Monday, April 16, 2012

Cooking Close to Home

I have been to the library. This is a good thing. Well, not good for the Barnes and Nobles or the late Borders Books of the world because if there's one thing I know, I have absolutely no self control when it comes to an armful of pretty new books. My personal economy suffers much less from multiple trips to the library. Which is where I found this excellent cookbook.

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I have to say that I've noticed lately that a lot of cookbooks currently coming out are hitting the "localvore movement" theme fairly hard. This book is no different. I don't really mind but coming from a background where one grandmother lived on a farm her whole life, where my parents have always had a big backyard garden, where I was taught early that young children make great pickers at the Pick Your Own farm stands (strawberries, yah, green beans, boo) all this talk is old hat. I do have to admit that I don't think my mother wants to go back to raising, killing, plucking and cleaning her own chickens. Fresh eggs are great but chickens are a lot of work.

Having said that, this is a wonderful cookbook with lots of seasonal recipes that appear to be loaded with flavor. If you like a fresh fruit and vegetable heavy diet, you will find a lot to like. Since we're still too early for spring produce, I thought I try the Roasted Two Beet Salad first.

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This recipe uses two colors of beets, red and golden, two of each. You're going to roast your beets, unpeeled, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes. To test for tenderness piece with a knife, if there is resistance, continue roasting until the knife slides in smoothly. Let the beet cool enough to handle and then peel off the skin. If you don't want bloody red hands, try some food safe rubber gloves. (Personally I think it's more fun to chase neighborhood children with beet red hands but that's just me.)

So while your beets were roasting, you can whip up the dressing by mixing 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey), 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme. Now the recipe calls for lemon thyme but I have not seen too much of that in the grocery stores or my garden which is why we're going with the regular thyme. You can whisk that all together or you can do like me and put it in a mason jar, screw on the lid and shake it up.

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Once your beets are cooled, cut them into a julienne. Again a bit of a deviation from the recipe which calls for mixing the beets with 1/2 cup sliced red onion and the dressing. Keep the two colors of beets separate. If you mix everything together, the golden beets end up red anyway so add half the onions and dressing to each color beet, refrigerate for an hour and serve the beets together on the plate.

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If you're already a beet fan, you will love this recipe. Most beet salads go down the cheese/nut route so it's refreshing to have a salad that concentrates on the flavors of the beets paired with the acidic flavor of the dressing and the flavor of the thyme. If you're not a beet fan (tasted like dirt! And really why don't more vegetables taste like dirt? Carrots I'm looking at you.) more than likely you won't enjoy this. You might taste it off of someone else's plate but I doubt you'd make it for yourself.

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Some of the other recipes I'm looking forward to making from this cookbook are Hearty Root Vegetable Chowder, Quebec Tortiere, and Fresh Peaches with Mascarpone and Blackberry Coulis. Oh yeah. You can also check out their website, Cooking Close to Home for seasonal recipes or to buy the cookbook for yourself. I highly suggest this for the added bonus of it being a Maple heavy cookbook. Now if someone can help me find Maple Sugar I would appreciate it.

9 comments:

froggy said...

My SIL, the farmer's wife, gave me my first beets right out of the garden. Until then beets were scary, cold disks in the salad bar. What to do with these dirty vegetables? I roasted them and never turned back.

Big Shamu said...

They are delicious, that's for sure.

MakingSpace said...

Look at the PRETTIES!!!!!! They are almost as cute as poodle puppies. But I bet they don't taste as delicious.

Big Shamu said...

I'm confused as to which is more delicious, poodle puppies or roasted beets?

MakingSpace said...

A serious question, worthy of much pondering.

Dani said...

Tough call....I'm goin' with the poodle pups. :) xoxo

Big Shamu said...

Not surprising that Dani goes with the Poodles.

Susan said...

omg !! I love beets, love 'em roasted & maple syrup - hand up Canucks !!
Maple Sugar I'm on it Sugah I picked a block of it up the other day at the grocery store & had a Big Ol' Shammy Sham ponder (I kid you not) so I'll add it to the blue beach glass & snail mail letter package. xoxo Susan + Gang

ps you know I'm a library freak - such a good idea to support libraries

Big Shamu said...

Susan this beet recipe is right up your alley. Olive oil so it's heart healthy. You will love it.