Lunch Time: Pasta Salad with Gusto Tart Apple Syrup, Almonds, Chorizo & Goat Feta

Gusto’s Chorizo & Feta Pasta Salad
Running around town picking up supplies, I sneaked in a visit to our local Vetro (a Mediterranean food shop) to pick up a bottle of Gusto tart apple syrup.  I always have their sweet apple syrup in the pantry but I wanted the tart syrup to make a caramel slice with an apple enhancement.  As caramel slice is already very sweet, the tart syrup is a better option than the sweet syrup, hence my dash into the shop.  I had to dash for if I linger, I end up with a basket full of other goodies and that is a killer for my grocery budget (not because they are expensive but rather than I am spending my grocery budget on food we don’t need leaving less (mmm, more like no) money for food we do need.

Each bottle of Gusto syrup comes with a teeny tiny leaflet of recipes and ideas on how to use the apple syrup.  Among the recipes included is an Apple Syrup Cake – the recipe can also be found here and here (Bachology Lynda has made the cake and included a glowing review and a lovely picture).  It sounds and looks like a great cake and I am interested in trying to make a dairy free version. Continue reading

Caramelicious Cookies: Apple & Caramel Drop Cookies

Caramel Drop Cookies
Similar to chocolate chip cookies, but using delicious caramel bits instead.  I spied these caramel drops in the supermarket a while ago and added a couple of packets to my basket knowing I’d have to play around with different ideas.  They have been added to muffins and cakes, but so far these cookies are the best.  Well, the muffins were really tasty and I have taken some pretty cool photo’s but despite looking very carefully for my recipe notes, I can’t find where I have written them down or typed them up.  So I might have to try to recreate them. Continue reading

Beetroot, Silverbeet & Apple Risotto

Freshly pulled Beetroot
Our vegetable garden is a success – the produce we are picking is the driving force of deciding what’s for tea.  The Anster advised me to hurry up and find something to do with beetroot as they were ready.  So turning to the cookbook library, a risotto sounded just the ticket.  The Anster found a nice looking recipe that seemed quite easy to execute – but I took over and found a different recipe – my recipe was way better because it had apples in it.

Beetroot Risotto with Baked Apples, Rocket and Balsamic Glaze sounded intriguing.  The ingredient list seemed straight forward enough – I didn’t have rocket but the silverbeet was begging to be used so away I went.
Grated Beetroot
The recipe is a little scanty in details but that has never bothered me in the past.  The beetroot was pulled, photographed, scrubbed and boiled into tender submission while I gathered the remaining ingredients.  As the recipe only fed 4, and we had 6 to feed, I roughly increased it by half again.

The results from the family were:

  • Mopp – it would taste better with sausages in it (therefore defeating the purpose of a vegetarian dinner)
  • Miss M – it’s ok (and she loves risotto so I’m guessing she won’t want me to make this one again)
  • Mr L – it looks better than it looks (he insisted that was what he meant and spent a good half of the meal trying to help us understand the logic of his statement but we still have no clue what he was on about)
  • The Anster – yum

As for me – I have to agree it didn’t look as though it was going to be worth all the effort of making it but the risotto had an incredible depth of flavour. I think next time I’d parboil the rice to speed up the process.
Beetroot & Apple Risotto

Beetroot, Apple & Silverbeet Risotto

450g fresh beetroot
2 medium brown onions
6-8 cups vegetable stock
1 ½ t caraway seeds, dry roasted and crushed
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
400g short brown or red rice
2 large apples
1 large bunch of silverbeet, trimmed and sliced
Salt & pepper

Balsamic glaze
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 T apple syrup

Scrub the beetroot and twist off the greenery.  Snap off long roots.  Cover in cold water and bring to the boil.  Boil until the beetroot is tender.  Drain the beets (reserve the cooking liquid) and cool them a little before skinning – an easy way to do this is to pierce the top end with a fork then push the skins off with the back of a spoon or your hands if you don’t mind getting vivid pink fingers – they slip off really easy.  Dice the beetroot.  Place half the diced beetroot with half the cooking liquid in the blender and purée until smooth.  Set aside for later.

Peel and finely dice the onions .

Prepare stock in a large pot and keep over very low heat so the stock retains its heat.

Place caraway seeds into a separate small frying pan or pot and heat gently, tossing now and then, until fragrant.  Tip into a mortar and pestle and crush the seeds.

Heat a large frying pan (I always make our risotto in a large cast-iron electric frying pan).  Add oil and butter.  Once melted, chuck in the onion and rice and stir until the rice is well coated with the butter mixture.

Add the seeds to the large frying pan and stir until they are mixed through the rice.

Add a cup of hot stock to the rice one cup at a time to the rice, only adding more stock when the first lot has evaporated.  By the time the stock is all added, the rice should nearly be done.  If more liquid is needed, add the reserved beetroot juice, or hot water.  The amount of liquid required depends on the type of rice used and the speed at which it cooks – I didn’t have enough brown rice so I added some medium grain red rice which takes a long time to cook but has a gorgeous nutty flavour.  I used the full measure of stock, all the beetroot juice and extra hot water before the rice was cooked sufficiently.

Meanwhile prepare the apples.  Quarter and core the apples, then cut each quarter into about 3 slices.  Cook apples – I microwaved the apples with a little water until they were tender, however they can be baked or pan-fried with a little butter.

Prepare the balsamic glaze – place balsamic vinegar and apple syrup in a small pot and heat gently until the mixture is quite thick and syrupy.  Cover and set aside – keeping warm until required.

Wash silverbeet well then shake off any moisture.  Remove stalks and discard, then slice the leaves finely.

Once the rice is nearly done, add the puréed beetroot and silverbeet to the frying pan.  Stir through and heat until the silverbeet is wilted.  Taste the mixture and season to taste.

Add the diced beetroot and stir until just combined.  Plate up the risotto, then top with hot apple and drizzle with balsamic syrup.
Beetroot Apple and Spinach Risotto

Exploring the world of appelstroop (apple syrup)

Apple Syrups
As I have already used apple syrup in some form in this blog, I thought I’d take a closer look at the different products available.  Apple syrup comes in many guises – a little like apples really.  When comparing a Granny Smith with a Cox’s Orange – it is almost as if Continue reading