Saturday, March 5, 2011

March and Beets

It's March.  It is still freezing cold, but at least it's March.  And the ground has thawed a little giving up some carrots, parsnips and beets that I missed last year when the frost caught me by surprise as it does every year.  You can smell the dirt again though and that is a very good sign.  Time to make sure you have sugar snap pea seeds ready for direct sowing the weekend after St. Patrick's Day.  And kale and new beets. And to turn over the compost to amend the beds before planting.  But not today, it's too cold.

It is so exciting to have something fresh from the garden - well, partially naturally frozen but still fresh.  The thyme and rosemary was the last to go in early February.  And February has been a dreary month.
The carrots and parsnips went into some incredible Halibut in Cilantro Carrot Broth loosely based on Jerry Traunfeld's recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook (a must for anyone who loves good food and grows lots of herbs).  I posted the recipe on food52.  Doesn't appear anyone likes it but me.  Try it though - it is a delicious fast meal.
Last night I was tired from a long week of work - but still starving.  Beets beckoned.  Beet risotto.  Beet Risotto with Humboldt Fog.  Yes, there is a tiny bit left from a cheese plate long ago.  Served with a duck confit leg from D'Artagnan that is the ultimate fast food. Just defrost and broil on both sides until crisp.
Preparing the beets with the grating disk of a food processor makes life easy.  I was a little over exuberant on the beet grating so I have a significant amount of leftover beet shavings but - I've got an idea, tune in tomorrow.
Beet Risotto with Humboldt Fog
3 tbsps. butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green part only, cleaned, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
4 beets, peeled and grated
1 parsnip, peeled and grated
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 cups of hot vegetable or turkey stock (if I'm out of home-made, I use R.L. Schreiber liquid bases and find them acceptable)
Some crumbled cheese - preferably Humboldt Fog
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1.  Melt the butter with the olive oil in a medium size Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leeks and fennel and sauté until translucent but don't brown them.  Add the fennel seeds and stir for 2 minutes.
2.  Stir the grated beets and parsnip into the leek fennel mixture and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the Arborio rice and coat with the mixture.  Continue to stir the rice until the edges become translucent.  Add the wine and orange zest and bring to a light boil.
3.  Continue stirring the risotto.  When the wine evaporates, add a cup of the broth and stir.  Mix the orange juice with the remaining broth.  Continue adding a ladleful of liquid as the broth evaporates, stirring to prevent sticking.  If the risotto is still hard when the broth is done, add an additional half cup of water. When the risotto is al dente, ladle into shallow bowls and top with the crumble cheese and parsley.
Leftover tip:  If there is leftover risotto, mix a beaten egg into the risotto and shape into patties.  Brown in a little butter and olive oil and serve as a side dish.

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