Consider Beets

Moist, vegan, delightful

There aren’t many words that can describe the earthy sweet taste that beets have to offer. I am often reminded of rainy summer afternoons as I start to smell their caramelizing sugars emit a candy-like aroma into the air, just as they are ready to come out of the oven. And just like that, beets are ready to be enjoyed with pretty much anything that you can imagine.

While it’s easy to dismiss beets because they are too hard, too messy, or too healthy for some people, most condemn beets to a lifetime of juicing duty where they never have an opportunity to showcase their vibrant flavors.  Well, I give beets an opportunity to be anything they want to be in my kitchen, so long as the end result is delicious. I am up for any adventure.

It took a bit more than a few tantalizing adjectives to convince most to try this chocolate beet breakfast bread. For most, the fat-kid factor was just not there..”too healthy” , they dismissed….. And yet, less than a week after it was baked, the whole damn thing has been eaten. It is gone. Finito!

Baking this bread has taught me a couple things; that chocolate and beets are very good friends, and that perhaps they should just be married and live happily ever after in a far away land where they can be eaten by unsuspecting people who have no clue how delicious they will be but will then be blown away by their deliciousness. OK, enough, I’ll just share the recipe and let anyone interested in giving beets a chance judge for themselves.

CHOCOLATE + BEET BREAKFAST BREAD

  • 15 oz beets (roasted until soft, then pureed) Note: if you’re short on time, you may use canned beets (not pickled) However, roasting them in the oven caramelizes their natural sugars and creates a multidimensional sweetness that is hard to match with canned beets.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flavorless oil (canola, grapeseed, light olive oil)
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest from 1 lemon 
  • 1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

PROCEDURE (Preheat oven to 325  degrees fahrenheit)

  1. Drain beets of all juice, puree beets and slowly add juice until a smooth consistency is reached. Similar to applesauce. ( My Ninja blender pureed my beets well but left them with a strange chunky consistency. This tricked my friend into thinking they were chocolate chips. Definite WIN!
  2. Using a stand mixer, mix beet puree, eggs, sugar, oil, and lemon zest on medium.  Mix for 5-10 minutes, this will allow air to incorporate into the eggs and will create a fluffier end result.
  3. In another mixing bowl, while wet ingredients are mixing, mix all dry ingredients.
  4. Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Make sure dry ingredients are completely incorporated into wet ingredients. Careful not to over mix
  5. Pour batter into a 9 inch loaf pan that has been greased.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test, in which a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out with moist  crumbly-looking crumbs on it.) The center of the loaf should feel hard and slightly hollow when tapped.
  7. Enjoy with soft goat cheese, a nice spin on the ever so popular goat cheese and beets!! 

WHY YOU NEED TO BE EATING THIS NOW!!!

  1. Because beets are extremely healthy and they promote lots of constipation-free days =) 
  2. Because beets rock! Like applesauce tends to do with baked goods, beets will add a desirable moisture to the bread.

The Adventurous Cook

Preserved Lemons“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

On a Monday, from a very tiny kitchen in Florida, I close my eyes for a second and let the aroma of the toasted spices guide my way to a far away land of palaces and vibrant oasis. A place where the flavors of the food are as vibrant and bold as the rays of sun showering its people. Morocco is a mystery to my western upbringing. It’s traditions, customs, and food are but faraway whispers and I can hardly make out what those whispers try to say. And yet, I begin by trying to understand the food, because food is something that we share. Humans pass down food from one generation to another.  We gather around our most coveted recipes and celebrate special occasions in the presence of an elaborately prepared meal. A universal experience indeed.

Step out of your comfort zone and step into somebody’s shoes. Let some of their experiences become a part of yours.The easiest way to do this is to begin in the kitchen, with everyday ingredients, molded into out-of-this-world flavors.

Consider the lemon. This ubiquitous citrus fruit is also a staple in Moroccan cooking. A lemon gets cut into 6 wedges before it gets tossed in sea salt and spices. The wedges, salt, and spices combined can live for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator before being used for the first time. By then, the lemons have expelled much of their juice and the rind would have softened into a salty, tangy, and bitter condiment that can be added to couscous. lamb roasts, and even salad dressings. The spices impregnate the rind with their sweet essence, creating a culmination of exotic flavors, perfect for the adventurous cook.

Preserved Lemons

  • 5 lemons cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 cup of sea salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • juice of 1 lemon

In a clean container; plastic, mason jar, etc. pour 1 tbs of salt. layer as many wedges of lemon as possible without layering lemon on top of lemon. Add a layer of salt, enough to cover the entire surface of the first layer of lemons. sprinkle some of the spices.  Now, repeat with a new layer of lemons, then slat, then spices, until they have all fit into the container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 4 weeks before using.

So Fresh in New York!

About a month ago I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to NYC for the New York Marathon with my husband. After 26.2 miles of amazing sightseeing, we set out to explore the streets of the city with one goal in mind; to eat delicious food.

I believe that food is the door to experiencing a culture. Food can tell you the tales of a group of people simply by the aroma and textures of their cuisine. It is an exhilarating experience to taste something for the very first time and let your imagination run wild about its origin, its discovery, and the people who eat that ingredient.

New York, being the cultural hub that is it, provided the greatest food tasting adventure I have had in a long time. I was able to capture some of the great eats found in NYC.

If you eat in New York, a big slice of cheesy, greasy NYC pizza is a must. If possible, eat on a bus for the ultimate urban experience!

One of the lessons that the big city taught me was to never make dinner plans. One morning, as we got ready for the day, we conjured up a complicated dining plan. We were to explore the popular landmarks that NY has to offer and as the evening came, clumsily maneuver our way through the tangled web of a subway system until we got to our final desitnation, Brasserie Cognac, a French restaurant for which I had a restaurant.com coupon. I had never heard of this place, but for the sake of saving 33% on our meal, we decided it was worth the effort.

Ofcourse, we did not think we would find a cute little farmer’s market in the middle of Union Square. Not only did I try warm apple cider from locally grown apples for the very first time, but we also found some other baked goodies that made us forget all about the Brasserie.

Brussel Sprouts

A rainbow of culinary delight.

Purple potato focaccia with parm

So fresh in the big city

Seasonal

spinach, mozzarella, and marinara focaccia

Mr. Squirrel decided to join us for dinner.

I am now back home in Orlando, Florida. For the most part, I have been catching up with school days that I missed during my trip, but I have been inspired to create many delicious things after having  taste of New York. Let’s see what inspiration my baking class will bring!