I have never smoked anything before. Seriously. Not as in cigarettes, naughty things or food so this was a real challenge in my head. It was beaututifully simple though and filled my kitchen with the most amazing smells. First from the tea smoking, then the buttery walnuts and then the beautiful tarragon leaves.
The recipe is by Marcus Wareing on the Great British Chefs website. I had this with a slice of crusty white bread but you could serve this as a starter on it’s own. Marcus does the smoking over a cooker but I baked it and it worked just as well. This makes enough for a starter for four people or two greedy people like me and my husband.
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- 1 tbsp rice
- 1 tbsp of Lapsang Souchong Tea leaves – I was given some by The East India Company but you can get Twinings teabags and use 4
- 250g baby beetroot
- 25g unsalted butter
- 100g walnuts
- 8 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 150g mascarpone
- half bunch of tarragon
- half tsp sea salt
- half tsp freshly ground black pepper
To make it
- Mix the sugar, rice and Lapsang Souchong Tea leaves together in a bowl and set aside.
- Line a large baking dish (which is large enough to fit a cooling rack in) with tinfoil and pour the tea mixture into the bottom.
- Put a wire cooling rack on top of the tea mixture and then arrange the beetroot on top.
- Cover the entire tray with tinfoil, ensuring there are no gaps through which the smoke could escape, and place over a moderate heat for 8 minutes or you can pop it in a 180C oven like I did.
- Turn the heat off and let this sit for half an hour without taking the tinfoil off.
- Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan until it’s foaming, then add the walnuts
- Season well and shake them continuously to allow them to colour evenly. When they have some colour, pour them into a colander to allow the excess butter to drain off.
- Next make the dressing by placing the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bringing it to a gentle simmer until it has reduced by two thirds.
- Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to combine.
- Take the baby beetroot out of the foil and chop into cubes.
- To serve, put a large spoonful of mascarpone on four/two serving plates and smear it along the plate in a very chefy type way!
- Place the diced beetroot over the mascarpone and scatter with the tarragon, walnuts, salt and pepper.
- Finally drizzle with the balsamic dressing and serve as is or with some crusty white bread.
There are many easy recipes like this on the GB Chefs website.