Monday, June 30, 2008

What's Hot and What's Not?

Salsas, according to how finely the ingredients are chopped, can be served chunky-form as we would a chutney, or very finely chopped, even roughly pureed, as a dip. Leftovers 'dips' can be thinned down with a little yogurt and used as a salad dressing.

The first salsa/dip leans slightly to the hot side of moderate, but the spices can be adjusted to suit your taste.
Spicy Carrot Dip: serves 4
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, grated
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 tblsp Madras curry paste
5 fl.oz (150ml) natural yogurt
handful fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 - 2 tlsp lemon juice, or to taste
dash Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper
Put the onion, carrots, curry paste and orange zest and juice in a small pan and heat until simmering. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Leave to cool then blitz in a processor or blender until smooth. Leave to get quite cold then stir in the yogurt, basil, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. This is best freshly made and served at room temperature.

Moving to the other extreme, this is a cooling chunky salsa, perfect for serving with something spicy such as a fiery chilli con carne. This also makes a good dip to eat with tortilla chips.
Tomato and Pepper Cooler: serves 3 - 4
1 large yellow bell pepper
2 large tomatoes
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
half pint (300ml) creme fraiche
grated zest of a lemon (opt)
salt and pepper
Remove the core and seeds from the pepper and finely dice the flesh. Halve the tomatoes, scoop out the seeds and also finely dice the flesh. Put the pepper, tomato and parsley into a bowl, stir in the creme fraiche and mix together well. Season to taste. Chill well before serving, garnish with the lemon zest.

With the earlier mention of vacuum packed beetroot, I offer two recipes making use of the beetroot that might be left. The first recipe is for a variation on cole-slaw, the second (apologies for this as it has to be cooked) is a cake recipe. Because the beetroot is naturally sweet, the only sugar used is for sifting on the top.

Beetroot Coleslaw: serves 4
half a small red or white cabbage (or use both)
1 carrot, grated
1 red or sweet white onion, thinly sliced
1 pack (or part pack) beetroot, shredded
2 - 3 tblsp Greek yogurt
1 tblsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Remove the hard core from the cabbage and shred the leaves finely. Mix with the remaining ingredients adding seasoning to taste. Goes very well with grilled Halloumi cheese, or cold chicken.

Beetroot Cake: serves 6
250g vacuum packed beetroot
3 large eggs
7 fl oz (200ml) sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz (175g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 oz (75g) cocoa powder
icing sugar
Roughly chop the beetroot, place in a food processor and blitz until smooth, add the eggs, oil and vanilla and blitz again. Put this mixture into a bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa then fold this into the beetroot mixture. Pour into an 8" (20cm) round cake tin that has been greased, lined and greased again, and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 50 - 60 minutes until cooked and springy when the centre is pressed. Cool in the tin, then turn out and dust the top with icing sugar.