Chiogga Beets & Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2010  •  Menus, Restaurants, Vegetables

Have you missed me?! I know I’ve been MIA for almost this full week, and I’ve certainly missed all of you and missed my blogging. But sometimes life just gets in the way, as it has this week, ya know?. And it’s not that I haven’t been eating great food or cooking. For example:

I finally got to dine at Olivea on Saturday night – it was worth waiting the full 30 minutes past our reservation time to experience the duck meatballs on polenta, and the sea salt caramel tart is a dessert worth the calories.

We went to our good friends’ house on Sunday for the Super Bowl, and for once I didn’t cook a thing. The husband of the couple made a masterful rendition of BBQ chicken wings – instead of using wings, he trims down thighs, pulls off the skin, and slow cooks them in BBQ sauce – killer good, way more meaty than wings.

I cooked up a fabulous pork blade steak on Monday night, but it just wasn’t exciting enough to photograph and post. Haven’t ever had blade steak? It’s tender and juicy so give it a try.

I did a tapas cooking class for 20 women on Tuesday where we cooked about 10 different appetizers – they were delicious, but most all of them I’ve already posted for you (click on the Appetizers category to find them). I was too exhausted after that class for anything more than some chips and a glass of wine.

And I did a dinner party event for 12 last night, but again, you’ve seen that menu: Celeriac Soup, Mixed Greens with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette, Roasted Beets, Feta and Pine Nuts, Porcini Rub Roasted Tenderloin of Beef with Bearnaise Sauce, Roasted Asparagus, and a Chocolate Tart.

And I would have cooked something today, but I spent the day in a nutrition class sponsored by Operation Frontline, taught by Amanda Archibald, that focuses on a concept of Field to Plate – getting a nutrition message across by focusing on taste and flavor. Really interesting stuff.

So that leaves me little to write about other than to show you the most romantic beets I’ve ever met, these lovely Chiogga beets. They may look reddish on the outside, but when you slice them, they show off their lovely candy cane coloring.

You can eat them raw, pickle them, thinly slice them and make chips out of them, or roast them with some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, as I did to top our salad last night. They lose much of the striping when they are roasted, so if you want to show off the coloring, thinly slice them and serve them raw.

The coloring ranges from a nearly blood red with just a tinge of white, to a nearly albino coloring with just a hint of pink. And all of this red and pink brings me to Valentine’s Day. I always think it’s a bit like amateur night to go out on Valentine’s Day. The menus are often set for the occasion which leaves you less choice, the prices may be jacked up, it’s hard to get a reservation, you might be stuck next to other diners who spoil your romantic mood, and so on. So stay at home and give my menu a try:

Truffled Grisini with Prosciutto – with just a hint of truffle flavor from truffle oil in the butter, this is a great starter to nibble on while you get the evening started.

Tomato Pancetta Soup – ok, I know you can already see a pork trend here, but feel free to leave the pancetta out of this dish and make it vegetarian if you prefer. But if you are in love with pork products like me, then by all means include it.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleans – looks fancy, but is really easy to assemble, and will impress your sweetie or guests.

Chicken Saltimbocca – I threw this one in for my husband. Anything saltimbocca is tops on his otherwise a bit uninspired culinary hot list. These can be partially made earlier in the day and baked off right before dinner.

Pesto Rice – simple side dish to pair with the chicken, or if you want something more decadent…

…try the Spaghetti Corbonara – but don’t say I didn’t warn you that this is rich and somewhat addictive!

Chocolate Chipotle Pudding Cakes – leave the chipotle out if you like, but these soft pudding cakes can’t be beat, and the strawberries are perfect for the holiday.

Shop tomorrow for your Valentine’s Day feast – and this menu works equally well for two or for a dinner party – and be ready for dinner this weekend. I hope Cupid is good to you!


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  1. Lea Ann says:

    Confession time! I think I bought a bunch of these beets in September at a Brighton roadside stand. With all the white coloring inside I thought they were bad and threw them out. I was going to pickle them. Can you believe that???? Love beets and some great looking recipes here. Yes, you won’t find us in a restaurant on Valentines Day – I agree.

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