Search this blog


Friday, January 15, 2016

Peppermint Beet Carpaccio with Feta

I went crazy the day I discovered Peppermint Beets.
I was about to roughly cut up vegetables and throw them into a roasting pan when I discovered that my lighter colored beets had exquisite candy cane stripes!  I let out a little squeal of joy, then tasted a piece.
Not as earthy as their dark red cousins, but a nice crunch and lighter pleasant taste nonetheless.
I went ahead with the roasting and many plans of better exposing their beauty in the future.  They taste much different roasted than regular beets.  I preferred the raw taste test.
The next day I bought more... excited about slicing them into rounds.  When I chopped them, they had lovely stripes but where not circular.  I wanted to make carpaccio.  Ooh yes!
So I just let myself wander, adding a bit of this, and a dash of that.. and being thankful I had a stash of cilantro to perfect it all.
This little gem was the result.  It didn't really take me any time.. (except the part where I almost sliced off my finger with the mandoline and had no bandaids in the house).  All the pieces just ended up in the right place while I let my senses guide me....
Serves 1
1 peppermint beet, peeled and sliced on the 1.5mm setting of the mandoline
1 small handful salad, washed
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
chunk of feta, chopped
few grinds black pepper
pinch of fleur de sel
pinch dried piment d'espelette
juice from 1/2 lime
hefty drizzle top quality olive oil
Plate it.
I first laid down the greens, then placed my beet slices slightly overlapping in a circle.
I sprinkled on the cilantro and feta, then added the pepper, fleur de sel,  and piment d'espelette.
The last thing I did was squeeze the lime juice all over the plate, and then douse it with olive oil.

This meal which is just a simple mixture of great quality ingredients, is the most rewarding meal to enjoy.
First, for its simplicity, next for it's swirls of beauty.. but most of all for its crisp and well seasoned morsels enhanced by the tang of lime and sharpness of feta.
It is something I've made again, and will continue making.
As an appetizer, it is just fine.
I've added poached or soft boiled eggs and made it a meal as well.
If I owned a restaurant, I would serve this and be proud of it!

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hoppin' John

It is sort of a tradition in the US to eat Black-Eyed peas on New Year's day.  Having lived in the US all my life, I had never heard of this tradition until I started getting interested in cooking and blogging.  I don't really remember any specific tradition on New Year's day (besides detoxing from the night before).  This southern tradition adds to the long list of traditions from all over the world symbolizing good fortune.  I am keen to these little bits and pieces of knowledge, especially when sharing a tradition from one country in a totally different country.  It makes for a wonderful intro before starting the meal.
In many cultures, eating beans or lentils is said to bring good fortune because they are round.  All round things represent coins.  Beans and lentils tend to swell while they cook, representing the growing good fortune.  I usually do black-eyed peas around the New Year but I usually do it in the form of pakoras.
In the middle east, India, and Africa, I've read accounts such as this.  It's funny how in the end people from all parts of the world have common acts in the name of tradition.
Couldn't we all just get along?
In the US, collard greens are usually added to the bean tradition because the green represents bills.. and it couldn't hurt to wish a few Benjamins to someone in need for the new year.
Pork is also essential across the globe to bring "good luck" on New Year's day.  From Asia to Africa to Europe, and finally to the Americas.. pork is one of the main highlights of the day.  The reason, apparently, is that they search for food using their snout, always moving forward, which is a good way of moving through life.  Birds, on the other hand, scratch the Earth using a backward motion, so it is better not to eat birds on the first day of the year.
I usually steer clear of pork because it's not very nutritious.. but smoked pork belly is really a treat.. especially if it's only once a year..
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

30cL (10 floz) dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight 
1 Tablespoon
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
250g (8.8 oz) piece of top quality smoked pork belly with rind, sliced (or bacon)
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Diced
5 cups water or broth
1 tsp freshly ground black Pepper
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
Serve with:
cooked rice (the best is Carolina Gold if you can find it)
sauteed kale
chopped green onions
1.  Heat the butter in a pan and sweat the onions.
2.  Add the pork belly slices and cook until the aroma is nice and smokey.. then add the garlic and bell pepper.
3.  Swish around for a few minutes, then transfer into a slow cooker with the black-eyed peas, bay leaves, water or broth, and black pepper.  Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
4.  Add the vinegar into the slow cooker.  Taste and add salt or pepper if needed.  Mine needed absolutely no salt.
5.  Remove the bay leaves and pork rind before serving.
I served over some leftover basmati and red thai rice with a hefty serving of sautéed kale, topped with green onions.

I put this on in the morning before going on my first hike of the year and discovering yet again what a beautiful place I live in.  I discovered canyons I can rock climb and waterfalls with wading pools with blue lagoon type of scenery.. right in my back yard.
So as I came home.. deep earthy aroma was a beckoning call to hungry souls.
Everybody licked their plates.. of course!
This will be my New Year's day tradition from now on as well...

Print Friendly and PDF