Chai Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ah, Portland.  What lovely souls reside here.  What fantastic characters grace your coffee shops, your streets, your bars, your grassy parks, who stay for a while and then leave swiftly, guided by a curiosity and thirst for life nurtured only by such a wondrous town.

Those on the go, those willing to pack a bag at a moment’s notice and leave for adventures unknown, those dripping with uncertainty in their seemingly settled lives.  These are the people I want to know.  People who aren’t scared to take their own path, to squirm at the thought of chaining themselves to one life, to one idea, to one opinion, to one place, to one person.  Whose travels and teachings have only led them to know that they actually know next to nothing except who they are with great clarity.  Those who involve themselves in what brings them passion, excitement, livelihood and don’t bother with that which doesn’t.  Those who, just by being in their presence, you can feel something deeper.  Something wild, something untamed, something fierce that just might, someday, arrive unpredictably in full force.

And when I met Liz, it was for this reason that we connected.

A glance around Liz’s bedroom gives a good indication of who she is, covered with posters of the sea, of surfers, of naked girls on bikes, a map of New Zealand, eclectic clothes and jewelry strewn around the room, some textbooks and a beta fish.

She’s a surfer chick who’s studying towards a nursing degree so that she can travel the world while healing people, and she drives an old beater van with a backseat converted into a disheveled bed to sleep on while out on her surfing adventures.

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We first bonded over a Halloween zombie bar crawl a few months ago.  Then we climbed together, then jogged across the river together, then drank beer and, all the while chatting about how strange and funny life can be sometimes.

The other night she took a chocolate making class at People’s Co-Op, and the next day invited me over to attempt to make our own.

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We rode our bikes to the market and back with Gunner by our side, and proceeded to make delicious (and healthy) chocolate from scratch.  It was probably the cutest Valentine’s Day date ever.

Lesson learned, making chocolate from scratch really isn’t all too difficult!  You just need chocolate powder, a fat (such as butter), and a sweetener.  You can choose the quality of ingredients to use in making your own batch, but we opted for a nutritious and energy packed recipe.

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We picked up some cacao powder, a mix of cacao butter and coconut oil, and a mix of maple sugar and coconut palm sugar.  IMG_1158IMG_1162

After mixing the ingredients together in a double boiler, we poured the chocolate mix into molds and put them in the freezer to solidify.  We made a few different batches, including Meyer lemon and fresh ginger, dried rosemary and sea salt, chili powder and cinnamon, and chopped walnuts and sea salt.  Um…wow, they were AMAZING.IMG_1175IMG_1171IMG_1169IMG_1167

It’s obvious to anyone that meets her that she’s a rad chick, but not everyone who’s rad will wholeheartedly bring you into her little Portland world so openly as Liz has for me.

Also, not everyone who’s rad will bake you a cake from scratch for your birthday.

But Liz did.  And just like the chocolates, it was also AMAZING.

It was a chai cake with cream cheese frosting, a recipe borrowed from the journal of her great friend Vicki.

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And because my first birthday in Portland was such a sweet sweet memory for me, this is the recipe I want to share with you.

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Chai Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 6 chai tea bags (without added sugar)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature

For frosting:

  • 8 oz butter for frosting at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer over low-medium heat.  Add tea bags.  Remove from heat and let steep for five minutes.  Let chai milk cool completely.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, yolks, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the chai milk.  Whisk together.

In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.  Add butter and remaining chai milk on medium speed with mixer.  Raise speed and beat until fluffy.  Add egg mix in three additions.  Add to a greased cake pan and bake for 26-28 minutes.

For the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter on medium speed in a mixer until consistent texture.  Add the vanilla extract, then slowly add sugar.    Once the cake has cooled, spread frosting on evenly.

Special thanks to both Liz and Vicki for introducing me to my new favorite cake and for lending me the recipe.  You two make me smile.

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Hot Dog Relish, a recipe by Norma Gibbs

Cheers to those extraordinary moments, those breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, those unexpected connections.  The ones in which my spirit awakens, in which I feel most alive and for which I am filled with a deep sense of appreciation.

It is to a place seen only by those fortunate few that I dedicate this piece.

I never expected to find myself at a lake in the middle of Michigan.  I never expected to fall in love with this place either, let alone visit here at all.  But I did, three times over.

The lake is called Higgins, and it’s where the Gillespie family has called their summertime home for over three generations.

With each visit I am shown again of the unwavering generosity and warmest of welcomes.

To visit Lake Higgins is to take a step back in time, to a slower pace unconcerned with life’s most consuming trivialities.  Anyone is invited, everyone pitches in, and nobody’s counting.  Out there, it’s about the simplest forms of enjoyment, and enjoyment there is to be had.  It’s a gift alone to be a part of it.

The Gillespies have a neighbor and friend who also spends her summers at the lake.  Her name is Foxy, and her effervescent demeanor is a welcomed wake in the tranquil morning waters of Higgins. She’s just a joy to know.

When she heard of my passion for slow foods, canning, and farming, her excitement grew impossibly greater.  She grew up on a farm, she told me, and she’s been eating food from jars since before refrigerators were a household staple.  She even offered me a taste of her latest batch of homemade hot dog relish for me to taste and a recipe to bring home. It was her Grandma Norma’s recipe from when she was just a child, and it was simply delicious.

I followed the recipe once I returned home to Portland.

In cooking recipes both traditional and unique, there is something to be said for those tried and true, the ones that are passed down from generations before.  For in those dishes lies the flavor of hard work and memories, the flavor of deeply rooted family traditions.  It is the flavor of a weekend spent at Lake Higgins.

Hot Dog Relish, a recipe by Norma Gibbs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups ground (well chopped) cucumbers
  • 3 cups ground onions
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 2 Hungarian hot peppers
  • 2 ground sweet red or yellow peppers
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 quart white vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 Tbsp. celery seed

Add salt to water, combine and add to vegetables.  Let sit overnight.  Drain and rinse lightly.

Heat white vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to boil. Add vegetables and cook slowly, 10 minutes. Seal in hot jars.

A special thank you to The Gillespie Family for an always wonderful visit to Michigan and the lake.  Also, to Foxy for the inspiration and wonderful family recipe.

Simply Roasted Cherries with Rosemary

I would like to start by saying: my aunt Jane is an amazing lady.

Not only did she send me this antique cherry picker she found at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago, but she is pretty much responsible for my complete and utter obsession with garage sale-ing and flea market-ing.  She also taught me how to bargain.  Before I was even ten years old.  Believe it.

She’d take me to garage sales and flea markets all over the Bay Area on the weekends, and helped me to start a small ceramic dog collection by showing me the bargaining ropes. For you newbies, I’m talking about how to suggest a price that’s well lower than what’s listed and then slowly work your way to the middle.   Or how to pretend like you only have only two dollars in your wallet when you actually have ten.  It’s a skill that, as insignificant as it may seem to you, is incredibly important to me to this day, and especially so now that I’m living in Portland, the garage sale capitol of the world.

There are many, many other life’s lessons and skills that I’ve learned from Aunt Jane, but today I’m thankful for our common appreciation for antiques (especially kitchenware) and good bargains.

Might I add, she’s also quite the cooking extraordinaire, and one of my first true kitchen role models growing up.

I hope she would approve of this simple, yet delicious creation.  Something tells me she would.

Simply Roasted Cherries with Rosemary 

Ingredients

  • A whole bunch o’ cherries, washed and de-stemmed
  • A sprig or two of rosemary, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

You don’t necessarily need a cherry pitter, although it is quite handy and useful!

First you must preheat the oven to a low and slow 250 degrees.  As it’s heating up, you will want to pit your cherries.  I’ve seen recipes where people roast cherries with the pits in, or even entirely whole and with the stems still attached, but I’d rather avoid the nuisance and since I now have a cherry pitter, I went all out on the preparation.  De-stemmed, pitted, halved, the whole nine yards.

So yes, chop in half, and spread onto a baking sheet, skin side down.  Sprinkle with coursely chopped rosemary, and place in the oven.  Allow to bake for at least an hour, if not more, keeping an eye to watch for burning.  Bubbling or crackling noises are okay.  After a long while, your cherries should have shunk to about half their original size, browned or crisped up a bit, and shriveled up like your skin after a long bath (how’s that for kitchen imagery?). If you pop one into your mouth, you will notice how the flavor and sweetness of the cherry is greatly enhanced.

From this point forward, the world is your oyster!  Er, cherry.  You may do with them what you please.  Pop them in your mouth as a healthy snack, throw them on some crackers with your favorite chevre as a beautiful and delicious appetizer, add them to fresh greens in a salad, or even incorporate them into a pastry of your choosing.  It would be utterly impossible to find dissatisfaction in your outcome.

Now, this recipe isn’t quite brain surgery.  In fact, it’s safe to say you could probably do it blindfolded.  It’s the concept that I’m trying to emphasize here, that uncommon pairings of fruits and herbs can and DO go well together.  Also, that fruit can be enjoyed in more ways than just fresh, or in a pie or pastry.  In fact, in many cases roasting or grilling is an incredibly useful method for enhancing the sweetness of the fruit.  It’s also a fabulous way to disguise fruit that you’ve allowed to go a day or two past it’s prime.

If you want to cook simply and do it well, then you will allow the ingredients to speak for themselves.  This is what I’m learning.

 

 

 

 

Cheesy Vegan Kale Chips

This isn’t the first time I’ve done a blog post devoted to kale chips, but they’re just so gosh darn delicious (and addicting, I might add) that they deserve to be brought back to the forefront of my blog for this evening.

HA! Tricked you.  You totally thought this was my veggie garden, didn’t you?

I WISH.

Actually, my rad new neighbor(s) stopped by for a chat this morning and mentioned that their backyard veggie garden is in serious summer surplus mode and demand is at a premium.  It’s. A. Rough. Life. For. Us.

As a self-diagnosed veggie hoarder (note the pic of the current state of my fruit/veg drawer in the fridge), I pretty much teleported myself to their backyard as soon as I possibly could to get my hands on some.

Among the wide variety of awesomeness I found, I came home with some basil, rosemary, a few leaves of rainbow chard, and kale.  I have some manners.  Some.

Having just picked up a new bunch of purple kale at the farmer’s market yesterday, I knew that throwing the leaves in the fridge would likely result in a mess of yucky smelly goo on the bottom of the veggie bin. It’s never a good thing to let fresh food go to waste, let alone a very nasty waste.   And anyone who’s ever suddenly found themselves with a surplus of kale can likely attest to this phenomenon.  If not, then you my friend are a jedi of kale.   But for us less gifted, there is one solution to this problem and it is a good one at that: kale chips.  Make a batch and, I swear, you’ll be down to a workable amount of fresh kale before you know it.  These babies are so addicting (and guilt-free), they’ll be gone before you leave the kitchen.  Literally.  As in, I put them in a bowl to share with everyone else and just stood in front of the bowl shoving them in my mouth for like five minutes until they were gone.

Cheesy Vegan Kale Chips 

Ingredients:

  • One bunch of organic kale, de-stemmed and chopped into large pieces
  • One healthy dose of olive oil, maybe two to three tablespoons, poured in small increments
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chili Flakes
  • Two or three large pinches of nutritional yeast (“healthier” alternative to cheese, many vegans use it as a substitute to that cheesy flavor.  For instance, my old roommate Susan used to make vegan mac ‘n cheese with nutritional yeast.  It doesn’t compare to cheese in texture by any means, but I actually really enjoy using it  on popcorn, scrambled eggs, kale chips, etc.)

Preheat oven to 250 (any higher and your kale chips will burn).  In a bowl, toss kale with the rest of ingredients and ensure an even coating.  Spread out evenly on a baking sheet or large piece of aluminum foil.

Place in oven and bake for about an hour, or until the chips are completely dehydrated and crispy.  Remove from oven, and enjoy.

Lesson learned today: Dino kale is the best type of kale to use for chips due to its rigidity.  It’s the kind with the long and thinner crinkled dark green leaves pictured above.  A close second is the green kale- the firm, almost sharp looking leaves that you can usually find in the market or grocery store.  Try to avoid using Russian or Purple kale.  Also, don’t over oil the greens.  Use only enough to very thinly coat each leaf, as the oilyness comes out when crispy and the idea is to avoid greasiness.

Ingredient of the Week: Fresh Turmeric

In an attempt to expand my mental pantry, I’m going to be selecting an ingredient each week to highlight right here on this blog.  These explorations will likely feature something I’ve never or hardly ever used in my cooking that I may come across at the market or read about on a food blog or book.

To start this project I’d like to introduce you all to fresh turmeric.  I found this root ingredient at the Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus the other day while I was picking up some produce.  At first glance I thought it was ginger root because of the similarity in skin and appearance.  Upon closer look though, I was able to distinguished turmeric by its deep orange color underneath the skin as well as it’s smaller size and less nobby shape in comparison to ginger.   I’ve seen ground turmeric among spice selections at most markets, and in fact have some in the spice cupboard here at home, but fresh turmeric root is something new and entirely different from it’s dried and ground counterpart.  You can find ground turmeric in the spice aisle of most supermarkets, but fresh turmeric can be more difficult to find.  Believe me, it’s worth the hunt.

If you know the difference in flavor between ground ginger and fresh ginger or garlic powder and fresh garlic, then you can understand why fresh turmeric was an exciting find for me.  The freshly grated adds a mild, earthy and almost refreshing flavor to dishes that the dried version absolutely lacks, without being overpowering.  I was warned before purchasing that it is commonly used as a coloring agent in cooking, acting as a naturally yellow dye to many of the products we see in the grocery store today: mustards, curry powders, etc.  After having cooked with it rather carelessly, I now know what they were talking about: the dye is so powerful that it actually stains your skin yellow when you handle it.  For both color and flavor it is an essential component in curries and thus a staple ingredient many Indian, Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes.

Parsnips, brussel sprouts and red jalapeno with fresh turmeric (check out that color!) served over brown rice with a farm greens salad (these greens were brought home from CRMPI)

Aside from color and flavor, (fresh) turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin which boasts some incredible health benefits.  Research suggests that in addition to it’s  high antioxidant content, it is also purported to aid in anti-inflammation, lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and may even prevent certain types of cancers.  Other benefits of turmeric (curcumin) include stomach-soothing, antibacterial and liver detoxifying properties.  For these reasons, curcumin can now be found in many health food and alternative medicine stores in powder and pill forms for supplemental use.

Below are two simple recipes featuring fresh turmeric:

Turmeric Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 leaves of kale, rinsed, stems removed and roughly chopped (I brought these home from CRMPI)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • generous grating of fresh turmeric
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • dried chili flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 425.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well to incorporate the oil and spices evenly onto the kale pieces.  

Spread kale on baking sheet and spread out so that the leaves are overlapping as little as possible.  

Bake for 45 to an hour, until the leaves are dried and crispy without any sogginess.  They should not be brown or burnt but rather take on a darker green hue.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for five minutes, and enjoy.

Deviled Farm Eggs with Fresh Turmeric 

I was reminded of my love for deviled eggs at The Cheese Shop’s Farm-to-Table Dinner (they used duck eggs) a few weeks ago, and going by the fairly traditional recipe of curried deviled eggs I was inspired to create my own version using freshly grated turmeric.

Ingredients

  • However many farm eggs you’d like (For a snack portion, I used two of the farm eggs I took home from CRMPI)
  • Mayonnaise, aioli, or anything similar (Vegannaise is also a great healthier option)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Generous grating of fresh turmeric
  • half a scallion, minced (can also use garlic, onion or shallot), also a few more slices for a nice garnish
  • dash of dried chili flakes to taste (you can also use a hot sauce like Tabasco or Cholula if you like the heat)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika, for garnish

First you must hard boil the eggs.  To do this place the eggs in a saucepan and fill with water so as to immerse the eggs entirely in the water.  Bring the water to a boil on high heat, simmer at a boil for a minute and then turn the heat down low and let simmer for fifteen or so minutes.  My eggs actually took over a half hour simmering, because I live at 8500 feet and they still were just barely cooked through at the fifteen minute mark.  I personally would recommend allowing the eggs to simmer for longer than instructed, but the only way to know is to sacrifice an egg, peel it open and if it’s ready, great; if not, keep them simmering and, alas, savor that soft-boiled deliciousness.  Once the eggs have been cooking for as long as your patience can handle, drain the hot water and re-fill the saucepan with cold water (a few ice cubes speed up the cooling proces) and allow to sit for about 10 minutes as this will ease the already difficult task of peeling the eggs.

Once peeled, slice eggs in half and separate the yolks from the whites.  In a bowl, combine yolks with mayo, mustard, fresh turmeric, scallion, chili flakes, salt and pepper, using a fork to mix and incorporate all ingredients.  The mixture should become silky and soft, rather than chunky, after a few minutes of mixing.  Spoon or pipe the mix back into the whites and top with some sliced scallions and a sprinkle of paprika.

I encourage you all to get out there and give fresh turmeric a try for yourself.  Besides these recipes, I would suggest adding freshly grated turmeric to simply sauteed veggies, or incorporating it into traditional recipes for those extra little kicks of flavor, color, and sheer nutritional value.

Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

When I was in college I found this awesome recipe for chicken enchiladas.  While the enchiladas turned out really well, all in all it took me about five time consuming hours to make them. This entailed roasting a whole chicken from start to finish, preparing the sauce from scratch, assembling the dish and then baking.  It’s not that I mind spending a few hours cooking a dish, or even all day if that’s what it takes and I have the time on my hands.  It’s just that between work, school, family and social life or whatever other hobbies we choose to spend out time doing, it’s not always a possibility.  Thus, it’s important for me to find shortcuts in cooking that can ease the accessibility of a recipe that might otherwise take a million years.

For instance, a whole chicken pre-roasted on a lazy sunday can last up to a week in the fridge.  I like to roast the chicken and then shred it, the pieces of which can be used in home-cooked meals for the next few days.  Or as another example, the roasted tomatillo salsa with which I topped my chicken enchiladas in college.

For those who are unfamiliar with a tomatillo, its a green fruit bearing a similar resemblance to a tomato that comes wrapped in a husk.  Tomatillos are best eaten when cooked and have a sweet tangy flavor that can be found in many traditional Mexican staple dishes.  My tomatillo salsa recipe is a simple, easy way to make a sauce that goes well with any number of latin-themed dishes.  You can top it on tacos, quesadillas, burritos, or enchiladas, use it as a salad dressing in a taco salad, or even serve as an appetizer with a bag of tortilla chips.  In my version I add avocado, which gives it a creamy consistency in between a salsa and guacamole.

 

Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 5 or 6 healthy looking tomatillos, husks peeled and washed
  • Half an onion chopped into quarters (in my pictures I used a red onion, causing my salsa to take on an almost pink color.  I would recommend using a white or yellow onion to prevent this discoloration)
  • One jalapeno, sliced in half length-wise, and then halved again (for spicier salsa, keep the seeds in tact.  For mild, remove seeds and white inner pith)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 avocado, peel and seed removed
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Poke a few holes in each tomatillo with a fork.  Assemble the first four ingredients onto a baking sheet and toss into oven for at least half an hour, or until the juices begin to seep from the tomatillos and all ingredients are thoroughly caramelized and softened (without being burned).  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Add all ingredients to a blender, including raw avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth (its okay if there are a few chunks).

So, in conclusion what I’m really trying to say here is that if you have a tendency to be incredibly lazy at times like me, then you’ll come to love and appreciate all the little shortcuts we can take in the kitchen during those precious moments when we are actually feeling a bit inspired.  I’ve created a new category on my blog called “short cuts” where you can find this recipe as well as other similar posts in the future to help make cooking just that much more convenient for all of us busy folk.

Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower

My very good friend Vanessa owns a cow.  Well, sort of.  You see, in the state of Colorado you must own a cow in order to legally consume raw, unpasteurized milk.  Or at least, you must own part of a cow.  Thus, she is part of a co-op in Carbondale whereupon paying her monthly dues entitles her to a portion of a cow’s raw milk.

The great thing about raw cow’s milk is the flavor and consistency.  For those of you who have never had the opportunity to enjoy raw cow’s milk, imagine as if the happiest cow on earth was kissed by a thousand angels and was then immediately milked.  With an incredibly creamy and rich consistency, it really is that good.  On the flipside, however, having been unprocessed there are no chemical additives or preservatives to keep the milk from going bad within a few days.  Not wanting it to go to waste, for the past couple of weeks Vanessa has been delivering me a small portion of this luscious nectar.  This past delivery was gone within one day without fail, my milk mustache smiling from ear to ear with each sip.

As she refuses to accept monetary compensation for her gifts, I’ve been brainstorming ways of repaying her.  This past delivery was given in a glass jar similar to what one may use as a container for pickling, so I thought why not pickle some vegetables in this jar of hers and deliver it back to her for a tastier form of repayment?  By combining a few online recipe suggestions, I came up with my own simple recipe for Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower, a fancy way of saying pickled jalapeño with cauliflower, carrots and onion.

Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 whole jalapeños, destemmed and sliced in 1/4 inch wheels
  • 2 or 3 carrots, skins removed and sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
  • Half an onion, chopped in large pieces
  • Half of a cauliflower head, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped in half
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a pot and head on medium to high until boiling.  Stir continuously until the jalapeños change color from bright green to a darker olive green, about fifteen to twenty minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool before pouring mixture into a sterilized jar.  To maximize flavor, allow to refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

I cannot confidently tell you that this recipe beats the flavor of raw cow’s milk, a true gift from the heavens, but if there’s any consolation then this is it.

Golden Beet, Fennel and Chickpeas Over Quinoa

I’ve known that there are a ton of fellow amateur food bloggers just like me all over the web, but actually getting out there and finding the ones that really appeal to me has always seemed like such a daunting task.  That is, up until a few days ago when I came across the website thekitchn.com where upon a little browsing I found a list of the nominees for Best Recipe Blogs of 2012.  Holy hell I am obsessed.  I literally cannot stop looking at all the other food blogs on this list.  It seems like every two seconds I find a new way of using an ingredient that I never thought of, or a technique or type of dish that makes me want to try my own spin on.

There are a few key themes running through many of these the blogs that appeal to me.  For example, pickling.  There are also some ingredients that keep popping up all over the place.  For instance, fennel.  Similarly, it seems like one of the most commonly utilized vegetables these days is the beet.  Just today at Gwyn’s High Alpine (the restaurant I work at) the special appetizer was a Roasted Tomato and Beet Napoleon with Basil Goat Cheese, an Avocado Vinaigrette and  Balsamic Drizzle.  Yum.

What I love about the beet is it’s versatility as well as the fact that you can cook with the greens as well.  Beet adds a sweet component to any dish without overpowering the other ingredients.

Golden Beet, Fennel and Chickpeas over Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • Half an onion, coarsely chopped
  • A few cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 or 4 golden beets (regular red beets can be used as well), chopped in one inch cubes and roughly de-skinned
  • Greens of 3 or 4 beets, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • Half a bulb of fennel, coarsely chopped
  • One can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
  • Half a jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Teaspoon ground cumin
  • Half teaspoon turmeric
  • Half cup of quinoa
  • One cup water
  • Drizzle of olive oil, for sauteing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add beets.  Boil for 15-20 minutes, just until beets are tender then strain.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high.  Add onions and fennel, stirring frequently.  Add water to prevent burning.  Saute until onions start to become translucent, five or ten minutes, then add garlic, beets, beet greens, and jalapeno.  Saute for ten or more minutes until the fennel is cooked through and the beet greens are wilted.

At this point in a separate pot you will add the quinoa to one cup of water and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes.  Simultaneously you will add chickpeas, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin and turmeric to the beet mix.  Feel free to add a bit of water periodically to prevent burning, and also to get desired consistency for saute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve sauteed veggies on top of the quinoa.

See those crunchy looking garnishes up there?  Those are actually beet chips.  Pretty basic, really.  I just reserved one of the four beets and sliced it very thinly horizontally.  This is where a mandolin would have come in handy tonight.  Regardless, I have a great knife that can do a fine job slicing thinly.  I then coated the slices in olive oil, salt and pepper and baked for about 15-20 minutes while I was sauteing the rest of the veggies.  I recommend baking them at a lower temperature, about 350 or so, for longer so as to prevent burning.  The chips crisp up as they cool down.  They were awesome as a garnish, but I’d guess they’d be a perfect snack food as well.

My inspiration for this meal: The Kitchn, Couscous with Chickpeas, Fennel and Citrus

Lastly, I reserved half a bulb of fennel to try out this awesome looking pickling recipe I found on another food blog, Food in Jars.

Quick Pickled Fennel with Orange

Ingredients:

  • Fennel, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin but if you don’t have one then as thinly as possible)
  • Orange wedges
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Apple cider vinegar

Coat thinly sliced fennel pieces in sea salt and allow to sit for an hour.  Drain the liquid that is extracted from the fennel and combine fennel pieces with coarsely ground pepper and the orange wedges.  If there is extra juice from the orange that can be combined with the fennel mix as well.  Place orange fennel mix in jar, fill with the vinegar, seal and refrigerate.   It is best after 24 hours.

Source: Food In Jars