Beetroot, Tangerine, and Kale Salad

Christmas is over, and I have spent the last week living on chocolate, mince pies, and various forms of potato. Obviously this is brilliant, but I am starting to feel like I should supplement this excellent diet with some food with nutritional value. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to enjoy working through my Christmas chocolate and all of the traditionally carb-and-cheese-laden foods of the season. I am just going to punctuate it with some fruits and vegetables.


It’s still perfectly possible to have delicious, colourful, healthy meals as we head towards the end of the year. This dish makes use of plenty of seasonal ingredients that are thriving right now, including beetroot, kale, and, if you fancy, mackerel.


The sweetness and sharpness of the citrus here contrast beautifully with the earthiness of the beetroot, and the bright orange, rich purple, and deep green in this dish will bring a bit of life to any winter table. You can make a big batch of this salad and keep it in the fridge to eat alone or with your chosen additional protein for satisfying lunches or light dinners.



This will serve 4-6 people (depending on how hungry you are!) as a side dish.

If you want to use this as a base for a main course, it’s great with pan-fried mackerel fillets (or fish of your choice) or topped with generous discs of goats’ cheese.

Clementines, satsumas, or oranges would also work well in place of tangerines.


100g blanched hazelnuts
4 medium raw beetroot
200g uncooked quinoa, or a 250g cooked quinoa pouch if you prefer – any colour is fine
a good bunch of cavolo nero or kale stalks
3 tangerines
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
plenty of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper, to season


  1. Set your oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 6. Spread your hazelnuts out on a lipped baking tray and pop them in the oven to toast for five minutes while it heats up.
  2. Meanwhile, peel your beetroot and cut them into halves (or quarters if they are particularly large). Your hazelnuts should be toasted by now, so take them out of the oven and pop them into a bowl. Put your beetroot on the baking tray and toss it with a generous glug of olive oil, then season generously. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  3. While your beetroot cooks, cook your quinoa according to pack instructions (if you’re not using a pre-cooked pouch). Tear your kale leaves from their thick stalks into rough ribbons, and pop them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt, then massage the leaves for a couple of minutes until they seem darker and shrink down a little.
  4. Peel your tangerines, then slice them into rounds and put them in the same bowl as the kale. Add the chopped tarragon and cooked quinoa. Finally, roughly chop your hazelnuts, and mix them in. Finish it all off with a couple of tbsps of olive oil stirred through, and taste and season.
  5. Serve the salad alone for a lighter meal, or top with fish or discs of goats cheese.

Savse Smoothies: Duck, Beetroot, and Crispy Potatoes, with Super Blue Sauce

This is obviously not a health food blog. This is a celebratory blog – an equal opportunities blog, where a glorious sponge cake decorated with fudgy frosting is given the same happy reception as a bright salad studded with seeds and fresh fruit. I have no personal need to focus on ‘free from’ food, I am far from a vegetarian, and I believe in eating and enjoying a huge range of things. Really, I just want things that taste good.


That’s why I was delighted when Savse got in touch and asked me if I’d like to participate in a collaboration with them, using their smoothies to devise new recipes. One of the rather lovely things about this sort of task is that you get sent products to experiment with and, lucky old me, these smoothies are completely delicious. They are cold-pressed and natural, with no added sugar, so great to have as a little energy booster and a helping hand towards your five-a-day.

I’ve started with a savoury recipe, which is a little more of a challenge with a fruit based smoothie, but one which I had lots of fun experimenting with. This duck dish is great because it looks fancy if you want to impress someone, but is actually full of really simple processes. The amount served here is enough for a light main course – think elegant lunch or a dinner after which you would like to eat a generous pudding – but could easily be bulked up if you were hungry by cutting the potatoes into chunky wedges instead of cute little cubes.


The thing that really makes the dish is the sauce. Everything else is tasty, but commonly found: pink duck breast with a meltingly crispy skin; golden little mouthfuls of salty potato; earthy-rich beetroot; delicate, fresh lamb’s lettuce. The sauce, though, is stuffed with intriguing flavours. Its base is the Savse Super Blue Smoothie, which is packed full of (deep breath) blueberry, kale, beetroot, spinach, blackcurrant, apple, strawberry, and orange. With all that going on, no wonder it makes such a rich and complex sauce. I took my inspiration for the recipe from the fact that lots of the ingredients in the smoothie are great tried-and-tested partners for duck – blueberry, beetroot, spinach, orange – and went from there. Happily, after my recipe-testing session, the plates were practically licked clean.


Notes: The sauce is the key element of this dish, and it’s the thing you need to pay most attention to. Taste it as you are going along – I am giving rough guidelines in terms of ingredients here. Add more or less of anything to your own personal preference.

If you would prefer to make big chips rather than little potato cubes, you should par-boil them in salted boiling water for five minutes before oven-cooking them, otherwise they might not cook through in the time it takes to prepare the rest of the dish.

The quantities given here will serve two people.


2 duck breasts
2 pieces of pre-cooked vac-packed beetroot (or roast your own from raw if you’d rather)
1 large or 2 smaller potatoes
2 large handfuls of lamb’s lettuce (or another salad leaf of your choosing)
salt and pepper
olive oil

for the sauce

1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 250ml bottle Savse Super Blue Smoothie
1 small glass red wine (or to taste)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper


  1. Heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 6. Peel your potato, and dice it into little cubes. Slice your pre-cooked beetroot into rounds. Place the beetroot on one side of a roasting tray, the potato on the other, and drizzle both with oil. Season generously. Place in the oven to roast for around 20 minutes, or until the beetroot is darkened and crisped at the edges and the potatoes are golden and cooked through.
  2. Season your duck breast and place it skin side down in a cold, non-stick frying pan. Do not add oil. Put the pan on a medium heat and let the fat under the skin of the duck slowly render down for about 10 minutes – the pan will fill with the natural duck fat and the skin will become golden and crisp. Check it every now and then to see it’s not burning. While this is happening, finely dice your shallot and crush your garlic. When you’re happy with your duck skin, turn the duck breast over and quickly brown it on the flesh side for 1 minute, and then put it on a roasting tray, skin up, in the oven with your potatoes and beetroot for 10 minutes. (Note: this should give you lovely pink duck, but obviously depends slightly on your oven and the thickness of your meat). When the duck is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for at least 5, preferably 10, minutes, while you finish off the dish.
  3. Wipe out the frying pan you used for the duck, heat a splash of oil on a medium heat, and soften your shallot. After 3-5 minutes, add your crushed garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add your bottle of smoothie. Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid down. Add the wine, vinegar, and plenty of seasoning, as well as any juices from the resting duck. Keep tasting it and adjusting according to your preference. You’re looking for a thick, dark, glossy sauce.
  4. Slice your rested duck and serve with crispy potatoes, roast beetroot, salad leaves, and a drizzle of sauce. Finish off by pouring the rest of the sauce over your duck.



Chocolate and Raspberry Beetroot Loaf Cake

This cake taught me a lesson. Or, more accurately, this cake re-taught me a lesson that I have learned several times in the kitchen but apparently need to be reminded of because I am a special kind of idiot.

The lesson, by the way, is that some things cannot be rushed.


It was New Year’s Day and I had two recipes I wanted to test and photograph. I’ve not got any special photography lights, so I need to photograph in natural daylight, which in January means I have to get any pictures done before 3.30pm at the latest, and even that’s tricky on a very grey day. I was stressed and rushing. I’m clumsy at the best of times, but when I am hurrying it gets even worse, and I had already stubbed my toe, smacked my head on the extractor fan, and dropped sugar all over the floor. The first recipe I was testing hadn’t gone well and needed a lot of revisions. My second recipe was this cake. I was behind schedule and so, even though I know better, I tried to move the cake from the tin to a board for pictures when it was still very hot.

The whole thing completely fell apart.

I won’t lie to you: I had a bit of a meltdown. I had been working frantically all day and had nothing to show for it. I had wasted hours of time and lots of expensive ingredients. Worse, I didn’t have the time or the food to try the recipes again that day, so I was going to have to go back to the supermarket and spend money I didn’t have on getting a new set of stuff and sacrifice my plans for the next day to do everything all over again.

Quite often, I have to remind myself that this is only food, and it’s not a world-altering disaster if things don’t go well. Nonetheless, it’s hard when something you’ve put a lot of time and resources into fails, whether or not the thing is important in its own right.


So this post, then, comes with a moral: don’t rush things that cannot be rushed. Or, more specifically, don’t try and get a chocolate beetroot cake out of its tin when it’s only been out of the oven for thirty seconds, because it will collapse all over you and the floor and you will accidentally step in it and not realise and track cake all over the kitchen that you had only just cleaned that morning and ruin a perfectly decent pair of socks.

You can at least rest safe in the knowledge that this cake has been very thoroughly tested.


Source: I started with this recipe, but changed it a lot: making it into a loaf cake, adding raspberries, adding dark chocolate to boost the flavour, messing with quantities, adding decorations… I mean, it’s a different beast now.

Notes: The cake you see in the pictures has been made in my very smallest loaf tin and only uses half the mixture in this recipe. The rest I had to use for cupcakes on this occasion, for complicated reasons. This mix, then, will do for two small loaf cakes or one big one, or one small one and a batch of cupcakes, or two layers of a circular cake… whatever you fancy. It’s pretty forgiving.

Also, obviously the cake you see here is a re-make, post Disaster Cake.


100g dark chocolate
250g cooked beetroot (I get the vac-pac things from Sainsburys. Not in vinegar, obviously)
3 large eggs
200ml corn oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g cocoa powder
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
100g raspberries

50g white chocolate and a handful of fresh or freeze dried raspberries for decorating, if you like.


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Grease and line a loaf tin, or whatever tin you’ve gone for. Start the dark chocolate melting in a bain marie (or microwave if you are brave).
  2. Blitz your beetroot in a food processor until puréed and, leaving the machine running, pour in the oil and then crack in the eggs and add in the vanilla. Blitz until it’s all smooth and pink and kind of odd but lovely. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, and baking powder together, and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then whisk in the very pink wet ingredients until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate, and fold in the whole raspberries.
  3. Pop the mixture into your chosen tins and bake for around 40 minutes, although this will obviously depend on your choice of tin – the cake you see in the photo took 40 minutes at 160C in my fan oven. When it’s done, take it out and let it cool (might trick me once…) before decorating with swipes of melted white chocolate and raspberries, or feel free to leave it plain. It should taste lovely either way.