Archive for January, 2012

Borscht (Hot)

Posted on January 31, 2012. Filed under: beet, favorite, one pot, recipe, soup, vegetable, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

More beets.

Beet obsession + cold weather + potluck = Borscht. It’s a logical conclusion. But what is this thing they (Eastern Europeans) call borscht? I remember a time in my youth when I met my Grandpa Benji and Uncle Kenny at Yonah Schimmel’s (Lower East Side, Manhattan) for knishes, and was taken aback when I saw them both slurping on a cold, thick, magenta brew topped with sour cream. Gross?

It took some time to come around the idea that this could be something edible. It just looked so strange and horrible. I was wrong. It’s not just edible, it’s delicious. They were sipping on cold borscht. But it’s winter, so I was going to go in the other direction—hot borscht.

Basically, borscht is a hodgepodge soup dish that contains beets and whatever else you have leftover. It’s believed that borscht originated in the Ukraine, but the exact history is undocumented. The wonderful thing about undocumented recipes is that it leaves you a lot of room to play. Just about every cold-weather, beet-eating culture has its own version of borscht, and even those recipes vary from person to person. So embrace the spirt, and make your borscht with whatever you have in your kitchen (plus beets).

Peel and halve 1.5 Pounds Beets
Boil in 8 cups water for 20 minutes.
Remove beets, SAVE the water.

While beets are cooking, add to the beet water:
3 Carrots, cubed
2 Stalks Celery, cubed
2 Apples, cubed
3-4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed
1 Parsnip, cubed
1 Onion, sliced
1 Small Head Cabbage, shredded

Add additional water* to cover.
Add salt, pepper and 1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar

Once beets are cool enough to touch, slice them into matchsticks and add them back to the pot.

Simmer for one hour.

Finish with 1/4 Cup Chopped Dill.

Top with Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt.

*As written, this recipe is vegan. You can add chicken stock instead of water if you’d like to. You can also make a beefy version of borscht. So much variety. 

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Beets and Their Greens

Posted on January 17, 2012. Filed under: beet, easy, vegetable, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , |

I love beets because they taste of Earth and sugar. They are also ridiculously good for you; beets are loaded with antioxidants, they’re anti-inflammatory, they’re high in fiber, and full of minerals.

Beets are easy to prepare: the roots can be roasted, boiled, or steamed. I’ve been working on a steaming/roasting method that produces a tender beet with a concentrated flavor–this is my favorite way to cook a beet. I sometimes serve them with the attached greens, but you can also use the greens separately (roots keep for a few weeks in the fridge, the greens just a few days). You were going to throw the greens away? No no no. Beet greens are versatile, and, just like the beet root, very nutritious.

So look for beets with the greens attached, because you’re getting extra food for (often) the same price per pound. If you have to buy them from a bulk bin, make sure the beet feels firm and doesn’t have any deep blemishes (they don’t have to be beautiful, but if you’re going to store them, you don’t want them to deteriorate).

For the Beets:
Remove greens from the beets. Set aside for later use.
Rinse and peel beets.*
Cut beets into 2-inch chunks (no need for perfectly sized chunks).
Place chunks on foil (helpful to have foil supported by a baking sheet), and add one tablespoon water.
Crinkle foil over beets, and place in a 400F oven.
Check beets after 15-20 minutes. Add another teaspoon or two of water if necessary.
Beets should be done in about 30 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt before serving.
For the Greens
Wash beet greens thoroughly, dry them, and separate greens from stem.
Chop stem into 1/2 inch pieces, and tear greens into 2 inch pieces (again, no need for perfection).
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a pan over medium heat.
Add 2 cloves garlic, minced.
Cook 30 seconds, then chopped stems.
Cook 2 minutes, then add the greens.
Cook 1 minute.
Add 2 teaspoons water, cover pan, and let cook for 2 more minutes.
Finish with a pinch of salt and sugar*, a drizzle of olive oil, and the juice of one lemon.
Toss with beet roots.

* Beets are usually peeled after cooking, but with this method it’s easier to do so before. Unless you like your hands stained with beet juice you should wear latex gloves. Also don’t wear any fancy clothes while preparing beets.
* If you can find Meyer lemons, skip the extra sugar and celebrate. They are most wonderful, and I’m jealous my parents have a tree that’s full of them in their back yard. Lucky parents!
*Don’t fear the beeturia: you might experience a…colorful…urination after eating beets. It’s not uncommon. And it’s not blood. Don’t call your doctor friend in the middle of the night and try to figure out what just happened–trust me.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Ropa Vieja

Posted on January 9, 2012. Filed under: beef, leftover, meat, recipe | Tags: , , , , , |

Winter break is a wonderful concept. After weeks of research, writing, research, writing, heavy drinking/regretful hangovers, more research, more–much more–writing, I suddenly had limited responsibilities and and a good excuse to travel. It’s one of the wonders of academia, perhaps designed to force us outdoors so that a wee ray of sunshine will touch our library-pale skin. (Maybe that’s a tad dramatic–one of the other wonders of academia is occasionally having the freedom to take the dog for a walk on an unexpectedly bright late-autumn day.)

  This break was lovely: I packed (most) of my smarty-pants books away for two weeks, spent time ten days in California, and was Best Man at my brother’s wedding. One of my favorite parts of the break was the time I spent cooking dishes I’ve been interested in preparing, but because the previous two months were so hectic, I hadn’t made.  Finally, at long last…ropa vieja.

Ropa vieja (unfortunate translation: old clothes) is made from leftovers. Since I was deliberately making it rather than using what was left in the refrigerator, I cooked a beef soup two days prior as an excuse to have the necessary leftovers. Double bonus…the soup was excellent. I also had leftover salsa from the amazing salsa dude who sells on Saturdays at the Pittsburgh Public Market, a fantastic addition to the dish.

Assembling ropa vieja is simple. Here’s how I made it:

Add, to a medium-hot pan:
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Tomato Paste

1 Clove Garlic, minced

1 Small Onion, diced*
2 Tsp. Dried Oregano  

Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add:
2 Cups Shredded Beef
2 Cups Salsa*
1 Cup Pureed Leftover Vegetables*

Cook for 3-5 minutes, add:
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro

*You’ll need to use your judgment with this recipe. TASTE the beef first, TASTE the salsa first. Do you need more salt/onion/tomato? Do you want to add any heat to the dish? What do the pureed vegetables add?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: