Saturday, 29 September 2007

Beet 'em or join 'em

Posted by Bonita

sept28_05

I've really come to like beets this past summer. There's nothing more beautiful than the deep purples of a beet, or the bright pink hues it'll give when diluted. Beets are certainly an acquired taste; they have a rich, earthy taste to them. However, I love roasting my beets in oven (skin on!). It allows the beets to keep in their flavour, but also concentrates that sweetness. I find that beets taste better the next day after roasting them. They taste delicious cold, simply drizzled with some good-quality balsamic vinegar.

sept28_03

Dinner this week consisted of quick and easy salads that strays away from the boring lettuce. The first is a Roasted Shrimp and Orzo salad, inspired by Ina Garten after watching her make it last weekend on Barefoot Contessa. I added some chopped tomatoes to the salad and added some honey to the dressing to balance the tartness of the lemon juice. The salad was really refreshing and delicious, and definitely tasted better the longer it was in the fridge since it allowed everything to absorb all the different flavours.

sept28_02

The other salad I made this week consisted of...surprise surprise...beets. I simply roasted the beets a day before, and when I was ready to use them, drizzled the chopped roasted beets with some good-quality balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with some chopped dill and feta cheese. The balsamic really helps to bring out the natural sweetness in the beets, while the saltiness of the feta helps to balance that sweetness, while also adding a creamyiness to the salad. And the dill just adds a really nice, bold flavour to the salad as a whole.

However, my piece of resistance this week is the Chocolate Beet Cake. I actually saw this recipe a few months back on Cook & Eat, and with the 10 lb. bag of beets that I had picked up last week (yes...10 lb...which I carried back home on my back), I thought this would be a great chance for me to try the cake out.

sept28_04

The cake is really simple to make in itself. Since I already roasted a whole bunch of beets the day before, all I had to do was take some and puree them. Unfortunately, I only had one of those mini food-choppers to work with, so I didn't get as fine as a puree as I would with a food processor or a blender. But the cake turned out really well. It was superly moist with a fine crumb. Furthermore, you can't really taste the beets. There's a hint of something there, but it's not obvious so it adds a layer of interest and mysteriousness to the cake. I finished the cake off with a Beet Buttercream which didn't turn out as nicely as I would have wanted it to (consistency-wise). I also thought it would be too sweet at first, but paired with the cake, it was the perfect degree of sweetness. Best of all, I love the colour of that frosting, with that vibrant pink just popping out at you. All in all, I think the cake was a great success!

Monday, 24 September 2007

A little bit of therapy

Posted by Bonita

sept24_02

Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to update much since I've gone back to school a couple of weeks ago. Work and readings have started to pile up, extra-curricular activites have to be attended to and the ever-present F-word seems to be haunting my every step lately: the Future. Yes, so it's been a bit of a stressful time ("a bit" being the understatement of the year), so what better than a little culinary therapy, right?

sept24_04

I usually try to eat healthy when I'm back at school. I also tend to opt for things that I can make in less than 15 minutes and that can be made in huge batches so that I have dinner ready for the rest of the week. I've made Miso with Tofu and Nori soup a couple of times, and had it with some store-bought kimchi. It's really fast, really delicious and really good for you. The dashi stock was instant though, since I really don't have the time to make my own dashi stock. Despite the stock being instant, the soup still turns out really well.

sept24_01

With the stress of school and life, I needed to bake this past weekend. I made Chocolate Chip Muffins for my roommate Amy, since she likes to have a muffin for breakfast. I also made some Italian-inspired cookies, Chocolate Baci Cookies. The cookie base is really moist and rich, almost reminiscent of a brownie, while the nutella adds some smoothness to the cookie, and the toasted hazelnut some crunch. The cookies went over very well with my Italian Lit. class; my professor ended up eating half the box! Yeah...extra brownie points for me?!? Lol....these were really easy to make. You can find the recipe over at chef-girl.net, a great food blog.

sept24_03

Oh yes, and I ended up picking up a case of Black Mission Figs this past weekend. Absolutely delicious simply served with some ricotta and honey. Delizioso! Also picked up a 10 kg bag of beets. Yes...10 kg! God knows what I'll end up doing with 10 kg worth of beets, but I plan to have a bit of experiment this weekend with dinner. I'm thinking Beet Risotto and Chocolate Beet Cake perhaps?!? Stay tuned and find out....

Monday, 17 September 2007

A More Veggie Weekend

Posted by Andrew

This weekend I managed to make three different vegetable-focussed dishes, a rarity under my wing. OK, so one of the veggie dishes really is more of a sideshow, but even then it's not often meat plays a shadowing role in my cooking. First on Saturday night I made myself some braised nappa cabbage with slivered Chinese sausage (a locally available substitute to locally unavailable Chinese ham). Then on Sunday I decided to do something more Western in taste.

















After my questionable first attempt at making roasted vegetables, I decided to try that again this weekend. This time I used carrots, beets, red onion, new red potatoes and garlic, and I added a bit more olive oil and salt compared to last time as well as some ground pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. This time the flavouring was more acceptable, and the beets definitely helped! The sweetness of the beets matched well with the unique sourness of the balsamic vinegar, which was well absorbed by the onions. Not only were my veggies not bland this time, they weren't burnt at all, only slightly caramelized. At least I've got that one down pat now.

I recalled somewhere that beet stalks were edible, so why throw away those when they can be just as palatable as the beet root itself? Following my sister's advice I sauted the stalks in some olive oil and chopped garlic, and I almost let it burn on the stove, but fortunately it was only slightly tanned. It turns out that the stalks tasted alright, the leaves having soaked up a bit of the garlic flavour while the stalks remained nice and firm. Both the beet stalks and roasted vegetables went very well with my pork chop that night.

Now if only beets actually grew more stalks on each root...