Spice things up this year with a different kind of Christmas lunch, Beetroot and Bear style
Salt Rock chef Justine Huizinga has perfected the art of creating magical foodie masterpieces that are not only a feast for your eyes, but also for your soul, stomach and the environment.
Justine talks fast, bubbling with innovative ideas, her lively eyes constantly searching for inspiration while we walk through the Christmas Fair Fund’s Christmas Country Fair at Collisheen Estate.
“I shouldn’t be allowed in here. I am such a hoarder. I just want to buy everything!”
Known as Beetroot and Bear (how cute?!), this talented chef has tapped into the #Foodstagram world with her enchanting, vegetarian, flower-infused photos.
“The name was born from a night of good wine and a hat containing lots of words that I love. I knew I wanted the word ‘and’ in it, because it just creates a sense of being part of a community,” says Justine, a self-confessed ‘flexitarian’, wife and mom to Sebastian (13) and Cole (10).
With a Portuguese mom and a French Mauritian dad, Justine grew up with ‘a million cousins and good cooks’ in the family and says she always just knew that food was her passion. She trained under the grand-dame of the culinary arts, Christina Martin, worked overseas, then Cape Town and settled in Salt Rock a year ago.
She started the Desk Deli, making wholesome lunches for corporates in Umhlanga, but says she just had the urge to do more. “I wanted to create a space where I could feed people and start conversations around food and minimal waste and add a million edible flowers and all the spices to create exciting edibles.”
Focusing on seasonal, locally-sourced, vegetarian food, she set up shop at I Heart Market…and it was an instant hit! “People are a little bit scared of vegetables. I want to encourage them to play, experiment and have fun with them. Look in your fridge, take half a cauliflower, two crusty carrots and an aubergine that doesn’t look so hot and create three little, beautiful dishes.”
She started taking photos of these dishes and put them up on Instagram – which started a whole new career path for her as a food product consultant, food photographer and stylist and menu creator for restaurants.
“For me, it’s more important to teach people about food and show them what you can do with food, instead of teaching them how to cook. It’s about sparking curiosity and interest and sharing knowledge of flavours.” Doing all of this sustainably is a huge factor for Justine.
“Take a butternut for example. You can eat all of it. Peel the skin thinly and fry it, dry out the seeds or pop them in the oven and roast them with a little soya and honey . . . it’s not just the flesh that you can eat. There are so many things we can eat that we don’t realise.”
Two of her main food inspirations are Charles Lakin from Shongweni and Richard Haigh from Enaleni Farm – both of whom are stalwarts in the foraging food industry.
“I love foraging and growing my own where possible. These two chefs have mastered innovative, local cooking and it is incredibly exciting. When you eat at Enaleni, your food is grown and harvested within a 350m radius of your table! That’s interesting, sustainable cooking!”
As an active advocate for sustainable cooking and living, Justine encourages people to think about being less wasteful during the traditionally ‘over the top’ festive season – and not just on the food front! “Wrap presents in sheet music or banana leaves and use flowers instead of bows. Everything you need is in your garden or in your cupboards already – go look and get creative.”
Spice things up this year with a different kind of Christmas lunch – Beetroot and Bear style. On Justine’s menu of Xmas foods to share are:
Whole roasted cauliﬂower with turmeric and spices drizzled with tahini, pomegranate seeds and mint to serve.
Warm butternut salad with caramelised onions, Za’atar, yoghurt dressing and dried rose geraniums.
Homemade herb and edible ﬂower ﬂatbreads.
Fried brinjals with a soya and chilli dressing, basil and wild garlic ﬂowers.Marinated olives. (Visit our website for these amazing recipes!)
Roasted cauliﬂower dish:
Spices of your choice (ground coriander, cumin, chilli garlic) all of these work…
1. Steam (or microwave) the cauliﬂower until inside is tender but ﬁrm.
2. Place oil, turmeric and spice mix in a bowl (adjust seasoning to your liking).
3. Cover the entire cauliﬂower with the seasoned oil.
4. Place in a hot oven and roast until the edges are crispy and caramelised.
5. Serve with a drizzle of tahini, mint and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds,
You can add any dressing or garnish so get creative. If you are in a rush, cauliflower is also delicious just roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil.
Warm butternut salad with caramelised onions, zataar and dried rose geraniums
Zataar (you can find this at a good spice shop)
Baby leaf spinach or salad leaves of your choice
Dried edible flowers
Salt and black pepper
Butternut salad dressing:
Mix yoghurt, crushed garlic, squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Place a layer of baby leaf spinach on your platter, followed by a layer of warm roasted butternut, caramelised onions dressing and a sprinkle of zataar and continue to layer (make at least two layers).
- For the final layer drizzle over dressing some extra zataar and edible flowers.
Flatbreads with herbs and edible flowers
4 cups of self raising flour
3 cups of yoghurt
Herbs (you can use anything)
- Place flour, salt and yoghurt in a large mixing bowl and combine into a soft dough and let it rest for an hour.
- Take off tennis ball size pieces of dough and roll out on a floured surface into a flatbread shape.
- Place herbs and flowers onto the rolled-out dough and gently press them into the dough.
- Place a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet on the stove and add some butter. Once your pan is hot place the flatbread in the pan and turn over when it starts to puff up.
- Serve warm with an extra drizzle of butter.
Fried Brinjals with soya and chilli dressing and wild garlic flowers
Medium sized brinjals cut into rounds
Mix together the soya sauce, lemon juice, honey, garlic and chilli flakes.
- Dip the brinjals first in flour and then egg and place straight into hot oil and fry until golden and tender.
- Place on a platter and drizzle over the dressing garnish with the garlic flowers (if you can’t get wild garlic flowers you can use chives or spring onions).
Note: You can also use chilli bite ready mix instead of the flour egg dredge. It’s really delicious and garnish with some chopped dhanyia.
Details: @beetroot_and_bear on Instagram
Text: Elana Wagner| Photos: Justine Huizinga