Red was an easy week for me, the dish that immediately sprang to mind was borscht. My grandparents on my mum's side were Polish so I grew up eating this delicious soup that I used to actually call 'Red Soup' so how could I not make it, the name plus the wonderful memories it evokes were enough to get me scouring through my books for a recipe. Would you believe I could only find one recipe and that was in my Bowl Food cookbook, a book I sometimes turn to if I need something quick & easy on the table. I dont know how authentic the recipe is, I cant actually remember what my Gran put in apart from the obvious, BEETROOT. Regardless it was sensational, even though I cooked it for about 3 times longer than required, with all the veggies added after the first hour, I think this was what made it, the beef was nice & tender & the veggies had cooked down enough that they were still whole but really took on the flavours of the soup, rather than being just cooked & not really melding if you know what I mean? I was quite please with the red outcome too, after I chose the soup I was worried it would be too purple, as lets face it, beetroot has more of a pink/purple hue than red. The tomato saved it though & everything looked quite the right color for the theme to me, definitely a keeper.
The second recipe I wanted to try this week was for some strawberry vacherins. I picked up some super sweet Sunny Ridge strawberries from the Collingwood Children's farm farmers market last weekend & this seemed like a great way to showcase them. They are pretty much a meringue with crushed strawberries mixed through before baking. I served them with ice cream & fresh strawberries as suggested, loved them, crispy outer shells, gooey strawberry flavoured center & the aroma was pretty spectacular too. I think I'd actually prefer them with a dollop of double cream than the ice cream though so something to keep in mind for next time.
The recipe for Borscht below is per the book, notes from me - I cooked it for 3 1/2 hours as mentioned, adding all of the veggies after the first hour of cooking & the finishing touches, ie lemon juice, sugar, herbs right before serving. I also used a whole 400g can of tomatoes as couldnt see the point of only using half.
Beef and Beet Borscht - Bowl Food
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
1 litre beef stock
2 small beetroot (abt 250g)
200g canned crushed tomatoes
1 carrot, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 1/2 cups (190g) finely shredded cabbage
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Sour Cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 200c. Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion & garlic over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the beef, stock & 1 litre water & bring to the boil. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat.
Meantime, trim the beetroot just above the end of the leaf stalks. Wrap in foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Unwrap & leave to cool.
Return the stock to the boil and add the tomato, carrot and potato and season with salt. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Peel & dice the beetroot. Return the meat to the pan & add the beetroot, lemon juice, sugar & 1 1/2 tablespoons each of parsley & dill. Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Season to taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream & garnish with remaining herbs.
Strawberry Vacherin - Bill Granger - Feed Me Now
250g ripe strawberries
250g caster sugar
4 medium egg whites
pinch of sea salt
Vanilla or strawberry ice cream or cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 120c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Ina bowl, crush 4 or 5 of the berries with 1 tablespoon sugar, using the back of a fork.
Place the egg whites & salt in a clean, dry, large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar gradually, whisking continuously, until the mixture becomes stiff & glossy. Add hte crushed strawberry mixture gradually and whisk through.
Spoon the meringue mixture into 8 mounds on the prepared baking tray and bake for 1 1/4 hours. Remove from the oven & allow to cool. (Meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)
To serve, top each meringue with a scoop of ice cream and scatter with the rest of the strawberries.