Tag Archives: recipes

fun with beets

I don’t usually post a pile of recipes here, but Friday night I was faced with a nice bunch of golden beets that needed to be used. I made a loaf with the beet greens and then grated and sauteed the beets with a parsnip.

The mother recipes I began with were out of Jeannette Ferrary’s and Louise Fiszer’s The California-American Cookbook: Innovations on American Regional Dishes. But since I was missing some ingredients and had some others on hand, the final preparations ended pretty different from the originals. Both seemed like good ways to honor ingredients that are now in season.

John usually only grudgingly accepts beets at the table. However, he thought both of these were keepers, so I thought I’d better write them down before I forget what I did.

If this were a proper food blog, I’d have waylaid the plates on the way to the table before serving them. But the food was long gone before I had a chance to think of that. Maybe I should have posted photos of the dirty dishes after all the beet concoctions had been devoured…

Loaf of Beet Greens

  • Olive oil
  • Beet greens, tops of 1 large bunch (ca. 3 large beets), including stems, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded, membranes removed, slivered
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Trader Joes’ Quattro Formaggi)
  • 1/4 pound good firm tofu, cut in 3/8 inch cubes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • small sprinkling of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Saute beets, onion, garlic and chili in oil until wilted, ca. 5-8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Mix eggs, cheese, tofu and nutmeg in bowl, and then stir into beet green mixture.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 25 minutes. Allow to set 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Root Vegetables in Tequila Lime Butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large beets, golden beets preferred, ends removed, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and grated
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tequila
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro to garnish (optional)

In a bowl mix together lime juice, zest and sugar. In a saucepan saute beets in melted butter over high heat for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add tequila, and then lime mixture, and cook for 3 more minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Serves 3-4

pretty isn't everything

Many years back I planted a rose geranium plant (Pelargonium graveolens) and was close to pulling it out. The leaves had that interesting rosy, grassy rose-geranium scent, true enough, but the plant was sprawling, leggy, and in its underwatered spot looked nice only a couple months a year.

What gave it a reprieve was the recipe in the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook for rose geranium pound cake, a delicate, subtle cloud of a dessert where even a tiny slice kept you captivated with its hard-to-guess source of flavor. And the little ruffled leaves that you baked into the top of the cake were an awesome decoration.

The kitchen remodel a couple years ago involved a bulldozer in the garden–usually not good news for the plants under its treads. The original rose geranium got squashed and dug up, and its original home is now a slab of concrete in the dining area. (Check out the funny description at Las Pilitas nursery for Penstemon Margarita B.O.P., a really cool plant that suffered a similar fate, though fortunately not until after it had been propagated. I never knew what the “B.O.P.” stood for until I read the note.)

Last weekend I finally bought a replacement. The small plant looked identical to what I’d grown before, but this one had a different species name on the label, G. capitatum ‘Attar of Roses.’ The Dave’s Garden writeup shows bigger, almost ivy-geranium-sized flowers on the plant, and the description puts it at half the size of what I had before. And the scented geranium list at Herbalpedia says there are at least 50 geraniums that have a rose scent.

Based on what I’ve seen from the plant, however, I’m skeptical that my plant is much different from the previous one. I’m not taking chances. It went into the ground where it’ll be screened by a few other herbs.

Here’s the recipe in case you get motivated. Also check out the Herbalpedia list above where you’ll find sixteen other recipes, plus lots more ideas of what to do with scented geraniums.

15-18 small rose geranium leaves
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon rose water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cognac
6 eggs
1/8 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 2/3 cups unsifted cake flour

Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan or a 10-inch bundt or tube pan. Rinse and dry the rose geranium leaves and arrange a dozen of the in a ring around the bottom fo the pan, undersides up. Arrange the rest in the center.

Cream the butter until very light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy again. Beat in the vanilla, rose water, and Cognac. Add the eggs one by one, beating to incorporate each one thoroughly before adding the next one. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Mix the mace, salt and cream of tartar into the flour and sift the flour over the butter mixture in four portions, beating just until each one is mixed in. Carefully spoon some of the batter into the pan to anchor the leaves in place. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and smooth it. Tap the pan on the counter to force out any air bubbles.

Bake in the center of a preheated 325 degree oven for about an hour and a quarter, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Turn out of the pan and optionally dust lightly with powdered sugar that’s been stored with a vanilla bean. (I like it just fine without this step.)

tomato sculpture

I was browsing the web for recipes for caprese salad, the classic salad of Capri using plum tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil salt and pepper. I didn’t encounter any revelations as far as ingredients or proportions, but I found several images of a presentation method where the tomato was sliced and then reassembled with slices of the cheese and basil interfiled.

Caprese salad tomato tower
Caprese salad tomato tower
Cool, I thought. But what if you use two tomatoes of different colors? Here’s a first draft of this idea, using Mr. Stripey with the first fruit from Cherokee Purple.

Before I add this to the menu at Spago, I’d try to be sure the tomatoes were more similar in both size and shape. Also, cleaner, more uniform cuts through the buffalo mozzarella would have made for a neater presentation.