This weekend, no sooner had I tried to snatch ten comatose minutes on the sofa with a glass of wine than I was seduced by an annoyingly chirpy but captivating demonstation of rosewater distillation on television. Perhaps I should get out more often.
Something had obviously chimed in me, next morning I found myself gathering rose petals and googling marshmallow recipes. Because once you’ve made rosewater you have to use it to make marshmallows don’t you? And once you’ve made marshmallows you need a bonfire to toast them over.
I have forbidden bonfires for the past few weeks because several courgette plants, of a wandering habit had self seeded themselves in the bonfire spoil. Gardening doesn’t get easier than that. Their round, yellow fruits are delicious, sautéed in olive oil or whizzed up in soups. The remainder were tucked in the freezer before the fire was lit.
My rosewater was not very fragrant, I have since learned the best is “triple distilled”. The marshmallows were yummy, and while there was a bonfire smouldering it was silly not to take advantage of it’s heat....
Bonfire Beets with Anchovy DressingServes 4
4-5 beets of roughly equal size (about 1 pound or 450 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
Wash and dry the beets well, leaving the roots intact and twisting off the leaves while taking care not to damage the skins. Place the beets on a double layer of heavy-duty aluminium foil, large enough to wrap them securely in a package.
Drizzle the beets with the olive oil, and scatter the garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste over them.
Wrap the foil tightly around the beets and pop the package into the hot embers of the bonfire, remembering it’s location!
Leave for about 1½ hours, until the beets are soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Alternatively bake for about an hour in the oven. Remove the foil package and vent to release steam.
For the dressing: Mix together the Greek yogurt and crème-fraîche. Stir in the anchovies.
When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off the beets and chop them into large chunks. Serve warm or at room temperature with the dressing on the side for dipping.