Gochugaru Girl was not quite sure about this recipe at first.
My first taste of beetroot was in soup.
Specifically, it was a Malaysian version of Russian Borscht.
I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, and my parents used to bring us to The Ship in Jalan Raja Chulan for Western-style meals. It was the height of sophistication to dine in dark surroundings, so much so that the first meal I cooked for my parents (pork chop, peas and chips) was served with the dining room curtains closed. My parents were half-amused and half-horrified: Chinese people never waste electricity, and we didn’t need to switch the lights on at 6.30 in the evening.
The Ship served up an eclectic range Western dishes. I imagine the original chef might have worked on a cruise liner and had picked up the recipes from his travels. There was Russian Borscht, Escargots, Garlic Bread, Chicken Maryland, Steak and Chips. The steak came with a choice of sauces: black pepper, mushroom and the much-loved satay (peanut) sauce. If my memory serves me well then we always had a Baked Alaska for dessert, with the meringue flambeed at the table.
My father drank Guinness or Carlsberg (on account of his being a major shareholder) and my mother drank Campari with 7-Up. Since my mother loved Campari more than 7-Up, the extra was given to the best-behaved child. Otherwise it was tap water all round: once again, that’s very Chinese as traditionally no one drinks sweet drinks with savoury foods. You could drink wine, which was a choice of Liebfraumilch or Mateus Rose. Indeed I sometimes think it might be fun to get an empty bottle of Mateus and stick a candle in it…after, isn’t it now chic to be Retro?
On our first trip together to Kuala Lumpur I had to bring Mr Gochugaru to eat here, of course. I have not brought the children, though, because those days are long gone. The menu must have changed and so have we. It is better to let such memories remain in some corner of my mind. Any attempt to resurrect those happy days will surely end in disaster.
Back to the borscht. It had amongst other things, carrot, cabbage and onion. Beetroot must have featured somewhere. It wasn’t my favourite thing to eat and generally, I avoid beetroot, on account of its association with vinegar. It was only after I discovered a recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook that I ventured to give it another go.
This is one of Junior 2’s favourite recipes. When a request came in over the weekend from Junior 3 for some cake to bring to school on Monday, she set about the task with efficiency and precision. G’s cooked beetroot is conveniently ready-cooked in a 250g portion, and is available from Waitrose (supermarkets also do their own brand).
For the Brownies:
250 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content), chopped
200 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
250 g cooked beetroot
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g ground almonds
50 g cocoa powder
50 g rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g light soft brown sugar
A pinch of salt
You will also need a 20 x 30 cm baking tin, lined with parchment paper.
How to Make:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas 4.
Place the butter and chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until melted. Remove the bowl and leave mixture to cool slightly.
Puree the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and process for a few seconds until everything is mixed.
In a large mixing bowl, sift in the ground almonds, cocoa powder, rice flour and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt.
Pour in the beetroot and chocolate mixtures, then mix altogether using a plastic spatula.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, then cut the Brownies into 24 squares of 5 x 5 cm each.
These Brownies were difficult to photograph as they really come out dark, and must absorb all the surrounding light. They taste divine though, and are lower is sugar and fat than the previous Brownie recipe posted in this blog.