Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Eating Well with Farmers Market Fresh Beets and Beet Greens

Making the most of our ingredients as we are safe-at-home can create unexpected and delicious dishes.

Take beets for an example.

A whole beet, roasted with its skin on, can be a tasty side dish or cooled and sliced in salads.

If you bought your beets at a farmers market or directly from a farmer, then they most probably came with their leafy greens.

Cleaned well and sautéed, the greens and their bright red stems make a delicious side dish.

"Waste not, want not" was always a good kitchen motto, now, more than ever.

Roasted Beets

For roasting I prefer medium to large sized beets. In fact, the larger the better. Select beets that are well-shaped, without damaged areas. If possible, choose beets that have fresh-looking greens still attached.

Do not peel the beets. Keeping the skins on means they cook in their own juices, concentrating their sweetness as they roast.

Yield 1 beet: 4 servings, depending on size and preparation

Time: 60-90 minutes depending on your oven and the size of the beets

Ingredients

1 bunch beets, usually 3-5 to a bunch, beet greens removed and reserved, washed to remove all grit

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 450F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the beets on the lined baking sheet and place in oven.

After one hour, remove from the oven to test for doneness by inserting a pairing knife into the side of the beet. If the knife enters easily, the beet is done. If not, return to the oven. Check every 30 minutes until the beets are done.

Remove from oven and cool.

Peel off skin and remove stem and root end and discard.

Serve sliced or diced, either hot as a side dish or cold in salads.

Sautéed Beet Greens with Tofu and Brown Rice

Beet greens can be sautéed with a variety of ingredients, including shiitake mushrooms, onions, bean sprouts and red peppers and served as a side dish. Adding tofu and brown rice turns a side dish into an entree.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 bunch farmers' market fresh beets

1 yellow onion, washed, peeled, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, washed, peeled, roughly chopped (optional)

1/4 pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella, washed, roughly chopped

4 oz. firm tofu

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions


















Prepare the brown rice.

I use a Japanese rice cooker.

After washing the rice and pouring off the milky water, add 1 1/2 cups of water to each 1 cup of rice.

Turn on the rice cooker. When the cooker shuts off, fluff the rice, and put the cover back on for 10 minutes.

When you buy the beets, pick out a bunch with fresh looking leaves.

To prepare the beets, cut off the beet greens. Clean the beets and reserve to use raw or roasted in a
salad.

Soak the greens in water to remove grit. Cut the stems from the leaves. Finely chop the stems and roughly chop the leaves.

On a medium-high flame, heat a large pan with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper. 

Sauté the beet green stems with mushrooms, onions and garlic (optional) until they are lightly browned.

Add beet greens.

Stir frequently.

Taste the greens to confirm they are tender. If not, continue sautéing until they are.

Pat dry the tofu and make 1" thick slabs, then cut the slabs into 1"x1" cubes.

Add the tofu to the beet green sauté and gently toss together to coat the tofu with the sauce.

Serve with the brown rice on the side or add the brown rice to the sauté.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Eggsellent – A One-Egg Omelet That’s All About Flavor

Right now, most of us are safe-at-home. Like most of you, we have cleaned out our pantry, refrigerator and freezer to inventory exactly what we have on hand. What we don't have will have to wait until we go to the market, which is now once a week, usually on Wednesday when we can also go to the local farmers market.



Maximizing those ingredients is important so we don't have to go shopping more than necessary. I have been writing about getting several meals out of one chicken and making pasta and gnocchi from scratch, because a few ingredients can make many meals.


But to eat well doesn’t mean denying yourself pleasures. In fact, consider the gastronomic advantages of a one-egg omelet.


THREE, TWO, ONE

A neighborhood restaurant we frequented for many years proudly publicized their three-egg omelet. The omelet was a plump 2-inches thick and settled on the plate like a seal sunning itself on a wave-washed rock.
After eating their three-egg omelet, I always felt like going back to bed.
Having consumed many omelets over many years, the realization hit me that what I like about an omelet isn’t the eggs. What I like is the filling.
At home I experimented. What I was looking for was a ratio of bulk: flavor that pleased my palate and wasn’t overly filling. Three eggs were never considered, and eventually two eggs gave way to one. Another significant milestone was switching from a stainless steel to the more forgiving qualities of a nonstick pan.

A THIN ONE-EGG OMELET IS A REMINDER OF DELICATE CREPES


One egg creates texture not bulk and places the emphasis solidly on the filling. Just about anything sautéed, roasted or grilled can find itself tucked inside an eggy bed. For me, I prefer fillings that are dry rather than wet, but experiment and find the ingredients and combinations you like. 
Whatever the mix of ingredients, the key to a good omelet is creating a warm creaminess of melted cheese.

The combinations are limited only by your palate preferences. The salty-sweetness of sautéed ham, Comte cheese, spinach, shallots and shiitake mushrooms complement the pliancy of the egg. Grilled asparagus and Parmesan cheese, dusted with finely chopped Italian parsley leaves makes an elegant omelet perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Shredded lobster, Manchego cheese, cilantro, raw red onions, a dusting of cayenne and a small amount of finely chopped ripe tomatoes transform an ordinary egg into a culinary adventure.
Adding country-fried potatoes, buttered toast with jam and crisp bacon or pork links, a tossed green salad or a bowl of fresh fruit to fill out the plate and the one-egg omelet creates an enviable meal, full of flavor and careful about calories.

One-Egg Omelet With Spinach, Cheddar Cheese, Shallots and Mushrooms


Use any cheese of your liking. I prefer a cheese that plays well with others. Strong cheeses, such as blue cheese, will dominate the other flavors in the filling. Mild cheddar, Comte, Manchego and soft goat cheese work well.
The recipe is for one, because making each omelet individually will result in the best looking dish. If you are serving more than one, multiply the number of servings times the ingredient quantities to create the correct amount needed to make all the omelets.
Use a 9-inch nonstick pan, understanding that nonstick pans are designed to be used on medium and low heat. Because fat is not required to prevent the egg from sticking to the pan, the butter is used for flavoring. Could the omelet cook on a nonstick pan without the butter? Yes, perhaps as serviceably, but that little bit of butter adds a lot of flavor.

The egg can be beaten by itself or with milk or half-and-half. 
Serves 1

Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
2 teaspoons sweet butter
1 cup spinach leaves and stems, washed, pat dried, chopped
1 shallot, washed, ends and skin removed, finely chopped
2-3 mushrooms (shiitake or brown preferably), washed, root ends trimmed, finely sliced longwise
1 farm-fresh egg, large or extra large
1 tablespoon cream, half and half, whole milk or nonfat milk (optional)
⅓ cup freshly grated cheese, preferably white cheddar, Comte, Manchego or goat
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Directions
1. In the nonstick pan, melt 1 teaspoon butter and sauté together the spinach, shallot and mushrooms until wilted and lightly browned. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne (optional). Use a high-heat or Silpat spatula to remove the sauté from the pan and set aside.
2. Beat the egg and milk (optional) until frothy.
3. On a medium-low flame, heat the nonstick pan, melt the remaining teaspoon butter and pour in the beaten egg using the spatula to get every drop into the pan.
4. Swirl the egg mixture around to coat the bottom of the pan so it looks like a full moon.
5. Gently sprinkle the cheese on one half of the omelet — the half moon with the filling –and spoon on the sauté to cover the cheese.
6. When the cheese has melted and the egg is cooked the way you like, use the Silpat spatula to gently flip the empty side of the half moon on top of the filling.
7. Use the Silpat spatula to help slide the omelet onto the plate and serve hot.

8. Serve hot with toast, sautéed potatoes, a breakfast meat (crisp bacon or sausage links) and fruit.

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