Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Naked Chef

No, I'm not talking about Jamie Oliver (although hubby did order me his last two cookbooks [Italy and Cook] for my birthday and they should be on there way here soon and will I will finally have the cookbooks I've been wanting for a while) but today's cooking adventure.


Ahem... *cough*

I think I mentioned that last weekend at the Farmer's Market I bought beets and the person who sold them mentioned the would be the last for the year. I didn't get a chance to do anything with them until today since my menu was already planned and Hubby already has a favorite. What I wanted, I didn't have eggs old enough for (pickled eggs and beets, I find eggs peel better when they are older) but hubby wanted is Summer Borscht - Cold Beet Soup. The Naked Chef part of the title comes from the fact of how I usually deal with beets. I guess it's a good thing we don't have kids and live out in the country, huh? I am not the worlds neatest cook (or eater I almost always wear my food at some point and when I eat pho I usually try to remember to wear my contacts since I even get it on my glasses.) aprons help but don't protect everything. I just find that it's easiest if I just go naked and wear latex gloves (I don't mind my fingers being stained, it's the staining under my fingernails that bothers me more).

This morning I used the beet greens for breakfast. I don't have an actual recipe for this but: I had a package of the Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns. I mixed them with some oil, salt and pepper and pressed them into a 9x13 pan and baked it at 400 F for about 20 minutes until it started to turn brown. While that was going, I sauteed the diced greens with some onions, garlic, diced tomatoes and diced ham (I don't have any bacon on hand) and some Italian seasoning. When the potatoes were done I topped with a bit of shredded Parmesan and topped with the sauteed veggies. Then I topped with 2 cups of Egg Subsitute that had been mixed with a bit of Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle (garlic flavor) and then sprinkled a touch of reduced fat cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan. I baked for about 25 minutes until the eggs were done and it was browned. It was very good! You can also save the greens for the soup, but we don't like it for that. During the winter or if beets aren't available, I've also used canned beets with no problems too.

The soup was originally from Joanne Stephanik's (SP I don't have the book in front of me) Vegan Deli but it's been modified.

Summer Borscht (Cold Beet Soup)
Adapted from Vegan Deli
Serves 4-6
1 lb fresh beets (3-4 2" beets)
8 cups water
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp dill
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 cooked potatoes - leftovers are great
1 cup sour cream

Trim the beet tops, leaving 1" (if you trim too close they'll bleed a lot of the color out) and scrub well. [If using the greens, wash and chop them and set aside.] Put the beets into the water and bring to a boil in a large soup pot. Simmer until the beets are fork tender (like a potato), about 40 minutes. Let cool. Remove with a slotted spoon. Peel, using your hands (the skins will slip off). Chop, reserving a few and place into blender. Strain cooking liquid. Blend, leaving soup a bit chunky (I usually add about 1 1/2-2 cups reserved cooking liquid). Chop reserved beets into a fine dice and add to soup. Add rest of ingredients except potatoes and sour cream, adjusting to taste (you may have to add more later after it's cooled since cooling can dull the taste). Place into storage container and let cool. When ready to serve, taste and adjust seasoning of soup. We like to pan fry the potatoes until crispy and serve on top of the cold soup with a dollop of sour cream.

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