Monday, June 25, 2007

Forget the baguette, the weather beet me

In my earlier post I promised sourdough baguettes, and although a great concept in theory, I only manage to crank out something that would have made a tasty thin crust pizza but nothing close to a baguette. Several things could have gone wrong, but my money is on the sourdough starter overheating in the summer weather and not being lively enough. I will tinker with it and see what I come up with. For now, I can leave you with a nice little summer side dish recipe as some conciliation.

As the bad pun (I do love them) might hint it’s about beets. Now I know beets maybe aren’t the first vegetable you think of in summertime since they are pretty good all year around and go great with savoury autumn and winter dishes. However, this time a year you can get those cute baby beets which go great in salads or as a side to some grilled meat or fish.

I know some of you might be lucky enough to have cool farmers markets with heritage breed beets, but I’m stuck with the common red variety, and actually they taste great so I shouldn’t say stuck with. Look for bunches with their greens left on and for uniformity in beet size. The fresher the greens the fresher the beet, and the uniformity is just to keep cooking even.

Once you have beets at home this is a pretty quick recipe. Scrub your beets, as they are bound to be dirty, but never peel them before they are cooked. For one the beets wonderful colour will jump all over, and cleaning was never my favourite part of cooking. Further, peeling them after their done is a lot easier than to peel them raw. Just rub the beet in a kitchen cloth or sturdy kitchen paper. Yes it will stain but the colour is water-soluble so don’t worry.

With your beets scrubbed cut of the greens, but leave a little “handle” which will look nice as well as give you something to hold when you peel them. The greens can be cooked and eaten much as spinaches or kale if they are fresh, but if they are slimy discard them (you do have a compost or cute animal to feed them to right?).

Set the scrubbed beets aside in a colander in the sink (because they will bleed a bit). Now depending on your amount of beets make an aluminium foil pouch. I recommend using double lyres so it becomes sturdy and wont mess up your oven. That’s right…the oven! Its way better than boiling I promise. Probably it has something to do with the dryer heat concentrating the flavours of the beet instead of diluting them with water. This pouch method also allows you to create a flavoured environment which can only be betterJ. This is my personal favourite:

Pouch summer beets

  • Olive oil (Generously coat the beets in the pouch)
  • Balsamic or sherry vinegar (One part to three parts oil, think vinaigrette)
  • Garlic cloves (Just crush them, no need to peel or shop finely. Use as much as you want i.e. LOTS!)
  • Sage (coarsely chopped and or bruised with the handle of your knife)
  • Fresh rosemary (Try to balance the amount to the sage)
  • Salt and pepper

Close the pouch tightly and sort of swoosh the beets around inside it to coat evenly and to let everything blend. Then just park it for 40 minutes in a 200°C or 390°F oven.

After you have peeled them serving can range from just a knob of butter to salads whit feta or baked chèvre cheese. Personally I had them with a cooling yogurt tzatziki kind of sauce.

And I know, still no pictures…..if I manage to massacre the wonderfully photogenic beet with my camera I threat for future posts…I’m just not good with the camera.

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