We Finns are said to eat the yearly share of beet root at Christmas so our family must be an exception, again a minority, because we eat beet root year round. There is always a bag full of beet roots in the fridge.
A salad with beetroot, carrot, potato, pickled cucumber, onion and herring is a traditional Christmas salad in Scandinavia. I sometimes make it but often make a small portion to last a day or two with the other traditional dishes and then again I also like to try new recipes with beetroot. I found this lovely recipe on roast beet root in spicy christmasy marinade in a book called Kitchen Classics. Celebration: the Christmas recipes you must have (2006 Murdoch Books). I got the book six years ago in London.
Let me tell about the trip to London before writing the recipe. It was a weekend stay-over in London in early December and we had planned to do Christmas shopping, eat well and see some sights. I love books and my job so Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill was one of our destinations along with Foyle’s. To be more precise the two shops we especially wanted to visit were Books for Cooks (at 4 Blenheim Crescent) and Travel Book Shop. The Travel Book Shop got world-famous in the film Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. I think I’ve seen it five times, at least. The cook book shop had been in the paper and in some gourmet magazines. It is really easy to reach Notting Hill, we took the tube.
We got stuck in the cook book store. They had so many interesting books. Then they ran a series of workshops that sounded really interesting and were given at the same premises. Something I would’ve loved to participate in had I lived in London. The travel bookshop was lovely and I could’ve bought just about any book they had. But since I’d already bought a bagfull the other side of the street I decided to write down some titles and take a list to our librarian at the university.
Now back to the beet roots. This is what you need for a portion for six people.
12 small beetroots or 8 larger ones, 1 clove of garlic
oil, butter, 1 1/2 tsp ground cummin, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp pumpkin spice
I use muscovado sugar and make a spice mixture of my own because I don’t have pumpkin spice. I make the spice mixture with cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, nutmeg using a dash – 1/2 tsp each. Then I add about 1 tsp of fresly grated ginger.
Wash the beetroots and place them in a grased oven tin. Bake them in 175 Celsius for an hour. Cut the beets into wedges if they are very big and bake them for an additional 10 minutes.
Let the beets cool so that you can peel them and make the spice sauce in the meanwhile.
Heat the oil and butter, and pour in the spices and the garlic. Let boil for 1 minute. Add the sugar and vinegar and boil for another minute or until the sugar dissolves. Add the beets and simmer them in the sauce until it is absorbed into the beets, about 5 minutes.
The trip was a success otherwise too. It was a lovely weekend. We stayed in Kensington in a modest budget hotel and discovered some of the interior design stores like Terence Conran Shop. Brought home Christmas crackers and paper crowns for Christmas. We visited the Tower Bridge (it had been ages) and the lovely Tate Modern that I always visit, and had tea in the basement of the Saint Martin-in-the-Fields (church) at Trafalgar Square. Covent Garden was Christmassy and full of street performers, and pasta at Ponti’s was good as always. There were so many places I wanted to see and show my husband. I’d been in London so many times on duty with a busload of students and on my own on a day off. It was lovely to be able to share it all! Hope you all have a chance to visit London. It is six years already since I’ve been there, guess much has changed. Have to plan another trip sometiem soon!