Allsorts of things

Warning: What follows is a series of tangents that may, or may not, be related. Bearing this in mind, let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...

So, I bet you thought you had me pinned down, eh? Monday, like clockwork, a new update. Think again, it's Sunday.

The other night I was struck with an inexplicably sharp craving for licorice allsorts. Unfortunately, this happened to be around 1 o'clock in the morning, and I was hardly inclined to satisfy it. But today, when I got home and jumped off my bike, a grizzled old man was shuffling down the sidewalk towards me. He stopped, with a long cigarette dangling precariously from his mouth, and grinned before digging into his trousers to pull out a black licorice candy. See:


I am obsessed with beets.

Oh, Spring. On Monday it snowed. But on Tuesday I rode on pavement wet with night's rain and, though the breeze from my momentum was chill, every now and again I caught just a whiff of warm, damp earth. Oh, Spring.

There has been no dearth of tasty things passing through these lips.

But, beets. Beetroot curryBeet hummus. Beet greens with skordalia. Beet tartare. Beet pasta. Goat's cheese and beetroot salad with toasted hemp and poppy seeds. Tonight I am having lamb and bulgur meatballs with (what else?) beets. I can't stop.

Let me just say this: It has been very interesting in the bathroom as of late. Sorry.

All of it has been delicious. Still, I was waiting for something that made me stop, drop my fork, run to the rooftop (or computer) and sing melodious praises. It happened, yesterday. Only I didn't stop. I just picked up my fork and ate ardently and gustily until there was no more.

I have Nigel Slater to thank. And beets.

While perusing the beetroot section in my recently be-gifted volume of Tender I paused at the recipe for chickpea patties with beetroot tzatsiki. I had made a beet tzatziki before, only with roasted rather than raw beetroot that Mr. Slater uses. I decided to give it a go.

Oh, baby. While the tzatsiki was certainly good - sweet and crunchy and a "lurid" (I say brilliant) fuschia pink - the chickpea patties clearly stole the show. They were perfectly spiced with the slightest crisp of a crust that broke through to a smooth, creamy centre. I'd liken them to falafel's willowy, delicate younger sister. 

I wouldn't skip the tzatsiki. It offers a bit of bite and cool, sharp contrast to the warm, soft patties. And it's certainly faster, and easier, than using cucumber, what with the salting and waiting and draining and squeezing excess moisture that that entails. I just don't think it's a match made in heaven, an eternal marriage. No, I predict divorce in oh, two or three year's time. But those chickpea patties, that may be a love story for the ages.

Chickpea Patties with Beetroot Tzatsiki
Adapted from Tender

Nigel calls for a 400g (14 oz.) can of chickpeas but I used chickpeas I had cooked from scratch. The parsley and mint quantities are approximate, no need to break out the measuring spoons.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas 
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1/2 scant tsp hot paprika
1 large egg
2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
2 tbsp roughly chopped mint, leaves only
olive oil

1 large juicy clove of garlic
1 large raw beetroot
200g plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
a few mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, more or less to taste

Combine the chickpeas, garlic, ground cumin and coriander, paprika, egg, the chopped herbs and a generous grinding of salt and black pepper in a food processor or, in my case, the plastic container that came with your immersion blender. Blitz until smooth, but leave some small pieces of chickpea remaining. Quoth Nigel: "It is much more interesting with a slightly lumpy texture than a totally smooth one". Put in the fridge to firm up for at least 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make your tzatsiki. Crush the garlic clove to a paste with a sprinkling of salt, either in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the side of your knife. Transfer to a mixing bowl and grate the beetroot into it. Stir in the yogurt, chopped mint leaves, lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste.

Warm a shallow layer of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Drop heaping tablespoons of the chickpea mixture into the hot oil and press down lightly to smooth the tops. Cook until the bottoms are golden. Quoth Nigel: "I avoid any temptation to prod and poke; they must be allowed to form a thin crust". Flip them over gently (some might say tenderly) and carefully with a palette knife and cook until the other side is golden. Quoth Nigel: "They are done in three or four minutes, when the outside is faintly crisp and biscuit coloured and the inside is soft and creamy."

Serve with the beetroot tzatsiki.

Makes about 8 small patties, enough for 2 people. The quantity of tzatsiki may be incommensurate in regards to the chickpea patties, especially since you don't want to drown the delightful little things. But seeing as it is quite toothsome you may fancy making, and eating, it all anyway.


  1. I like the look of this beet recipe. Perhaps you will make it for me one day.

    Oh, and FYI, I picked up another bottle of that Young and Wyse merlot that we had a while back, courtesy of my lovely boss. Perhaps we'll even share this one with David, if he is suitably behaved.

  2. we love you Alyssa - pink poop or not... xoxoxoxoxoxo