Wednesday, 12 August 2015
One of my earliest cooking memories is helping my grandmother with morning tea. Technically, what I was delegated to do was not so much cooking as arranging pieces of cheese on Jatz crackers and topping them with gherkin or corn relish. This savoury selection was only part of a lavish feast my grandmother Irene laid out every Sunday for her immediate family. In addition to my grandfather Cec, there would be my (great) auntie Ursula and uncle Ed, and my grandmother's brother Kev and his wife Joan. Sometimes one or more of their children would pop in. With their children. And occasionally my parents, who would be picking my brother and I up from an overnight stay. There were many chairs around the table and the table itself was always groaning with food. My grandmother was renowned for her fruitcake and that was always at the centre of this spread, but on any given Sunday there could also be scones or pikelets, maybe something else sweet too but the Jatz and cheese were a mainstay. So I took my responsibility seriously.
When it came to entertaining, my grandmother knew her stuff. Cheese and crackers is a winning combination, but made just that bit more special with a little something extra. So when I made this beetroot relish last week and served it up to a friend with some cheddar and crackers, it reminded me of her. In truth, I'm not sure she would have entirely approved, what with beetroot's propensity to stain, but she couldn't argue with the taste: sweet and lightly spicy, perfect with the creamy sharpness of the cheese, and the salty crunch of the cracker.
Adapted from a recipe by Matt Moran, as featured in the September 2015 issue of delicious
This is lovely with lamb and would be amazing on a steak sandwich or a burger. When you're slicing the beetroot, it's good to do it on a piece of baking (parchment) paper so as not to stain your counter or cutting board.
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
6cm piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
4 large raw beetroots (beets), grated
300ml white wine vinegar
200g caster (superfine) sugar
finely grated juice and zest of one lime
salt and pepper for seasoning
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, thyme and rosemary, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beetroot and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes til beetroot is slightly softened. Reduce heat to low, add vinegar and sugar and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes or until glossy and soft. Remove from heat and stir in lime zest and juice.
Spoon into sterilised jars, and seal while hot or - if using immediately - allow to cool completely before serving.