When I took on the role of Food Editor for The Beat That My Heart Skipped, I never anticipated how many wonderful ‘foodie’s’ I would come across who are doing the most amazing things. This weeks contributors the much talked about Salad Club girls are a prime example of this. Here’s their introduction and not one, but two delicious recipes…
Salad Club was founded by Rosie French and Ellie Grace and started life as a weekly supper and a catch up at one another’s houses close by in Brixton. These ad hoc meals have since taken on a life of their own, jokingly referred to as ‘Salad Club’ and fuelled by a dose of healthy competition as each week the ingredients and combinations become more intricate and accomplished.
We’ve tried to keep track of some of the recipes and ideas which make the best of the fresh ingredients we find cheaply on the market and now feel so keenly that we want to share them and encourage people to see salads as easy meals in themselves. Salad Club does not endorse bowls of limp, flavourless lettuce drowning in bottled supermarket dressing – we encourage inventive and colourful combinations like Rosie’s jerk salmon, spinach and goats’ cheese salad [served with Ellie’s homemade mango chutney] to Ellie’s minted pea, barley and rocket salad with lemon vinaigrette. Salad does not have to be cold and uninviting, it can be warming, comforting, fresh, healthy, tasty and the centre point of any meal. There are no guidelines to follow – it’s up to you what you decide to combine – sometimes it doesn’t work but when it does, share it!
In the Spring of 2009 we decided to take our little blog and its recipes a bit further by creating a bric-a-brac bistro in Ellie’s living room and opening the flat to our hungry public once or twice a month. We have been overwhelmed by the response and generosity of everyone who has visited the restaurant so far and we look forward to welcoming many more of you in the future. Thank you for supporting Salad Club and please do keep coming back for seconds!
Warm Mediterranean Vegetable, Feta, Olive and Parsley-Salad
We often serve this warming, fresh salad at the restaurant – sometimes with fennel and red onion or occasionally with bright red, orange and yellow peppers, roasted until sweet, soft and swimming in their juices. In this version I used all of the above but you can edit the main ingredients as you please. We buy the vegetables and herbs fresh from the market in the morning and the Portuguese delis on Atlantic Road provide us with delicious feta and olives.
2 fennel bulbs
2 red onions
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
Small tub black olives
Bunch of parsley
Salt & pepper
1. Turn the oven up to 200C.
2. Roughly cut the fennel, onions and peppers into long, thick slices and throw into a baking tray with a good glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
3. Put in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the vegetables have softened and started to release their juices. Meanwhile, if you didn’t buy pitted black olives, set about pulling the flesh away from the stones. It’s also a good idea to crumble the feta and chop the parsley while the veggies are in the oven – you need to assemble the salad quite quickly so it’s still nice and warm when you put it on the table.
4. When the vegetables are done, lift them into a big salad bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. Crumble over the feta. Pour over a few tablespoons of the hot vegetable juices and the juice of half a lemon. Then throw the parsley on top generously and serve.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s original recipe from Tender Volume 1
This is a Nigel Slater recipe with a few small changes. I used a bit more beetroot and a little less sugar. It was the most amazing colour and incredibly moist, with a gorgeous earthy flavour. The crème fraîche is essential.
300g fresh beetroot
200g dark chocolate
1 cup hot espresso
135g plain flour
tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
175g golden caster sugar
crème fraîche and poppy seeds to serve.
We are not natural bakers at Salad Club and this recipe is unusually fussy for us, but the end result is worth all the effort. Make this cake on a lazy weekend afternoon when you can relax and enjoy the process – that’s the only time I ever bake!
1. Turn the oven to 180C and add the whole, unpeeled beetroots to a pan of boiling water. Don’t cut the stems off or the colour will bleed into the water. Meanwhile, grease a loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa and separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peeks, fold in the sugar and set aside. Mix the yolks together.
3. I had to painstakingly hand whisk the egg whites so by now the beetroot was nearly ready! Check the tenderness with a sharp knife [they should take about 40 minutes]. Drain and run under cold water as your rub the skin off with your fingers [don’t worry the pink stains will wash off]. Cut out the stem and pulp to a puree with a hand blender. Leave in a bowl to cool.
4. Melt the chocolate slowly in a bain marie without stirring. When it is almost melted pour over the espresso and stir once.
5. Push the butter into the chocolate in small chunks and let it soften. Remove from the heat and stir until the butter has melted. Leave for a few minutes and then stir in the egg yolks quickly and firmly. Then fold in the beetroot puree.
6. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon, then fold in the flour and cocoa.
7. Transfer to the cake tin and put straight in the oven, turning the heat down to 160C immediately. Bake for 40 minutes. The middle of the cake will still wobble a bit. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Serve with crème fraîche and poppy seeds.