“Laying Down Those Funky Beets”: Beet Salad with Horseradish

Beet Salad ~AStackofDishes.com“Sometimes when I’m in a restaurant, I’ll order a beet salad just so that when the waiter serves them to me I can say:  Thanks man for laying down those funky beets! …………………….and I don’t even like beets…”

One of the best parts of this past Mother’s Day was to simply just kick back and hang out with my kids. When they were younger I used to refer to them as The Flying Wallendas. This was on account of their non stop acrobatics and general all around goofiness. They bickered and whined about each other during those young years {and occasionally still do}, but the truth is they are a pretty tight bunch. All these years later it warms the cockles of my heart to see the love they have for each other.

They’ve always been a gaggle of comedians. Honestly, the whole family is really. For instance, my Mother just started a blog about her quilting {she’s a legend it these parts and now teaches}. Her tag line is “I’m gonna keep you in stitches!” OK, OK, so I’m the one who bestowed this line upon her- but after a few minutes of knowing her, you would agree that this tag line suits her perfectly.

It was Saturday night, as we lay strewn about on my Mother’s couches watching comedy TV, when a comedian delivered the above joke. Olivia thought it hilarious (me too)- and so here you go my dears- I’m laying upon you my funky beets!

Enjoy! [Read more…]

Fresh Goat Milk Ricotta Ruby Beet Salad

Fresh made Goat Milk Ricotta with ruby beets and pistachios

A little disclosure is that I would really love to learn how to make cheese. It’s probably the mad scientist in me, but there is something about the alchemy of it all that is just fascinating. My friend Cathy Wheelbarrow-you may know her as Mrs. Wheelbarrow– taught just such a class this past weekend in DC.  Together this class made all of my favorites: Ricotta, creme fraiche, fresh chèvre and fresh mozzarella. Though aged cheeses are intriguing, a girl could keep herself pretty busy with these.
It’s no secret by now I can get into making ricotta at home. It’s pretty simple and I find it so remarkably rewarding. Though this past week I found myself wondering how goat milk ricotta would taste. Would the tang play though, or does it need aging?
This brought back to mind a trip that my family took one wintery weekend when I was a kid of about 9 or so. Some friends of the family had chosen to escape the corporate rat race and bought a goat farm up in Rheinbeck, New York. They lived in a rickety, drafty, old house warmed by wood stoves that was back into the woods down a winding country road. It was all so beautiful except for the frosty air that hit us when we climbed out from under piles of quilts the next morning. Shivering at the breakfast table all bleary eyed, we were given mugs of hot chocolate. In my house such things were for holidays and rarest of occasions, so this was a delight- until I took a sip. The taste was tart and sour and animal. Oh what a blow to my little girl expectations! When I pushed it away my Mother, in a sing songy voice said, “It’s fiiiiine, just go ahead and drink it petunia”- only later confessing it was made with milk from their goats.
So armed with this memory I decided to give it a try- and it turned out remarkably well. A little bit milder than I would have imagined, which turned out to be an asset. The result was a more delicate taste and an overall sense of lightness. The goat milk I had purchased from Whole Foods which came pasteurized and boxed. The next time I might venture down to the farmer’s market and try some fresh milk and compare the difference.
Fresh Goat Milk Ricotta and Ruby Beet Salad
1 qt goat milk
generous pinch of salt
2T fresh lemon juice
cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer
roasted ruby beets, peeled
grated orange zest
fruity olive oil
chopped pistachios
S & P
Place the goat milk and salt in a heavy saucepan and gently bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The curds will immediately begin to separate from the whey.
Gently simmer the ricotta for about 2 minutes, then strain though some cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer. I have a yogurt strainer that I found somewhere that works like a charm. The whey is rich in nutrients and great tossed into a soup, if you’re compelled to do such things.
The longer the curds sit the dryer they will be, so you should go by personal preference on this. I let mine sit for about 3 minutes before transferring it into a container to store.
Let the curds come to room temperature on the counter and then store in the fridge. 
Use within the week.
The Ruby Beet salad is a simple combination of all the above listed ingredients. Drizzle the olive oil over with a nice pinch of coarse salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

Winter Salad To Support Our Better Days

We all start the same way. “This year it will be more vegetables and more exercise!”
The problem for me is I find it harder to eat vegetables in the Winter. I was once told by an Ayervedic practitioner that I am of a certain type that does not like cold- that is cold in my body. According to her I am better with steamy things, earthier foods and spice. (I’m pretty sure chocolate fits in there somewhere too) Though I don’t know how much stake I put into that thinking, I do have to admit when the cold North wind blows I relate. For instance- though I love yogurt, I’m not prone to eat it in the chiller times, and I drink hot tea now rather than iced tea.
I do cook myself hard squashes when I have the time and adore them, and many a vegetable bin has been transformed into a creamy soup. All this is very well and good, but I so like and need a salad from time to time as well.
This salad is super quick and easy. It is three beautifully dramatic layers of color, texture and tastes. It’s surprising how the three compliment each other. Laced with some feta cheese, some fennel fronds and the zest of the lemon from the dressing it’s just lovely. No need to get fussy here, just grate your veg right over the plate and let them pile on. The dressing is a basic vinaigrette using lemon juice for the acid.
I just let mine sit out for a bit to come to room temperature, then I can blithely dig right in.
Carrot, Fennel and Beet Salad
A loose interpretation of Martha’s Recipe 12/11
serves 2 generously or 4 sides
1 large fennel bulb
2 large carrot, washed
1 large beet or 2 smaller
.25c low fat feta
1 lemon, zested
1t dijon mustard
1sm clove garlic, mashed and minced
enough quality olive oil to balance lemon juice ~6T
First cut the fennel bulb in half and trim the hard knot from the core of the bulb
Using either a mandoline or knife, slice paper thin. Fennel can be a bit hard and tough, but when sliced super thin it’s divine.
Next grate carrots directly on top. I don’t peel my carrots, just give them a good scrub. Plenty of nutrients in that outer skin.
Peel the beet(s) and proceed with the same. Mix up the textures of the vegetables if you like or you can do the whole thing on a box grater.
Sprinkle top with feta cheese to taste along with the lemon zest and small fennel fronds
Make vinaigrette by squeezing juice into a small bowl and stir in the garlic and mustard.
While trying to obtain a 1:3 ratio of acid to oil, slowly whisk in the oil creating creamy goodness. Check for balance and add some S&P to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and let it seep down in and around. No need to toss, though you are more than welcome to- it looks just as beautiful and just as tasty.