited to Westerners, the land shrouded in mystery and spy stories, the land of an intensely resilient people who have survived hardships most of us cannot even imagine, and the land of snowy Siberia.
The mere thought of standing in the famous Red Square in Moscow and seeing St. Basil’s Cathedral with its colourful onion-top domes and Byzantine architecture and being feet away from the Kremlin, I know will one day make me giddy with glee. I will have to pinch myself to believe what my eyes will be seeing.
Rhubarb is currently in season, and we’ve bought it a few times in a row now. I love experimenting with fruits and vegetables, as they become available seasonally where I live. In Germany, during the Spring, the hot ticket item is white asparagus. One can find it everywhere and on every menu. But this year, as we are in London, our options vary…
And now, I bring to you a soup, that can be served warm or chilled, as a first course or an “amuse-bouche”. Rhubarb pairs well with a sweet fruit to contrast with its natural tart flavour. I think that’s why there are so many strawberry-rhubarb combinations. For my recent recipes, I’ve added orange and orange juice to make the rhubarb less tangy and add some sweetness. But apples and pears are also a good option. And so are grapes.
For these amuse-bouche, I roasted some grapes in the oven and used them as a garnish, as well as a complement to the rhubarb.
I hope you enjoy!
Author: The Saffron Girl
Makes about 4 cups.
800g rhubarb stalks (about 8-10 stalks), rinsed and cut into large pieces
2 medium red onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 beetroots, precooked (if you purchase them raw, simply roast in the oven or steam in water until tender)
2 cups filtered water
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeesed orange juice
coarse sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
grapes, oven roasted for garnish and contrast
In a pot, over medium heat, poach the onions and garlic in the olive oil, until tender.
Add the rhubarb and the water.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is cooked.
Remove from heat.
Once cool, place into an electric blender or with an immersion blender, and puree with the beetroots.
Return to the pot.
Add the orange juice and season to taste.
For the oven-roasted grapes: Place in an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 5-8 minutes at 180C (350F). Be careful not to burn. Once the grapes get warm, the sugar starts to come out and they burn quickly. Allow to cool, before using.
To serve: spoon some rhubarb soup into your serving dishes and garnish with the grapes and some freshly ground pepper.
Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
NOTE: This is a great soup to make a day or two in advance, and by doing do, the flavours also blend more.
We went to York over Easter weekend and following the recommendation of the Lonely Planet, we ended up at Duel@Gray’s Court for lunch.
“Grays Court York is a boutique hotel and historic heritage property in York’s city centre that boasts over 900 years of colourful history. Once owned by the Duke of Somerset, Queen Jane Seymour’s brother, and visited by King James 1st, James 2nd and the Duke of Cumberland. Sir Thomas Fairfax, Archbishop Robert Holgate and Archbishop Thomas Young have also owned and lived here in Grays Court.”
A glimpse of the courtyard of Gray’s Court
The place is amazing! It’s nestled inside a little courtyard behind the York Minster and facing the city walls. If you’re not looking for it, you can actually walk right by it… however, I kind of doubt that, since after taking a glimpse of the courtyard, you’ll just want to peek inside and see more. The building is lovely and flanked by some other historic heritage properties. I just couldn’t stop taking photographs!
The dining room, where we ate
Lunch was delicious, refreshingly so, after a few bad experiences the days before. And the service is very friendly and helpful. You actually can have tea/coffee in the long hall facing the courtyard, which is furnished with sofas and comfy period pieces, which makes you feel like you could spend hours just lounging there with friends. Lunch was served in one of the dining rooms, adjacent to the long hall, and overlooking the beautiful gardens that are surrounded by the old city walls. It’s a peaceful and relaxing place; and the prices are very reasonable. And if you peruse around a bit like I did, you’ll see the family’s library, full of books, of course, and personal photographs… it truly feels like you’ve been invited into someone’s home.
The “original” Beetroot & Goat Cheese Salad
We were so impressed, that after walking through York that day and the next, we decided that we should repeat lunch there! We usually don’t do that, since we like to explore and experiment…but really, the food is worth going back again.
My husband’s Ploughman’s Platter
When I have some time, I’ll share more of our experience and photographs of York under My Travel Logs. So, please come back and check it out! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this very tasty and easy to make salad.
Oh, for the balsamic reduction: it’s so simple to make, you’ll be repeating that too! Pour double the amount of what you want to achieve of balsamic vinegar (for example, if you want 1/2 cup, use 1 cup) in a small pot and bring to a soft boil over low to medium heat. The sauce will thicken and become syrupy–be careful, as it tends to splatter. Once it has thickened, you know it is ready. Allow it to slightly cool before pouring over the salad.
Roasted Beetroot Goat Cheese Salad
Recipe Type: Easy
Author: The Saffron Girl
4 beetroots, raw or precooked, cut into bite-size chunks
140g wild rocket (70g per person, or more according to taste of course)
goat cheese, crumbled
pine nuts, about 1 tablespoon per serving
balsamic vinegar reduction (recipe in text)
1 fresh, green onion, finely sliced
olive oil (if roasting raw beets)
If the beetroots are fresh and raw: in an ovenproof dish, drizzle some olive oil over them and roast at 180C for about 40 minutes until tender, with their skins. Once they are done, allow to cool slightly before peeling and cutting into bite-size chunks.
If the beetroots are precooked (I buy them like this oftentimes, as it’s more convenient), then simply cut them into bite-size chunks and roast for about 10 minutes in the oven, at 200C.
How to assemble: For each individual bowl/plate, place 1/4 of the wild rocket.
Add the beetroots, crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts.
Add the rest of the wild rocket over top.
Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction and some olive oil (optional).
Garnish with some fresh, green onion.
*The comments about Duel @ Gray’s Court in York are my personal opinion based on our experience, and I have not been paid for this review nor am I representing the restaurant in any way.
I was about to make my waffle recipe for breakfast and decided I wanted to have beets and chocolate instead. The texture of this recipe is spongy; and although one cannot really taste the beets, it’s also not super chocolaty. If you prefer a more chocolate flavour, especially for kids, I would add another tablespoon of raw cocoa powder. I also kept it less sweet, since I planned on pouring a bit more honey over top and eating it with strawberries. But feel free to alter the honey content to your preference.
Both waffle recipes freeze really well. I generally toss them directly in the oven from the freezer and toast for a few minutes to enjoy as a “bread” accompanying an egg breakfast or as waffles with some syrup and fruit.
BEETROOT CHOCOLATE WAFFLES
Ingredients, makes 6
1 cup (precooked) grated beetroot
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
2 teaspoons raw honey (I don’t like things too sweet, so you may want to add more if you have a sweet tooth)
1/3 cup coconut milk
In a blender or food processor, blend the beetroot, eggs and oil until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda and cocoa powder. Blend until well incorporated.
Add the raw honey and coconut milk and pulse until once again well blended.
Pour into the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve with your favourite fruit, additional honey or maple syrup, if desired.
I’m a “sucker” for anything unusual. Last year, I purchased a few different kinds of edible flowers and keep trying to sneak them into desserts and recipes. My favourite so far is lavender because of its fragrance, which is very appealing to me. And when I cam across a recipe for duck with lavender, I was hooked.
The original is slightly different, as it calls for duck breasts instead of a whole bird, and the cooking process is therefore also different. I omitted the maple syrup, as I want to keep any sugars out of my cooking, as much as possible; and in this case, I really don’t think it’s required. But here’s the original, in case you would like to follow that instead.
Ingredients, for 2 (using a 2.5 kilo duck)
1 whole duck, cleaned
1 medium orange, cut in half
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup fennel seeds
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon edible lavender
butter (preferably “grass fed”)
For the Vegetables:
3 large beetroots, peeled and cut into medium pieces
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 large leek, sliced
For the duck:
Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
Clean and rinse the duck inside and out, letting the water run through thoroughly.
Place the duck in a glass, oven proof dish. Place the orange, cut in halves, inside the duck. (I place one facing up and the other facing down, so the juices of the orange will disperse evenly.)
Mix the cumin, fennel and coriander together and with a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the spices. Set aside.
Rub the outside (both sides) of the duck with butter. I used about 30g.
Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Then rub the spices on both sides. Drizzle with some of the lavender, and save the rest to drizzle on the other side, once you turn the duck over.
Bake at 180C for about 1.5 hours, depending on the size of the duck, turning and basting every 20 minutes or so to cook evenly. (Recommended cooking time is about 20 minutes for every 500g.)
When the duck is finished, whilst cutting, discard the orange pieces.
For the vegetables:
Prepare the vegetables. Set the sweet potatoes, celery and leek aside.
Place the beetroot in a glass, oven proof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, stirring to coat well.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes (on the bottom shelf below the duck), then add the sweet potatoes, celery and leek to the same dish. Drizzle with some more olive oil and stir to coat well.
Bake an additional 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Cut the duck into the desired serving pieces, serve with the vegetables, and add some fresh lavender overtop as garnish. (Don’t use too much, just a pinch, as the flavour and fragrance can be overpowering.)
The other night, I made the most delicious duck with roasted beetroot and sweet potatoes. We love duck, but usually are boring and only make it a l’orange. But in my search for something different, I stumbled upon a recipe to make it with lavender and I was hooked! I bought some edible flowers last year and every chance I get to use them, I jump on the opportunity. I love the aromas and the gourmet touch they provide.
However, I didn’t take good pictures of the duck dish. So that means, we’ll have to be making it again (darn ;-P) for lunch this time, and then I’ll be able to share with all of you the exquisite, aromatic recipe!
Anyway, I had a bunch of left over pre-cooked beets and really didn’t want to use them in salads and such. Google came to the rescue and I found an interesting flourless cake from Elana’s Pantry. I made it immediately and although I loved its flavour and texture, I did find it somewhat too moist to serve as a cake.
Here’s what I consider my improvement upon the original. I’ve made changes for a number of reasons, aside from the moisture issue: I used olive oil, instead of grapseed oil, which I’ve read about and it is not considered a healthy fat; I used raw honey, instead of the agave nectar, which is also not considered that healthy, and here’s why; and finally, I added spices, coconut flour for the moisture, and baking soda to make it more of a cake.
I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think. We loved it!
For original recipe from Elana’s Pantry, please click here.
PALEO BEETROOT CAKE
3 cups of grated, cooked beetroots
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raw 100% cacao powder
1/3 cup coconut flour (for a slightly fluffier and dryer cake, use 1/2 cup coconut flour)*
Preheat oven to 170C (350F).
In a food processor or blender, beat the beetroots, eggs and olive oil.
Add the honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt and spices. Blend well.
Add the cacao powder and coconut flour and mix until well incorporated.
Pour into a greased cake pan of choice. I used a 9-inch diameter tart pan.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before cutting and serving. Garnish as desired.
*I’ve made this cake both ways, with more and less coconut flour. I really can’t say which I prefer, as I love both. I would suggest making it both ways and deciding for yourself too!
I’ve been yearning for an egg breakfast for a few days now, and today I finally enjoyed it! My egg dish is accompanied by freshly squeesed orange juice, peppermint tea, fresh fruit, yoghourt with flaxmeal, and delicious paleo bread! This time, I didn’t add any sweetener to the bread and I found it even tastier.
The recipe couldn’t be easier and less time-consuming; so it’s no more excuses for me in the future…
EGGS WITH TOMATO & BEETROOT AND CREAM
Ingredients, for 4:
4 whole eggs
2 medium onions, finely chopped or julienne
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 preboiled beetroot, chopped
1 teaspoon dry oregano
4 tablespoons almond milk (or slightly more if desired)
fresh parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 180C.
In a wok or frying pan, place a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add the onions, tomatoes, and beetroot and poach about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle the oregano over the mixture and saute 1 minute longer. Pour the mixture into individual, ovenproof ramekins.
Crack each egg separately into a small glass bowl and then pour each egg directly onto of the tomato mixture in the ramekins. Pour a tablespoon of almond milk over each egg. Bake for 8-10 minutes in oven. (If you prefer more liquid eggs, bake a bit less.)
Sprinkle fresh parsley and season to taste before serving.