I love beets. When they’re roasted for a few hours, they’re so sweet and tender, and the way the deep red flesh moves (and looks) is almost muscular. I’m intrigued by this root that so closely resembles a beating heart.
I also love raw beets. They’re especially good thinly sliced and paired with cucumbers in a light rice wine vinegar and sesame oil dressing. And the striped chioggia beets are prettiest raw. Their colors blend together once cooked, and even if they’ve just been sitting in the salad dressing too long.
The slight astringency of these raw chioggias pairs well with cooked quinoa, more cucumber, chopped parsley and a strawberry vinaigrette. This salad made a brief appearance at a work lunch potluck – it was completely gone by the time I headed back for seconds.
Though I can’t say enough about their texture, taste, and versatility, I think I love beets best for their longevity. I roasted a bunch of beets about a month ago, ate a few, and forgot the rest. Yesterday I discovered them waiting patiently in the back of the fridge without even a hint of mold or decay, and promptly added one to my lunch. There’s one left from that batch, and I’m sure it will still be fine when I get around to eating it in a few days. Then I’ll need to re-stock.
After emerging from a 3 hour meeting on Thursday, I wanted to relax with some baking, but still had lots of work to do. I just needed to do something that made me feel comfortable and competent, and had immediately visible results. Preferably delicious results to buoy the spirits and blood sugar of my exhausted coworkers.
So I tossed together a quick clafoutis with a few things likely to be in the office fridge at any given time: eggs, milk, fancy product samples, and my latest cache of greenmarket fruit. Of course, since there are no measuring cups or spoons in the office kitchen I had to estimate amounts and bake my clafoutis in a skillet instead of a pie plate or souffle dish, but that just attests to the flexibility and forgiving nature of this dessert. And it’s very quick to mix and bake, so I was able to get it in and out of the oven in well under an hour.
Now that I’m sure I can make it at work whenever need be, I feel a little better about all the late nights we’re about to pull in preparation for our biggest event of the year. After that, I’m going to take my nectarines home and bake them into coffee cakes and pies at a leisurely pace.
Nectarine Clafoutis (loosely adapted from a memory of Julia Child’s recipe)
- 3 nectarines, sliced thinly
- 1/3 c flour
- 1/3 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- faint grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp
- pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs hazlenut oil
- 1 c milk
- 2 Tbs Saint-Germain elderflower liqueur
Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter in a 10-inch skillet in the warming oven. Whisk 1/2 c sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Then whisk in the eggs. Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the butter into the egg mixture and whisk in along with the oil. Use a paper towel to rub the remaining melted butter over the bottom and sides of the skillet. Slowly pour the milk and liqueur into the batter, whisking all the while. Sprinkle a little sugar on the buttered pan. Pour about a quarter of the batter into the pan and bake about 5 minutes, just until set. This creates a base to keep the fruit from adhering to the bottom of the pan. Remove skillet from oven, and arrange the nectarine slices over the batter skin. Gently pour the remaining batter over the slices, re-arranging them if any float out of place. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, until center is set and edges are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with just enough sugar to make it sparkle. Serve warm or room temperature.