Month: October 2013

Brilliant Burgundy Beetroot Chutney

I simply adore beetroot.  I love their earthy sweetness and the fact that you can almost taste the soil they’ve been raised in.  I love their rich Burgundian colour and the Lady Macbethian stains they leave all over your hands and kitchen.  I love that they’re really good for you, rich in folic acid, potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.  Beetroot

I also love chutney and here is where two of my passions collide most joyfully.   Beetroot chutney – perfect with pies, divine at dinner time and simply super in a sandwich.

We’ve managed to amass quite a glut of beetroot in our Somerset garden this year and after serving a variety of beetroot inspired dishes at virtually every opportunity we’ve only made a mere dent in the harvest.   So, I’ve turned to chutney!  There’s a wonderful recipe that’s been adapted from my apple chutney recipe, you can increase the quantity as required.

If you fancy an experiment you can also cook up the beetroot leaves as you would spinach. They’re best fried off with a little butter and very yummy with pork.

Simply place all of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 40 – 50 minutes or until the chutney is thick and the beetroot tender.   Ladle into sterilized jars and store for a month before eating. This chutney should keep very happily for up to 6 months in a cool dark place.

3lb beetroot, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

1 cooking apple, peeled cored and diced

Zest and juice of 1 orange

12 oz of golden or brown sugar

1 pint of malt vinegar

4 tsp ground ginger

4 tsp of grated nutmed

2 tsp salt


The Delights of Autumn

The 90’s were a very good decade for teenage smugglers such as myself. Fashion thankfully favoured voluminous Laura Ashley ball-gowns which provided a cavernous space to hide the quarter bottles of vodka you’d shoved into your pants as you struggled from your parents car to the door of the house or hotel in which you’d spend the next few hours bopping away at a Young Farmers Ball or an out of control 18th birthday celebration.   VERBENA  Bonariensis

As we got older we no longer needed to smuggle the alcohol in and the dresses thankfully became far more elegant but the excitement of getting dressed up in our finery and dancing the night away didn’t diminish. It seemed to me this morning as I walked along the Somerset lanes that the gardening year has much in common with these parties.

Spring sees us getting all excited at the prospect of the party.  Hair is put up, make up carefully applied and we pre-load with a few glasses of champagne to make sure everything will be perfect.  Summer is when the party is in full bloom, everyone’s looking quite beautiful and women attract men like butterflies to the sweetest of roses (whether they want the attention or not!).  Autumn comes and everyone’s looking a bit bedraggled. Stockings are laddered, faces shines where make up has worn away and we’re weeping with tiredness and just a little too much wine.   Winter is  the joyous moment when the survivors breakfast arrives. We’re allowed to snuggle up under blankets, take off our shoes and tuck into enormous plates of bacon and eggs all the while discussing when we’ll meet again.

This year rather than rejecting the dismal end-of-the-night autumnal feeling I decided to embrace the season and to carry on dancing with my garden.  I started to notice the roses that are still gainfully in bloom and the verbena that are shaking their hips in the wind.  The cutest of cyclamen that are fighting for their place amongst the falling leaves and the autumn flowering viola that are bringing  a splash of beautiful ultraviolet colour to the terrace.

The long summer has meant that the dahlias have been given a reprieve and are still acting like the aristocrats of the flower garden drooping their beautiful heavy heads in disdain at the rest of the plot.

This year rather than wishing for winter and the feast to arrive I’ll be collecting chestnuts, playing conkers with the boys and enjoying the burst of colour from the leaves as they turn from glossy important green to the most vibrant of reds.

I almost forgot Halloween and Bonfire Night.  Toffee apples galore!