In London I worked briefly with an Italian chef called Alex. He was and is a great guy, cool, easy going and relaxed except when it came to the mispronunciation of Italian words. Ignorant to the correct way to say bruschetta I was pronouncing it brooshetta which you would if you are from the English speaking world. Every time I said brooshetta away on table whatever he would turn round and say brooshketta it's brooshketta. I now always pronounce it the correct way, and find myself correcting others, although I'm sure I used to say it wrong now and again just to wind him up.
Beetroot is plentiful in the Winter in the UK and I like it so much that I feature it these days on most of my winter menus. If you get a chance buy your own raw and cook it yourself. Leave the skin on and boil it for about 2 hours. It will be much sweeter and earthier than precooked stuff (and cheaper!). Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper it combines delightfully with the hot melted goats cheese. As if the beetroot wasn't sweet enough I've added some pears sauteed in butter and a sweet pepper chutney - a triumverate of sweet flavours assigned the task of pleasing your tastebuds.
This recipe is for four people as a starter but it could be served as a lunch dish.
For the pears
2 firm pears
a knob of butter
salt and pepper
If you have some slightly under ripe pears this is a great way to use them up - sauteeing them in butter or a little margarine sweetens and softens them up so they can be eaten as they are or used in a savoury dish such as a salad or in a dessert like chocolate and pear tart.
First of all peel the pears and cut them into flour lengthways. Take out the core and any pips with a knife. Heat the butter in a frying pan and saute the pears slowly over a low heat, turning them regularly, until they are soft all the way through and have caramelised. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Lightly season them with some salt and pepper and if they aren't too sweet add a little brown sugar. Leave them to cool. These pears will keep for ages in the fridge so they can be made in advance.
For the sweet pepper chutney
1 onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced into strips
a little olive or vegetable oil
two cloves garlic, sliced
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 glass white wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper
This recipe was taken from Delia's website and and the wine substituted for the cider on her recipe. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions, peppers and garlic over a medium heat. Keep frying until the vegetables a soft - about ten minutes.
Add the vinegar, sugar and wine and simmer slowly until nearly all of the liquids have reduced out. This will take some time. When it is ready the veg will be very soft and syrupy. Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper and place it into a jar. It will keep for a couple of weeks in a fridge and even longer if you seal it in a sterilised jar.
For the bruschetta
8 thin slices of goats cheese
1 large ciabatta
2 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
Slice the beetroot as thinly as you can and drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and season with a little salt and pepper. Leave to marinate as you prepare the bruschettas.
Cut the ciabatta in half lengthways and cut each slice into four. I use a round cutter to create a more interesting shape in the restaurant but this isn't necessary. Soften the butter, crush the garlic and mix them together in a bowl. Remove the small thyme leaves and add them to the butter.
Spread the ciabatta slices with the garlic butter and toast them in a hot oven for a few minutes until they are golden brown. If you don't have any ciabatta feel free to use anything you have to hand or your favourite bread.
To cut the goats cheese neatly use a hot knife. Just heat the blade of an old knife over a gas flame and cut the it into slices.
Place a slice on each piece of toasted bread. Place two pieces of pear on four of the brushchetta slices. This can be done in advance if you want and held in a cool place until you are ready to serve them.
Place the ciabattas on a baking tray and and bake them for ten minutes in a medium oven until the cheese is melted. To serve stack two of the bruschettas on top of each other making sure the pears are in the middle. Serve on the beetroot with a dollop of the chutney.
Andy T chef