BEET AND HORSERADISH RELISH (SFECLA CU HREAN)
Beet and Horseradish Relish (Sfecla cu hrean)
Traditional recipes for Romanian sfecla cu hrean, including grandma's, call for boiled beets to be grated into the horseradish. Knowing what wonders roasting the beets has done for my borscht, I decided that concentrating their sugars in the oven would result in a “beetier” relish. The result is quite nice; the horseradish is still potent but is blunted nicely by the deeper flavour roasting draws from the beets. I’ve also amped up the sweetness by using cider vinegar instead of the more traditional white. Another word of advice: Be prepared to cry while grating the horseradish. The best texture is achieved by using the fine face of a box grater or even a microplaner, but going that route means you’ll be bent over a bowl of this root for a good 15 minutes. By the time I finished my eyes were streaming, my nose was running, and there were enough lingering fumes in the kitchen to make me tear up whenever I entered the room for the rest of the day. (My Aunt Janice recommends grating the horseradish outside so that the fumes dissipate and using a food processor to minimize the time you spend hunched over the root.) Oh, but the pain is worth it. The brilliant colour and complex flavour make this Easter condiment unique.