Beware, picky eaters…

The world is divided into two camps-those who love beets and those who hate them. I’m firmly in the first camp, though I wasn’t always. It took my friend Jan and her perfectly roasted beets to change my mind. I think the problem was that I had never had beets prepared properly. In fact, I believe, correctly or not, that proper preparation is the key for anyone to like any food. And I often feel the need to prove it.

When people tell me that they don’t like a particular food I’m usually a little incredulous. I try to be tolerant, but often feel it is my duty to prove picky eaters wrong. Case in point, my friend Sydney despises eggs. She will steer clear of anything with the slightness whiff of egg. She doesn’t eat her father’s pancakes because they are too eggy. Once when she was visiting, I made a delicious custard-based (a.k.a egg-based) ginger ice cream and served it for dessert. I waited for her to taste it and I asked how she liked it. When she said, “Yum, delicious!” and took another bite. I jumped up and yelled, “Ha! Got you. There are six egg yolks in that ice cream!”

I never said I was the most congenial hostess, but don’t worry, if you are allergic to shellfish, I won’t sneak in any shrimp. If you are a vegetarian, I’ll use vegetable stock rather than my normal chicken stock. But if you tell me that you hate mushrooms, I just might chop them into teeny, tiny pieces and serve them to you hidden in a meatloaf. Fair warning, you picky eaters, you.

Thankfully, my husband is an excellent eater. The only thing I will occasionally find pushed to the side of his plate is raw green peppers. I guess I’m not hiding them well enough.

We both are beet lovers and fall is a great time to get them. This past weekend I went to the Hudson Farmers market. Red Oak Farm had beautiful red and golden beets. I picked up a bunch of each, roasted them, sliced them and served them with a roasted chicken. The two beet colors were quite pretty together. My husband and I ate them all. I meant saved some so that I could try a new recipe, but didn’t set any aside.

Earlier this week, with a deadline looming and a preference for local produce, I got on the phone and called some farms. I called Fog and Thistle to see if their road-side stand was open and if they had beets. It wasn’t open but a nice person offered to go out, in the rain no less, and pull some beets for me. Got to love that!

Red Oak
and Fog and Thistle have become my favorite farms. Of course anyone who helps me out of a beet crisis gets points in my book, but I like both farms for two reasons. One, they are organic and two, they are reasonably priced, satisfying both my frugal nature and my quest for healthy food. They give me hope that you can eat pesticide free produce on a budget!


Roasted Beets

If you have particularly large beets, or just want to speed up the cooking time, half or quarter them before roasting.

Beet juice can stain your skin, so wear kitchen gloves if you don’t want pink fingertips. I also like to peel them in the sink to contain any beet juice splatter.

Ingredients
2 pounds medium beets
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops, cut any large beets into smaller pieces.
  • Place beets in a deep-sided pan, add water and cover with foil.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until beets can be pierced with a fork and the skin comes off easily.
  • Peel and slice the beets. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve warm.

Serves 4-6

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade!

Beets with Honey and Fennel Salad

BeetsThe honey brings out the sweetness of the beets and the fennel keeps the sweetness in check, a beautiful combination!

Ingredients

4 medium-sized beets
1/2 cup fresh fennel, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the top and stems off the beets.
  • Place the beets in a small baking dish and add 1/4 inch of water. Cover with foil and roast for 35 to 50 minutes, or until the beets are tender. If you are using large beets, this could take longer.
  • Remove and let cool. The skin should peel off easily. Peel, slice and set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • Add fennel, onions and beets and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

I like to let this sit for at least an hour.

Serves four.

Aussie Burger


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Excerpt from my July 3, 2009 column in the Register Star and Daily Mail:
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After visiting Australia, my cousin Leslie asked me if I had a good recipe for beets because she wanted to put them on a burger. Apparently, if you are Down Under, it is customary to add a beet slice to your grilled burger…and a fried egg, pineapple or whatever else you fancy.

Get both hands and plenty of napkins ready for this one.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb ground beef chuck
4 large Kaiser rolls
4 eggs, fried
4 sliced roasted beets (see below)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
The usual burger toppings, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mayo, mustard

Method
– Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas)
– Mix beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Form into 4 (4 1/4-inch-diameter) patties.
– Oil grill rack, place burgers on grill. Cook for about 4-8 minutes total, (cooking time depends on how you like your burgers) turning once.
-Lightly toast buns.

Place burger on bottom half of roll and top with beet slice, egg and then whatever condiments or toppings you like.

Eat with elbows out, napkin tucked, leaning over a plate.

The New Spinach?

The New York Times called beets the new spinach. According to the article beets are “nutritional powerhouses, high in folate, manganese and potassium.”

My friend Jan has always liked beets. I did not like them until she made them for me once years ago. I always thought that beets tasted like dirt, but Jan roasted them in orange juice and transformed them into a delicately sweet and only slightly earthy dish. It was a perfect compliment to the pork roast and the cold snowy night.

Recently, Jan further expanded my beet world by telling me that you don’t have to cook beets at all. Grated beets with salt, pepper and lemon juice make an easy, yummy and let’s not forget, uber-healthy salad.

Here’s a version with cabbage (another nutritional powerhouse):

1 large beet or several small ones, uncooked, peeled
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon grated horseradish (fresh or prepared)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix honey, vinegar and horseradish.
Grate beets or chop them in food processor.
Toss all ingredients.

Eat up!