JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


This post is for my sister, who lives thousands of miles away in California, and who we don't see much. But - amazingly - she's just been over for three days, so last night I had dinner with her. At some point we started reminiscing, and we've done this so often that we now only need a couple of buzzwords to conjure up the memories. One of those buzzwords is beetroot, because we always had beetroot for school lunch on a Wednesday (what torture to give children exactly the same food each week!). The beetroot (soused in harsh malt vinegar) was accompanied by lumpy mashed potato and corned beef. When we were sent to a different school which sent us home early one day a week, we begged our mother to give us beetroot for lunch, and she did, accompanied by liver, another of our favourites.

Well I still love pickled beetroot, and so does my sister, but I much prefer the sweetness of baked beet, and I even like it raw. We often eat it, and it tastes nothing like the harsh sliced beetroot of my childhood.

Baked beetroot

Cut raw beets into chunks. I tend to use small beets, a bit bigger than a golf ball, and quarter them. Put them in a baking dish, add slithers of garlic, as many as you like, and some chopped thyme. Drizzle with oil (you don't want them sitting in a pool of oil) and mix until they are well coated. Bake in a hot oven for half an hour or so. Exact timings will obviously depend on the size of your chunks, but it's easy to tell when they're cooked, by piercing with a knife. This is good hot or cold. We eat it as a starter, with salmon, with chicken breasts & salsa verde, with lamb, or for lunch with bread and a little feta or goat's cheese.

Raw beetroot salad

Grate 4 small beetroot (c 725g). Finely chop a big bunch of coriander and of mint and add to the beet. Dress with the juice of a lemon. All this is obviously easier if you have a Magimix. Serve with 0% Greek yoghurt. I've adapted this from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What a lovely surprise ...

This week I'm taking part in a wonderful event called Euro Blogging by Post, in which bloggers send each other food parcels. It's organised by Andrew of, who, amazingly, turns out to live down the road from me. When I got home from posting a parcel of quinces to a blogger in Austria, I found a parcel from Dagmar in Sweden on my hall table. It was like Christmas - so exciting, wondering what was in it. Dagmar has been reading my blog, so she thought of sending things which we could eat without feeling guilty ...

As you can see, there's rye crispbread, with lovely Swedish treats to put on them: smoked cod roe (in the little tubes), and herrings in mustard sauce. Now I can hear lots of English people thinking 'herrings in mustard sauce, ugh' - but they couldn't be more wrong. We ate them at my nephew's wedding in Stockholm earlier this month, and I am very keen to get a good recipe so that I can make them at home. There's also red tea flavoured with ligonberry and blueberry, which I'm looking forward to trying, and some of Dagmar's favourite sweets. AND there's a jar of homemade ligonberry jam, which I've left out of the photograph, and which I'm going to try at breakfast.

In the bottom left hand corner, there's a little packet of saffron from Dagmar's cupboard. I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it - perhaps a risotto, maybe some Cornish yeast cakes. But I'll keep you posted!

Thank you Dagmar ... you made my day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Delicious fishcakes

I made these for supper last night, out of some leftover salmon and smoked salmon, adapting a recipe I often use for crab cakes. The salmon had been smothered in lemon zest after it was cooked, so the finished cakes were very lemony.

Mix and mash together 450g cooked salmon and smoked salmon. Add 50g Matzo meal, a quantity of chopped parsley and a little finely chopped chilli pepper. Stir together one egg, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix this in with the fish, and leave to stand for at least half an hour. Fry in a drop of olive oil.

We ate this with a tomato salad dressed with olive oil and spring onions.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The courgettes have turned into marrows ...

... I know, I know, if you pick them daily then you get lots of little finger sized courgettes of the sort supermarkets air freight in from Kenya and sell for huge sums. The trouble is that whenever I say that I'm going to pick some courgettes, the children all groan together, and so the days go by, and the courgettes remain unpicked. The children were all out for lunch yesterday, and I could barely lift the marrow I brought in.

I peeled it, quartered it lengthways, took out the seeds (very few, so although it was big, it wasn't tough), the cut it into inch-thick chunks. I put it in a dish with olive oil, finely chopped oregano from the garden, and coriander seeds & black pepper roughly bashed with the pestle and mortar. Then I covered it in foil and baked it in a hot oven for about half and hour. Not even slightly watery; good enough for Vicky to ask for the recipe (although honestly compels me to report that her husband Edmund keeps an allotment, so I expect she has a glut of marrows too).