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Perfectly Poised and Precious Pickled Beets

Beets from Redwood Roots Farm, the same ones that end up in this recipe!
Beets from Redwood Roots Farm, the same ones that end up in this recipe!

Even those who eschew beets will like these. I have turned the palettes of many a beet hater with these. Those who love beets, love this recipe and it is in honor of Dr. Megan Jamilah Furniss that I am posting this recipe today.

Perfectly Poised and Precious Pickled Beets

  1. one or two bunches of beets (golden, red, or any combination thereof)
  2. one small onion sliced in half and then into thin strips
  3. dash of Mirin
  4. ½–1 whole cup of apple cider vinegar
  5. dash of white wine vinegar
  6. juice of ½ lemon or more
  7. pinch or two of good salt, (I used to use tamari or coconut aminos but now prefer salt, see my Let’s Talk Salt post)
  8. drizzle of olive oil
  9. ¼–½ teaspoon. of white pepper
  10. ¼–½ Tbsp. garlic powder
  11. ½ teaspoon. of dry dill or a bunch of chopped fresh dill, or parsley or tarragon (you need a greenish garnish)
  12. beet green leaves, sliced very, very fine and thin (optional)

Cut the greens off the beets and put aside for salads or soups or keep a few choice leaves two at most to cut thin and add in at the end. Cut off the part of the beet where the stems grew and the pointy tips. Do not peel them. Put whole beets into a large pot with water covering them. Let boil for 20–40 minutes. Once the water begins to boil, you can turn the heat down, but make sure you keep it simmering/boiling a little. It’s okay if you forget about them for a little while. You may have to add water if too much of it evaporates while they are simmering. You want these puppies cooking hot. Don’t cover the pan, you won’t be able to see what’s happening. You will know they are done if you can easily slice or poke through one with a knife, or you can just go for the 40 minute time. Put the pot in the sink and run cold water over the whole beets for a while. The skins will slip off the beets as you rub your hands over them. If you are preparing these in a hurry, you will have to work with the beets hot, which isn’t so easy. Otherwise, while the cold water is running, the skins will just come off as you fondle the beets. It’s so cool. The beets should be cooked all the way through and cut like butter, otherwise they aren’t done enough. Place them in a clean bowl and slice them in rounds or in half and then into thin slivers, however you like, although I am not a fan of chunks. The more surface area you expose with your slicing or cutting the more flavor is released. This is a principle of BIOLOGY, not just my preference. Slice onion in half or keep it whole but make sure you slice very thin slivers and add to the sliced beets.

Pour a liberal amount of vinegar over these, at least ½ to 1 cup of the vinegar. Add the oil and sprinkle white pepper and garlic powder, dash of salt (tamari or coconut aminos) and Mirin and stir. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. If you have fresh herbs, chop these up and throw over the beets. You can use dried dill if you don’t have fresh herbs, but fresh herbs are better. Do not use basil on these. You can serve warm or cold. Taste the sauce and a beet. If it’s too sweet, add more vinegar. These should be stored in a glass mason jar and can keep for a week or two. They will be better the second day. The olive oil congeals in the fridge, so it’s best to take these out of the fridge and serve them at room temperature if you remember.

Perfectly Poised and Presented Pickled Beets in a small dish and on a platter both made by Paul Barchilon
Perfectly Poised and Presented Pickled Beets in a small dish and on a platter both ceramic pieces by Paul Barchilon

Brazilian Sweet Potato, Tomato and Carmelized Onion Soup

The Eye of Ha-Shem to Bring you a taste of Heaven, like this soup will!
The Eye of Ha-Shem to Bring you a Taste of Heaven, like this soup will!
Sopa do Batata Doce (Brazilian)

I got this recipe from an old Boulder High School buddy, who is a foodie like me. We are still good friends. I love it when folks bring me new recipes. He uses chicken or beef stock, but since my husband is vegetarian, I usually make all dishes vegetarian unless I know he won’t be eating them. If you make the Roasted Root Vegetable Stock recipe below, like I do, you will not miss any flavor. If you don’t have time to make this stock, make sure and use some kind of vegetable or other stock, even if it is something from the store (for shame!). It really gives this soup a better flavor.

2-3 white sweet potatoes (sometimes called Hannah or Japanese sweet Potatoes, you can also use the orange kind, but it is better with the white ones)
2-3 onions
4-6 medium flavorful tomatoes
4-8 Tablespoons unsalted sweet butter

4-8 or more cups of Roasted Root Vegetable Stock or stock of your choosing.

Roasted Root Vegetable Stock:

Wash well all the veggies. It is better to not peel any of them for this stock. Chop up a bunch of veggies, I use carrots, celery (including the tops with the leaves), onions, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms, etc.. big chunks are fine. Combine all of the veggies in a large bowl and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and some fresh herbs like parsley, (stalks and all) and don’t forget several cloves of garlic.

Throw all of this onto a baking sheet and bake at 350-400º for about an hour. During that hour use a large spoon or spatula and move the veggies around a few times. Start a large pot of water to boil on your stove and dump all of the veggies into it. At this point I add chard or beet greens or kale, just a few leaves chopped up. Let all of this water and veggies boil and simmer for at least an hour, if not more. Strain the veggies through a colander with cheese cloth or a very clean thin dish towel over a strainer into another large bowl or pot. You can use a pan or spoon to press out all the good veggie juice into your strained stock. You can let this cool and freeze for future use or start making the soup, right now!
Peel and chop sweet potatoes
Simmer sweet potatoes in stock until cooked
Peel and chop onions and sauté onions in some of the butter until they are carmelized, which I think takes about an hour or more. You must cover the pan the onions are in and stir frequently and keep the flame on pretty low.
Chop tomatoes
Add tomatoes and onions to soup
Cook a few more minutes
Puree the soup
Add the rest of the butter
Add good salt and pepper to season
Garnish with parsley or use some of Esti’s Parsley Sauce to spice this up a bit.

Enjoy!

Nicole

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Cous Cous with Hot Sauce, in memory of BB Cohen

BB Cohen in Oukamaiden, Morocco with Etan Lev, April 9, 2013
BB Cohen in Oukamaiden, Morocco with Etan Lev, April 9, 2013

My Uncle BB Cohen, may his memory be for a blessing, passed away on Sunday, March 30th, 2014. He was 88 years old. I last saw him with my youngest son. We spent two glorious days with him in the Atlas Mountains and ate good food, took good walks, and shared stories and family. We then rejoined my son’s companions on the school trip we were on. I am so grateful for this final time of connection with BB. I have so many good memories and a CD he gave me of his piano playing. You can read more about my visit with him in the piece called Omar and the Bowls that is at the end of my post called It’s a Small World.

What follows here is the basic veggie dish I make to go with about ten other dishes, coming later. There are seven vegetables that go into this dish and you can pick and choose which seven you use. My husband doesn’t eat bell peppers, so I never include them, but make a separate dish with them, Perla’s Peppers, already up on this site. If you like bell peppers, use them in this dish as one of your seven.

The Hot Pepper Sauce can be made all the time and can be used every day of your life, to the delight of your family and friends. It is absolutely essential, in my opinion, for any couscous recipe to add some spice. The actual flavors of this dish are very delicate and sweet, the cinnamon, saffron and coriander being the main flavors. For those who don’t like spice, the dish is perfect without it. For those who do need a little kick, this Hot Pepper Sauce is different from others due to the cumin, VERY Moroccan!

Also, I am not giving instructions about how to prepare the actual couscous grain here. That is a three page process that many others have written about. Perhaps one day. I recommend you do look up how to actually prepare couscous, the grain itself, according to the Master Directions given by Paula Wolfert from her book, Couscous and other good food from Morocco. There is no point in making nasty couscous mush to go with the vegetable dish, but unless you take the time to prepare the grain properly, serve the vegetables with a millet bread or some other grain.

This recipe and the Hot Pepper Sauce are my adaptation from the Sunset Vegetarian Favorites cookbook and also Paula Wolfert’s book mentioned above.

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Cous Cous with Hot Sauce

  1. two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes or use fresh pumpkin or some other sweet gourd/squash
  2. several handfuls of fresh green beans, cut into small ½ inch pieces (instead of bell peppers for those who are allergic to bell peppers, otherwise use bell peppers!)
  3. two-four large tomatoes, chopped
  4. one or two large cans of garbanzo beans (rinse off the gooey juice) or the equivalent amount of fresh cooked ones

  5. two-three medium size zucchinis chopped into small little wedges

  6. one-two turnips (peeled and cubed into small pieces)
  7. one large parsnip (peeled) or other vegetable of your choice, cut into smallish pieces

¼– ½ cup of olive oil

1–2 large onions finely chopped

2–4 teaspoons fresh ground coriander

2–4 teaspoons cinnamon

juice of one to two lemons

¼– ½ cup water

½ to a full teaspoon of saffron threads

dash or more of salt

Heat the oil and add the onion, coriander & cinnamon, stirring frequently until the onions are soft (5–10 minutes). Stir in the sweet potatoes and mix often for about two minutes. Add the parsnips, turnips, tomatoes, green beans, garbanzo beans, water, lemon juice, saffron threads and some salt. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Mix in the zucchini, after the sweet potatoes and other veggies have cooked, they need less time. Cook for another twenty to forty minutes, stirring gently and on low heat. You can let this dish sit for a while before serving in a good covered pot, if you aren’t cooking in a traditional Moroccan Tagine style dish.

Serve over couscous and make sure and use the Hot Pepper Sauce as it makes this dish. This recipe w/out the pepper sauce is very savory, not spicy, the Hot Pepper Sauce adds the heat and you can use as much or as little as you wish. I also like to add fresh feta or some other crumbly salty cheese as it gives the flavors another contrast. Again, I serve the feta on the side. I prefer goat or sheep’s milk feta, but use whichever one you like.

Hot Pepper Sauce

In a small pan on a low flame combine ½ – ¾ cup olive oil, when the oil is warm to hot add 3–5 teaspoons of fresh ground red pepper (cayenne); 2–4 teaspoons fresh ground cumin seed (use the Sabatu/Suribachi to grind your cumin seeds); 2–3 cloves of garlic, pressed (be careful as the oil is hot, you can press the garlic into a small bowl and slip it into the oil if you are worried about oil splattering); ¼ – ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring with a chopstick until all of it is well–blended (5 minutes).

Enjoy and Live your life with gusto!!!!!!

View from BB's home in Ouka
View from BB’s home in Ouka, now he flies above these mountains, free as a bird!