March’s Recipes for Life challenge: what can you do with beetroot, carrot and cheese?

Take part in the Recipes for Life food bloggers challenge for your chance to see your recipe featured in a new charity cookbook!

With such a great response to the first Recipes for Life challenge, I really can’t wait to see what dishes come in this month.

Your mission for March – should you choose to accept it – is to show us what tasty and tempting dishes you can create using beetroot, carrot and cheese.

As you’ll recall from last month, this challenge is run in conjunction with a fantastic charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. SWALLOW is looking for new recipes for its members to make in their cookery lessons, and ultimately to include in its new cookbook coming out later this year. Therefore it’s important entries to Recipes for Life focus as much as possible on the three key ingredients and aren’t too complicated to make.

This month your dishes featuring beetroot, carrot and cheese can be either savoury or sweet, raw or cooked and you can use any kind of soft or hard cheese you like, just so long as it’s widely available.

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by basic store cupboard items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 26 March 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #recipesforlife, @BangerMashChat and @SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet each one we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much needed funds for its ongoing work.

Any questions, please feel free to email or tweet me and best of luck with your dishes!

March’s entries

  1. Carrot and Beetroot Soup with Cheesy Croutons from The Garden Deli
  2. Beetroot and Carrot Pancakes with Herby Mascarpone from Bangers & Mash
  3. Roasted Roots and an Easy Roasted Roots Pizza from Chez Foti
  4. Baked Cheesy Meatballs with Beetroot Sauce from The Crazy Kitchen
  5. Roasted Vegetable and Goat’s Cheese Risotto from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  6. Two-of-your-five-a-day Chocolate Cake from The Crazy Kitchen
  7. Beetroot, Carrot and Cottage Cheese Salad from The Crazy Kitchen
  8. Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Tatin from Martin at The Tempest Arms
  9. Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Muffins from Chocolate Log Blog
  10. Beetroot, Carrot and Feta Cheese Salad from Bangers & Mash
  11. Carrot and beetroot cake with a cream cheese topping from Lucy at The Bell Inn

Spicy chocolate and beetroot cake

We’re getting lots of beetroot in our weekly veg box at the moment. And that is a very good thing as I have come to rather like beetroot in recent years. Whereas once I’d automatically roast them in the oven and serve alongside a roast joint, I’ve discovered just how versatile the humble beetroot can be. It’s wonderful raw in winter slaws or sweet and sour salads, partners well with a tangy goat’s cheese in a simple tart, and it’s incredible juiced with carrot and lots of ginger.

Beetroot is also fantastic in cakes and has a natural affinity with chocolate. These brownies for example always go down well with my children and are so incredibly moist and gooey. So when I saw an Abel and Cole recipe for a beetroot and chocolate cake which also used fresh ginger and ground cardamom, I knew I had to give it a go at the earliest opportunity.

At the weekend we all went to London to stay with my Dad and Step Mum, or as they’re known to the kids, Grandad Chris and Nana Sue. Since Nana Sue had treated us to her heavenly clementine polenta cake the last time they came to stay with us in Somerset, I felt it only polite to return the favour by taking some tasty homemade offering. And of course it had to be this chocolate, beetroot and ginger concoction.

After a lovely Sunday morning brunch in Highgate, followed by a walk up Parliament Hill to look out over the hazy London skyline, a couple of games of What’s the Time Mister Wolf? and some tree-climbing and green-parakeet-spotting, a cup of coffee and a slice of cake was very much required. While my Dad looked a little dubious at first, the chocolate, beetroot and ginger cake seemed to go down with all, children and adults alike – even Dad, with the whole family making lots of positive mmmmming noises as they got stuck in.

As well as using fresh ginger in the cake itself, the Abel and Cole version also adds ginger to the mascarpone topping, along with orange zest. I opted to leave these out, and I’m glad I did as I think a calmer, creamy topping acted as a perfect foil for the spicy cake.

Spicy chocolate and beetroot cake

150g cooked beetroot
150g dark chocolate
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
6 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and ground to a powder
125g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs
200g soft butter
150g caster sugar
100g mascarpone cheese
200g cream cheese
75g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Puree the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Pop into a bowl along with the dark chocolate, broken into pieces, and heat gently in a microwave for a minute or two until the chocolate has melted.

Combine the chocolate and beetroot well, then mix in the grated ginger and cardamom powder. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg yolk and butter mixture into the flour. Then gently fold in the egg whites, a spoonful at a time. Finally stir in the beetroot and chocolate mixture.

Grease an 23cm cake tin with butter and dust with flour. Pour the cake mix into the tin. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. You want it be a little soft and gooey in the middle. Leave to cool on a wire tray before removing from the tin.

To make the topping, simply put the mascarpone and cream cheese into a large bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Mix together well. When the cake is cool, use a palette knife to spread over the mascarpone topping. Dig in!

As this cake features both chocolate and ginger, I’m entering it into February’s We Should Cocoa, a blog challenge created by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog, and hosted this month by Blue Kitchen Bakes.

Beetroot and potato dauphinoise

I came across this delicious dish at one of our local pubs this Christmas, the excellent Holcombe Inn, and decided then I would have to recreate it at home.

It’s a lovely way to use beetroot, which is in plentiful supply at the moment, and is very good served with roast meats. My children really like beetroot, perhaps because it’s quite sweet.

Slice the beetroot and potatoes as thinly as you can. It’s best to use a mandolin if you have one.

This is a perfect dish for the Aga as it needs to be cooked slowly in a low oven.

Beetroot and potato dauphinoise

Serves 2

3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large beetroot, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh thyme, picked
4 cloves garlic, crushed
150 ml double cream, perhaps a little more

Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 2.

Put the sliced potato and beetroot in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, garlic and cream and combine so that the vegetables are well covered.

Place in a small gratin dish and roughly arrange the potato and beetroot so the slices lie flat. I like to have a layer of potato and then a layer of beetroot and so on. Pack down well.

The cream should almost come to the top of the vegetables. If not, add a little more.

Fleck the top of the vegetables with a little butter and cover with foil.

Bake for around 1½ hours, until the potato and beetroot are tender. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/Gas Mark 7, remove the foil and return the dish to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the top has crisped up.

Beetroot and chocolate brownies

For a while in the autumn we seemed to be getting beetroot in our veggie box pretty much every week.  Now I adore beetroot so I was quite happy with this situation. Unfortunately the rest of my family do not share my passion for this colourful root.

So while I was rather enjoying eating roast beetroot to accompany a joint of lamb or baked beetroot in a salad with nectarines, I felt compelled to come up with new ways to serve beets in a slightly less prominent way. That’s how I came up with this gorgeous brownie recipe.

They really are surprisingly good. Much lighter than your average brownie and ever so moist. Everyone I’ve served them to, including my anti-beetroot family members, has wanted more.

And I love the way they are tinged with a subtle pink hue.

I’ve tried this recipe with both plain and milk chocolate. Plain is definitely best here.

Beetroot and chocolate brownies

4 medium beetroot
250g plain chocolate
200g butter
3 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds

Wash and trim the beetroot, place in a baking dish with half a centimetre of water, and cover with foil. Place in an oven preheated to 200° C /Gas Mark 6 and roast for around 45 minutes until tender. Leave to cool and then skin.

Turn the oven down to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and microwave on a medium heat for two to three minutes, until melted. Stir together well.

Finely chop / mush the beetroot in a food processor. Then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sugar. Keep mixing until smooth.

Stir the beetroot mix into the melted chocolate, and then sift in the cocoa powder, plain flour and baking powder and fold in carefully, along with the ground almonds, until the ingredients are combined.

Line a tin, roughly 28cm x 18cm, with baking paper. Pour in the mixture and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Don’t over-cook your brownies! When they’re ready, a skewer should come out ever so slightly sticky.

Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares. Keep in an airtight container and eat within two to three days. If they’re around that long, that is.