Tag Archives: beets

GRITS FOR DAYS

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

AND DINNER (AND WINE)

More often than not, my daily eating pattern goes something like this: Toast for breakfast (Russian bread, smeared with local chevre and halved cherry tomatoes), soup for lunch (cannellini bean, kale, shaved golden beets, and leftover roast chicken in broth), and lots of meat and wine for dinner. I rarely get bored of this advancement of my day. I finally tackled the Lee Bros’ famous grits recipe, and served it with a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, and a cabbage, plum and bacon compote. We cut the leftovers into slender wedges the next morning, reheated in the oven until extra crispy. Big pat of butter and a snip of chives on top is essential, though the grits are admittedly quite rich and delicious on their own.

THREE TIMES A LADY

UGH jetlag is the worst. Despite borderline overdosing on melatonin in the last three days, last night I felt like I was going to pass out around 7pm, drank an ill-advised Malaysian iced coffee from a food court (more like a watery milkshake) around 8pm, was wired until 1am, finally slept until 5:00am, and then weirdly, passionately craved potato chips around 7:45am.

Anyway! I miss Montreal a lot. One of the most fun change-ups of my daily routine was relegating lunch to the least interesting meal of the day. I mean that in the best way possible. In Portland, lunch tends to be my special, ‘big’ meal, while I often skip breakfast and snack on lunch leftovers for dinner. In Montreal, lunch tended to be super casual and more modest, as it was bookended by one (or two) breakfasts and a magnificent dinner. Our midday routine quickly became sandwiches, potato chips and ginger ale, which happens to be one of my favorite meals of all time, so I’m not complaining, obviously.

But this lunch was a little more special than the others. We had enjoyed a gigantic chopped salad the night before, and I was still on a raw vegetable kick. I lamely called this “Salad, Three Ways.”

Salads are the most foolproof ways to cook without using a recipe. I usually consider things like flavor, texture and appearance, usually trying to squeeze in as many ingredients as I can before things get legitimately out of control. Splitting up my impulses into three salads makes my cooking way more manageable.

Salad #1: Bitter and crunchy. Chopped lettuce, crescents of white Belgian endives, slivers of red radishes, toasted pecans, and Persian cucumbers sliced on the diagonal. To balance the bitter, I made a sweet beet vinaigrette, which was basically my lemon vinaigrette with beets mashed into the dressing, turning it a lovely fuschia hue.

Salad #2: Tart and sweet. Diced cantaloupe, cubes of roasted beets, toasted sesame seeds, ribbons of fresh mint and basil, crushed pistachios, orange zest. I was still craving the feta and watermelon salad that we, sadly, never enjoyed, so I made this more refreshing version instead. I love how beets stain everything around it a wonderful pale pink, and in this case, it transformed my cantaloupe into a passable faux-watermelon. Craving crisis averted.

Salad #3: Warm and salty. Whole wheat fusilli, flash fried kale and shallots, roasted garlic, fresh squeezes of lemon juice, grated Pecorino, pine nuts. This is a dinner standby for me, but it’s solid and sturdy and always makes me feel great.

THESE DAYS

Some assorted lunches — I think I’ve been getting less and less ambitious with my cooking. I need to step it up a notch! That’s not to say these aren’t delicious meals… they just seem to be getting more and more simple.

From top: Romaine lettuce with beets and feta; spinach salad with lentils and tumeric-scented rice; skillet potatoes, more cubed beets and white beans wrapped in corn tortillas with lettuce and lime guice. I soaked the beans overnight and stewed them in white wine and balsamic vinegar and one whole onion, and they were tart and firm and perfect..

COOL MY DESIRE

I know, I know. Another beet-related post. But! A heart-shaped beet! Heartbeats. Heartbeet. Beet still, my heart.

Another easy lunch, minimal time in kitchen so as to maximize time spent lolling in grass outside: seared asparagus bullets doused in lemon and black pepper, piled on top of a warmed baguette half smeared with creamy chevre. The other half, the same but different: leftover lentils (from the random spinach salad I have pictured up there) heaped high, served alongside spicy baby arugula lightly dressed in vinegar and oil. I tried pressing both sides together for a sandwich: sandwich fail. Open-faced only, this one is.

I have dear friends from New York are visiting tomorrow! I’ve been keeping a running a list of vegetarian dishes I liked for my veggie pals. The top picks: the pickled asparagus and mushrooms at Saraveza (super crazy bottled beer selection too); the tiny red radishes smeared with French butter and sprinkled with salt at Navarre (thanks, Jennifer — you were right, the place is outrageously good); cardamom-scented French pressed Extracto coffee at the Wolf & Bear’s cart outside of my house; roasted cauliflower and green onion sandwich at Bunk (slowly eating my way through the entire menu there); sweet peppers and onion pizza at Apizza Scholls (recommended by just about everyone on the planet, but first by my dear pizza-loving pals at Flipped Out Records); the beet salad at Sub Rosa; the baked grapefruit at Broder (MMM); smoked trout and capers at Savoy (okay, not vegetarian). And that’s just the vegetarian stuff that I absolutely, bottom-line loved.

Would be remiss not to mention the one non-veggie thing I indulged in this past week: a medium-rare hamburger with sharp cheddar and pickled onions on brioche at Clyde Common, located in the Ace Hotel downtown.

ON THE DIAGONAL

The other day I roasted some beets and my housemate was like, ‘I have never met anyone who eats more beets than you do,’ and shook his head. Totally a title I’ll accept with honor.

Just discovered my new favorite way to eat beets: roasted in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees until slightly soft – just a little too long, just a little overcooked. Although I normally like my beets al dente - with a bit of a bite, something a little toothier – in this sandwich it’s so much nicer when the beet gives way in your tongue. It’s almost like a pate, smooth and rich and creamy. I sliced the beet into thin wedges as you would an apple or pear, and then tossed with lemon juice and cilantro and salt. Layered on top of toasted bread (farm rye above, but yesterday I did this with a baguette, too) and some kind of creamy cheese (chevre, brie), and then I ate the rest of the beets as a side salad (redundant).

I also love random vegetable roasts of leftovers: in this case, an old potato, carrot knobs, and some brussels sprouts, tossed with butter and cumin and black pepper and roasted at high, high heat.

I’m not the only one who loves beets! Joni is maybe the only cat I’ve owned that’s loved vegetables this much. I knew we were soulmates, she and I.

And yes, I ate this meal in bed. It ruled.

AM IN LOVE WITH THE HOOK UPON WHICH EVERYONE HANGS

Sometimes above all else, I value vivid color in my food. The other night I fried farmer’s market banana fingerlings in butter, smoked paprika and with a handful of roasted beets. The potatoes turned a lovely deep blush fuschia color. The next day, when I cubed the leftover fingerlings for a simple potato/beet hash, I saw that their creamy white insides formed an insane gradient. Ombre potatoes!!!

Three-day old (!) escarole salad still crisp, cold and bitter the next day, with thinly sliced Belgian white endives, roasted walnuts and a mustard-lemon vinaigrette.

Leftover broiled salmon, marinated in cumin, olive oil, lime zest and cilantro.

Any excuse to make guacamole. Salmon and avocado is one of the most blissful combinations ever. Fat, with more fat. Creamy, on top of creamy. Somehow you’ve convinced yourself that it’s all so healthy, too. PS I bought a bag of 9 avocados at the farmer’s market for $2. WHAT! I love so much being back in California.

I sat down to eat lunch inside but right away I saw how beautiful it was outside and fled to the deck.

Ahhh, that’s better. If you could pan out on this shot you would see Joni sprawled on the patio table eyeing my salmon with desire. Reread ‘Self-Help’ for the twentieth time under the clear gaze of the chilly February sun and tried to convince myself that it’s not extravangant and/or pathetic to cook elaborate meals just for yourself.

“KEEPING YOUR FINGERS CROSSED MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO HOLD A PEN, BUT I MUST SAY, IT’S WORTH IT.” -Lorrie Moore

WHAT IT’S LIKE

Lunch from earlier in the week – never see these many colors this time of year in Ithaca! Sliced mango, haricot verts braised in white wine and red onions; roasted chicken (on our BBQ!); red leaf lettuce with blood oranges, manchego and roasted beets in a beet-lemon vinaigrette. The beets were perfect: tender and sweet and full.

I don’t normally post celebrity photos, but this sweet couple shot from the Golden Globes melted my cold, cold heart. PAAAACEY!