Category: Cooking


The feta and beetroot marriage is a classic, but I have also used goat’s cheeses, marinating them in thick slices with olive oil, lemon juice and thyme and crumbled dried chilli. You need a cheese that has plenty of fresh, quite acidic notes to balance the sweetness of the creamed beetroot.

 

Makes 4 toasts
beetroot 400g
feta 200g
oregano leaves 1 tbsp
red wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 4 tbsp
bread for toasting 4 thick slices
a clove of garlic

Put a deep pan of water on to boil. Trim the beetroots but do not peel them. Try not to break the skin (it will leak juice into the cooking water otherwise). Boil the beetroots, depending on their size, for about 40 minutes. They are done when a skewer can be inserted into them with very little pressure.

Crumble the feta into small pieces, roughly 1cm in size, then put them in a small bowl. Put the oregano leaves in with the feta, pour over the vinegar and the olive oil.

Remove the beetroots from the water, cool them just enough to allow you to handle them, then slide off the skins. They will come away easily with a little pressure from your thumbs.

Cut the beetroots into large pieces, drop them into the bowl of a food processor then process them to a thick purée. Season with salt and black pepper, remembering that the feta is quite salty.

Toast the bread, either on a hot griddle or in the toaster. Cut the clove of garlic in half and then rub the cut side of one of the pieces over the toasted bread. Spoon on some of the beetroot purée, then some of the marinated feta.

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Of all of the pickles in my fridge, the only one I didn’t make myself is the jar of sauerkraut. I prefer bottled to canned. The texture is crisper, the flavour brighter.

Each summer I look forward to cooking courgettes, spring onions or halves of Little Gem lettuce on the grill, then turning them briefly in butter or olive oil which I have warmed and seasoned with lemon, crushed basil leaves or dill.

Introducing a tangle of sauerkraut to vegetables cooked this way is refreshing, giving the summer vegetables a welcome kick.

The key is not to add too much, just a tbsp or two of sharp, lively pickles to each batch of fresh vegetables. Serves 2.

pork steaks 2 x 200g

olive oil 2 tbsp 

lemons 2

courgettes 2, small

butter 30g

sauerkraut 4 tbsp

chopped dill 4 tbsp

Rub the pork all over with a little olive oil, black pepper and salt. Cover and set aside. Finely grate the zest from one of the lemons into a mixing bowl. Halve and squeeze the juice, then add to the zest. Using a vegetable peeler, take long, flat strips from the courgettes, and place in a bowl. Get the griddle pan or grill hot.

Unwrap the meat, place on the griddle and cook till golden, brushing the surface with a little oil from the dish as necessary. Season with salt and more pepper. Slice the remaining lemon in half and place it cut side down on the griddle.

Remove the pork from the griddle and let it rest. Place the courgette ribbons on the griddle and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, turning from time to time. Warm the butter in a pan, stir in the lemon zest and juice, and black pepper. Roughly chop the dill. When the courgettes are tender, lift them into the warmed, seasoned butter. Add the sauerkraut, 2 tbsp of its juice, the chopped dill and mix gently.

Serve the pork with the grilled lemons, courgettes and sauerkraut.

Even a couple of tablespoons of salted ricotta grated over a dish of warm vegetables can bring things to life.

Serves 2
broad beans 500g
small tomatoes 150g
parsley a few sprigs
pea shoots 25g
olive oil for dressing
salted ricotta 4 tbsp

Remove the beans from their pods. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, salt it lightly then add the beans and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes.

Drain the beans and plunge them into iced water. Pop the larger beans from their skins, but leave the smaller beans be.

Slice each tomato into four then put them in a bowl. Remove the leaves from the parsley and chop enough for 2 heaped tablespoons. Add the parsley to the bowl, together with the drained, cooled and skinned broad beans.

Wash the pea shoots, then toss them with the tomatoes and beans. Dress with a little olive oil, gently turning the ingredients over till finely coated. Divide between plates then grate over the salted ricotta and serve.

With the Ashes in full swing and the Tour de France at full pelt, these are pretty exciting times for sports fans. If you’re getting together with friends to watch the action, keep the food and drinks stress-free by letting your guests help
themselves from a smörgåsbord of different tastes and textures.

Pair Castello Tickler Cheddar with classic snacks and bitter or cider for the perfect sporty smorg. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura

Pair Castello Tickler Cheddar with classic snacks and bitter or cider for the perfect sporty smorg. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura

The star should be Castello Tickler Cheddar, creamy and mature, to match a wide range of exciting dishes, such as in a crusty bun with some pulled pork, sun-dried tomatoes and a few pickled onions on the side. For a change of pace, savour it as you would a bar snack with a scotch egg and a dollop of relish, or try it with a potato salad, crisps and a spoonful of fierce horseradish to cut the creaminess.

The golden rules to stress-free entertaining are: order online; make sure everything is disposable or recyclable; and have plenty of ice to hand. Cover your table with craft paper and write what’s what below each dish.

Savour your Tickler Cheddar with a bitter or cider. For a more complex experience,
open that bottle of single-malt whisky. If you fancy a cocktail, match it with a Rob Roy.

Make victory even sweeter by finishing your smorg with something sweet such as Castello’s Pineapple Halo, layering it with strawberries on a cracker.

Menu around the Tickler Cheddar

• Pulled pork

• Pickled onions

• Sun-dried tomatoes

• Scotch eggs

• Horseradish sauce

• Potato salad

• Oat crackers

• Crusty buns

• Bitter, cider and malt whisky