Salami Shakshuka.

salami shakshuka.

It seems lately that I haven't been so inspired to sit in front of the computer and write.  I'm inspired to cook good food (especially good food just for myself), and enjoy eating good food (even if it is a solitary lunch alone in my dining room), I'm just not so inspired to take to the Internet and brag about it.  I wonder if it has something to do with my mothering instinct, that I can take the time to labor over soaking and sprouting and fermenting things, but not necessarily to tell the masses about it.  Perhaps it is the primitive need to nourish and carry on without the trappings of the digital age.

Meanwhile all sorts of little triumphs have happened in my kitchen, for instance my picky-eating boy is starting to break out of his shell and at least try new things.  Most of the time, it ends in confession that he likes something new.  In part, this is because I stopped catering to the whims of both of my boys and I just cook food.  There is good food here and if you are hungry you will eat it, or at least try it.  St. Patrick's Day potato and kale colcannon (via The Domestic Man and his tantalizing facebook photo of it) didn't go down so well with the picky-kid, but the roasted cabbage and Outpost-made Irish sausage on the side did... and when I disguised the leftover potatoes and kale into a creamy cabbage/broccoli/"spinach" soup, it got demolished without comment.

bolzano salami.

I had hoped for the same for this shakshuka I was planning with the Bolzano salami I received recently to play around with.  A group of local food bloggers were challeged to come up with 2 recipes each using some real-deal, hand crafted, local salami.  I signed up for the Pamplona Runner salami, which I hadn't tasted before.  While I awaited it's arrival, I thought back to some of the early PBS watching days of my pregnancy, the days when food didn't taste good unless it appeared already made before me.  When Cuisine Culture went to Israel and cooked up a couple versions of shakshuka using local cheese, I could think of nothing that I'd like someone to make me than that.  But being the only cook in my house, I had to wait until I felt like cooking again to indulge my whims.

I actually thought long and hard about using a pork sausage in a dish that seems so inherently Jewish and Muslim at the same time...  I also thought about embracing more of a Spanish flare to the simple preparation.  But in the end, I just made some good food with some of my favorite flavors.  It was perfect and simple and I enjoyed alone for lunch one day.

frying bolzano salami.

This salami is not overpowering, its smoked paprika flavor not too spicy at all.  I chose not to add too much additional spice flavor to let it shine through as it fried in the oil.  I actually enjoyed this dish for two days in a row - some might frown on saving a sunny side up egg for another day, but I just popped a lid on the frying pan for refrigerated storage and then reheated the whole thing until it was bubbly throughout.  I daresay it was even better the second day - and of course even less work!

Bolzano Salami Shakshuka
Serves 1-2 people
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz. Bozano salami, sliced as thinly as possible
  • ¼ c. chopped red onion
  • ¼ c. chopped mixed sweet and hot peppers (I used cubanelle, red bell, and green bell peppers, with half a serrano pepper)
  • ½ c. drained whole (or crushed) tomatoes (I used home canned tomatoes)
  •  2 T. reserved tomato juice (from the canned tomatoes)
  • ½ t. cumin powder 
  •  ½ t. Aleppo pepper
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs (may add additional 1-2 eggs if desired)
  • chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco for garnish

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes with reserved tomato juice, cumin, and Aleppo pepper.  Use a fork or your fingers to break up any large chunks of tomato.  Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil along with the thinly sliced garlic over medium heat.  When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the salami and sauté until the salami releases some of its oil and begins to crisp up.  Add a bit of black pepper to taste, a few grinds from a peppermill will do.

Add the onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes, just until the onion begins to soften a little.  Add the peppers, and continue to sauté just until the peppers are crisp tender, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low.

Add the tomato mixture, stir well, cover, and let simmer for 3-4 minutes to let all of the flavors meld.  Increase the heat to medium and make two indentations in the tomato mixture for the eggs.  Crack the eggs into the spaces, and let them cook (sunny side up style) until done to your liking, about 4-5 minutes. (If you cover the pan, the yolks will turn cloudy and cook more thoroughly.)

Serve in the skillet with good bread on the side.  If needed, add good flake salt at the table.  The salami adds enough salt that you likely will not need any additional.

salami shakshuka.

 Maybe, I knew I'd like this enough that I didn't want to share - and that's why I decided to make this for my lunch on a school day.  But when our Friday night pizza ritual came around (we've had a solid 2 months of pizza on Friday nights; my son actively helping me by stretching his own dough and topping pizzas himself!), I sliced some salami for my pizza.  One bite by the pickiest member of my family and he was hooked.  The kid likes salami pizza.

salami pizza.
salami pizza.

While I continue to improve on expanding his taste buds, one thing is certain:  I am going to invest in more salami.  While on a fairly strict food budget lately, quality ingredients like this salami actually pay for themselves.  I easily got 4 dishes out of one stick, most of them serving more than 2 people.  It's an indulgence, but definitely a justifiable one.  If you need a bit more inspiration, check out posts from other Bolsano salami experimenters this week:

Anna from Tallgrass Kitchen 
Lori and Paul from Burp!

salami shakshuka.

Disclaimer:  I did receive this salami free of charge in exchange for writing a couple of recipes and promoting our local man, Scott Baur.  Of course, all opinions about Bolzano salami are my own.  Having already sampled other Bolzano products, and also having some familiarity with his local commitments to excellence in slow food, I knew I would have nothing to say but complementary things!  If you are looking for "Something Special from Wisconsin", look no further!

What I Did With the Homemade Tofu...

I'll admit that I didn't really know what to do with my newly accomplished, 100% from scratch tofu. It seemed too much work to just do ordinary things with it; it felt as if I needed to fuss and create something new and exciting which is what ended up happening around lunchtime today. As I stood with steaming, crunchy, soft, sweet, salty tofu in hand, I knew I hit the mark. And the inspiration came from my cookbook shelf.

fresh tofu appetizers.

Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Jessica Seinfeld's (yes, Jerry's wife) Deceptively Delicious at a thrift. For the small price, I figured it would give me some inspiration, and it did have nice photography and was spiral bound. Somehow, the spiral bindings always get me...

I seem to go in "cookbook jags", rereading books that I have in my collection and then kind of cooking my way through them, in my own fashion of course, long after I've acquired them. I can follow instructions, but I would say (outside of testing written recipes) I have only loosely followed instructions for the past couple of years. The recipes in this book perfectly complement my experimental outlook in cooking life, and they end up being pretty healthy as well.

The gist of the book is to hide pureed vegetables in "kid-friendly" foods. The trouble with my kid is that he doesn't like "kid-friendly" foods, so most of this book tantalizes me but no one else in my family. I am happy he won't go anywhere near a soda or a chicken nugget, but I have a harder time of hiding veggies in anything that isn't a direct descendant of a carbohydrate. The best I can do is to veg-pack the pizza sauce that goes on our homemade pizzas that I try to make once a week. I take an abnormal amount of pride that my kid only eats sauce pizza. I bolster it with any red vegetable and even a sneaky carrot or two. It's nothing the pinch of sugar and plenty of oregano can't fool his tastebuds with.

tofu, broccoli puree

Last night at dinner, I steamed a little extra broccoli with the express notion that I would puree some of it to include in a hidden-veg recipe. Broccoli, strangely, is one of the vegetables my son will eat without question - so I also knew I was going to be doing some experiment for myself. I ended up using it with my very own, soft set tofu. I was shocked at both its hidden flavor and adhesive qualities. I thought for sure the whole outer coating would slide right off the slippery tofu, but it did not... and the creamy interior was such an amazing texture I just stood alone in my kitchen muttering aloud just how good it was. Next time, I may play around more with the spices but really, this is a pretty amazing little starter for a vegetarian meal.

fresh tofu appetizer, <span class=

My homemade tofu is much softer than the local, commercial tofu that I have bought, though I am sure commercial tofu is a fine substitute. I also used my own sourdough bread crumbs, that I grind very fine. Any fine dried bread crumb is a good bet. I also used something for the dipping sauce I fondly refer to as "Volger Sauce". I'll explain that below.

I did have to work carefully with the homemade tofu, it was delicate and would break if I wasn't so careful. But that said, I was surprised at the sturdiness of these after pan frying them. If you were the putzy type, you could probably wrap the whole tofu nugget entirely in a lettuce leaf (endive, butter lettuce?) and secure it with a toothpick - but eating them hot like little lettuce/tofu tacos was pretty unbeatable, and had the bonus of keeping my fingers relatively clean.

Fresh Tofu Appetizer (adapted from Jessica Seinfeld)
(makes 10 good sized pieces, easily scaled up for more)
  • 10 oz. fresh tofu (not the silken variety of buying commercial)
  • a heaping 1/2 c. dried sourdough breadcrumbs (seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste)
  • 1-2 T. chia seeds
  • 1/2 c. pureed broccoli
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • olive oil for frying
  • Volger Sauce and honey for adorning or dipping
  • lettuce leaves for wrapping

Cut the tofu gently into 1/2 inch thick slices and cut into large sized cube shapes.

Toss the breadcrumbs and chia seeds together in a medium sized, shallow bowl.

Combine the egg and broccoli puree in a small bowl.

Dip the tofu pieces one at a time in the broccoli puree/egg mixture and turn to coat it completely. With a fork, carefully lift it into the breadcrumb mixture and use a spoon to help coat it completely. Use a fork to carefully transfer it to a plate and repeat with remaining pieces of tofu.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, add 1 T. of olive oil and add half (5) of the dredged tofu nuggets. Pan fry 3-4 minutes on the first side, carefully flip and continue frying for about 3 minutes longer. The tofu will be nicely browned and will feel firm.

Serve on lettuce leaves with equal parts Volger Sauce and good honey.

fresh tofu appetizer, pan-fried.fresh tofu appetizer, cut

So, what exactly is Volger Sauce? Lukas Volger wrote a book I adored on Veggie Burgers, and this sauce was one of the accompaniments from it. I have had a little bottle of it in my fridge since first dip of my finger made the journey to my mouth. It's a wonderful homemade condiment, and adds a little zip to all kinds of things. (Volger makes a particularly great veggie burger with tofu and swiss chard, and adds a few drops of this sauce to each side just before frying them... that could be what made me think of trying it on these little bite-sized appetizers.)

To make it, combine 1/4 c. pomegranate molasses (I use this from POM, which may make it a tad thinner), 1/4 c. soy sauce, tamari or shoyu, 1 tablespoon molasses and 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Shake it up, store in the fridge, and use it on all kinds of stuff.

Kindly pay his web site a visit too, there is all kinds of greatness going on over there.

fresh tofu appetizer

I love when lunches appear like this, even though this lunch was pretty light and that's why I've considered it an appetizer. I have always held lunch in very high regard, if only because for the better part of the last 6 years, I can make whatever my heart desires. The liberating freedom that comes from cooking for only me is something I treasure, and when something is a success, the victory is all the sweeter.

(To check out one more Jessica Seinfeld hidden veg recipe I made last week, click here.)

Hot Lunch and Vinegar.

I feel like it's been months since I've eaten lunch. At least, the lunches I was used to eating before my Kiddo went to full-day Kindergarten. While most of the time I do make a point to carve out a proper lunchtime for myself, the past month or so has been bread and cheese eaten on the fly type lunch, or cold whatever I had for dinner last night lunch. I was just telling a new friend how the school lunch time for my son is only about 15 minutes long, and how important meal times are to us. Before the Kiddo went to school, we would frequently sit for an hour around the table for lunch, chatting and lallygagging over a proper meal. How is it I've reduced myself to 10 minutes of cold food?

taco fillingtaco lunch.

This past two weeks, I have been swamped in sugar. I haven't really tried to eat my fill, but it seems that in testing (and you do need to taste things, just to make sure they are good, right?) multiple sweets many times during the morning, my belly was just aching for some real vegetable food. When half of a sweet potato fell out of the Tetris of my refrigerator around lunchtime today, it was as if I was being beckoned to cook for myself. A hot lunch of vegetable drawer items, sauteed in olive oil and finished off with a bit of hot, home-canned jalapeno brine. Lucky for me, I had a couple of pinto bean tortillas hiding in the freezer that quickly came back to life under the steam of the skillet, and the remains of some cotija cheese I found buried in my cheese drawer. I felt lonely at the table by myself, but fortunately, my eyes wandered across the room to the cider vinegar that I've been putting off for a while now...

Satiated with my wholesome, non-sugared lunch, I started my afternoon by tasting the jars of vinegar. The larger of the two jars I started first, just after pressing the apples for the first time this fall with my Parents. It was pleasantly floral, vinegary but still gracefully reminiscent of the apples we picked. Since I plan to use these vinegars to cook with or dress salads (or drink with seltzer), I am not worried so much that they aren't very strong, not nearly as strong as Bragg's cider vinegar. The smaller of the two jars was considerably weaker but still a bit acidic. I figured it could benefit to stand longer, but I decided to use some right away in my fermented hot sauce I had all but forgotten about.

apple cider vinegar

The vinegar mat that formed on the tops of the smaller diameter jar was much thicker than the larger, shallower jar. I'm not sure if the type of jars I used contributed to the time frames that the vinegars took to complete. I almost suspect so. I saved my "mothers" (if you are local and want some, let me know...), and I'm saving them not quite sure where my vinegar adventures will take me going into the new year. I have taken a break from kombucha brewing, in part because I don't have a huge space to store all my projects and I was a bit worried about cross-contamination. I'd like to get back to daily kombucha consumption, especially since I have quite a cache of tested fruit syrups that have made their way to my freezer!

the mothers of vinegar.

I had quite a time finding jalapenos this summer, which I remembered when I was eating my taco lunch devoid of any additional peppers. I was able to find an ice cream pail of mixed hot peppers, and I got to pick them alongside an Amish man as we talked about his family and who in it liked hot food. The Amish, for the most part, like spicy things which is kind of surprising to me. I didn't get to make as many candied jalapenos as I had hoped this year, instead I got a pint of wicked orange pepper paste. It was much too hot to eat a spoonful on anything (and I can handle things pretty warm, mind you), so after I fermented it I left it in the fridge for months where I nearly forgot about it. (You can read more about my search for peppers this year over here. The recipe link that I loosely followed to lacto-fermenting my hot sauce is there as well.)

fermented hot peppers

I transferred it to my VitaMix, and added some of the mild vinegar to taste. Taste testing hot sauce is a difficult thing, but I did my best. I threw in a casual soup spoonful of honey and added more of the mild vinegar. This is a pretty hefty heat, but one that hits the front of your tongue first and then moves on fairly quickly. It's not the lingering, throat coating heat of a jalapeno, and it's a good thing, since it's maybe 10 times hotter. I think I got my sauce to a good flavor, but it's nearly water in consistency. No matter, since just a few drops of this stuff will enliven anything I can throw at it for the next year or so. I got one old Frank's Red Hot bottle full, plus two small 8 oz. vanilla extract jars. Even though they were washed thoroughly, I wonder if a nuance of vanilla will be found in the sauce after it sits, or if that hot sauce will just eat its way through any residual vanilla perfume. Time will tell.

fermented hot pepper sauce

I sat down last night to make a quick label for some Blueberry Vinegar, this was the only vinegar success I had after obtaining my original mother of vinegar from Lizzy, my Parents neighbor. I had 3 half pint jars, plus this little re-purposed vial:

blueberry (apple) vinegar
I clarified this vinegar by bringing it up to 140 degrees. It's no longer raw, but very pretty!

Since my Husband has been working more evenings, I have lately felt ravenously hungry by the time 5 o'clock hits, too hungry to wait for him for supper. But not so much today. Hot lunch is something I'll have to implement for myself again on a regular basis. I've talked before on the pleasures of cooking for one, and it is such a good feeling. I had no idea what would become of throwing vegetables into my cast iron skillet, and then miraculously tacos appeared. Even eating alone didn't feel quite so lonely when contemplating the vinegar and all of its complexities, though I still felt the pangs of aging as I remembered the solemn fact that my son is now going to be in school, unable to spend the lunch hour with me for most of the year from here on out. I suspect I'll be making labels now for my hot sauce, provided I can think of a clever name that isn't too trite. Maybe I'll ponder that over tomorrow's lunch.

vinegar creations.

Pie in the Sky July.

So it's July. What a strange year this has been in the Midwest. It seems everything is taking it's time to ramp up into full fledged Summer, and a turn of the calender recently only first brought some seriously hot weather. I know I'm a bit young for a midlife crisis, but I find myself in a crisis of sorts: why didn't my re-seeded radishes sprout? Why does the day seem to evaporate in 20 minutes? Why am I procrastinating a ton of kitchen projects? Why can't I find any tart cherries anywhere without driving half a day away? If you are wondering where I've been, it's probably because I'm too busy knitting myself a shawl for my complete transformation into "older adulthood". Granted it's a crazy color Noro shawl, but still...

The start of July also brings birthdays for both of my boys, my Husband on the 1st, and my soon-to-be 5 year old on the 9th. Both are good excuses to make cake, and this year I tried a recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking. The book is a Sur la Table book, and since the first Sur la Table opened recently in Wisconsin and I saw this book at the library, I figured I'd make a masterpiece and then have something fitting to gush over. Things never happen the way you figure however, and though the cakes tasted great, they totally lacked in the visual department.

This is partially because I used chocolate chips to make the ganache and they contain a stabilizer to prevent total melting, but it's also in part because cake knows that when I want it to rise extra high it needs to rise not quite so high. I cut out the centers of the cake to fill with whipping cream, and you can see the disks of replaced cake underneath the lumpy ganache glaze. The good news is that when refrigerated, they turned into a dense, heavy-handed chocolate punch in the face, so I was happy. And, happy that I also made full 5 egg yolk vanilla ice cream to go alongside.

I glazed them over a pan, and collected all the run-over ganache into a bowl and ran it through a strainer, something I should have done to begin with. A little jar of perfectly silky ganache is my reward, though I've been doing little but eating it by the spoonful...

I've enjoyed a string of unusual lunches recently. My Husband has been working later in the evenings lately, which cause me to feel even more like a diner's short-order cook. I hardly mind that, but instead mind that when we don't eat together my picky Kiddo (I think at 5 years old he's graduated to an older moniker) gets off easier in the trying something new department. I do usually get a bite or two of something new in him without too much fuss, but I tell you I am perplexed with his eating habits. For a kid who from birth was introduced to everything under the sun, I have no idea where it comes from. When I made the blackberry jam and insisted that he try a spoonful, he screamed and ran to his room. Jam! I have serious troubles.

While at dinner I am more demanding that we eat the same thing, lunches are a different story and we eat "leftovers" - whatever is already made or can be made from stuff already made. Here are a few of my favorites. They were also posted on my facebook page, if some of you think they sound familiar.

Eugenia Bone's recommend of omelet topped with pickled radishes. The pickled radishes are some of my favorite things in a long time, and I feel like this year I have given them my personal press that I did the candied jalapenos in the past. Amazingly, they are good on almost everything, and the leftover vinegar in the jar is great on salad. I use Bragg's cider vinegar, and hope sincerely that this Fall I can start my own cider vinegar. I think I'll have an apple press to get me on my way if I'm lucky.

Burnt-bottom pizza crust topped with hummus, bolted cilantro and well-fermented cortido. When I grilled pizza and the Kiddo didn't immediately devour his dough I knew something was amiss - it was that the bottom of his small dough was black. Not black in spots, but completely black. I actually stood with the half of leftover black-bottom crust (his idea of pizza is dough and sauce only, nothing else) in my hand over the garbage for a full minute before deciding to save it, and I was so glad I did. The black burnt bottom was surprisingly tasty when combined with cortido, and as I bonus, I remembered that I should eat the cortido that I lacto-fermented last August.

This one was actually supper, since it was an evening without all of us. I fried 3 pieces of bacon, "bacon ham" being one of the meats that my Kiddo happily eats, and used most of the fat to cook some red onion and a bunch of rainbow chard that I had got at the farmer's market last Saturday and then piled it on top of some scrambled eggs. I forget how much I love chard, and forget why I don't make it more often, since greens of any kind are something my Husband loves. When I ate it, I actually topped it with the other half of the sourdough English muffin - still one of my favorite things. English muffins are my Summer Bread Saviors since I always have them in the freezer, a good thing when I don't feel like heating up the kitchen.

It's not like I'm not cooking or eating or enjoying both cooking and eating lately, but it seems like I've not a lot to report. We're spending a whole lot of time outside and eating and cooking comes usually without too much planning. I spend more and more time away from the computer, am dreadfully behind at keeping up with my Internet friends. Part of this Summer weighs heavy on me since my boy is growing right before my eyes. I find myself just staring at him, wondering how he grew so fast, and in an instant I feel older. He will go to school this Fall all day. All Day! When he first nestled into my arms at 20 inches long, I never could have imagined that a big part of my day wouldn't contain him at some point, yet that is the barrel I'm staring down. I'm not that glowing new mother with a beautiful baby anymore. I'm the one that looks a little frazzled from repeatedly asking her wild kid to behave in public.

What time I feel I don't have to freely explore the worlds of cheese (and vinegar - I just had to dump my developing once-gorgeous wine version when I discovered black mold across the mat), I know I'll have in spades when I'm drinking my morning coffee in silence in a couple of months. Meanwhile, I fight back against this new feeling of "oldness", that my naturally night-owled self is transformed to an early to bed, early to rise self due to a Kiddo that can't wait to play himself into an early supper, bath, reading, and sleep regimen. If I seem a bit sparse this Summer, you may now know the reason why.

Tiny Beets: First CSA meal of the season.

Yesterday, I got my first ever CSA box. I decided to join a CSA last fall, when I was both frustrated with my shade-filled garden and impressed with Highcross Farm produce at the farmer's market. I did follow through on filling some raised beds in the middle of my sunny backyard, and have tomatoes, eggplants, peas, lots of peppers and assorted herbs finally doing very well so far thanks to unobstructed views of the sun and all of the rain we have been getting lately. I know I've mentioned before that when I first moved to the city, I used to feel strange getting my summer produce from strangers at markets. Growing up, we always had a huge garden, and it was something I never realized was so precious until moving away from home. I've always had some sort of little garden going, but not really a big enough one to eat a whole season through.

I think I'm really going to enjoy my CSA. I know I was already impressed with what arrived in my small box yesterday: pac choi, green lettuce, chives and oregano, 4 stalks of rhubarb, and a bunch of tiny beets along with another basil and tomato plant for the back yard.

It is early in the season, so when I say "tiny beets" I mean really tiny. There were three little beets in the above bundle, weighing in at just over 2 ounces without their tops. I decided that 2 oz. of beets plus their greens would be a good amount for my lunch, so I decided to veganize a recipe I saw on innBrooklyn: Beet Chops.

I kind of thought I would save the recipe for my Vegan Monday post, but I just can't since it was so tasty. I used a slightly higher proportion of russet potato to beet, and altered Indira's cooking methods just a little, but the effect was truly great. And lest you think I'd toss the gorgeous beet greens, I sauteed them quickly in olive oil to make a bed for the chops.

The result is a pretty, pink dish, glamorous enough for a dinner party, and elegant enough to make me feel special for cooking it just for myself. I recently read Judith Jones' book The Pleasures of Cooking for One. I have to say, it is probably one of the best reads I've had in a long while. There are many reasons one can be driven to cook for the self, some are sad and lonely reasons, and some are fueled by experimentation and curiosity. Weather I am sad or lonely, curious, or am the only beet lover in my household, I certainly love to cook and don't need much prodding to make a mess of my kitchen for no other reason than to just please myself. It is only an added joy to be able to sit at the table and think to myself, "This is REALLY good".

The original recipe calls for equal parts beet and potato, but I had very tiny beets, so I upped the russet ratio. Indria also dredges the chop in egg to help the bread crumbs to stick, but since I was making a vegan version, I omitted this and just lightly pressed the bread crumbs into the sides. I make my own bread crumbs from my leftover bread, so I know that they are vegan. You could experiment with panko crumbs, or even corn flakes, and discover a tasty variation.

Beet Chops (adapted from Indria on innBrooklyn)

Serves one, but proportional enough to easily accommodate more servings.
  • 2 oz. beets, boiled and mashed
  • 5 oz. russet potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 t. turmeric
  • 1/8 t. garam masala
  • 1/8 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bread crumbs for dredging
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • beet greens from the beets, coarsely chopped
  • olive oil
Boil the beets and potatoes separately since they cook at different rates. (Reserve some of the cooking liquid just in case.) I mashed them together in the same bowl. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add spices, salt and pepper, reduce heat, and stir until onions are soft, another 3-5 minutes.

Add onions to mashed potato/beet mixture and stir together well, adding a bit of reserved liquid if the mixture is too dry. Form the mixture into 6 "chops", I made mine rectangles. The mixture is soft, like a fragile play dough, so work carefully.

Press the chops into the bread crumbs gently, so that all sides and ends are evenly coated. Heat some vegetable oil, about 2 tablespoons, in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, carefully add chops, and cook about 1 minute per side until all 4 sides are lightly browned and crusted. (I actually used my hands to add them to the pan and flip them, since they are pretty delicate, just be careful of the heat.) When the last side is done, turn off the heat and saute the beet greens.

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat, until hot but not smoking, and add beet greens. Toss with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until cooked to your liking, about 2 minutes for me. Serve the beet chops on top of the beet greens.

Homemade bread crumbs: I seasoned these with salt, pepper and a bit of onion and garlic granules - but I usually leave them plain.

I had tasted the beet/potato mixture prior to pan frying, and knew that I loved the flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how delicious the hot beet chops were. I really love Indian spices, and it really works with beets - I don't know if I'd ever had anything similar before! They almost melted under the weight of the fork, and were amazingly "beety" for only having a mere 2 ounces of beets. They were also a cheerful color:

The best surprise of all, is that while I chose the 3 chops that were most "photogenic" to plate up first, it was the 3 that got slightly charred that tasted the best. It was accidental to be sure, since I have an electric stove, and the "Genuine CalRod" coils always tilt my pans slightly to one side no matter my rigging it seems. I guess, if I had a deeper coating of oil, all my chops would have been rendered more blackened and crispy. However you choose to alter the recipe, I'm sure you will enjoy your result...

...provided you love beets, of course. If you do, and find yourself in the position of cooking for only yourself, whatever the circumstance rejoice in the fact that there is no right or wrong, there is no one you need to impress, there is just the simple joy of standing over your stove and tinkering with a dish that will no doubt bring you the greatest reward.