Tuesday, 7 February 2012


I wonder who first thought of putting Horseradish with Beef? It's such a random act, a root that outwardly has no redeeming features, smell or apparent use. But when peeled, grated and made into a sauce, then applied to cooked cow, magic happens! Sometimes you just have to wonder at the way the world works. And not only that, how many failed attempts were there, how many brave (or foolish) would-be Neanderthal foodies succumbed to mixing the wrong roots, leaves, fungi etc in search of the perfect taste combination.

And really that’s what Beef and Horseradish is; it's the sublime mix of flavours, provided your horseradish is not the runny, creamy sludge, adorned with a token scattering of grains of root that you find in a lot of eateries. No: what you need is a proper piece of root, grated by your own fair processor and mixed with a little salt and cider vinegar. And a piece of proper beef of course.

My father used to grow horseradish, and I can remember it used to advance across the plot like a triffid, quite relentless in its attempt to take over. Best grown in a very large pot he would say.

And then you have the grating, again I can remember my mother, tears streaming, winding the handle of her old green meat mincer, which used to be attached to the side of the kitchen table, and the pungent smell of the fresh sauce. Our cat would be there watching, with no ill effects from the fumes (Probably a Health and Safety Issue)

In Totnes yesterday, I found a piece of Horseradish root in an organic veg shop. Well not found so much, which implies that it was hidden round the back, but proudly for sale.

I had previously brought ready gated horseradish from a shop in St Marychurch, but now was my chance to do my own; at the very least it would rid the kitchen of the odour of my fried breakfast, and clear out my sinus!

When I was peeling the tuber, I found a small plantlet, with root and leaves, so I carefully removed it and buried it in a pot of compost in the conservatory. With any luck, I will soon have my own plant.

I peeled the tuber, and chopped it into small pieces, then blitzed it in my trusty processor, adding a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar as it turned into smaller pieces. Wow it was strong; I made up a jar for immediate use, and froze the rest.

Next job today was to bottle the second batch of Vin D’Orange, there was just too much for two bottles, how tragic, it will go well with our lunch. The second mixture tastes quite different to the first, and is darker, the only difference in the production was the cinnamon, it's from another shop so appears to be a bit stronger. It tastes good all the same.

Different Cinnamon

Hortense came out of the fridge for a feed this morning; I will take off about 300g today and prepare dough to rise overnight. The flavour and strength of the starter has developed a lot from last week, so hopefully we will get a tasty loaf. She has only been out of the fridge four hours, and is already bubbling, keen to get to work.

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