Romancing the plate

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I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day (may be because I have never had anyone to celebrate it with until I was 27 and by that point the charm has really worn off). But now that this day gives me an excuse to post more about the food I love cooking – I am all up for it! So here’s a menu I have put together with some of the favourite classics as well as new creations. I am currently obsessed with rose – in my perfume, in my food and in my drink. So what can be a better day to share this obsession than today? This menu, of course, works as well for a warm and sunny Sunday lunch in Spring or for any other occasion where you crave a bit of an adventure and romance on your plate.

The Menu 

A rose and pomegranate gin and tonic 

Borani dip

Spicy borsch soup

A rosewater plum crumble with tarragon yoghurt 

Recipes 

A rose and pomegranate gin and tonic 

makes 1

50ml gin
150ml tonic
1/2 tsp rose water
1 tbsp pomegranate cordial
fresh pomegranate seeds
rose petals

Crush some pomegranate seeds in a glass. Mix the cordial, gin, tonic and rose water. Top with ice and decorate with more pomegranate seeds and rose petals. This has been my drink of choice for almost a year now and I can’t get enough! 

Borani (a beetroot, walnut and feta dip)
Serves 2

3-4 beetroots (ready cooked)
small  clove of garlic
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2  tsp of Greek yoghurt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 pack of feta cheese
handful of walnuts
handful of fresh coriander leaves
good quality olive oil
Maldon salt to taste 

Grate the beetroot and then quickly pulse it in a food processor or with a hand blender. Crush the garlic clove with salt; add to the beetroot pure. Add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Mix in the  yoghurt till will blended. Transfer into a good-looking dish or plate. Roughly break up the feta cheese, walnuts and coriander leaves and place on top. Serve with warm Turkish bread (check the Turkish Food Centre or the Ararat Bakery on Ridley Road market)

Spicy borsch soup
Serves 2

½ white onion, chopped
½ carrot, grated
4 medium beetroots (use roasted or boiled)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp harrisa paste
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
1 pint of water
Maldon salt to taste

Roast the spices in a hot pan until they ooze the aroma, take off the heat immediately so they don’t burn. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot then add the onion and carrots and sweat for a few minutes. Add the roasted spices and salt, and cook for a few more minutes. While this is cooking, grate the beets and add them to the pot together with the tomato paste and harissa. Let them cook together for 3-5 minutes and then add the water. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt to taste.

A rosewater plum crumble with tarragon yoghurt 

Serves 2

10 plums, stoned 
100 gr muscovado sugar (or any other dark, unrefined sugar)
50gr oats 
50gr almond flour 
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence 
1 large bunch of fresh tarragon 
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar 
1/2 cup of warm water 
1 teaspoon of rosewater 
100gr of yogurt 
zest of 1/2 lemon

To pickle the plums: use two medium plums, stone and thinly slice them into ‘feathers’.
In a jar mix 1/2 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar until dissolved, add the 1/2 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of rose water. Submerge the plum slices in the brine and close the jar with a lid. Place in the fridge for 30 mins. 

To make the crumble:
Heat the oven to 180C.
In a mixing bowl combine the oats, almond flour, coconut oil, 100gr of sugar and a tsp of vanilla essence, until the oil is distributed evenly. Spread the mix on a roasting tray covered with parchment paper. Bake in the over for 30 mins until golden.

To make the stewed plums:
Stone and half the remaining plums. Place in a pot, barely cover with water, add 100gr of sugar, and a few springs of tarragon (stems and leaves). Cook on a medium heat for 15 mins till the plums are soft and the water has turned into a syrup. 

To make the creme fraiche:
Pick the tarragon leaves and chop them finely. Whip the creme fraiche with the herbs adding the lemon zest (and a bit of icing sugar if you’d like)

To serve:
Place the crumble mix at the bottom of a bowl, making a small well in the middle. Spoon the stewed plums and syrup in the centre of the crumble. Decorate with a two slices of pickled plums, few leafs of tarragon and a few rose petals.  Add a dollop of tarragon creme fraiche on the side.