Barden's Bites: Feta, Dill & Beetroot Savoury Cheesecake

Nigel Barden says: Rejina Sabur-Cross has a really popular blog, Gastrogeek, and this ace recipe comes from her book of the same name, published by Kyle Books and available for £16.99. She's a British born Bengali, who taught English in Japan and whose culinary influences range from Dagenham to Dhakka, and from Tottenham to Tokyo.

As she states: "We want food that's exciting, cheap and dead clever. We want to dine on the different and the delicious. We want Mushy Pea Pakoras, Teriyaki Rice Burgers and Smoked Fish Sushi."

This is an exciting and unusual recipe, proving that beetroot can be really tasty, despite many of us suffering from pickled beetroot childhood nightmares!

The feta and curd cheeses, combined with a dollop of cream and creamed horseradish ensure we need a wine to cut through the richness. So I've opted for an Argentinian Torrontes (Etchart Privado 2012 £8.99), a clean, yet gently fruity white from the Salta region. Voted 'Best Dry Aromatic Wine in the World for under £10' at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Feta, Dill and Beetroot Savoury Cheesecake By Rejina Sabur-Cross from Gastrogeek (Kyle Books)

This savoury cheesecake is one of those dishes that’s so good, it’s easy to forget there’s no meat involved. The tastebuds are too busy honing in on how well the Parmesan base, horseradish-flecked beetroot and the smooth, herbal feta topping just bleed and meld into fresh, creamy mouthfuls of bliss. Acid pink and white, it’s beautiful to look at and makes for a stunner of a centrepiece.

Serves 6-8

For the base
butter, for greasing
65g white dried breadcrumbs
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black onion seeds or nigella seeds
freshly ground black pepper
50g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.

Make the base by mixing together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and onion or nigella seeds, season with black pepper and pour in the melted butter and mix well. It should be a little claggy at this stage. Press into the prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

For the topping
200g feta cheese
180g curd cheese
120g single cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
4 spring onions, white part only, finely chopped
220g beetroot, grated
1 tablespoon creamed horseradish
2 large egg whites
juice of ½ lemon
10g sachet vegetarian gelatine substitute

Mash the feta in a mixing bowl; add the curd cheese, single cream, half the chives and dill and beat together.

In another bowl, mix the spring onion into the beetroot and mix well with the horseradish. Spoon this onto the cheesecake base and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon.

Whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Place the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small pan, sprinkle the vegetarian gelatine over and turn up the heat until it reaches boiling point. Beat this quickly into the cheesy cream mixture and gently fold in the egg whites, 1 tablespoonful at a time. Layer this over the top of the beetroot mixture and cover with clingfilm. Refrigerate overnight.

Garnish with the remaining dill and slice into wedges to serve.

Nigel's Top Tips

• When grating your beetroot it's best to pull on disposable plastic gloves.
• Fresh beetroot will keep for several weeks in a cool dark place.
• Great to serve this with a tomato and nectarine gazpacho, the recipe for which you'll find in Rejina's Gastrogeek.
Buy Etchart Privado Torrontes 2012 at 20% OFF this week to automatically enter a prize draw to win one of two copies of Gastrogeek by Rejina Sabur-Cross, courtesy of Kyle Books. We will contact the winners to send you your prize.

Enjoy 20% OFF the Etchart Privado Torrontes 2012 until the 2nd September. Enter promotional code - Etchart - at the basket.


Gastrogeek by Rejina Sabur-Cross, published by Kyle Books and also available at Amazon


Written by: Nigel Barden

Nigel Barden 


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