Half Scottish, Half Japanese. Tempura Mars bar?

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I began writing this blog in October 2010 as a new father documenting food in his family. Before I knew it, I was in the final of MasterChef 2012. Now cooking is no longer just a hobby.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Nose to tail beetroot

Hector is now eating three square meals a day. He generally has Weetabix and fruit for breakfast, pasta or cous cous for lunch and meat and two veg for supper. The problem with cooking for him is that his portions are so small that any normal batch of food will go off in the fridge before he has eaten it all. Therefore we generally resort to cooking at the weekends and freezing excess portions.

This weekend we had an excess of home made fish fingers so we decided to help him out. The fridge was somewhat bare as we haven't been shopping for a while, but fortunately my mum had sent us home with some baby beetroot plucked fresh from the garden on Saturday evening. Fish fingers and beetroot isn't an obvious pairing but necessity is the mother of invention...

The beetroot, being home grown, came with stalks and leaves so I decided to make the most of them. I cooked the beetroot themselves in salted water for 20 minutes, then separated the green leaves from the red stalks. Breadcrumbed food usually needs a sauce, so I made a beetroot tartare sauce from the stalks. I chopped them roughly and added them to a couple of cloves of garlic that had been sweated in a little butter. When they were cooked, I blitzed them in the smoothie maker with some greek yoghurt to loosen it. Some fronds of dill would have been lovely, but I didn't have any. It needed salt, more garlic (so I added dried garlic granules) and some heat (so I added cayenne pepper).

I decided to treat the beetroot leaves as I would spinach - sauteed in butter and served as a bed for the rest of the dish. They are slightly bitter, so I added a little orange zest to give it a distracting fragrance. Jemma thought it was a touch overpowering, so next time I might simply add some spinach to dilute the bitterness. I don't like the idea of throwing the leaves away, not just because of the waste, but because the red veins make them more attractive on the plate.