Earthy beetroot and salty feta are a classic combination but adding in rose, thyme leaves and Rowse Runny Honey makes for a delicious and surprising tartlet. To save time you can buy ready-made mini, savoury tartlet cases instead of making the pastry yourself.
Pressed flowers are so delicate they make a perfect garnish for little canapes and tartlets. You can press them when the flowers are in season and then store them for months, meaning you can use them for your special occasions throughout the year.
A note on pressing flowers
Pressing edible flowers is simple and doesn’t involve any specialist equipment.
Pick the flowers you want to press on a dry day and arrange them, face down, on a sheet of clean paper inside a large book. Once you have filled the sheet add another clean sheet of paper on top and close the book. Weigh the book down evenly with something heavy (more books) and leave for two weeks. The flowers will be dry when fully pressed and ready to use.
Make sure you source your edible flowers from reputable growers or grow them yourself, you need to make sure they haven’t been sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides.
Top tip: Tick off the items you've already got, so you can quickly see what's left to buy
To make the pastry put the flour in a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Using your fingertips rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and quickly bring the mixture together into a dough, very lightly knead it a couple of times until it is smooth. The key is not to overwork the dough as that will make the pastry tough. Shape the pastry into a disc and wrap well in a sandwich bag and put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
Peel the beetroot and cut into thin wedges. Put the dried rose petals into a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and blitz or crush to a rough powder. Put the beetroot into a bowl. Add the crushed rose petals, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and thyme leaves to the beetroot wedges and season with about ¼ teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper, mix well so the beetroot is coated in all the flavourings.
Put the beetroot onto a baking tray or an oven proof dish with a lid. If you are using a baking tray cover it with tin foil so the beetroot steams as well as roasts. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes until the beetroot is just tender. Take the beetroot out of the oven and drizzle over one tablespoon of Rowse Runny Honey. Put the beetroot back in the oven, uncovered, for a further five minutes and then set aside to cool.
Very lightly oil the mini tartlet tin with sunflower oil. Take the pastry out of the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll it out very thinly using a rolling pin until just about 1mm thick. As we are making tiny tartlets the pastry needs to be quite thin so the ratio of pasty to filling is right. Using a 6cm biscuit cutter cut out rounds of pasty and gently press them into the tartlet tin. Try not to stretch the pastry. Dock the bottom of each tartlet with a few holes using a fork. Put the tartlets in the fridge or freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
Line each tartlet tin with a small square of baking parchment and fill with baking beans or rice. Put the tartlets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Take the tartlets out and remove the baking parchment and the beans or rice. Save the parchment with your baking beans to use next time you are baking tartlets. Put the tartlets back in the oven to bake for another 5-8 minutes until crisp and lightly golden.
To make the filling put 2/3 of the roasted beetroot into a blender or food processor with the feta, crème fraiche, rosewater and ½ teaspoon of Rowse Runny Honey. Blitz until totally smooth. This will take about five minutes. The texture should be like a thick dip, almost pourable but not quite. If it feels too thick you can add a little more crème fraiche and blitz again.
Finally assemble the tartlets. Chop the remaining roasted beetroot into small ½ cm cubes and divide between the 24 tartlets. Spoon the bright pink feta mixture on top and use a teaspoon to smooth the top. Place a small edible pressed flower on top of each tartlet. The tartlets can be served immediately or will keep well for a few hours. They are best served on the day they are made, but all the separate elements can be made up to three days in advance – the pastry cases should be stored in an airtight container, the roasted beetroot and the whipped feta mixture can be stored in the fridge.