Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin

I have had a *slight* obsession with beetroot (again) these last few weeks. My poor husband has gone from not touching beetroot to tasting here and there, to thoroughly enjoying THIS dish to “enough with the beetroot…PLEASE!!!”

I have baked, roasted, pickled and juiced beetroot in all weird and wonderful ways, with all types of combinations.  Out of all my experiments with beetroot, I have to say that, apart from beetroot juice, this Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin was my favorite and will definitely make a reappearances on my dinner table.

Now…before we get right into the recipe, let’s examine why these little balls of red (sometimes yellow, sometimes white, sometimes stripped) happiness is so good for you.

The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet.

If you’re considering beetroot as one of your 5-a-day, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fiber.

Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.

People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.

Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.

Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.

 Beetroot, Bacon & Goats Cheese Tarte Tatin
serves 2 – 3

beetroot & goats cheese tart tatin

½ Roll Today’s Puff Pastry
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
4 medium sized beetroots, cooked and thickly sliced into rounds
4 pieces streaky bacon, cut into quarters
¼  packet Goats Cheese
Balsamic reduction
Fresh Thyme, roughly chopped
salt
black pepper
egg wash

Preheat oven to 180°C

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface, cut slightly bigger than the pan you using to bake the tarte tatin in.

Add sugar and butter to a small, non stick pan, place over medium, heat and let caramelize. Swirl around the pan to ensure the entire bottom of the pan is coated in caramelized sugar
Remove from heat, place beetroot rings over the bottom of the pan, creating a nice even layer.
Place the pieces of bacon over the beetroot, season with black pepper and sprinkle with thyme.
Cover with puff pastry, tucking in the sides so the puff pastry fits snug in the pan.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
While still hot, carefully flip the pastry onto a plate, top with goat’s cheese that is just roughly broken up and season with salt and black pepper.

Serve hot or cold.

I added a little onion marmalade, you can find the recipe here, and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Onion Marmalade

I have been away, traveling around KZN, a part of South Africa I have never experienced, so my blog posts have been few and far in-between, however, I am back now. Watch out for the fun adventures I had in KZN, namely, I experienced the traditional bunny chow which I will definitely post about.  But that’s for another day, today I am going to get right into a recipe I have been asked to post a few times. Onion Marmalade, now this recipe I don’t really follow any kind of measurements, I just cook with a feel, knowing when, how much and how long to cook it for, so I am going to guide you as best I can.

Cutting and slicing onions is all a personal thing, we all have our special way of doing so.  With this recipe, I cut the onions pole to pole, onion slices cut pole to pole will break down more completely as they cook, producing a more uniform texture and flavor in the finished dish.

Onion Marmalade

1kg red onions, cut pole to pole
1 bottle red wine
1 cup brown sugar – you can use white, but I find brown gives it a nice caramel flavour
2 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
5 – 8 whole cardamom pods
1 whole cinnamon stick
pinch of salt

Place all the above ingredients, expect the red wine into a large enough deep pot.

Pour in red wine, enough to just cover the onions, turn heat up to high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil.  Drop your heat and let gently simmer, this will take some time. Stir sporadically.

When the liquid has reduced and formed a sticky like consistency, this will be close to the end.  Watch while reducing further until thick and really sticky.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Remove the whole spices.  Use on sandwiches, salads, as extra topping on a pie…this is so versatile.  You can keep onion marmalade for a fair amount of time in the fridge, just ensure that it is stored in an airtight container

onion marmalade

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry. My Ultimate Comfort Food

The seasons are changing, the mornings are dark when we wake up, the sun sets earlier and we are slowly turning to comfort food.  For me…my ultimate comfort food is curry.  I love aromatic curries with that slight tingle on your tongue which brings a hint of a blush to my cheeks.

One of the earliest dishes I remember cooking is curry, I use to help my dad, get things ready for him, and slowly learnt how to manipulate the spices to achieve certain flavours.

Curries I make per feeling, I do not have a fool proof recipe, I don’t have a secret, there is no magical answer to the best curry…it is a feeling, it is a mood thing, and most importantly it’s your spice combinations.

Now the rule of thumb for a good curry is fresh ginger & garlic and onions.  This is how I would start a good 90% of the curries I make, unless I am doing a Korma, in which you fry your spices first to release the oils in the spices. Along with your ginger and garlic, you need fresh spices.  Keep your spices closed in an air tight container, the older your spices, the less potent they are.

Many people have mentioned that they are scared of spices, they don’t know how to use them right, unfortunately I can’t tell you how to use spices “right”, but I can tell you that you don’t need to be afraid. You can always fix it…that I can tell you how to do…easily.

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry
Serves  4

4 skinless chicken breasts , cut into chunks
(if you are not healthy conscious, use thighs – gives absolutely wonderful flavours – in my opinion you should always use bone in chicken for that something extra in your curry)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large clove of garlic, diced
1 thumb of fresh ginger, diced
2 large potatoes, skin on, cut into chunks
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2.5 tbsp turmeric
2.5 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tbsp whole cardamom pod
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Please note that these spice measurements are as close as I can guess, I cook by feeling and cannot give accurate measurements as the flavours change and I adjust as it goes)

Preheat your oven to 150°C

Mix all the spices together and set aside

In an oven proof dish, layer the onions, garlic and ginger over the bottom of the dish.
Layer the chicken on top, sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken, pour in the can of whole peeled tomatoes.
Fill the can quarter of the way with water and pour that into the dish.

Place in oven and let slowly cook for 3 hours.  Remove from oven and add the potatoes, put back into the oven for another hour, crank up your heat to 200°C and finish off for 30 minutes.

The meat will be soft and juicy, without being shredded, the flavours will have developed nicely over the long slow cooking period.

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry

 

Roasted Butternut, Caramelized Onion, Danish Feta & Mixed Herbs Quiche

Quiche and myself have a love hate relationship.  I love the idea of quiche, but I hate that eggy flavour of quiche.  So I am always sceptical at ordering quiche at restaurants, but am all for making quiche at home.

This was a meatless Monday dinner, so feel free to adapt the ingredients if you insist on using meat.  I would add a little crispy bacon bits to satisfy the carnivore in you, but otherwise just as it is pretty delicious.

Roasted Butternut, Caramelized Onion, Danish Feta & Mixed Herbs Quiche
serves 8 – 10

Enough shortcrust pastry to suit the size of the dish you are using to make your quiche in
1kg butternut roasted (I roasted it the same was I always do when making my butternut soup)
2 large onions, chopped pole to pole
200g Danish feta, roughly crumbled
chopped mixed fresh herbs of choice
200ml milk
100ml cream
3 eggs
seasoning
1 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, diced
200g grated cheddar
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C

I made my quiche in a large spring form tin, you don’t need to grease the tin as the pastry won’t stick.

Roll out the pastry and cut to desired size. You want to ensure that you have a pie like crust for the quiche, so ensure your pastry comes up the sides of the tin.  Remember your pastry shrinks when baked so leave a little room for shrinking.
Blind bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

While the butternut is roasting, fry off the onions in a drizzled of olive oil, sprinkle the sugar over the onions and let caramelize, add the garlic and sauté gentle.  Do not burn the garlic as this will make your quiche bitter.
Mix the butternut, onions and feta, with the herbs in a bowl, season to taste.

Mix the milk and cream together and add the eggs.  Ensure that the mixture is well incorporated.

Place your butternut mixture evenly in the pastry base, pour the milk mixture over, tap the tin once or twice to get the mixture to seep through the butternut, sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 45 minutes.

Turn your oven up to grill for 2 – 3 minutes just long enough for the cheese to form a nice crust over the top.

Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, release spring form clasp.  Let sit for another 5 minutes.

Cut and serve with a beautiful garden salad.
IMG_20130312_115911

Basil & Three Cheese Soufflé

Chefs, foodies, home cooks and students all fear the dreaded Soufflé.  But in essence, they should not be feared at all.  As long as you have your fundamentals down you should have a successful soufflé time after time.

The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means “to blow up” or more loosely “puff up”.

Once I get an idea in my head, I don’t let it go.  I was paging a magazine which had a bean soufflé recipe; my husband was not very excited about this idea, so I opened my fridge door and put a few ideas together.

Basil & Three Cheese Soufflé
makes 6 servings

50g whole meal flour (extra for dusting ramekins)
50g softened butter (extra for buttering ramekins)
500ml milk
1 small onion
1 star anise
3 cloves
2 sprigs of Thyme
100g mature white cheddar, grated
100g boerenkaas, grated
50g feta cheese, crumbled
2 tsbp Princess Pesto basil pesto
6 eggs, seperated
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Prepare ramekins with butter , using a pastry brush, brush the butter in an upward motion (this is a very important step). Dust with flour and black pepper and place in freezer.

Preheat your oven at 200°C

Mix the butter and flour together to form a paste.  Place in fridge to harden.
Heat the milk over a medium heat with the onion, star anise, cloves and thyme infusing in the milk for about 15 minutes. Strain and place back on the heat.
Whisk in cold butter, the milk will thicken, cook out for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Whisk the egg yolks, cheese and basil pesto together and then into the milk mixture.

All this point you can stop and set aside for up to 2 days.

Whisk your egg whites until just before hard peak.  You don’t want dry egg whites.

Fold your whisked egg whites into your mixture gently.  Spoon mixture into the prepared ramekins.  Ensure that the mixture is level on top.  Using a paper towel and run your finger along the inside edge of the ramekin, this encourages the soufflé to rise.

Place in oven for 10 minutes, drop your heat to 180°C for a further 15 minutes.

As you can see, mine raised beyond expectations, careful though, as soon as you remove the soufflé from the oven, it will start dropping within a minute.

cheese souffle