Entertaining season is upon us. The garden is delightfully fragrant and heaving with life as summertime has graced us with its glorious presence. Christmas and New Years are done and dusted – it’s the perfect time to catch up with your nearest and dearest, free from the pressure that can come with Christmas celebrations.
In our house, we love to entertain. A typical soiree may include mojitos on the deck in the sun, followed by a casual dinner, often piping hot from the barbeque, then an all-night, killer karaoke session (well, past midnight anyhoo.) Yes, we do have the luxury of not having neighbours, in case you were wondering.
When entertaining, it is absolutely imperative that you can whip something up quick smart and more importantly, with the greatest of ease after a couple of mojitos in the bright, bright sun. Or else, impress your guests with those famously endearing cooking show words “here’s something I prepared earlier”. Which is by far the simplest method, in my opinion. And let the boys sort out the barbeque menu, which we all know they love to do.
I’m an absolute cracker fiend, with an addiction to Vita-Weat 9 Grain crackers. I’ve been wanting to make my own crackers and as a keen observer of all things foodie, I’ve come across a few recipes for flax seed or linseed crackers. My New Roots is a very inspiring blog, which provides incredibly healthy, innovative recipes. These crackers are inspired by Sarah Britton’s Savory Flax Crackers recipe. These crackers are pure goodness – no refined flour, just a serious dose of flax, chia, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds provide omega-3 essential fatty acids, which is great for both your heart and skin. Lignans are also present- a group of chemical compounds which are estrogen-type chemicals that also act like antioxidants in the body to counteract free radical damage. Additionally, by making your own crackers, the preservatives and additives which are usually present in the store-bought varieties are avoided.
A New Year’s resolution of mine is to have beetroot every day. I usually have beetroot, carrot and ginger juice most days, but I’m going to step it up a few notches. Beetroot is one of the best foods to cleanse your body and after an epic Christmas and New Years, I think many will be in need of a mighty good dose of this super food. The wonderful detoxifying effect that beetroot has on the liver is really quite amazing. Beetroot is also high in iron and will kick start the digestive system, which probably needs to be awoken after Christmas indulgence. By serving this winning combination at your partay, you’ll be doing yourself and your guests a favour by detoxing whilst you’re retoxing, hopefully counteracting the effects of one mojito too many.
Flax seed and Chia Crackers
A cup of flax seeds
A cup of water
1/4 of a cup of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
A tablespoon of sesame oil
A tablespoon of olive oil
A teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt
1/2 a teaspoon of pepper
Pulse the flax seeds in a blender until fine. In a bowl, soak the flax seeds in water and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
Toast the sesame and sunflower seeds in a pan until aromatic and golden. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix in the remaining ingredients and spread evenly onto a grease proof paper-lined tray.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Cut into any shape you wish whilst the cracker sheet is still warm. Allow to cool.
Beetroot and Horseradish Creme
500 grams of beetroot
1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds or cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours, rinsed well and drained
2 tablespoons of horseradish or horseradish creme*
The juice of a lemon
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 a cup of freshly-pressed beetroot juice
A tablespoon of olive oil
Himalayan rock salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°c or time it with the crackers coming out of the oven. Boil the beetroot with the skin on for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a while and peel the skin off using your fingers. Cut into wedges and bake in the oven for 30 minutes with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt. Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
In a food processor, pulse the activated cashews or sunflower seeds until a smooth consistency is reached. Add the beetroot and pulse again until smooth. Add the horseradish, lemon juice, garlic, beetroot juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whiz and transfer into a bowl. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with the flax seed and chia crackers.
* Some horseradish products that I’ve seen contain clarified butter. If you are vegan, please check the label.