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Beetroot Sponge, Spinach and Onion Purée, Buttermilk Labne, Dill and Cucumber Granita

beetroot sponge

Beetroot Sponge, Spinach and Onion Purée, Buttermilk Labne, Dill and Cucumber Granita

Serves 4
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Special equipment: Flexipan half sphere moulds, bar blender, tamis (sieve), spice grinder, muslin (40 x 40cm).
Planning ahead: The buttermilk needs to hang overnight in the muslin cloth.

Beetroot sponge:
• ½ gelatine leaf
• 50ml beetroot juice
• 1 pinch salt

Place the gelatine in a small bowl with ice water and set aside. Place the juice and salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatine leaf. Place a fine strainer over a medium mixing bowl and strain the beetroot mixture. Take a medium bowl and fill with ice, pour the beetroot mixture into a slightly smaller bowl and place it onto the ice. Whisk the beetroot mixture continuously until it is aerated and cold. The gelatine will have set it. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the moulds. Refrigerate.

Beetroot crumbs:
• 50g panko crumbs
• 10g beetroot powder

Preheat the oven to 100°C. Mix the crumbs with the beetroot powder and lightly toast in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool and place in an air-tight container.

Spinach and onion purée:
• 10g unsalted butter
• ½ onion, thinly sliced
• salt, to taste
• 125ml single cream
• 100g baby spinach

Warm up a medium pan, add the butter and onions and sweat until soft without getting any colour on the onions. Season with salt. Add the cream and reduce over a high heat for 5 minutes. Boil a pot of water add some salt. Blanch the spinach in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the spinach with a large slotted spoon and place directly into a blender jug. Blend until very smooth, add the creamed onions and blend again. Pass through a tamis.

Buchu powder:
• 200g fresh buchu, leaves picked off the stems

Leave the buchu to dry and blend until very fine using a spice grinder.

Buttermilk labne:
• 500ml buttermilk

Hang the buttermilk overnight in the muslin cloth. Once drained, discard the extra whey and place the buttermilk in a small piping bag.

Cucumber and dill granita:
• 150g cucumber, diced
• 10g dill, stems removed
• 5g white wine vinegar
• 2g salt
• 1g xanthan gum

Blend all the ingredients in a bar blender and pass through a fine sieve, pour into a tray with a wide base and freeze. Scrape the frozen mixture with a fork to form fine flakes. Keep frozen.

To serve:
Scoop the centre out of the beetroot sponges and fill with some of the purée, then take the two halves and stick them together. Carefully roll in the beetroot crumbs. Pipe 1 tablespoon of buttermilk labne on the plate and drag across with a small spatula. Place the beetroot ball on the plate, scoop some of the granita next to the ball and sprinkle with buchu powder.

Recipe by Margot Janse from Le Quartier Français, from 32 Inspirational Chefs: Taste of Relais & Châteaux.

32 Inspirational Chefs: Taste of Relais & Chateaux32 of Relais and Châteaux’s chefs from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mauritius and the Seychelles have contributed recipes to this beautiful book. It’s a reflection of the priority that is placed on fine cuisine at Relais & Châteaux establishments around Africa, and each chef proudly reflects the ingredients and culture of the area they’re established in.

32 Inspirational Chefs: Taste of Relais & Châteaux is available at R400 and is available for purchase at each of the member properties or via the Relais & Châteaux website. Photographs by Myburgh du Plessis.

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