I’m going rouge. No recipe. No famous chefs. Just guts and glory (ok Erica, calm down).
At the Farmer’s Market on Saturday I picked up some beautiful salad greens and a bunch of beets (bunch as in term of volume, not in a slang-y way, although I suppose they’re about the same) and have not had a chance to do anything with them…until now! And to top it all off, we just got a “new” dining room table and chairs for the apartment, so it was time to celebrate. I saw “new” because it is used and off craigslist, but WHAT a steal of a deal (unfortunately it smells like moth balls…extremely potent moth balls, as in, walking into the living room you’re hit with a wave of moth ball smelling funk, but hey, Jah invented febreeze for a reason). And plus, we didn’t have a real table, just a coffee table. That 3 of us all try to eat off of. And it’s about 18 inches wide. Think about that: 1.5 feet. That barely fits a plate and glass of water. Sidenote: when we first moved in, John and I didn’t have any furniture except for a big comfy chair, and the TV. For a week we would literally take turns being able to sit in “the chair” for dinner, the other would just sit on the hard wood floor. Have you ever sat on a hardwood floor, with nothing to even lean against, and try to eat? It’s impossible to look cool.
But for this salad, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to make. I had the beets, greens, a sweet potato, eggs, and goat cheese. Boom, salad. At the last minute I decided to make sweet potato fries instead of roasting them for the salad because who doesn’t like a side of sweet potato fries? It was the perfect way to spend Election night 2012 (how hard is it not to say Erection night?).
Sweet Potato Fries:
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Cut your sweet potato up into fry-like strips (I like to keep the skins on), and put into a large bowl.
- Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil in, and then go to town with some seasonings (I used some garlic powder, paprika, and Market Day’s “A Salt for All Seasons”). And toss. Keep tossing. Think you’re done? Toss a little more. (when in doubt, toss more, so you don’t get those bites that are WAY too seasoned, and then those that have none).
- Spread on parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes (stir them around once or twice while they’re baking).
- Try to let cool before diving in.
While these were baking, I started the beets. And by started, I mean roasted at the same time.
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Peel and quarter beets. Toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet.
- Roast for 30(ish) minutes (stirring a few times), or until beets are cooked through (can be pierced with a fork) and are carmel-y and sweet.
- And don’t get rid of those beet greens! Cut off the stems, and sauté them up in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes!
A few fun facts about beets. One: they make your pee pink. Don’t be alarmed when you “accidentally” look back (or look down, fellas) and see pink. For like 3 days. Two: they can tell you if you need more fiber in your diet by…how do I put this, wreaking havoc on your bowels. If you’re eating enough fiber, you won’t be affected by them too much. However, if your fiber is lacking, you will feel like you shot gunned 3 x Fiber One bars. But, this is only if you are eating a lot of beets (more than 3 in one sitting). Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
And for the “meat” of the salad: The Poached egg. I had a real phobia of poached eggs for a while. You DROP them into boiling water and they cook? I don’t see how I could successfully execute this. So I went into one of my former boss’s office (who happens to be a chef) and asked him, in a very timid manner “so…uh…poached eggs. How.” And he just gave me a blank stare. “They’re not that difficult.” I was dumbfounded. How could they not be hard and at a grand wizard skill level (yikes, is a “Grand Wizard” a KKK term?). But he explained to me how to do it, and that night, I went home and successfully poached 2 eggs. I then sent him the following picture, and this text conversation ensued (I couldn’t find the original transcript, so this is somewhat of a dramatization).
To this day I think that is the funniest text I’ve ever gotten. Except maybe a recent photo I got from my sister of her being elbowed in the face during the tossing of the bouquet at a wedding. We’ll call it a tie.
And this is what he told me. Poached Eggs:
- Crack an egg into a ramekin.
- Place a pot of water with a glug of vinegar on the stove and bring to an ALMOST boil (you want to see the bubbles on the bottom of the pot, but no movement). The vinegar helps to coagulate the whites in the egg. You don’t’ necessarily need the vinegar (it does add a slight taste) but I have always (in my 5 months of egg-poaching) used it.
- Take a spoon and give the water a swirl so a small cyclone forms in the middle of the water. Pour cracked egg into the middle of the cyclone in one smooth motion. The cyclone helps form the egg.
- Let cook for 2-4 minutes. Or you can be like me and let it cook for too long, you know, just because.
And lastly, the roasted Hazelnuts.
- Spread nuts on baking sheet. Put in oven (I just used the heated 450F oven from the beets and sweet potatoes). Wait a few minutes. It’s roasted nut time.
Place everything on the greens, top with some crumbled goat cheese, and it’s time for salad…time. Damnit.