Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seasonal Side Dish: Beets

Nothing could be easier to make.  Even The Frugal Hostess, who has recently impressed and horrified FruHubs with Lentil Loaf, among other culinary disasters, could pull this off.  In fact, she did - last night, when she made up this recipe.

Beets (fresh, not from a can)
Goat cheese
Walnuts (or pecans) - candied optional
Vinaigrette makings (more on that below)

1.  Cut the ends from and peel some beets.  Three beets made four servings for TFH, but it sort of depends on the beets, so, you know, do your best.
2.  Slice the raw beets into medallions.  Try to make these as even in thickness as you can.  But don't cut off your finger tip.  Be moderate in your perfectionism.
3.  Boil said beet medallions for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.
3.  Let cool while you make something else.
4.  To prepare, put a beet medallion on the plate, dribble on some vinaigrette, top with a chunk of goat cheese, and repeat.  Three high is plenty.  Then top with nuts and more vinaigrette.  If you use FruHo's vinaigrette recipe below, you'll discover it to be runny as hell (although delicious), so you might like to serve it on the side in a little sauce boat or shot glass.

Notes on Vinaigrette
1.  TFH is famous for making all salad dressing from scratch, and equally famous for totally winging it in terms of measurements.  If it doesn't work out, you have no one to blame but yourself.
2.  Please do not go out and buy new ingredients to make this salad dressing.  Every ingredient can be replaced by a substitute, so use what you have.
3.  If you, for some crazy reason, want to use [disgusting, dreadful, and poisonous] bottled dressing on this, pick one that is one the sweeter side - golden Italian or something.  TFH doesn't really know what's on offer, but you get the idea.

Vinaigrette Ingredients
Honey (tupelo is what TFH uses, but any will do)
Apple cider vinegar (or white wine, or rice wine, or white - although not as much)
Oil (TFH used olive but wishes she had used canola instead - the flavor was too overpowering)
Salt & pepper
Juice from one-quarter of an orange (lemon or lime would be fine, or orange liqueur, or limoncello)
Powdered ginger
Red pepper flakes
Basically, you want citrus and ginger and spice in there.  How you get it is your business.

1.  Whisk that all up.
2.  Um, maybe try equal parts of the first three and a splash or sprinkle of the remaining ingredients.
3.  Jars are usually great for making salad dressing because you can shake the hell out of it, but TFH finds honey responds better to being whisked.  Just so you know.  Honey has very delicate feelings, and we need to respect that.

Quick Candied Nuts

This didn't work completely, although it did create the crunch and texture TFH was looking for.  If you have your own version or prefer to do it the long way, go wild.  You could even - sakes alive! - serve raw walnuts for all FruHo cares.

Brown sugar
Cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Fill a small loaf pan with one layer of walnuts.
2.  Cover walnuts with brown sugar.  TFH put way too much, which is why she says it wasn't a complete success - there was a ton of sugar leftover.
3.  Dot generously with butter.  Real butter, obvi.
4.  If you like, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper.
5.  Throw in the oven for as long as you possibly can before serving, 40 minutes minimum at 350.

All told, in terms of difficulty versus response, this side dish was a huge success.  The Frugal Husband raved about it, and he doesn't even smile much.  The Frugal Hostess is on the long, slow march to redemption.

The Frugal Hostess is appearing at Junktique on Sunday, Nov. 15.  And by appearing, she means selling her crap.  Hope to see you there!  You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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  1. How does TFH manage to deal with beets in her kitchen without dying all surfaces and her own skin red?

  2. Try getting some candied ginger and chopping it very fine. This is one of the secret ingredients in my salad dressing and steak marinade: you won't be disappointed.

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