1. Cherkasy mess
An eastern European take on the English classic. Combine crumbled beetroot macaroons, crushed beetroot meringues and yoghurt mousse (or whipped cream) in a glass. Top with candied beetroot (made by poaching small chunks of beetroot in its own juices and sugar syrup, allowing it to cool and rolling it in sugar) and a tart berry sorbet, such as blackberry. The Crimean flavours its macaroons and meringues with dehydrated beetroot powder (available from the Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot, mfcd.net).
2. Beetroot salad
Arrange a layer of sliced pickled beetroot (see below) on a plate. Coarsely chop some toasted walnuts and scatter over the beetroot. Scatter with crumbled Bulgarian feta, dress with olive oil and garnish with torn mint.
3. Beetroot Bloody Mary
A colourful alternative to the classic cocktail. Combine 60 millilitres of raw beetroot-infused vodka, 60 millilitres of fresh beetroot juice, 60 millilitres of tomato juice, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of black salt, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, two drops of celery bitters, one teaspoon of freshly grated horseradish, a dash of chipotle Tabasco and one teaspoon of Hungarian paprika in a Boston shaker. Add ice and stir. Serve over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with slices of pickled turnip and beetroot.
4. Clear ice-distilled borscht
Place thinly sliced beetroot, carrot, celery and onion, a splash each of apple juice and kvas (a low-alcohol beer), lemon juice, parsley stalks, allspice, cloves and bay leaves in a large saucepan with vegetable stock and beetroot juice. The ratio of beetroot juice to stock should be 1:4. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Whisk in some agar agar (a vegetable-based alternative to gelatine available from Asian grocers) to help with the filtration process, cool and freeze. Thaw through a filter, such as a coffee filter. This leaves a delicious clear borscht. Serve cold.
5. Pickled beetroot
For four kilograms of beetroot, you will need 600 grams of raw sugar and one litre of red-wine vinegar. Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil, stirring constantly. Top and tail the beetroot, halve and place in a deep roasting tray and season with olive oil, black pepper and salt. Cover with foil and bake at 190 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a fork is inserted easily. Cool for about 20 minutes or until the beetroot is cool enough to handle. Wearing gloves, peel the beetroot and cut into five-millimetre slices. Cover the slices with the pickling solution and refrigerate overnight.
According to The Crimean, 351 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, (03) 9329 3353.
All photos supplied by Frank Moylan and The Crimean.