I’m back in the kitchen after a week of lounging, going out on the town and taking care of a million errands that I otherwise can never seem to find time for (eye exams, cleaning out the broom closet, buying new shoes, etc.) It occurred to me that while I call this blog “The Sweet Beet,” there has never actually been a beet recipe posted. I’m thinking of changing the name sometime soon, but before I do, here’s another ode to the beautiful beetroot.
Pickled beets are one of my favorite snacks. The brilliant vermillion color of the beets, dressed in a tangy brine brighten up salads, rice dishes or meat entrees. Try beet relish on your next hotdog or hamburger, or if you’re veggie, on a nice broiled portobello cap.
Sweet Beet Relish
1-2 pounds of beets, boiled, peeled and diced. I think pre-cooked beets work just fine. Avoid canned beets.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1-2 tbsp pickling spices (or a mixture of mustard seed, juniper berries, clove, thyme and bay.
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tbsp salt (pickling salt or sea salt is fine)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Cracked pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20-35 mins until liquid had evaporated. Taste. You can make the relish sweeter or saltier if you like.
The end result is a tangy, delicate condiment. I love the soft texture of the beets and their earthy flavor. They go well with a creamy goat cheese, or brie. I like to enjoy this relish on toast with tea, but straight out of the bowl is good too.
I’m on vacation, well actually it’s a staycation. Most of my vacations from work have involved travel over the last couple of years so I am ready to just relax at home for a week. I’m lucky to live in a city perfect for staycations. Chicago has everything I could possibly want. The weather can be extreme and not very pleasant but this past weekend has been the warmest March on record and it feels like June, which means I’ve been out and about as much as possible.
I’m afraid I’ll be out soaking up the sun for the next few days instead of working in the kitchen. I do plan on trying my hand at homemade seitan this week, and maybe taking on a pastry or two. Until then, here are some photos from a recent excursion to Chicago’s Lincoln Park:
This little meerkat was posing for the camera.
Lastly, here’s the one food shot I took all weekend: a fuzzy photo of the cookie case at The Swedish Bakery in Andersonville. I picked up a couple of cupcakes here and they were amazing. I ate them before I could document their glory.
Well, time to get back to staycationing!
These beautiful little jewels are beluga lentils. Protein packed, easy to cook, and uncannily similar in appearance to caviar, beluga lentils or black lentils, can transform your next soiree into an elegant affair. Who needs to plunk down $100 for a can of salty fish eggs when you can have a heaping jar of nutty, flavorful lentils for around $2?
I’m the queen of thrifty eating. I’ve been known to get out the calculator and tally up the per serving cost of my daily meals. Lentils are a huge bang for your buck. They’re cheap and nutritious, high in protein, iron and vitamin B1, and they taste great.
Beluga Lentil “Caviar”
1 cup lentils
4 cups salted water
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Lentils require a 1:4 cooking ratio. This makes quite a lot of lentils. To half the recipe, simply use 1/2cup lentils and 2.5 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste. Add lentils and cook covered for 20-25mins. After lentils have absorbed the water, add vinegar and olive oil.
This simplest of recipes also works great on top of salads, as a side dish for fish, or mixed with rice.
I made this dainty appetizer with the lentil caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sliver of sundried tomato as a garnish.
Who’s ready for their next cocktail party?