Russian beetroot salad

Russian beetroot salad

Another delicious salad that I love, and that is the perfect accompaniment to barbecued meat, is a beetroot salad I’ve been making for years (if not decades!). This recipe was originally shared with me from the wife of a very good friend’s cousin.

Back when we were teenagers with driving licences and too much time on our hands, my friend Helen and I would race around the country on a whim, visiting wherever we thought was a good idea on that day! One day we decided to go and visit (unannounced – I now realise how irritating we must have been!) Helen’s cousin and wife in Southend-on-Sea. They were so welcoming to two crazy teenage day-trippers and gave us a meal that included one of the most delicious salads I have ever tasted. I LOVE beetroot, and it also includes cheese (which is something of an addiction for me) and garlic – yes please! Helen’s cousin had married a Russian lady and she said she’d brought this recipe with her from Russia.

What is so great about this salad is that its really yummy the day after, spread thickly on a piece of crusty baguette. The only thing is, it’s so delicious it may not last until the day after!

Grate equal parts of cooked beetroot and cheese (I like to use a mature cheddar) and mix with a couple of spoonful’s of sour cream and crushed garlic (I’d suggest two cloves of garlic for every four cooked beetroots). It really is that simple!

Aligot; fabulous French fare!

This summer I was lucky enough to get away on a couple of European holidays to France and Spain. The first took me to spend some time with my parents at our home in the Aveyron; an idyllic little corner of France that’s rich in good food, wine and beautiful views. While it was a much-needed rest for me away from London life I couldn’t help but get my hands dirty in the kitchen. There are so many delicious foods in that part of the world and too many recipes to try out in just one week! But I gave it my best shot and over the next few weeks I’ll be bringing you stories of my culinary adventures in France and Spain as well as some super-yummy recipes to try for yourself.

I’ve been enjoying family holidays in France for as long as I can remember (my first holiday there was to the Pyrenees when I was just three months old) and been going to the Aveyron for over a decade now. And the first Aveyronaise food I fell in love with is still firmly my favourite! Aligot is the most delicious potato dish that goes wonderfully with the local beef or veal. I’ve served it to every guest I’ve hosted out there and they’ve all loved it. It’s beautifully garlicky and totally moreish!

You can buy aligot at pretty much any food market in the Aveyron, but I missed it when I was back in London and decided to have a go at making some myself. Of course I like to put my twist on it – and, I’ve been advised, this is also something some locals recommend; you may have guessed already, I like to add a spot of white wine. It gives the aligot a zingy kick that works well with a nice piece of pork belly and green beans, a great autumnal meal, but tastes especially good the next morning served on crusty baguette. Mmmm, delicious!

Aligot (serves 4)

Ingredients

2oz butter

Garlic (I like to use at least four fat cloves!)

2lbs potatoes (ideally Maris Piper)

14oz grated laguiole or cantal cheese (use Lancashire cheese if you can’t find the French cheeses in your local supermarket)

Salt and pepper to taste

Up to half a bottle of white table wine

Method

Place the garlic and butter in a pan and melt over a low heat for around 20 minutes. Leave the garlic for longer if you have the time.

Boil the potatoes and drain. Add the garlic infused butter and cream together with a handheld mixer.

Add the grated cheese little by little, stirring over a low heat until it is melted and smooth. Gradually add the wine, continuing to stir over a low heat. Once the aligot is at a consistency you’re happy with serve and enjoy. And enjoy again tomorrow!