Heart beet, why do you miss when my beetroot dish is gratuitously heart-shaped?
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Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, rather unsurprisingly, charts the rise and (spoiler!) tragic end of Buddy Holly’s music career, set to Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ extensive catalogue of rock’n’roll hits, including That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue Got Married and Heartbeat, as well as other contemporary songs. The show was a major fixture in London’s West End, with its 1989 run lasting a whopping 14 years. It has also toured the UK and US extensively and had numerous international productions, including a respectable Broadway run, making it the most successful biographical jukebox musical.
Heartbeat was the last of Buddy Holly’s singles to be released in his lifetime (1958). It has had numerous covers over the years with one in particular sticking in my mind as it was on the radio for what felt like months in the UK in 1992 – yes, it was British soap-star Nick Berry’s version which acted as the theme song for his 1960s set TV show, Heartbeat – he was a policeman named Heart, on the beat – so meta before that was even a thing (is it still a thing?). That show was nearly as clever as this recipe where I’ve carved hearts out of beets! Heart… beet… get it? (sigh…)
This recipe doesn’t really require quantities, just use your judgement. One medium-large beet is enough for an appetiser for two. I used my new toy (a steam oven) to cook the unpeeled beets (or beetroot as we like to say over here). They were fairly large and took 1¾ hrs to cook. Alternatively, wrap them in foil and bake in a medium oven for at least an hour. Once you can slide a knife into the centre, they are done. Allow to cool and remove the skin – it’s a messy job, but worth it, so cook up a batch and store them in fridge for various salads.
Crumble some feta onto a lined baking tray (top tip – rinse the cheese under a cold tap for a few seconds and it firms up, making it more crumbly) and bake in a medium oven (160C fan) for 10 minutes. In the last couple of minutes, add a large pinch of cumin seeds to the oven tray. Meanwhile, use a cookie cutter (actually, mine was a Play-Doh cutter – well washed, of course!) and, having sliced the beetroot, cut out your heart beets. Arrange on a plate and scatter over the toasted cheese and cumin and scattering of chopped cilantro (coriander leaf) and ground black pepper. Lastly, drizzle over a dressing of olive oil and red wine vinegar (1 tbsp to 1 tsp is about the right ratio). Serve up wearing only a smile.