Goat’s cheese with pickled beetroot and onion popcorn

PUBLISHED: 12:06 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:06 07 July 2014

Goat's cheese with pickled beetroot and onion popcorn

Goat's cheese with pickled beetroot and onion popcorn


Head chef Robert Haynes has been at Down Hall Country House Hotel for almost two years. His interest in cooking began waiting for his mum in the school kitchens after school as she was a dinner lady. Later he also did some catering at his father’s golf club. If he could hand pick a diner it would be actor Natalie Portman, however cooking for celebrities doesn’t faze him having cooked for several TV actors, Michel Roux and sportsmen too including David Beckham, Sven Goran Eriksson and Wayne Rooney. Here Robert shares his recipe for a spectacular starter.

Head chef Robert HaynesHead chef Robert Haynes


(Serves 4)

Goat’s cheese balls

120g Rosary goat’s cheese (or another soft goat’s cheese)

100g bread crumbs

100g plain Flour

Garlic popcorn

40g plain popcorn

1 clove of garlic (fried and finely chopped)

Dried onions (finely chopped)

20g of butter and a bit of oil

Poached pears

2 pears

1 vanilla pod

100ml of water

100g of caster sugar

Pickled beetroot

1 large beetroot

100ml of white wine vinegar

100ml of white wine

100g of caster sugar

1tsp of chilli (finely sliced)

10 yellow mustard seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

Beetroot puree

2 beetroots

Salt and pepper

Water cress and honey for garnish


Cook two whole beetroots in their skins until very soft, then peel, puree and season with salt and pepper. Allow the goat’s cheese to soften and then roll into balls. Place the balls in the fridge to set. Once set, coat them in flour and breadcrumbs. Cut the beetroot into 1cm squares from one large beetroot (uncooked) and place in the fridge in sparkling water. When ready to serve, cook the beetroot squares in the heated sweet pickling liquor as per recipe for 2 minutes.

Peel two pears, cut in half and poach in sugar syrup as per recipe until soft.

Pop the popcorn kernels in a small amount of butter and oil in a large pan. Make an onion dry mix from finely chopped dried onions and finely chopped fried garlic. Sprinkle this over the popcorn and shake so all pieces are covered.

Deep fry the goat’s cheese balls until light golden, but be careful not to deep fry for too long as they may explode.

Place beetroot puree on the plate, add the picked beetroot cubes, goat’s cheese balls, onion popcorn and garnish with some watercress and a drizzle of honey.

Get the taste

Down Hall Country House Hotel, Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Bishop’s Stortford CM22 7AS

01279 731441

Click on the related link at the top of this article for more details and to visit the Down Hall website

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