Sweetfire Beetroot Recipes

It’s the most wonderful time of year, again.  No, not that one – the time of year when Tesco Head Office fails to comprehend or take on board the severe drop in customers when the season ends and the tourists leave Padstow!  They stock up like maniacs and we pick up so many fabulous bargains that we actually share them with the neighbours!


A lovely find, and something I had not tasted before was these little beauties. They are called Sweetfire Baby Beetroot and are indeed sweet and spicy, in fact I hope the neighbours didn't have too much of a surprise, we didn't realise how hot they are.

So what did I do with this bounty? Firstly I made ...

Beetroot & Boursin Risotto 

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
200g risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
½ glass of white wine
500ml or so vegetable stock, gently simmering with the lid on
6 Sweetfire baby beetroot
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp or so Boursin (or other cream cheese)

~   Gently cook the onion in the oil or butter in a saucepan till tender.
~   Stir in the garlic and cook a minute or two more.
~   Stir in the rice and continue cooking and stirring for 7–8 minutes until it looks translucent.
~   Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
~   Add a ladleful of hot stock and continue to cook, stirring and staring into space till that too is absorbed. Carry on like this with the stock until the rice is just tender with a little bite in the middle (al dente) and is coated in creamy sauce which will take about 20 minutes. It may not take all the stock or might need a little more, use your judgment.
~   Stir in the beetroot and then the Boursin.
~   Taste and season and stir over the heat just long enough to mingle in the cheese and heat through the beetroot.
~   Serve immediately.


Riso al Salto

With the leftover risotto (I never seem to finish my dinners!) I made Riso al Salto, or “leftover risotto fritter thing” as it’s known in the UK, for a Sudden Lunch.  Just form the cold risotto (it has to be cold or it won’t work) into a cake and fry in a little olive oil till hot and crisp.


Sweetfire Beetroot Soup 

Serves 2

This is another variation on my Super Flexible Recipe for Soup.

Maybe pin this for later!
1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small floury potato – peeled and thinly sliced
vegetable stock
6-8 baby beetroot – coarsely chopped

~   Cook the onions in the oil exactly as explained here which is The Best Way to Cook Onions!
~   Peel and slice the potato and add to the onions.
~   Add just enough stock to cover the potatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid,) and simmer till the potatoes are tender.
~   Stir in the beetroot and cook for 5 more minutes.
~   Purée in a liquidiser, food processor or with a liquidiser on a stick adding more stock (or cream) to make it just how you like it.
~   Taste and season.
~   Serve topped with a little sour cream if you can – it goes really well.

After spurning beets for years and years due to having been frightened by them as a child I am now starting to realise that they are not the demon veg I thought they were. This is the second time I’ve had a go with them in just a couple of months. 

McDonald's ...

A week or two ago, under duress, my real man and I went into a McDonald's for breakfast.  It was his first visit and the only time I went into one before was about 25 years ago when I was showing a friend why I didn’t think it was real food.  At the time I think there was a sign on the wall saying ...
"Now Made with Real Chicken!!"
On this visit I had pancakes with maple syrup – they tasted fine but were ultra-flabby as one would expect, I suppose, as they'd been steaming in a box. My coffee was fine.  My darling had an egg McMuffin which he said tasted OK but was tiny.  

Actually I can see that McDonalds are a boon to people on the road who just need to refuel but in recent, unrelated to my visit, discussions on FB I have read of mothers who take their children to McD every morning for breakfast on the way to school.  Is that cos they are poor?  Because if so I’ve got news for them!

Generally speaking the weather is still fab in Cornwall and we've been for a lovely wander in the countryside three days in a row. Our primroses and lots of other flowers are blooming and we saw rhododendrons in bud. Is this normal can anyone tell me?

Do you really want to eat this s**t?

I’m afraid I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks – sadly there have been not one but two deaths in my real man’s family and we have been both very busy and very sad, also away from home.

As I haven’t cooked much this seems a good opportunity to have a bit of a rant about something that has been irritating me for about 20 years, especially as I am already in a bad mood. 

British cooks seem to have a bad rap in the States which I feel to be ironic to say the least and just one of several reasons this is ironic is the prevalence of “recipes" like these in books, magazines and on the web.

Creamy Pineapple Dessert kind of Thing!

1 large can crushed or chunk pineapple with juice
1 large box sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding mix
8 oz cool whip

~   Mix together and chill.

Vanilla pudding mix contains ...
modified food starch, less than 2% of natural and artificial flavour, salt, disodium phosphate and tetrasodiam pyrophosphate, mono and diglyceries, yellow 5, yellow 6, articificial colour, BHA
Cool Whip contains... 
hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skimmed milk, light cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavour, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene
Why not just do this?  

~   Drain the pineapple well.
~   Whisk some double or heavy cream together with a few drops of vanilla extract or rum plus sugar to taste. Icing (confectioners) sugar will make for a smooth finish but soft brown sugar will add more flavour.
~   Fold in the pineapple and chill till needed.

Even better make this Caramelised Pineapple and Rum Sauce and fold into whipped cream (home whipped, not the spray stuff!).

homemade creamy pineapple dessert

Incredible (no kidding!) Melted Ice-Cream Cake

Here is the list of ingredients which is all I need to make my point – you can find the recipe here, on the highly esteemed American Epicurious site.

vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
2 cups melted ice cream, your choice of flavor
3 large eggs
Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

I’m not sure about the above recipe but I have made cake from melted ice cream (you may remember there has been a lot of ice cream in my life) and all I did was mix about 165g self-raising flour into 225g of ice cream (melted). Sometimes I have added something else as appropriate – chocolate chips, fruit, nuts etc.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.

Speaking of plain white cake mix (they have yellow cake mix too) how about this little beauty?

cake "recipe" using bought in cake mix

Why not just make a cake?  There’s loads of quick and easy recipes about, like this simple sponge cake from the Beeb.

A “recipe” for Strawberry Fudge 

This contained just two ingredients ...

strange "ingredients" for fudge!

Candy Melts contain ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whole milk solids, non-fat dry milk solids, emulsifier (E122), salt, artificial vanilla flavour 
Having read a bit about Candy Melts  it seems that some good white chocolate makes a far superior alternative.

The frosting contains ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, corn starch, color added Including red 40, salt, mono- and diglycerides, modified corn starch, artificial flavor, polysorbate 60, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, citric acid, sodium citrate
I don’t have an alternative recipe immediately to hand but think I might prefer no fudge to all that stuff!

Beef Casserole

So far all my examples have been for sweet things but savoury dishes suffer from the same perviness. Many American recipes call for a can of chicken (or sometimes mushroom) soup as the liquid  and I can see that this could work depending on what is in the soup, of course – so perhaps not in this case; beef “casserole” with chicken soup in it! Incidentally casserole means something different in the US to the UK, generally speaking here we meal a stew and there they mean a baked dish often with a cripsy topping.  See here for how to make a real stew, braise or casserole

1½ lbs ground beef
8 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
½ an onion
2 canned corn
1 pkg Crispy Crowns (frozen)

packet of crispy crowns whatever they are!
Crisp Crowns contain ...

potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, dextrose, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, onions, natural flavoring, corn maltodextrin and autolysed yeast

Anyhoo – that’s enough of that and you get the gist.  I started looking up some of the longer words and read of cancer and liver enlargement, autism and so on – scary. (Here's the link,  it’s a useful site to check on unfamiliar ingredients.) 
Why, oh why, would anyone make “food” from so many chemicals when real cooking is not that difficult, probably cheaper and you know what’s gone into it? I did see one recipe that boasted 

no flour or fancy measuring required, because we’re using cake mix

so maybe that’s the problem; fear of measuring - cowards!  

Eating pure real food is just one of 7 Excellent Reasons to Learn to Cook - have a look here.

In Other News ...

Still lovely weather down here in Cornwall – our primroses are still in flower and this is Charlestown this afternoon.

Charlestown, Cornwall

9 Ideas for Leftover Baked Potatoes even if they are Sweet Potatoes!


Easy for her to say, she was American and therefore not beset with the Guy Fawkes related problems we Brits suffer. I think there might be a fair few leftover jacket (baked) potatoes about the country today so here are some ideas.

Hash Brown-ish Potatoes

I've seen loads of different versions of hash browns but this one is my favourite and if it is inauthentic I apologise (a bit).

~   Coarsely shred cold jacket potatoes, including the skin if you like, and toss with some salt and pepper.
~   Melt together a mixture of oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the potato and press gently into a loose cake.
~   Cook till the underside is crisp and brown then flip and cook the other side.


Crispy Fried Potato Skins

If you don't eat the skins don’t discard them, instead deep fry till crips and golden, drain well and season with a little salt plus anything else you fancy.  


Baked Potato Skins

Toss the skins with a little oil (say ¼ tbps oil per potato skin) and seasoning to taste. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6 for 5 - 6 minutes to crisp. This is particularly good for halved potato skins which, once baked, can be filled with something delicious and popped back into the oven for a few minutes to heat through the filling.

Mrs. Beeton’s Potato Omelette

“Feeds 2 and costs 6d” according to Mrs. B

Oddly enough, I mentioned both jacket potatoes and Mrs. Beeton in my last post, I hope I’m not getting into a rut!

This is quite an interesting potato omelette because it is not filled with potatoes; it is made of them.

1 leftover medium sized baked potato
4 eggs, separated
seasonings to taste

~   Reheat the potato in the microwave – I made that bit up, Mrs. B didn't suggest it – it is much easier to work with when warm.
~   Press the hot potato flesh though a fine sieve and allow to cool a little.
~   Mix in the egg yolks and season to taste (Mrs. B. suggests lemon juice (!), nutmeg, salt and pepper).
~   Whisk the egg whites till stiff and fold them into the mixture.
~   Preheat the grill!
~   Melt a knob of butter in an omelette pan, add the eggy goo and fry till the bottom is set and golden.
~   Once the bottom is cooked finish it under a hot grill.

Bubble and Squeak of course

This is also regionally known as Rumbledethumps (reputedly Gordon Brown’s favourite dish!), Kailkiddy, Clapshot, Punchnep and Hash.

Whatever it’s called this dish is made from leftover vegetables, primarily cold potatoes and cabbage, crushed together and shallow fried in butter, oil or bacon fat till crisp. The trick to this is letting the mixture sit over a medium heat, undisturbed, for several minutes allowing a crust to form before turning. In a little more detail ...

~   Fry finely chopped onion gently in a little oil, butter or fat for a few minutes till soft.
~   Increase the heat, add the leftover peel and diced baked potatoes crushing them slightly and cook till they start to crispen and colour. Add more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Stir in other leftover vegetables and continue to fry and turn till all is hot, crispy in parts and delicious.
~   If adding cooked meat or fish do so towards the end so as not to overcook it.

This is good served as a side dish or as a main topped with a fried egg or two and maybe some grated cheese.


Potato Bread

If you mash the contents of your leftover baked potato then my potato bread recipe might be of interest - it make surprisingly lovely bread!


Quick & Easy Ways to Enjoy Leftover Baked Potatoes

~   Of course you could just reheat the potatoes, halve and mash the flesh with butter, cheese mayo plus any suitable leftovers (slices of sausage, a little chilli, baked beans etc.) pile back into the shell and bake till lovely!

~   Cut the potatoes into wedges, dice, slices other shape of your choice and shallow fry till crisp turning occasionally but not too often, they like to sit still to form a crunchy crust.

~   Cut as above and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread in shallow pan and roast in a hot oven till crisp.

~   Peel and dice the potatoes and reheat gently in a little cream which will absorbed to some extent by the potatoes making them lush, maybe stir in a few cooked onions, bacon, cheese or whatever else you fancy and have leftover.

Leftover Baked Sweet Potatoes


With the possible exception of the omelette leftover baked sweet potatoes can be used in all of the above ways mixed with their own flavour enhancing ingredients such as fresh chilli, sweet chilli sauce, salmon, shellfish, mango, orange, coconut, cinnamon, pecans and brown sugar.

Or try delicious Fartes de Batatas!  What do you think that means? You'll have to scroll to the end of the post but it's worth it.

If these are just some of the suggestions I can think of for baked potatoes don't you wonder what ideas I have for the other 450 potential leftovers?  Find out in my book on leftover food; Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers.

creative ways to use up leftovers cookbook suzy bowler
Have a Look Inside!

Moose Milk, an Endangered Cake and a Moving Quote from Guy Fawkes.


I’d like to start this with a moving quote from Mr. Fawkes himself ...

I'm not sure if this is historically accurate and don’t know where I first read it. I have tried to find out because it is so very, very lovely. If anyone know the origin can you please let me know.

And now a few ideas for Bonfire Night which I am posting a day and a half early so really a little late, if you know what I mean!

Moose Milk

A lovely quick easy warm drink, mainly for adults but you could leave out the good bit and add some vanilla or a little coffee or something.

I have read all sorts of recipes for this from just condensed milk in hot water to ice cream mixed with rum and Kahlua to a liquid that comes out of a mummy moose’s nipples, would you believe!  My version is really easy; just 50:50 condensed milk and dark rum (although I’m pretty sure Kahlua would also be good) topped up with hot water.  Absolutely perfect to keep your hands warm whilst watching the fireworks and good to drink too!

Mulled Ale

This is taken from my grandmother’s copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery Book which now lives with me.


'Nuff said!

Bloody Mary Soup

Basically add some vodka and Worcestershire sauce to tomato soup!  Here is a great recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup but you may have a favourite which you’d rather adapt. 


Incidentally ...


Here, however, is some useful information for American chaps – in the UK we usually just say Wooster Sauce which makes life much easier.

Baked aka Jacket Potatoes

These are traditional and a good idea but I have to say that cooking them in the microwave really doesn’t do them justice so cook them in the oven if you can.  And another thing, if you wrap them in foil they will end up with soft skins but if you do them this way they will be crisp and salty.

large, clean dry and evenly sized potatoes
(floury potatoes such as Maris Piper, King Edward or Desiree are best)

~   Preheat oven to 220ºC/425ºF/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   Put a little olive oil and a little sea salt in a bowl and rub each potato thoroughly with this mixture.
~   Prick the potatoes several times with a fork.
~   When the oven is hot either lay the potatoes directly on the oven rack or put them on a baking tray, this second way results in an extra crispy bottom.
~   Bake till soft in the middle and crisp on the outside – timing depends on the size of the potato but say 45-60 minutes.

Serve with a selection of fillings – butter, sour cream, grated cheese, chilli, bacon beans, crispy bacon pieces; whatever you and your guests fancy really.

If you cook too many rejoice - lots of ideas for leftover baked  potatoes here.

Sweet potatoes are also lovely cooked this way, good toppings for them include all the above plus sweeter things such as apple sauce, toasted nuts and caramelised onions. Leftover sweet potatoes make great Fartes de Batatas!


Turf Cakes

These were traditionally baked in a covered pan in the ashes of the fire and, cooked this way, are now considered to be an endangered species! An example of a turf cake is Fat Rascals from Yorkshire

225g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
60g cold butter or margarine
25g caster sugar
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk
the finely grated zest of half an orange
the finely grated zest of half an lemon
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
75g mixed dried fruit
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt – to glaze
a few slivered almonds and glacé cherries to decorate

~   If you are using the oven (which I wholeheartedly recommend) preheat it to 200°C/400°F/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Prepare the dough adding the zests, spices and fruits together with the sugar.
~   Mix to a soft dough with the egg and milk.
~   Divide into 6-8 portions, roll into balls and place on a lightly greased baking tray.
~   Brush with the egg and water mixture.
~   Decorate with almonds and cherries.
~   Bake for about 15 minutes till risen and golden with hollow sounding bottoms!

This recipe appears in “The Secret Life of Scones” which gives all sorts of delicious tihngs to make from the one key recipe, such as ...

And here’s a quick, easy idea which you could conceivably cook in the embers if you are careful.

A Banana Gently Opened and Stuffed to Within an Inch of its Life 

Don’t peel the bananas but open up lengthways, fill with coarsely chopped chocolate, wrap the whole thing in foil and bake in a hot oven or hot embers for ten minutes or so. Unwrap carefully and spoon the melting chocolatey flesh directly from the skin into your mouth. (I've sold a fair few of these!)


So have fun, keep warm and take care.

11 Delicious Things to do with Coffee

(in addition to just drinking it!)

A friend of mine in the BVI has a company called Rum, Sand and Sea through which he distributes all sorts of attractive gifts and souvenirs which have all been made in the Caribbean. One of these is Java'Mon coffee from the nearby island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Apropos of this Sam asked if I could come up with some good coffee recipes and I could!  (Incidentally this is why I have included American cup measurements in the recipes, which is not normal for me.)


Coffee Caramel Syrup

I have added a little salt: my Dad used to add a pinch of salt to coffee and for years I didn’t understand why, although it did taste good. Now I am all grown up I realise that salt somehow reduces coffee’s bitterness and enhances the flavour – “Good Girl Daddy” as I used to say before I became so mature, some weeks ago, now!.

Double strength coffee is, of course, coffee made with twice as much coffee to water as you usually use (or half as much water to coffee, whichever you prefer!).

225g (1 cup) sugar
120ml (½ cup) water
a pinch of salt
240ml (1cup) double strength coffee

~   Set the coffee beside the stove.
~   In a saucepan over low heat stir together the sugar and the water till the sugar is dissolved and then bring to a boil. Don’t stir any more but when it starts turning colour you can swirl it about a bit.
~   Boil to a deep golden brown watching carefully, swirling occasionally.
~   As soon as it reaches deep golden brown all at once yet carefully (it will boil rapidly) add the coffee and stir over medium heat till the caramel has melted back into the coffee.
~   Add the pinch of salt.
~   Simmer stirring occasionally till the syrup has reduced and thickened slightly – about 5 minutes.
~   Cool.

Drizzle over ice cream, pancakes and so on, use to flavour milkshakes, frostings etc. or make ...

Coffee Granita or Sorbet

Freeze the above syrup and then ...

Granita is made by giving the mixture an occasional stir with a fork to draw the frozen edges into the softer middle. Return to the freezer, and repeat every half an hour or so till it is a mass of frozen crystals. The finished granita should be light and crunchy, give it a final scrape with the fork before serving to separate the crystals.
A sorbet is a smoother ice which can be churned in an ice cream machine for a soft texture but this can also be achieved without a machine by enthusiastic whisking by hand or with an electric whisk every 30 minutes whilst freezing or even better when completely frozen let it thaw slightly! I know – what a surprise! Break into large pieces and run through the food processor till smooth. Re-freeze till needed.  

Incidentally I've written a small ebook giving lots of sorbet info and recipes! ...

Caramel Coffee Frappe (posh milkshake)

3 medium scoops vanilla ice cream
about 8 ice cubes
240ml (1 cup) delicious coffee – chilled
120ml (½ cup) milk
2 tablespoons Coffee Caramel Syrup
whipped cream for topping
cocoa powder for dusting

~   Basically blend together everything but the whipped cream and cocoa in a liquidiser strong enough the crush the ice.
~   Pour into a large glass and top with cream and cocoa, however ...
If you are not sufficiently equipped to crush ice this way then wrap it in a tea towel, smash to pieces with a hammer or similar and put in the glass. Pour over the coffee mixture, or ...
Just put the whole ice cubes in the glass before adding the drink!

Ca Phe Sua Da – Vietnamese Iced Coffee

This is surprisingly delicious so don’t sneer till you’ve tried it! For a simple version stir together one part condensed milk and three parts delicious hot coffee. Pour this over the back of a teaspoon into a tall glass containing loads of ice cubes.

Irish Coffee (and derivatives) of course ...

Per person ...

A tot of Irish Whiskey (or other delicious spirit or liqueur)
1 tsp sugar
a cupful of hot strong black coffee
60ml (¼ cup) double cream

~   Warm a generous wine glass in warm water (this is to stop it cracking with the heat of the coffee) and put a teaspoon in it (so is this!).
~   Put the sugar and half the coffee in the glass and stir to dissolve the sugar.
~   Stir in the alcohol and then add enough coffee to come to about 1cm/½” below the top of the glass.
~   Stir then slowly pour the cream over the back of a teaspoon onto the surface of the coffee where it should float

Affogato …


… is Italian for “drowned” and in the foodie world usually refers to ice cream ‘drowned’ in coffee, in which case its full name is Affogato al Caffe. If using Java'mon coffee then it would  be appropriate to add rum, of course, and maybe sprinkle with broken sugar cake. 

Per person ...
1 scoop chosen ice cream
1 shot /30 ml espresso or strong coffee or whatever your choice is
1 tbsp brandy or some other spirit or liqueur - optional
2 amaretti or something suitable and crumbly – optional

~   Chill serving dish(es).
~   Put a scoop of chosen ice cream into each dish and return to the freezer for a few minutes.
~   Brew coffee or espresso.
~   Have ready chosen liqueur if using.
~   Crumble crumbly thing if using.
~   Remove ice cream from freezer and swiftly and immediately pour liqueur and coffee over it.
~   Sprinkle with crumbly thing and serve.

Dark Mocha Sauce

For ice creams, cakes, desserts in general or just eating.

80ml (⅓ cup) brewed coffee,
85g (½ cup) soft dark brown sugar
60g (½ cup) cocoa powder
pinch salt
30g (2 tbsp) butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

~   Whisk together the coffee and sugar in a small pan over medium heat till the sugar has melted.
~   Whisk in the cocoa and salt till smooth.
~   Finally whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
~   Serve hot or cold (or warm) or like this with coffee ice cream (recipe in my no-churn ice cream book) and buttery cake croutons.

Coffee Meringues


Coffee Brittle and/or Praline

100g (½ cup) sugar
½ tbsp (or more if you like) ground coffee

~   Put a lightly greased baking tray standing on a wooden board or other heat proof surface beside the stove.
~   In a heavy based pan over low heat melt the sugar, shaking occasionally, till it starts to go see-through!
~   Keep watching and shaking, even swirling is an option but no stirring, till the sugar has turned a deep reddish brown.
~   Stir in the coffee and immediately plus very carefully pour onto the greased board.
~   Leave it completely and utterly alone (in fact spurn it!) till cold and hard.
~   Break into shards or crush into praline.

And a couple of savoury ideas ...

Ham with Red Eye Gravy - per person

a teaspoon of bacon fat
a thick slice of ham (a gammon steak perchance)
a pinch of sugar
30ml (2 tbsp) strong coffee

~   Melt the bacon fat in a heavy pan, cook the ham in it then set aside and keep warm.
~   Add the sugar and coffee to the pan and cook, stirring and scraping up any meaty juices.
~   Taste, season, dilute if necessary with a little more coffee or water and pour over the ham.

Coffee Rub for Steaks – enough for 4 steaks

3 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tsp soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp crunchy sea salt
a little oil

~   Mix everything but the oil together.
~   Brush steaks with a little oil then rub and press the dry mixture onto them.
~   Leave a few minutes to absorb flavours then grill or fry as you wish.

Lots of other things can, of course, be added to this basic rub; cocoa is often used and chilli would be good with this, smoke paprika is another idea, garlic of course.  I’ll leave it to you.