I went to a wonderful dinner last week, here in New York, to celebrate the opening of a friends exhibition. The setting was spectacular – high above the west side highway, with sparkling views of lower Manhattan and the Hudson River. There were 10 long tables, set with white linen table cloths and candlelight, citrus coloured tulips, champagne and the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time. One of the starters was this beet and goat cheese ‘parfait’. I was so blown away at how beautiful it was, that I came home to try it for myself. It turns out it’s very easy, just a little time consuming, but worth every second. The beauty comes in the use of different coloured beets, which in turn stain the goat cheese, producing these wonderful jewel tones.
The recipe is below, but since I made it up as I went along, the quantities are not exact, just a ball park.
About 12 beet roots, in as many different colours as you can find.
Soft goat cheese, about 500 grams / 1 pound
Salt and Pepper
2 bread tins
Basil leaves, pistachios and any kind of edible flower for garnish
Maldon Salt for finishing.
And a VERY sharp knife
Cook the beets in boiling water until soft, about 30 minutes.
Peel and let cool.
Slice very thinly.
Line one of the bread tins with plastic wrap leaving some overhang to fold over once the terrine is completed.
Start layering the beets and goat cheese, as if you were making a lasagna, seasoning with salt and pepper and a small drizzle of olive oil between layers.
Start with the lighter coloured beets first, ie golden beets, followed by a layer of goat cheese (don’t worry if you don’t make an even smooth layer. It’s pretty hard to do that with goat cheese any way), followed by more golden beets, until they are finished.
Then repeat with the red beets and goat cheese, making sure that the last layer will be the beets.
(I also added in thinly sliced orange here and there between the layers, but I’m not sure I’d do that again. You could serve the orange as a garnish, which I think would be better.)
Don’t worry if you haven’t reached the top of the bread tin. If you do, that’s great, but if you don’t it really doesn’t matter.
Once you have finished the layering, fold the plastic over to seal.
Now the trick is to place a weight on the terrine so it compresses.
I did this by placing another bread tin the same size, on top of the terrine, and placing a can of corn, or beans, or whatever can you have to act as the weight.
Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or over night.
When you are ready to serve, pull the terrine out of the tin on to a board. Unwrap the terrine and carefully slice (with that very sharp knife), making each slice about 1/2 an inch or 15mm thick.
I trimmed the edges to make them nice and neat, but you don’t have to.
Using a spatchula, place the slices on a long platter and decorate with basil leaves. I added pistachios and sage flowers, but any nuts and edible flowers will do. Whatever you think will look pretty.
Finish off with a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt.
Serve with crusty bread, and a crunchy arugula salad.