Tag Archives: Beets

…And Moses Said Onto Thee “Let There Be Sephardic Bread and Beet Normandy”

26 Mar

I’ve had quite the week. My birthday was last week (March 19) and since then I’ve had about 50 different celebrations. After this week of non-blogging and ruining my body from the inside out (particularly my liver), I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and nurse myself back to health. (Sidenote: John got me tickets to Book of Mormon in Detroit for my birthday, and it was literally the most entraining 2.5 hours of my life)

And hey, not only is it Passover, but it’s Oberon day! Being from Kalamazoo, Bell’s Oberon release day is somewhat of a city-wide holiday. Want to know more about Oberon? Check our A2GastroBoy’s post last week about this sun nectar. I vowed to take a week off of drinking, until I was honest with myself, so hey, I’ll catch up with that wagon eventually. But back to my Jewish roots. What to make for Passover? I didn’t have time to execute a soup (of the Matzoh-Ball persuasion), and I didn’t want to purchase a big ol’hunk of meat (Brisket) so let’s go a different route: Gefilte Fish? Well, not exactly, but a fish terrine seems to fit the bill. Pair that with a raw beet tartare, and throw in a new recipe for Challah, I’d say you’ve got yourself quite the meal.


{ Martha Stewart – Halibut and Salmon Terrine }

{ Food&Wine – Jessamyn’s Sephardic Challah }

{ Mark Bitman – Beet Tartare }

*Deep Breath* Let’s do this thing. Let’s start with the bread since there are about 4 steps that involve letting it rest and rise (great, it only bakes for 30 minutes…oh, that’s AFTER it rises for about 2.5 hours, splendid). Now, I’m no stranger to the Challah-d Arts, but this recipe really intrigued me. No eggs in the dough, toasted sesame seeds, and savory spices? I’m in. You Sephardic Jews are alright in my book.


Working on this bread made me thirst for the day I get a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.


Doesn’t it hurt your arm just looking at it?? For this dough it called for proofing the yeast in about 2 Tbs of warm water while you mixed the other ingredients together, and then you add the yeast mixture. Well since I DON’T have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, I like to do a little mixing in the bowl, then transfer everything to a flat surface and just mix it by hand. When you’re adding liquid to a kind-of-already-formed dough ball on a flat surface, a lot of it just pours off and starts to roll across said flat surface. And a lot of times this causes one to freak out since the yeast is the best part of bread (perhaps this is where my beer love comes from?). After frantic scooping and the addition of some more flour, our dough came together. This recipe calls for Bread Flour, and since I have tons of All Purpose flour, I decided to keep my money, and obsessively look up what the difference is online. The answer: gluten content. Bread flour will give you a denser dough, but do you know what kneading does? It forms the gluten particles together, so by giving a good old fashioned knead-down, you’re setting yourself up for some (hopefully) great bread. But enough of that, it’s part 1 of it’s 2.5 hour nap.

It’s Fish time now. I decided to make this because it’s not quite Gefilte fish (which I’ve never had a good one of, I’m sure it exists, and I like both pickled things and fish, but yikes, not this pickled-hamburger-fish monstrosity that is served to the chosen people), but still fits in with the theme. And who doesn’t want a fish meatloaf on a Monday?

To begin we need to chop up carrots and Parsnips. Have you ever noticed how phallic parsnips are? Because holy-jewish-holiday they are. And as I peeled these long pale bad boys, I felt I was performing another Jewish tradition: The Bris.

5_Seinfeld_Bris Parsnip


Tee Hee Hee [sorry]. Anyhoo, after you have your root veggies cut and some onions sautéed, you want to mash up Salmon and Halibut in a food processor, which just kind of feels wrong. 2 Beautiful pieces of fish, ripped into a strange chunky fish paste. Hm.



So at this point you mix the veggies, fish paste, and all the other ingredients to make a fishloaf (I’m ashamed to admit that I used Panko breadcrumbs for the matzo meal since I didn’t want to buy it. What kind of Goyum have I become?), push it into a pan, put that pan into a bigger pan, and fill the bigger pan with water. And now we cook.FishMixture



While it’s cooking, let’s check on our bread.

DoughBallAwwww yeahhhh. When I poured it out of it’s napping bowl, it landed with a sound that was a mixture of shunk and thud {thunk? shut?}. We cut it in half and wait, roll it out and wait, roll it out again and coil it up.

DoughRollAnd now we’re just about read to bak–damnit it needs to rest for another hour?? Ok, well let’s check on the fishloaf.

TerrineThat’s right, it was too big for any of my plates, it had to rest on my cutting board. That looks tasty….well, it SMELLS tasty at least. And hey, I can nibble on this while I’m waiting for the brea–it needs to cool in the fridge for at least an hour? OH COME ON.

Fine, I’ll work on my Beet tartare. Chop everything up and mix together. Well, that took up about 4 minutes. I have 56 minutes to kill until it’s bread bake/fishloaf go time.


BeetMix{the colors Duke, the colors!}

I’ve actually made this Beet Tartare before, and I really love it. It has a lot of flavor, and if you can put up with the next 30 hours of pink Beet pee and the ravaging of your digestive system, it’s a great [vegan] meal in itself.

Let’s fast forward to the bread being done:

ChallahIt’s worth being a Jew just for that. Half the seeds/sesame seeds are in the bread, the other half are on the outside. I added some coarse KOSHER salt to the topping mixture, and wowza, just delightful. AND it makes 2 loafs, so bring one and brag about it at work the next day while everyone is picking seeds out of their teeth.


The Terrine (read: fishloaf) was cooked through and chilled thoroughly, but never quite kept it’s shape when cut. Unfortunately it looked a bit like wet cat food, but hey, bygones.

Plate1I’m not going to lie, this was a very time-consuming meal, but making bread from scratch AND putting beets into a food processor all in one night isn’t too shabby. And Mr. Oberon Sun was there to tell me “baby, you’ve done such a good job, I’m so proud of you. Let’s make this a Passover we’ll never forget” and I said “you’re right Mr. Oberon Sun, let’s never fight again.” And we never did.

John came home right after I made the Beet Tartare, and all I heard from the kitchen was “It looks like Beet Normandy in here” because I didn’t do the best job of cleaning up my beet mess (read: beet skin peels were everywhere with pink smears all over the counter, and I assume there was a tribal-like red beet handprint somewhere on the cupboards).

Happy Passover/Happy Oberon Day! I wish it would stop snowing!







Poached Egg Salad with Roasted Beets and Toasted Pecans or: How I spent my Election Night

9 Nov

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.

Toss Toss Toss Toss Toss

I was going to make some type of horseradish aioli, but good old fashioned ketchup is never a bad thing either…

While these were baking, I started the beets. And by started, I mean roasted at the same time.

Rosted Beets:

  • 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!

If you’ve ever stepped foot in my apartment, you’ll notice this wood grain from the kitchen…floor. That’s right. We’re taking artistic chances up in this piece.

These are also really great tossed with pasta

The beet-aftermath

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).

Me: I did it!
Him: What did you do on your Friday night? Poached some eggs, you? Texted about poaching eggs.

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.
  • Enjoy.

I stole this ramekin from Angelico, an “Italian” place in Tenleytown in Washington, DC my freshmen year at American University. The stolen gift that keeps on giving.

See the small bubbles? This is actually a little premature, I would wait about 3 more minutes past this point


In you go


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.

When they’re hot right out of the oven, they sizzle in your mouth! Ouch/Yum

Place everything on the greens, top with some crumbled goat cheese, and it’s time for salad…time. Damnit.

Just. Delightful.

It’s a slam dunk.



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