Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beets for dessert?!

Even though I have not been buying much produce lately, our fridge was starting to seem uncomfortably full. Friends who left on vacation told us to pick up their CSA box, I was the willing recipient of gifted veggies from farmers who brought too much to market, and my back porch herb garden is overflowing. I have a lot of guilt about wasting produce so I decided not to wait another day to eat some of this bounty.
What I created was an unexpected treat. I will preface this by saying this is for beet lovers only but I will add that if you try this, you might find you are a beet lover after all.

My favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them. Boiling only seems to dilute the flavors, while roasting makes them more intense. Put your unpeeled beets in an glass baking dish with a little water, oil, salt, a few bay leaves and a sprinkle of black peppercorns. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until they are easily pierced with a fork. This could take up to an hour if you beets are big. Let them cool and their skins should slide right off. Be careful not to get any juices on you or your countertop You are now ready to use your beets in all manner of dishes.

Yesterday, I was in a hurry to make dinner and short on ingredients so I used whatever I had on hand. Luckily, I have a well-stocked pantry. I chopped the beets in bite-sized chunks,added a splash of cassis vinegar, clementine olive oil, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper and topped it with tiny lemon verbena leaves. Oh, and while I was out picking those, I noticed that my gooseberries were ripe and since they are similar in color to the beets and I was creating a kind of fruity salad, I threw those in too. Trust me, I was a little skeptical about the results. It could have been really weird with all those different flavors. I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed more like a dessert fruit salad than anything but that's okay. I figure we are supposed to eat so many fruits and veggies that the more courses we include them in the better right?

You may not have these exact ingredients lying around and although this salad was delicious, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you go out and buy them to make it. I would encourage you to play with your food though. Try new things. Be bold in the kitchen. The worst that could happen is that you spit something out and you never have to try it again.

I was inspired to share this after months of ignoring my blog because I was so surprised and delighted by these new flavor combinations. I have recently started selling preserves at a local farmers' market and I give out samples. It is discouraging the number of people who will turn down a free taste because of an unfamiliar ingredient or one they haven't liked in the past.

"Passion fruit. What's that like?"
"Would you like a taste?"

It could be your new favorite thing but now you'll never know...


At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds delicious. I'm not a beet lover, but there's one recipe that my mom makes for cold beet salad that is somewhat similar, that I love. She uses raspberry balsalmic vinegar. I like eating her beet salad because I always feel beets are so healthy - I'm going to give your salad a go because it sounds really good!


At 9:37 AM, Blogger Tea said...

You posted! Yay. I think that makes my day:-)

At 4:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might help your business if, instead of ignoring a potential customer's question by not answering it, you did in fact give them an answer.

Pushing a sample at someone is not an answer to "what's it taste like?".

Best of luck with the markets.

At 6:33 AM, Blogger allisonmariecat said...

Hey, you posted! Yay! I *love* roasted beets. Yum. I had them that way once, and I never prepared them again any other way. I tend to put them in salads or eat them with a little salt and pepper as a side, or with citrus vinaigrette and blue cheese as a salad, but your dessert idea is fantastic. They have such a depth of flavor and sweetness that dessert makes sense.

Hmm, anon seems a bit snippy. I guess I feel that if you wonder how something tastes, the best way to find out is to...taste it. I suppose some people might take the plunge if you could compare it to something they already like, but how do you do that with passionfruit?

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON- Who said I ignored their question? I do my best to answer any and all questions about my products and produce and cooking in general but I do think the best answer to "What does 'blank' taste like?" is to give someone a sample if you have one sitting right there! Call me crazy...

Muse, Tea and Allison- I'm happy to be back and happy that you're still reading!

At 9:25 AM, Blogger FaustianBargain said...

hey lee,

i love beets in dessert too!!

my fav beet dessert is beetroot halva, an indian dessert. it is just like carrot halva , but with reduced sugar because beets have more sugar than carrots.

1.grate beets. 2. cook in little cream/milk until cooked. 3.add sugar..(2-2.5 cups of sugar for half a kilo of grated beets)4. add ghee/clarified butter as much as it can take it in..:)..thats about 1/2 cup of ghee. 5. a teensy weensy pinch of cardamom. 6.quickly fry flaked almonds in ghee and top the halva..

take care.

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

Hi Leedav, I'm glad to find your blog. In case you don't check back w/mine, I thought I'd answer your spicebush question here, too.

Spicebush is a native American shrub named Lindera benzoin that grows in part shade/part sun. Female plants produce seeds that are about a quarter inch long and ripen to a bright red color in fall. You'll need at least one male plant around for pollination, but it's the females that give us the spice. The dried and ground berries are both sweet and peppery; it's a delicious, complex taste unlike anything else I know. It's also an attractive shrub with good fall color (yellow leaves).

You can order it from Integration Acres (http://www.integrationacres.com/products.html). They call it Appalachian Allspice.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger nysjal said...

What I love, Lee, is how characteristic of you is the thought that "it may be your favorite thing, but now you'll never know!"

I am reading your blog in reverse time and enjoying it immensely!


Post a Comment

<< Home