I know it’s only October, but I’ve been feeling the end of the year rushing towards me like a high tide: inevitable and quickening. This is being exacerbated by Sarah and my current obsession with next year’s t&a calendar. (Which will be on sale very soon.) We have been choosing our favourite recipes from the year as we ready it for publication and it feels like we’re summing up our year and in a way, we’re preparing for the next. This sandwich has been helping me with my end of year anxieties. After a bite everything seems attainable and easy.
The relish is earthy, sweet and lightly spiced. It makes a perfect companion for the fennel with the pickled aniseed flavours. The sandwich (which we make for Bonne Femme, and Nadia serves a version of it at her café New Day Rising) combines these flavours with a peppery green leaf and salty feta. It’s a refreshing sandwich. The relish is also delicious served as part of a cold platter, ploughman’s platter or served with ham or roast meats.
When I was little I would always go for a walk with my mum along the beach before school. We walked miles and miles and I would search the high tide line for interesting flotsam or shells. Sometimes I would find a cowrie shell. They were rare and I considered any find a good omen. We had a collection of them in a wooden bowl at the centre of the kitchen table. I loved how every night the beach was washed clean and the morning always held the possibility of new treasure. Remembering this I am going to embrace the rush towards the end of the year and the possibility of renewal.
Beetroot Relish and Quick Pickled Fennel
for the relish:
4 medium beetroots, peeled and grated finely
ginger, thumb sized knob peeled and grated finely
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
180 ml red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
a little salt
In a large heavy based pot, over a medium heat, combine ingredients and stir. Turn the heat down and simmer for an hour and a half or until the relish is sweet, shiny and soft. Make sure to stir occasionally and add a little water if the relish becomes too dry. When ready, put into hot, sterilised jars. Once opened keep in the refrigerator.
for the pickled fennel:
1 bulb of fennel, sliced super thin using a very sharp knife or a mandolin
100ml rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp caster sugar
Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix. The fennel should be ready for use after about half an hour and can keep in the fridge in the vinegar mix for a week or so.