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How to make Tom Aikens' beetroot risotto with goat's cheese

Not many people would turn down a meal from one of the country's top chefs - especially one with a fiery reputation.

But it seems Tom Aikens' two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Violette has some strong opinions when it comes to food.

"I gave her some roast chicken with some root vegetables recently, and even before she tried it she looked at me when I put it down and went, 'I. Don't. Like. That!'" the chef reveals.

Leading chef Tom Aikens
Leading chef Tom Aikens

Since becoming a father, Tom - who is also dad to four-month-old Josephine - has reassessed his priorities.

Known for his high standards, he famously hit headlines in 1999 after he was accused of burning a colleague in a plush London restaurant with a hot palette knife.

Tom still describes himself on Twitter as a "crazy passionate chef", but, he now says, "I've definitely mellowed with age and matured".

"With the arrival of two lovely little girls I've definitely seen the light, as they say. In my earlier youth I was very much fixated on work, work, work all the time. There are different priorities in life [now]," he explains.

He's still incredibly busy, though, running his Tom's Kitchen restaurant chain and considering a venture in New York with his twin brother and fellow chef, Robert.

Want to try one of Tom's recipes at home? Here's two from his 2011 book, Easy.

Tom Aikens' beetroot risotto with goats' cheese
Tom Aikens' beetroot risotto with goats' cheese


(Serves 4)

500ml freshly made beetroot juice

500ml chicken stock

150ml olive oil

200g shallots, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

200g bought cooked beetroot, cut into 3mm dice

2tsp coarse sea salt

A large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

250g risotto rice

200ml red wine

100g Parmesan cheese, grated

50g creme fraiche

Juice of 1 lemon

50g goats' cheese, such as Bouton D'Oc, crumbled

Here's how you make it

Prepare the beetroot juice, then pour it into a pan and bring it to a simmer. Skim and then pass it through a fine sieve. Pour it back into the pan with the chicken stock and warm over a low heat.

Place a shallow pan over a low to medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic and bay leaves and cook for about two minutes. Do not allow them to colour. Add the diced beetroot, the salt, pepper and rice and cook for a further two minutes.

Add the red wine and cook for a minute or so until it has been absorbed. Slowly add the beetroot juice and chicken stock to the rice, a little at a time, stirring every minute or so. Continue for about 14-16 minutes, until all the wine and stock has been used and the rice is almost cooked.

Add the Parmesan, creme fraiche and lemon juice and check the seasoning. Sprinkle over the goats' cheese and serve.

Passion fruit pavlova from Easy by Tom Aikens
Passion fruit pavlova from Easy by Tom Aikens


(Serves 4)

8 egg whites

A pinch of salt

500g caster sugar

4tsp cornflour

Seeds from a split vanilla pod

2tsp white wine vinegar

For the curd filling:

400g passion fruit pulp

150g eggs (2-3)

120g egg yolks (4-5)

120g sugar

150g unsalted butter

Here's how you make it

Line two baking tins with greaseproof paper. Whisk the egg whites and salt together until stiff, then slowly add the sugar little by little. Finally, add the cornflour, vanilla seeds and vinegar.

Spoon on to the baking tins, making two circles about 20cm in diameter and 2.5cm thick. Cook the meringue at 150C/Gas 2 for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave them to cool inside it.

To make the curd filling, whisk together the passion fruit pulp, eggs, yolks and sugar. Pour the mixture into a pan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the butter and cook at a low simmer for three to four minutes. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool.

When the meringues are ready and cool, place one on a plate and spread it with the curd. Top with the other piece of meringue and serve with some vanilla custard.

Easy by Tom Aikens is published hardback by Ebury Press, priced £25 (Text copyright © Tom Aikens 2011)

Tom Aikens is encouraging more people to "Say Yes" to dairy by creating a selection of recipes in partnership with lactose free dairy range Lactofree. For more information visit www.lactofree.co.uk

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