Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘beets’

Dodgy Beet

It’s hard to say if there is actually anything wrong with this beet.

We have become so accustomed to “cute” vegetables.   “Baby Greens” and mini this and mini that.

The truth is, these quick grown, quickly harvested vegetables don’t have nearly the same amount of nutrients as their older, possibly tougher, longer grown counter parts.

I mean it would it makes sense.  The longer you grow, the more good stuff you have in you.

So I was VERY surprised when someone gave me this beet!

A beet the size of a rutabega!  I’ve never seen such a thing!

But now I’ve been so conditioned by the “small stuff” that I am frightened of the big beet!

Was it grown under a power line?  Near a nuclear reactor?  What’s the deal with it?

Perhaps it just hid from the picking machine on a few harvests?

I don’t know.

I mean you could do great things with such a big beet.   Like slice it super thin and make raw beet ravioli out of it.

Or the biggest pot of borscht?

I don’t know.  I’m afraid of it.

What do you think?Birthday 2014001

 

Birthday 2014003

Beet Bread – Happy Fall

I believe that once in a while a person should share their failures and not just their triumphs.

It makes one less intimidating.  And especially when it comes to cooking, for all those people who think they can’t cook things and that those of us who cook a lot always get it right!

And for those people, like me, who don’t always get on too well with recipes and just figure it is okay to “wing it”, hopefully you can learn from the mistakes.

I think this might be the case with my “Beet Bread”.

Beet Bread006

I saw some somewhere, on one of the many blogs or newsletters that I get and thought, “I could make me some o that!” as I have long been a fan of hiding innocent vegetables in places they might not otherwise be found.

KALE PANCAKES

I looked up a bunch of recipes and they all seemed rather involved, as bread in general can sometimes be.

Because we are after all talking actual bread with yeast and a crust and not cakey loaf like  BANANA BREAD  or what have you…..

So I decided to do it the lazy way and just use the old faithful POT BREAD tried and true recipe but toss in some beet!

Seemed a no brainer.

I started by adding to the mixer:

  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Then while they were getting to know each other, in a blender or food processor squish up:

  • peeled raw beets cubed  ( enough to yield about a cup of puree)
  • 1/2 cut of warm water

Beet Bread001

Now here is where  I think I got in trouble because I probably had about two cups worth of squished beet, which turned out to be all together too much.

Beet Bread002

Once the yeast mixture starts to foam, add in:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups warm water.   So I had 1/2 cup in with the yeast,  1/2 cup in with the beets and so then there was still a 1/2 cup to go……which I added but probably shouldn’t have.

I would say, add in the beet mixture after the flour is well mixed in and then just add the remaining water gradually making sure your dough doesn’t get too wet.

Then, as per the original recipe, plop the dough in a bowl and cover it with clean film plastic wrap and put it somewhere safe for 12 – 18 hours.  I always just pop it in the oven out of the way.

Beet Bread003

I find doing the prep in the evening gives you nice bread for breakfast!

So when it is time, pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and only when it has reached full temp, pop your cast iron pot with the lid into the oven for 30 minutes till it gets smokin hot.

Meanwhile, dump your dough on to a well floured board and knead a little.

This is where I really got in trouble!   When I took the dough out it was literally swimming in liquid.   So I had to keep adding more and more flour to the board and rolling and turning it in, to try and dry it out.   Not really sure how good that was for it.

Beet Bread004

Then cover with plastic and leave sit until your pot has heated.

Then VERY carefully remove the pot from the oven, take of the lid and plop your dough into the pot, cover it back up and bung it back in the oven!

Bake for 30 minutes, then take off the lid and bake another 15 minutes.

I think mine needed to be baked just a little while longer because it seemed a bit gummy in the centre.

Then let cool on a rack till it is well cooled, but doesn’t have to be cold.

Beet Bread005

I was very surprised when I cut it open only to find that the tell-tale beet pink was only on the outside!  And then inside it just looked like some sort of dark, regular homemade bread.

The pictures I saw of other beet bread seemed to be pink all the way through.

Beet Bread008

I ended up toasting a few pieces before we ate it, because it just didn’t seem quite done.

But it tasted just fine.   Although not “beety” at all, just pretty much like any other homemade whole grain bread.

Beet Bread011

And it was particularly good with some cream cheese and a bowl of soup!

I do think I will have to try again.

Growing stuff – August 3rd

It’s pathetic really.

I don’t know where I went wrong with these tomato plants.

Grew them from seed on the window sill then nurtured them all winter in the living room where they grew to be strong, confident, healthy tomato plants!

They sprung all sorts of little flowers and seemed so healthy.

So why is it now August and this is ALL I have to show for my effort??

One lousy tomato

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But on a good note, we have been enjoying eating “local” ( as in from the balcony) when it comes to the greens.  The arugula has been a spectacular success and the mixed lettuce leaves delicious!  We’ve even been adding some of the young chard to the salads and it tastes great!

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But now the birds seem to have decided that they like beet greens and have been having a go at them!

I decided to pull up one of the beets, you know, just to see how everybody is getting on.  It was just a tiny thing so I shoved it back in.  Hopefully it will continue to grow!

And then I pulled on one of the stray potato plant branches and found this little nugget!

One potato

Well, I guess it’s still a bit early for the underground things!

Fancy Fish Dinner

The Chef whipped up a very tasty quick summer supper.

I can’t be completely sure what is actually in anything, he sometimes gets a little secretive about what he is making.  Let’s face it, with someone like me around, he is going to guard his secrets so I don’t make “Cheffing” look too easy!!

Here is what we had:

  • Baked salmon with garlic, lemon & capers topped with tomato salsa
  • Couscous with diced red pepper & chopped fresh basil
  • Shaved fennel, red onion & lemon salad
  • Beet and blueberry salad

That’s a lot of brain food going on there.  Salmon, beet, blueberry, fennel, all with a lot of lemon, just tons of nutrients AND it all tasted great!!

Growing stuff – July 20

Well the summer is progressing along and things on the balcony garden are still growing.

But the weather this year has been so weird that I’m not sure how things will turn out.

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The potato plant is still growing like gang busters.  I’m not sure when I am supposed to harvest that.   I had trouble last year and so they never got to fruition.

Potato plant

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The arugula is looking fantastic and we hope to eat some of that this weekend!

Arugula

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Bit of trouble with the cabbage.  Seems that some sort of florescent green little worms have been eating their fill of it.  I caught them in the act munching little holes all over, so I “removed” them.   I will have to keep an eye on them.

red cabbage

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The beets are doing great, but again, don’t know when they will be “ready” to pick?

Beets

 

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No tomatoes on the plant

The tomatoes continue to disappoint.  I can’t believe after growing them from seed starting in like January….and coddling them in the living room window all winter and giving them painstaking care…..that there is still as yet not even ONE tomato growing anywhere on the plants!   Sad, very sad.

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And then the Chard is FINALLY doing very well after a challenging start!

 

Swiss Chard

 

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And last but not least, I have a very pleasing batch of lettuce going.   But as usual, I had to move it inside because the BIRDS love lettuce and will keep eating it until they fall over!  Maybe that’s the answer!

Lettuce

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Happy Gardening!

 

Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!

veggie-storage

Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.

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The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??

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The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!

Beans

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The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.

Tomatoes

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And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong

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I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!

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The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!

Beets

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And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard

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Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.

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Growing stuff – May 25th

Another week on the balcony garden.

Added a few new friends to the mix.

Got some little red cabbage pants but I only had a shallow pan left for them.   I will start them there and if they grow too big and seem unhappy, I’ll have to get them a bigger bin.

Red cabbage

Also added some beet plants.  They got the last available deep pot because they are underground growers after all.

Beets

Got a couple of mint plants to go in the window box with the oregano.  Mint and oregano…..that should go….they live together all the time in Greek food!!

Mint and oregano

And the potato plant literally seems to get bigger every day!!  But the beans I planted two weeks ago have not yet showed any sprouts at all.  Maybe the seeds were bad, but I won’t give up on them yet!

The Balcony Garden

Anniversary Dinner

Now don’t get me wrong, I like going out to restaurants as much as the next person, but when you have a live in Chef sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense to go out!!

The Chef and I were celebrating our anniversary this weekend so he was nice enough to “whip me up” a little something for my dinner!!

We started with an appetizer of beet and goat cheese pin wheel terrine with basil infused oil.

Beet and goat cheese pin wheels

Colourful and light.

Then a lovely salad of arugula  with a beautiful refreshing oil and lemon dressing and shaves of Parmesan cheese.

Arugula salad with lemon, oil and shaved Parmesan cheese

For the main course we had beef and asparagus rouladen topped with gorgonzola cheese, accompanied by pured roasted celeriac topped with Boursin cheese and roasted root vegetables with topped with Blue cheese.

Beef and asparagus rouladen with roasted celeriac, root vegetables and three cheeses

Scurmp-delly-ishes!!!

Needless to say, with all the flavours and textures going on there, it only seemed appropriate to have a nice simple dessert.

Strawberries macerated in sugar and balsamic vinegar with Greek yogurt, with a sprig of mint and a shard of dark chocolate!

macerated strawberries with Greek yogurt and mint

Good time had by all!

Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine

Every now and again The Chef will see something somewhere and HAS to make it.

Of late we have been watching Top Chef Canada and there is one contestant who seems to be making a lot of terrines, so The Chef had a hankering to make one for us.  I couldn’t refuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, terrines come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and flavours.  But mostly it means a dish full of stuff squished down hard till it sticks together well and then turned out and sliced up and eaten, usually in a decorative way.

So on this occasion, he made one of beet and goat cheese.

Start by boiling some whole beets.  He used red ones and golden ones.

Once they are cooked, let them cool till they are cold.  So this can be done well in advance.

When you are ready to build your terrine, peel the beets slice very thinly with a mandolin or with a knife if you are really good at that kind of thing.

Lay them out on a tray and sprinkle with a little oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and some chopped herbs.

Let them sit a little to get acquainted.

Then find yourself a terrine mould.  If you don’t have a fancy one handed down from generations before you, just use a loaf pan of some sort.

You could line it with plastic wrap if you are making something particularly sticky, but the oil on these beets will keep them slippery enough to come out of the mould.

Start layering the beets, perferablely by colour.

Then a layer of goat cheese.

Repeat.

When you finish your last layer, you will need to find something heavy that you can put on top.

Use your imagination.

The Chef topped it with a bit of parchment paper, then we happend to have one of those silicon, soft loaf pans, so he put that on top next and then a couple of heavy cans of whatever.

Put it in the fridge for a few hours to set.

When you are ready, unmould it, slice it up and serve.

Vegan Vegan Vegan!

Okay, after yesterday’s Pot Roast, I just wanted to prove that I can be open-minded and versatile and am just as comfortable eating the “non-meat” meals as any respectable Vegan!

I don’t think I have ever had as many vegetables in one meal at one time as we had last night!

Please indulge me as I try to recall the list:

  1. Arugula
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beets ( red and golden)
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Carrot
  6. Chives
  7. Garlic
  8. Leeks
  9. Lettuce
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions ( red and white)
  12. Peppers ( red and yellow)
  13. Squash
  14. Tomato

Add to this, three kinds of lentils, two kinds of nuts, couscous and rice!

The meal started with a salad trio:

Salad one:

Roasted beet, thinly sliced red onion, walnuts on a bed of mixed lettuce

Salad two:

Arugula bundles, tied with chives, topped with pine nuts and a lemon & oil dressing

Salad three:

Shredded brussel sprouts with thinly sliced red and yellow peppers.

Salad Trio

The next course consisted of:

Mushrooms stuffed with couscous, carrot,  mushroom stem, carmelized onion and roasted garlic

Roasted asparagus topped with carmelized onions and sliced red and yellow peppers.

Roasted asparagus and stuffed mushrooms

The main course was:  stuffed cannelloni and spaghetti and “meat balls”

Stuffed cannelloni

cannelloni “shells” of  rounds of steamed leek stuffed with black, red and green lentils with carmelized onions and couscous.   Baked and then topped with organic tomato sauce.

Leek “cannelloni” shells

Three kinds of lentils

Lentil stuffed leek “cannelloni”

 Spaghetti and “meat balls”

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with “meat balls” made of black Thai “forbidden rice” , carmelized onion, roasted garlic and rice flour to bind.

cannelloni with spaghetti and meat balls

See, TOTALLY Vegan and not a DROP of tofu in sight!!!Veggies do not have to be boring!

New Years Eve in Seattle

We pulled into Seattle in late afternoon and went straight to the hotel.

We were staying at the Hyatt Olive 8, a shiny new state of the art eco-friendly “green” hotel in downtown Seattle.  We choose the Olive 8 not only for the whole green thing, but also because we would be having dinner in the restaurant downstairs.

Urbane

“The menus at Urbane change frequently to reflect the seasonality of local ingredients including fish and shellfish native to the Pacific Northwest. Says Chef Lopez, “Preparations are traditional and simple allowing ingredients to complement each other without compromising how the food was intended to taste.” Chef Lopez selects the finest fresh foods from celebrated local Seattle resources that include:

  • Beecher’s Cheeses
  • Uli’s Sausage from Pike Place Market
  • Produce from Willie Green Farms
  • Salumi Artesian Cured Meats from Pioneer Square.
A commitment to local, organic ingredients doesn’t limit Chef Lopez’s range of creativity in the culinary arts. True to our regional focus, the wine menu at Urbane exclusively showcases fine Pacific Northwest wines. Enjoy tantalizing regional specialties at our Seattle downtown restaurant, such as:
 
  • Walla Walla’s Thundering Hooves’ pasture-finished bone-in Rib-eye
  • Pan-seared wild Arctic Char served with Butternut Squash Hash
  • Tempting desserts include Toffee Pudding topped with ice cream infused with Mount Rainier honey”

We made sure our reservation was late enough because we wanted to be able to stay up for midnight!  We’re old now so it’s hard to last that long!!

After a quick run around of the big downtown department stores ( we live in Victoria so getting a chance to be in the big city is a real thrill for me!) before they shut down for the big holiday, we went back to the room to rest up a little before dinner.

Finally it was time to go downstairs for dinner.  There also happened to be a big New Years Eve party going on in the ballroom at our hotel, so the place was just teeming with people all dressed up…..with somewhere to go!

We were shown to our table that was perfectly located right next to the window so we could watch all the action outside while we ate.  And imagine our surprise, when at the very table next to us, was the former Mayor of Vancouver, BC, Sam Sullivan, there enjoying New Years Eve dinner with some people!

Originally we thought we were going to have to order off the set menu that they had shown for the evening on-line.  But much to our delight, we were allowed to choose off the fixed menu or the regular dinner menu.

We both started with a salad. 

The Chef got:

caesar | grilled romaine | bacon | croutons |

While I got:

roasted beets | quillisascut blue | pistachios | greens |

Both were very nice.  Then for our main courses…..

The Chef got:

lavender seared duck breast|  cherry sauce | apple fennel salad | lentils |

And I ordered:

steelhead salmon| spaetzle | kale | browned butter |

Mine was SO good.  I’m not a fan of duck so I didn’t try the Chef’s dinner but he was very pleased with his too.

It was New Years Eve so we HAD to order some dessert.   This time we ordered off the special NYE menu and got:

 chocolate trio| frozen mousse | stout gingerbread | white chocolate cherry bar |

Ah what a meal, definitely worthy of a celebration like New Years!

Somewhere during our meal, from our window seat, we noticed a lot of sudden action outside.  Fire trucks and ambulances and a gaggle of police on bicycles all appeared and sped around the corner.  We didn’t think too much of it, not wanting to look like small towners, I mean we have both lived in big cities before……..

After our wonderful dinner we went back upstairs to rest for a few minutes before we got changed and bundled up to walk down to the Space Needle where there was a big midnight celebration and fireworks display.  We turned the TV news on for a few minutes, to see how celebrations were going around the world and imagine our surprise to see footage from outside our hotel!!   Seems there was shooting RIGHT outside our hotel, just around the corner!!!  Seems that’s what all the hubbub during dinner was!   How exciting!   How I miss the big city!

We got bundled up, although I have to admit it wasn’t actually that cold out and headed down in the elevator.  We stopped on a few floors and picked up many revellers who were already in quite “festive” states.  

You know girls….if you are gonna get that drunk…..you really should re-think the wardrobe choices before hand.  Perhaps some lower heels and dresses that don’t hike up dangerously when you fall over……just a suggestion.

So we walked over to the Space Needle with the thousands of other people just in time for midnight.

It was quite a spectacular display and it was really fun to be in the streets with all kinds of people that we don’t even know! 

A fine way to wrap up a very enjoyable trip!  Tomorrow we would head home!

Space Needle Seattle

New Years Eve celebration in Seattle

 
 
 

Fireworks over the Space Needle in Seattle

 
 
 
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The Main Event

Finally we reached the big day.  The day of the big feast.

Like we haven’t already eaten enough to replenish our fat stores for winter!  But you know, tis the season to over indulge!  And now that it is mid January and the turkey hangovers have finally subsided, I thought it might be okay to discuss it again.

My relatives that we were visiting in California for Christmas are originally from Scotland, so some of their Christmas feast traditions are a little different from our North American ones.

Most notably is that they don’t use bread in their stuffing, or dressing or whatever you call the stuff you put inside the turkey.  They use sausage meat.

I remember years ago when I first reconnected with these relatives after they moved to California, I hadn’t seen them in years since I had visited Scotland.  So I was coming to stay with them for the holidays this particular year and so they told me later that their biggest fear about my visit was that, God forbid, I might be a vegetarian!  The horror!

So I wasn’t that startled by the sausage stuffing.  Although I did find the addition of Beef Wellington and black pudding a bit of a surprise.

The menu was as follows:

Appetizer

  • Seared scallop and black pudding with mustard dressing

Main course

  • Roast turkey with sausage stuffing
  • Roasted root vegetables – beets, carrot, parsnips, celeriac
  • Piped potato
  • Beef Wellington
  • Home made cranberry sauce
  • gravy

Dessert

  • Chocolate cake and ice cream
  • Fruit flan sponge cake

All followed by the mandatory “lie down”!!  Why oh why do we do it to ourselves??

For some reason I don’t have any pictures of the appetizer course.   Perhaps it was because there was a lot of commotion at that time what with getting people settled and getting the event under way.

But more likely it’s because I didn’t partake of that particular course.  I don’t eat scallops anymore because I am allergic to shell fish.  And even though a scallop is technically a mollusk and not a shellfish, I’m not willing to risk it.  And then the black pudding, well, click on it to see the pictures of it, or google it yourself and then decide if it is something you would eat……..

But those at the table who either knew what it was and love it or didn’t know what it was so they ate it, all enjoyed it very much.  Perhaps I just don’t know what I am missing!!

Then it was time for the main event, all set out, serve yourself style.  Which is always dangerous when you let to your own accord.

Time to load up our plates

Piped potato and roasted root vegetables

Turkey, white meat and dark

The infamous sausage stuffing

The beautiful Beef Wellington

Add some gravy and cranberry and you have the full meal deal!

 
 
And then when it seemed that we couldn’t possibly eat any more.  We ate some more.
 
 

Chocolate cake

Fruit flan sponge cake

 
 
 
 

A fine time was had by all

Braised cabbage with beets and apple

This is a quick and easy side dish that is full of flavour and full of nutrients!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • half a red cabbage sliced
  • 1 large beet cut into julienne pieces
  • 1 medium onion preferably red but others are fine
  • 2 firm flesh apples cored and sliced ( skin on)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper

You want to slice or chop everything more or less the same size so it will cook evenly.  I cut everything first and put it into a big bowl and then tossed it well.  You could put things directly into the pan but when it is pre-tossed it just means you don’t have to mess with it as much.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and then add a few handfuls of the vegetables, cook for a few minutes and then add some more, letting each batch cook down a bit before adding some more, until it is all in the pan.  This just makes it more manageable because they are firm vegetables and take up a lot of space raw.

As they are cooking down, then add the fennel, S& P and any other herbs or spices you might feel like adding in.  You could even add a tsp or two of brown sugar if you were feeling cheeky!

Then add the vinegar last, mix throughly then cover, turn down the heat and let it go for awhile.

Technically “braising” means cooking in liquid.  You could add some stock or water but I find that these vegetables release a lot of their own liquid so adding more would make it really wet.

A matter of preference I guess.

And voila!  A very tasty easy side dish!

Braised cabbage with beet and apples

Beet Brownies!

WHAT?

I know that’s what you’re thinking.  But please, let me explain.

I had just got home, it was raining, I hadn’t done groceries for a bit and frankly didn’t feel like going out again.  Trouble was, I was jonesin for some kind of afternoon, chocolatey treat.  What to do?

I didn’t have any butter, or milk and I only had one egg.   But I did have some flour and chocolate, it was a dilemma.

But then I saw some golden beets sitting on the table that I was going to juice but……..

So here’s what happened.

First I peeled and grated up three mediumish golden beets.

Then I popped them into the mixmaster with the paddle attachment.  Then added:

  • 1 egg
  • Juice of 1/2 of a sweet orange

Start beater and mix these ingredients thoroughly.  Then add:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp coco powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Keep mixing.

I would have used chocolate chips here but all I had was a big ol block of baking chocolate that was in the freezer, so in desperation, I took it out and shaved off about 1/4 cup worth with a big knife.

Keep mixing.

And then last but not least about 1/2 cup of flour.   Maybe a little more depending on how juicy the beets are.

Mix it all till you have a nice gooey batter.

Grease ( I didn’t have any butter so I used olive oil but butter would be better!) a baking dish and pour in the batter.

Bake in a 350 oven until it looks nice and firm and the old tooth pick coming out of the centre trick works.

You are gonna be SO surprised!!

I mean…..people make carrot cake and love it don’t they??  So why not beet brownies??

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