Nosh: Baked Zucchini Coins

Note: However much I tell you to make of this dish…double it. George and I used two medium-sized zucchini when we made this, and had only a teeny tiny little bit left over, which he ate all of the next day and I didn’t get any and I’m still pouting about it because I wanted more. That is all. Time for business.

Ahhhh, zucchini. It’s one of those vegetables. It can be kind of bland, kind of squishy, is often overly-dunked in butter to the point of being slick. And it is everywhere, as it is force-grown year round (though it’s best in summer…grilled, with some fresh herbs to finish, but I digress) so it almost becomes overlooked. Zucchini is that song you’ve heard a thousand times and aren’t quite sick of, but meh, it’s OK; it’s that perfunctory sandwich you eat at your desk because you need to eat so you don’t die. That’s often how I feel about zucchini’s contribution to the vegetable world.

There are notable exceptions to zucchini’s meh standing. Happily, this is one. As an added bonus, it’s pretty easy. Slicing the zucchini is the hardest part. That and the waiting, because they do take about a half an hour or forty minutes to cook. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 (at least) zucchinis
  • 1-2 Tablespoons your choice of flour (rice, AP, chickpea…whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon thyme (or herb/herbs of your choice*)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper/Aleppo pepper, entirely optional
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray

 Preheat the oven at 350°.  Spray baking sheets with cooking spray. Take zucchinis and slice them fairly thin; aim for slices that are about the width of a quarter (or a Euro, if you’re more familiar with cash across the pond). If you let the slices sit and they start to weep (release the water in their cells), blot them. If they don’t start to weep, carry on!

Toss the veggies in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle them with thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. *Or, use whatever combination of herbs you’d like. Ground fennel and onion? Go for it. Herbes de Provence? Sounds yummy. Garlic powder and oregano? Molto bene! It’s your kitchen, it’s up to you. Toss the zucchini slices with the herbs, then add the flour (full disclosure: I used rice flour here) and toss again. You just want the flour to lightly adhere to the zucchini; in no way do you want a thick coating.

Right.

Right.

Lay the zucchini slices in a single layer on your oil-sprayed baking sheets. Redistribute any seasonings that stayed in the bottom of your mixing bowl, onto the zucchini, because who wants to waste anything that tastes good? Once this is done, spray the up-sides of the zucchini with cooking spray, so both sides of it have a nice, but light, oven-crisping-friendly layer of oil.

Ready to roll.

Ready to roll.

NOTE: Some of the slices you see before you are kind of thick. These will still be delicious, they just won’t get super-crispy. I admit that crispy = even yummier, but you’ll hardly suffer if you end up with some thicker slices.

Put this in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until they’re done, flipping the slices every ten minutes. You’ll end up with an insanely addictive zucchini side dish that looks kind of like this.

I'd eat it.

I’d eat it.

We served these with herb and cheese grits and a green salad, and OMG yes, they were fan-fricking-tastic. George and I love us some grits but we couldn’t decide which of the dishes were the star of the dinner show, which (if you’re going to have problems) is a great problem to have. We could have doubled the amount of zucchini we made and not gotten sick of eating it; next time we make these coins, we’ll make extra for sure. This is an easy, tasty, not-your-run-of-the-mill approach to a common and often sadly under-loved vegetable. Try this dish and let your love run deep.

Nosh: Roasted Spiced Beet Tatin

I’m not sure why, but I woke up yesterday with a hankering for beets, and a desire to putter around in the kitchen. Sometimes, good things happen when I start to putter. Mmmm, beets. Sweet, earthy, dense, jewel-colored, beautiful. Beets!

A few days ago a friend of mine posted a link to a beet tarte tatin, which is basically beets made like an upside down cake, topped with puff pastry. Savory beets + buttery pastry? I’m in! But here’s the thing: every single recipe for a beet tarte tatin that I found online involved drowning roasted beets in butter and sugar, before baking them inside pastry that is inherently butter-gorged. It’s a delicious idea in principle, but this? Is totally unnecessary. Beets are the candy of the vegetable world. They’re grown FOR their sugar. Adding sugar to them is overkill. And how much butter do you really need to eat at dinner? Save your butter intake for the shortbreads you’re sure to encounter this holiday season.

So what’s a girl to do? We improvise.

Here’s the basic principle of a tarte tatin: arrange edibles in a pleasing design in the bottom of a cake pan, cover with puff pastry, bake, invert, eat. Got it. Now let’s get to it! REMEMBER: This is a dish made for a day you have time to putter; it will probably take about an hour and a half (maybe even closer to two hours) from start to finish, between the prep-work and the cook time. And so, with no further ado…

  • 3 good-sized beets, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into quarters, then roasted according to this recipe (so you’ll also need thyme/rosemary/cinnamon/red pepper flakes, red wine and balsamic vinegars, salt & pepper, see recipe link for specifics)
  • 1 large red onion
  •  1 smallish handful (1/4 cup, maybe?) pine nuts; walnuts (chopped) would also be nice here if you didn’t have pine nuts on hand
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish cheese or Swiss cheese (optional)
  • olive oil

Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter to defrost. Don’t leave it in the fridge to defrost; I’ve found out the hard way that it won’t defrost in there as much as you would like. Just set it on a plate on your counter top and forget about it for the next 50 minutes or so.  I’m assuming you’re using frozen puff pastry, because… No reason. Just because. Look, I make a lot of stuff from scratch. But delicate pastries like this? I’ll buy it pre-packaged, thank you very much.  Preheat the oven to 400°, because the first thing you’ll want to do is peel and roast the beets. Bear in mind that you want them to look pretty post-roast, so when you prep them for roasting, cut them into uniform-looking quarters. 

Now get to roasting, gorgeous beetses!

Now get to roasting, gorgeous beetses!

The fatter ends of the beets are pretty dense, so give these about 40-45 minutes to roast. Toss with herbs, spices, vinegars, salt and pepper, and oil, and put it in the oven. Turn once about halfway through. When they’re done, set them aside, but you’ll be using them fairly soon after they’re out of the oven so don’t worry about letting them cool completely. Drop the oven temperature to 350°.

While the beets are roasting, thinly slice the red onion into nice, big rounds, sprinkle them with some salt, toss them with oil, and get them in a pan over medium-low heat. These are going to caramelize, and that takes…oh, about 40-45 minutes. Once they start to soften and turn gold, then brown, you will need to pay a little attention to them. You don’t want them to get crisp, just soft and sweet, so stir them fairly often. If you notice them starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, you can do one of two things to loosen them. You can 1) add more oil, which I don’t favor, because I feel like it just fattens up the works, or 2) toss in a little veggie broth or water, which I do favor. It also helps steam them into softness, and is that much less oil you need to worry about. Eventually, the onions will turn rich and brown and soft and super-sweet, and you’ll remember that the world is indeed a beautiful place, that you can extract such gorgeous flavor from a sulfuric root vegetable.

Almost too good to be true.

Almost too good to be true.

Once the beets are cooked and the onions are caramelized, take an 8-inch cake pan and grease it with a little bit of olive oil (meaning: pour a little dime-sized spot of olive oil in the cake pan and rub it around the bottom and sides with a bit of paper towel). Start to arrange your beets in a pretty pattern. Pay attention to this detail because it will figure into the presentation later. When you invert the tatin to serve it, you’ll want the beets to be the stars of the show. Try and imagine how they’ll look, upside down and backwards. 🙂

It's worth it. Trust me.

It’s worth it. Trust me.

Nice, evenly-spaced circles look great and require practically no skill to arrange. That’s what I went for.

Top this with caramelized onions, and then top the onions with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

I love it when a plan starts to come together.

I love it when a plan starts to come together.

The beets and the onions are both seasoned with salt and/or pepper, so I wouldn’t opt to add any more seasoning at this stage. Just let the foods as they’ve been cooked come together. Top the beets and onions with the sheet of puff pastry. You may need to roll the puff pastry out to get it to cover the entirety of the pan, but that’s easy to do. Just lay it on a flat surface and make a few passes over it with a rolling pin. It should readily stretch. Then you just lay it out on top of your cake pan, trim off any crazy excess corners, and tuck the pastry all around the edges of the pan.

See? Easy-peasy.

See? Easy-peasy.

Note the holes. This dough is docked, which means I poked a bunch of holes in it with a fork. Now it won’t bake up to be super-puffy, just kind of puffy, yet still totally delicious. Put it in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once half-way through. When you take it out, it should be toasted and beautiful.

Golden perfection!

Golden, slightly puffy perfection!

Let this sit for 10 minutes to give the tatin a chance to set. Now is the time to decide what to do: do you want to serve it as-is? Or do you intend to top it with cheese and broil it for a few minutes? Because…

If you want to serve it as-is, put the serving dish you plan to present it on, on top of the cake pan. If you want to top it with cheese and put it in the broiler, put a cookie sheet on top of the cake pan. Then: FLIP!

YES!

YES!

I told you that my anal-retentive attention to detail would pay off. 

Wait, let’s get another food-porn look at this, shall we?

Well, hello, beautiful.

Well, hello, beautiful.

I did choose to top this with horseradish cheese, because I think almost everything is better with horseradish cheese. But for real, it is perfectly heavenly right now. You could go cheeseless and be fine. But me?  I cheesed it up and stuck it under the broiler for a few more minutes.

Now I'm sad I don't have any more leftovers.

Now I’m sad I don’t have any more leftovers.

We ate this with a simple tossed salad with arugula, and a roasted pear and pumpkin soup (recipe coming). It was a table full of warm, wintery comfort. It wasn’t a speedy dish to put together, it was absolutely a “Sunday in the kitchen” sort of meal, but it’s surprisingly easy and oh, so, so satisfying. Enjoy! I know I did.

Nosh: Roasted Spiced Beets and Sauteed Beet Greens

What do you do when you have a beautiful batch of beetses?

Are they tasty, Precious?

Are they tasty, Precious?

We got these from our CSA and they were totally gorgeous.  Plus, somewhere along the line (and I really don’t remember how) we ended up with extra beet greens.  So.  Beautiful beets, and a ton of beet greens; this sounds like the beginnings of a feast to me.

I love…LOVE…LOVE roasted beets (as I’m sure you may have noticed from previous posts) but the thing about them is, they’re so distinct in their flavor I often find that recipes don’t do much other than emphasize their beety goodness.  Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.  But, you know.  Beets is beets.

However.

My restless search for beet diversity paid off handsomely when I came across this recipe, which plays on different nuances of the flavor of the noble beet.  Of course, because I am me, I had to change it a little, largely because who has fresh lemon thyme laying around?  (OK, I know some people do, but I don’t.)  And I wanted a peppery bite because I totally dig the interplay between cinnamon and black pepper.  Here’s what I used.

For the beets:

  • 2 cups of beets (-ish, that’s hard to measure, it may have been more like 2.5 cups, but ultimately, use what you’ve got), trimmed and peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (admittedly this can be a little intense, so if you’re not ready for that much black pepper, be kind to yourself)
  • 1/4 tsp (or more, to taste) Aleppo pepper/crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp each Balsamic and red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

For the greens:

  • One large bunch beet greens, with leaves separated from thicker stalks (this saute would also work nicely with Swiss chard, FYI)
  • Half a medium yellow onion
  • As much garlic as you’d like (I generally use 3-4 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c veggie broth/water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and drain your beet greens and stalks, and then set them off to the side because you won’t need them for a while.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Scrub, peel, and trim the beets, then cut them into nice thick chunks.  Be forewarned…beets have…you know…THAT quality, wherein the beet juice will get all over your hands and the cutting board if you don’t coat yourself in rubber and…oh, GOD, the stains, the stains…

Really, I’ve discovered that beet juice stains are not so tragic.  It washes out.  If you don’t have a plastic cutting board and rubber gloves to protect against stains, then do yourself a favor: Don’t panic.

Toss your chopped beets into a baking dish.

Ooh, chunky.

Ooh, chunky.

Aren’t they pretty?  I think they’re kind of bad-ass.  Anyway.  Once your beets are in the roasting pan, add in everything else.  Yes, everything else that is beet (not greens) specific, and toss it with a nice glug of oil.

Yup. That's it.

Yup. That’s it.

And into the oven wit’ ye!

Not bad.

Let these cook for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

While they’re in the oven, turn your attention to your beet greens.  I love beet greens!  The sweet flavor of the beets is somewhat preserved in the greens (primarily in the red stalks) but there’s also the peppery bitterness that you find in all good greens.  They’re an awesome flavor package.  Beet greens are nutritional powerhouses (as opposed to rhubarb greens, which can kill you), packed with Vitamins A, C, and K, and are also a good source of calcium for those looking for non-dairy calcium sources.

Yes, you can get calcium from something other than milk. No, you don’t need a supplement if you eat right.  Moving on.

Cut the onion into a small-ish dice and chop your garlic.  Get them off the cutting board if you don’t have a spacious one; chopping large amounts of greens can take up a lot of room, so you’ll need as much choppable workspace as possible.  Take your rinsed and drained greens and separate the stalks from the leaves–both are perfectly edible, but the stalks are thicker so you need to start their cooking earlier and give them a few extra minutes.

Just hack away, where the leaf meets the stem. Done!

Just hack away, where the leaf meets the stem. Done!

Start the onions and garlic sauteing with some salt and pepper, and after a minute or two add thyme.  Chop the stalks into delicious bite-sized morsels and then?  Once the onions are nice and soft and translucent?

You know what fate awaits these beet stalks.  NO MERCY!

You know what fate awaits these beet stalks. NO MERCY!

Oh, yeah.  Don’t forget to use a nice, roomy pan that you can cover, because there’s a lot of stuff you’re going to try and cook and later you need a lid.  So.  Beet green stalks are in the pan, getting chummy with the onions and garlic.  Start on your leaves.

The easiest way to chop leaves like this is to stack them and cut them into ribbons.  If you want smaller greens after that then have at it with your kitchen knife.  What can I say?  It’s not rocket surgery.

Give the stalks a few minutes to cook in with the onions, and by a few I mean a few.  No more than five minutes, really.  Then toss in your greens, and sprinkle nutmeg (or freshly grate it if you have the whole nut and a handy microplane) and a shot of salt and pepper on the greens.  Give it a stir and let them saute.

Almost home, my brothers and sisters.

Almost home, my brothers and sisters.

They’ll probably start to sound kind of loud and angry pretty quickly as the water cooks out of them, which is fine, but don’t let that go on for more than a minute or two, because you want to make use of their moisture (plus some).  Give another stir to make sure nothing’s stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the 1/4 cup broth, put the lid on the pan, and remove it from heat.  The objective is to let the greens finish cooking in their own steam.  If the rest of the dinner is still cooking and you aren’t ready to eat the greens after a few minutes of steaming, knock the lid back so the steam can escape.

Put it all together.  If you can put it on polenta, it’s a happy day!  When corn (polenta is corn, after all) and beets get together, they pull out each other’s green grassiness.  When that’s combined with the sweet and the cinnamon and the pepper and the bitter-ish crunch?  OMG yes.

THAT is what I'm talking about!

THAT is what I’m talking about!

We ate this with Baked Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce, roasted parsnips (recipe coming soon) and George’s extraordinarily delicious polenta, which is his specialty so you may have to ask him how to make it.  I’ve never done it.  He’s good at it.  Win!

Do you have a favorite way to eat beets?  And do you always eat the greens?

Enjoy!

XOXO —  Terri

Nosh: Baked Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce

I learned a new word today: cucurbitacean.  It means, “A person who regards pumpkins or squashes with deep, often rapturous love.” Guilty. As. Charged. And let me make this clear if I haven’t done so already: if loving pumpkin is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

When I went to the Helmand Restaurant in Baltimore, I tried this gorgeous Afghan dish called kaddo bourani.  In a traditional kaddo, pumpkin is slow roasted in sugar and oil until it’s caramelized and deliriously silky, then topped with two sauces, one made of yogurt and the other from ground beef.  I’ve not had it with ground beef but I assure you, the vegetarian, yogurt-only version kicks some serious ass.  The major downsides to kaddo are that it takes like four hours to make (prep time, plus three and a half hours or so in the oven, and ain’t nobody got time for that) and it uses a ton of sugar. Like, three cups worth of sugar.  I can’t bring myself to do it unless it’s a special occasion (and I’ve done it and the results have been worth it, I do confess; it’s so not hard, it’s just mega time consuming).  Here’s what I used for the lower-sugar, shorter-time, non-traditional baked pumpkin goodness:

  • 1 regular-sized (3-5 pound) baby blue hubbard squash, seeded and cut into chunks (more on this in a minute)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sumac/your seasoning of choice (more on this in a minute)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough oil to coat the pumpkin well
  • chopped fresh mint for garnish

And for the yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (rein it in here, since the garlic is raw. My cloves were very small inner cloves, so I used two)
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • a pinch of salt/pepper to taste

So this is based on the idea of a kaddo bourani, sort of, but cooked at a higher temp so it doesn’t take anywhere near three + hours, and only uses a wee tiny bit of sugar.  Traditional?  Not by a long shot.  But still delicious.  And easy.  As always, the hardest part of this is getting inside the pumpkin.  Just go about it piece by piece, use a sharp, heavy chef’s knife, and let the blade do as much of the work as possible.  There’s no “easy way” to break down a thick-skinned squash.  And as a warning: I will generally use the words “squash” and “pumpkin” interchangeably here, so if I refer to a pumpkin I don’t mean a jack-o-lantern type thing, unless I specify.  So a blue hubbard squash?  Is also a pumpkin.  Dig?

Slow and steady, that's the way to do it.

Slow and steady, that’s the way to do it.  To pumpkin.

I used a baby blue hubbard squash because I saw it at a farmer’s market and had to buy it; it’s simply what I had on hand (regular, non-baby hubbards can weigh up to 11 pounds, so unless you’re feeding an army, I don’t recommend it).  Use whatever you can get your hands on–sugar pumpkin, butternut squash.  Acorn or sweet dumpling squash could be interesting, plus you wouldn’t have to peel it, which is a bonus.  (I know I’ve said this before but reminder: YES you can eat acorn squash skin. And I digress.)  Each pumpkin will impart its own characteristics to the dish.  Hubbard squash, for example, is a bit more starchy and floury than butternut, so the end product will have a bit more of a crumbly texture, while retaining its deeply sweet flavor.  Did I mention how good and sweet the hubbard smelled just when I cut it open?  It smelled like fresh pie.  Oh, the joy.  I could go on but instead?  Next step.

Preheat your oven to 425°.  Dismantle the pumpkin and cut it into thick strips.  Or you could big-chunk it.  Whatever you prefer.

Place your squash in the bottom of a roasting pan that has a lid, or one that you can tightly cover with foil.  Coat it with oil, salt and pepper and give it a good stir so it’s evenly distributed, then arrange the squash so it’s got the concave side (the one receptive to holding yummy spices) facing up.  Add the sumac and sugar.

There's some good stuff going down in this roaster!

There’s some good stuff going down in this roaster!

Regarding sumac: it’s not a spice found in most US pantries, I get it, I know.  If you’re feeling adventurous you might want to buy some and try it; it’s fruity and tart and not spicy-hot at all.  If not, then feel free to use coriander or cumin.  Fennel would be fun with this.  I chose sumac because it’s a Middle Eastern spice and I thought…well, if I can’t make a traditional Afghan kaddo, the least I can do is use region-appropriate flavors.  But ultimately, the objective should be to find something that’s kind of fruity and not overwhelming and will blend harmoniously with the sweetness of the pumpkin and the added sugar.

Once you’ve added your preferred spice and the sugar, take the 1/4 cup of liquid and add it to the bottom of the roasting pan.  You don’t want to pour it all over the top of the pumpkin because you don’t want to disturb the sugar and sumac, so pour it in along the side.  You just want something to create steam and help with the cooking, and create a little bit of a sauce.  You could add some more liquid if you don’t feel like you have enough, but don’t go crazy and add any more than 1/2 cup total.  Once that’s in, put the lid on and toss it in your nice hot oven.  For like an hour.

That’s it.  Well, almost.  But the hard work is done.

While the pumpkin cooks, make the yogurt sauce.  Mix yogurt, garlic that you’ve pressed or grated on a fine grater, honey, salt and pepper.  If you can’t eat garlic, some lemon zest works really well instead.  Taste, and adjust your seasonings if necessary.  Take a moment to be overwhelmed by how good a simple sauce like this can be.  Set it aside.

Clean, pat dry and roughly chop some fresh mint.

Hang out and read something while you wait.  Or, you know.  Cook whatever else you’re eating for dinner.

Check on the pumpkin after about a half an hour, and shift it in the pan.  If you don’t shift it, the sugars in the part of the pumpkin that’s touching the bottom of the roaster will start to caramelize and you’ll have a semi-solid lower shell that’s, quite frankly, pretty tasty but can be hard to get your fork through.  My boyfriend likes it; I think it’s kind of annoying.  Check it at an hour to see how fork-tender it is; the texture will depend on the pumpkin you used, how thick you cut it, etc.  I left mine in the oven for 70 minutes total.

Leave the lid on the roaster after you take it out of the oven, while you set the table and do whatever else you need to do to get ready for dinner, as this will add some steamy carryover cooking time, ensuring soft deliciousness.  Take the pumpkin out of the roaster and loosen up any thick, caramelly sugar with some additional broth or water; you’ll have a very thin, sweet sauce to drizzle over the pumpkin before serving.  Toss on your chopped mint and serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

Cucurbitacean and proud of it. And this is why.

Cucurbitacean and proud of it. And this is why.

This is the sort of hearty, beautiful cold weather food that makes me get all a-flutter.  We ate this with roasted spiced beets and sauteed beet greens (recipe coming soon), roasted parsnips (recipe coming soon) and polenta that George made and about which I cannot blog (having never made it), except to say that he makes a wonderful polenta and I am a lucky woman.

And really, if you have the time, try making real kaddo bourani some day.  (Or make your way to Baltimore and have some at the Helmand.)  It’s extraordinary.

Nosh: Roasted Kohlrabi Chips

Kohlrabi.

Kohlwhatti?

Kohlrabi!

Gesundheit.

In my relentless pursuit of discussing unfamiliar produce, let me introduce the uninitiated to the joys of kohlrabi.  A member of the cabbage family, this bulby thing is, ummm…is, errrr…

Just what the hell is it? Photo from restaurantwidow.com

Just what the hell is it?
Photo from restaurantwidow.com

This, friends, is kohlrabi.  And it’s crunchy and kind of watery, and versatile, and can add an unexpected, cruciferous, broccoli-ish mellowness to a meal.  Which, you know.  Can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about mellow broccoli.  George doesn’t care for it all that much.

Unless, of course, you cut it into chips and roast it.  Changes the game entirely.  True story: the first time I made these, I burnt the hell out of them.  They were totally brown, almost black, definitely useless.  Or so I thought.  George couldn’t get enough of them, told me not to throw them away because he would absolutely eat them.  Ummmm…OK?  I tried one, and I got his point.  It goes from kind of watery to deeply flavored, roasted and crisp, even crunchy if you cut it thin enough.  And the flavor totally morphs into…well, imagine the best kind of gnarly, down-home, thick-cut potato chip you’ve ever had.  Then imagine it was roasted in the oven and is actually good for you.  Bonus!  Here’s what you need:

  • As much kohlrabi as you’d like (dinner for three, we had three kohlrabi, which made plenty for feasting plus some next-day nibbles)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Your seasonings of choice (I used grated parmesan and Aleppo pepper, but feel free to use whatever you’d like)
  • A mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife (I used a knife. Partly because I like to work on my knife skills but also because I really need a better mandoline, as mine kind of scares me and I’m accident-prone…but I digress

Heat your oven to 350°.

Trim your kohlrabi.  You don’t even have to peel it for this dish, but you should cut off the weird little pointy thick nodes that grow off its sides.

IMG_0099-001

Who you callin’ cabbage?

Tip: If you’re cutting these by hand, they can be a little unsteady because they’re round and that can be daunting, especially if you’re working on your knife skills but don’t quite feel that you’re “there” yet.  Just cut off a bit of the round part so it lays flat on the cutting board, and then have at it.

No waste, flat surface, fingers are safer. Win!

No waste, flat surface, fingers are safer. Win!

Once they’re very thinly sliced, you can rejoice, for the hardest part is over, and that wasn’t so bad, now, was it?  Then…

See?  Not paper thin.  Manageably thin.

See? Not paper thin. Manageably thin.

…get them greased up and ready to go.  Because they’re so flat, and I like shortcuts when they work, and who needs to lay out a trillion rounds of kohlrabi to painstakingly dab with oil on one side, then the other, then transfer to a pan?  Not me.  Oil the pan you’re going to lay them on.

Let the baking sheet do the work for you. Kind of zen, no?  ~~~Be the baking sheet~~~

Let the baking sheet do the work for you. Kind of zen, no?
~~~Be the baking sheet~~~

Then you just have to worry about daubing the tops of the kohlrabi slices before they go into the oven.  To the purists who would argue that both sides aren’t getting properly seasoned I say: these slices are about 1/8 inch thick, possibly less.  Between the salt and the pepper and the Aleppo pepper and the parmesan, they’re getting plenty seasoned.  The whole thing will taste fine, you can calm down.

Once you have what you want on them, you can just put them right in that nice hot oven.

I want some. Like, right now. For breakfast, I don't care.

I want some. Like, right now. For breakfast, I don’t care.

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes (you do want to keep an eye on them; experience is the best teacher, and they will burn).  You do want to flip them midway through cooking (and, you can always add more seasonings at that point; if you must, then I advocate more cheese, because cheese, that’s why) and then put them back in for another 10-15 minutes, until they’re browned and crisp and fully cooked.  It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.  If you cut them by hand then inevitably you’ll find that some are thicker and less crunchy than others, so a mandoline would eliminate inconsistencies.  Or you could experience the wide range of roasted kohlrabi, from the thicker slices whose innate, mild sweetness has been deepened by the roasting process, to the crispy, crunchy, super-thin ones that are like little umami-bombs.

How could you say no to a plate filled with this?

How could you say no to a plate filled with this?

We served this with butternut squash pasta, bread with tapenade, roasted cauliflower (recipe coming soon), and a green salad.  It was a perfect vegetarian dinner and a great way to greet the colder weather.  Let me know how you like this recipe!  It made George a kohlrabi convert, and I had all but given up hope that that was possible.  🙂

Enjoy!

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Olives

I don’t make any bones about it: I love potatoes.  Always have.  Always will.  I have stood by them in the low-carb-no-carb-paleo onslaught.  They’re full of Vitamin C and a bunch of B vitamins, potassium, and dietary fiber (especially if you eat the skin).  Plus, their versatile deliciousness never fails to woo my tastebuds.

If loving the potato is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Anyway.

We had stopped at Ard’s, a little (yet ever-expanding) market stand/BBQ stand/farm stand/Christmas tree stand (seasonally, of course) and home of the autumn corn maze to see what fresh goods we could get our meathooks on, since some friends were coming for dinner.  Much to our delight, Ard’s had pints of adorable, multi-colored baby potatoes just begging us to buy them.  What could we do?  Two pints came home with us, to be trimmed and roasted and tossed with tasty things and served to people whose opinions we greatly value.  This dish looks great, tastes great, and is suuuuuuuuuuuuuper-super simple, to boot.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pints baby potatoes, any color-ilk-type. It would theoretically “work” with large potatoes chopped up, but you wouldn’t get that satisfying potato skin snap in every bite so why deprive yourself of that if you can avoid it?
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary; determine how much you would like to use by how pungent your rosemary is and how much you like it.  I love it.  I went for both full teaspoons.
  • Olive oil to coat the potatoes.
  • Salt & pepper, to taste, but remember you’ll be coating the potatoes in olives at the end, so maybe go easy on the salt when you roast, yes?
  • 1/4 cup (but a generous one) pitted black olives; I used Kalamata, ground in a food processor or blender.

That’s it.  Prepare to be amazed.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Then wash and trim your potatoes.  If any of them are large-ish, cut them in half.  Put them in a mixing bowl or, if you prefer and have a pan with a high enough side for mixing, the roasting pan you’re going to cook them in.  Toss with rosemary, salt, pepper, and oil.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

Put them in the oven so the alchemical synergy that comes from potatoes + rosemary can work its mysterious business.  I have no idea what it is that makes the rosemary/potato relationship so special; I just know that the first time I ate a roasted rosemary potato, it was like a herd of unicorn burst into my kitchen, aimed their horns and blasted rainbows on my plate.

So full of win.

They’ll probably be in the oven for about 45 minutes or so but check them after 20 minutes, and then after another 20, and stir them around so they’ll cook evenly and won’t burn.  And so on, until they are fluffy and soft and yield to the fork you’ll use to test them for soft fluffiness.  I confess, I generally get annoyed because I mistakenly think that potatoes shouldn’t take as long to cook as they do.  Thus I have a terrible tendency to undercook them, which is not unicorn-rainbow-blast good but rather, awkward and sad like a naked turtle running a footrace.

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.  Image from message.snopes.com

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.
Image from message.snopes.com

While the potatoes are roasting, measure out your olives and get them ready.  When I said a “generous” quarter-cup, I meant it. I probably should have crammed one or two more in there, now that I look… 🙂

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Grind these up in a food processor or blender, unless you’re a nonna or are Amish or are a self-nominee for kitchen martyr of the year or eschew electrical devices for some reason and feel a need to go at these with a knife or mortar and pestle or something.  (Because you’re not really cooking unless you make things slick with olive oil?)  Once they’re ground, set them aside until the potatoes are done.

Done!

Done!

Then?

Here’s the kicker.

Mix the olives in with the potatoes, et voila!  Le dish, she is finis.

I will make this again and again.

I will make this again and again.

They’re savory, salty, pungent, crisp, fluffy, and all-around amazing.  They’re a great side dish for just about everything, from chicken to crêpes, and they’re one of the (surprisingly few) dishes that has worked its way into my go-to, “haven’t had these in a while and I’m craving them must eat must have must eat must have” repertoire.

Let me put it this way: If Mario Batali were coming over for dinner, these are the potatoes I would make.  After I finished passing out and picked myself back up off the floor.

Enjoy!

Nosh: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I used to hate Brussels sprouts.

I mean, haaaaaaate, you know.  They looked like little cabbages (mainly because they are), and when I was seven, cabbage was the noxious side dish of the devil.  I have friends well into their adulthood who still feel the same way (and you know who you are).  But for me, one day?  Wham!  It was like someone flipped a switch, and I loved them with an unrepentant fervor that continues to this day.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just what happened.

So imagine my delight one day at the Wednesday market (Lewisburgians, represent) when I encountered a bag of Brussels sprouts roughly the size of a tricycle.  For $4.  Must have must own must have must own.

Must roast.  With soy sauce and pungent, nutty caraway seeds.  Yes, way.

Many, many times in the (relatively recent) past I’ve discussed the benefits of roasting vegetables.  It deepens their flavors.  It brings out their inherent sweetness.  It makes them nutty.  And it’s easy to keep an eye on roasting sprouts and not let them overcook, since overcooking to mushiness is the enemy of joyful sprout eating.  That’s when sprouts get that nasty, bitter, cabbage smell.  Can roasting be any more awesome?  I think not, friends.  I think not.  The great thing about a recipe like this is that it’s totally easy-peasy and dictated by your tastes, so once you learn how to roast Brussels sprouts you can substitute a world of flavors, like garlic or ginger or orange zest.  Just keep the soy sauce.  I’d say that’s mandatory.  Here’s what you need:

  • About a pound of Brussels sprouts (yes, we bought a giant bag, but we cooked them in batches)
  • A teaspoon of soy sauce and/or to taste
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • About a palmful (maybe a tablespoon) of caraway seeds
  • Oil for coating and roasting

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Clean and trim your sprouts.  Strip off the gnarly outer leaves, cut off the hard end sticking out of the core, and cut the sprouts in half.  Toss with oil, soy sauce, and pepper.  Since soy sauce is inherently salty, you really don’t need actual salt-salt, unless you have no blood pressure and need something to keep the blood pumping through your veins.

IMG_0015

It’s so simple it sounds crazy, but really, it works.

And then?  Into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Coat with the soy sauce to your liking.  Just mind the salt!

Coat with the soy sauce to your liking. Just mind the salt!

Let that start cooking along in your nice, hot oven, and after about twenty minutes pull the sprouts, give them a stir and then toss them with caraway seeds.  How much should you use?

About this much.

About this much.

It was about a tablespoon’s worth of seeds; I know that may be difficult to judge considering I have delicate, petite lady-hands.

Actually, I don’t.  Look at those things!  They’re built to dig potatoes out of the ground.  But I digress, and it’s about a tablespoon’s worth of caraway.  Sprinkle the seeds on the Brussels sprouts, give it all a stir and toss ’em back in the oven.

Only twenty minutes 'til perfect.

Only twenty minutes ’til perfect.

Notice how they’re already picking up a nice char from the higher heat?  Roasting at 350° provides a nice, even roast, but once you start to crank it up it does super-fun crispy charred things to your veggies, which you want even if you don’t know it yet.  I’m here to help you, people.  You have to trust.

Twenty-ish minutes later, your sprouts will be done to crispy, cooked-through-but-not-overcooked awesomeness.

IMG_0022

It’s crispy and crunchy and nutty and umami. Wins all around!

The soy sauce provides a deep sort of umami flavor that we generally associate with greens and get from sources like bacon, so this dish is a succulent green that is totally vegan, and you can make this as a side dish for just about anything.  Don’t worry, the soy won’t relegate the sprouts to Asian cuisine any more than adding garlic would make it strictly Italian.  It just makes them deeply savory and delicious.

Did I mention this dish was easy?

Did I mention that I served the sprouts with butternut squash risotto?

IMG_0030

That is one colorful meal.

Nutritionists say you should eat the rainbow to get a full complement of nutrients.  A meal like this?  Is a great way to start.

How do you like your Brussels sprouts? (And Shelby, saying “on fire in a corner while I eat chocolate” is not an appropriate answer.)

Nosh: Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese.

You read that right.

Whipped goat cheese.

WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE.

whipped goat cheese

Yes.

How, you wonder, does one go about preparing such a culinary delight?  Such a feast for the senses?  Such a groovy thing to do with cauliflower?

Easy!  It takes a little time, but that doesn’t change the “easy” factor.  Here’s what you need for the cauliflower.  I’ll talk about what to do with the goat cheese later, mostly because I’m evil and want to heighten your anticipation.  Can’t bring it home too early, see.  Anyway.  Cauliflower.

  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon and juiced lemon remains
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar/honey/agave nectar
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Cooking this cauliflower requires two steps; braising makes the cauliflower tender and infuses it with a variety of flavors, while roasting coaxes out the savory nuttiness and gives it a crusty texture.  Plus, it looks and sounds elegant as hell.  (Is that a legitimate term?  Who cares.  You all dig, I’m sure.)  I’m a hearty advocate of making things that sound impressive to boost my cooking cred.

Oh, yeah.  P.S., it tastes great.

Trim the cauliflower so it’s cleared of leaves and its stem is pared down so that the cauliflower can sit flat on a serving plate.  Assemble all the ingredients you need for the braise.

Pretty uncomplicated ingredients, I'd say.

Pretty uncomplicated ingredients, I’d say.

When choosing the braising wine, make it as dry as you can stand.  You don’t necessarily want the cauliflower to become oaky or sweet, you just want it to become fragrant and delicious.  So go dry, and make it a decent bottle.

Put the wine, salt, butter, oil, lemon (juiced, and then toss in the halves as well because why not?), sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a large pot and get them cooking over a high heat.  I did add some red pepper flakes when I made my cauliflower but frankly, I didn’t think they brought much at all to the party, so meh, only add them if you’re really committed to their presence.  When everything’s going along at a pretty steady boil, add the cauliflower.  CAREFULLY, so you don’t cause a big splash and burn yourself with water and boiling oil.

Hooray for the incredibly practical mesh spider!

Hooray for the incredibly practical mesh spider!

If you think you still need a little extra cooking liquid in the pot, feel free to add some water or broth.  Lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 15-20 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is soft enough to sink a knife in but still offers some resistance.  You don’t want it to be mush, you just want it to be soft-ish.  When it’s ready, take it out and let it drain.

The nice thing about this dish is, you can park the cauliflower here for a while if you need to take care of other business in the kitchen; once the braise is done you’ll only have to worry about getting it in the oven when you’re in serious dinner-prep mode.

When you are ready for Phase Two: Roasting, make sure your oven is pre-heated to the not-messing-around temperature of 475° and that your oven rack is positioned roughly in the middle of the oven.  Put the cauliflower in a baking dish, give it a light drizzle of olive oil and toss on some salt and pepper.  Then?  In it goes, for 30-40 minutes.  Turn it once halfway through.  You’ll want to pull it out of the oven when it’s nice and browned and toasty on the outside.  It should look something like this:

Roasted cauliflower perfection.

Roasted cauliflower perfection.

While it’s roasting you can whip your goat cheese.

Because seriously, words fail.  Just saying it is sexy: Whipped goat cheese.  Yes!  It’s that good.  You need:

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 ounces feta
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Greek yogurt (or more, in the interests of a smooth and creamy texture)
  • drizzle of honey
  • Fresh-cracked pepper to taste

Measure out your ingredients.

That extra 1/8 oz is a nibble for the cook. :)

That extra 1/8 oz is a bonus nibble for the cook. 🙂


And then…ready for this?  Put all the ingredients in a food processor.  Process.

That’s it.

I mean, taste it and see what you need to add.  I don’t say you should add salt because feta and goat cheese are plenty salty on their own, but if you feel like the salt–or the pepper, or the honey–are lacking, then adjust accordingly.  If you think it needs to smooth out a little more you can add some more yogurt, or some milk or water, but only do so in small increments so as to not make it too soupy.  You want it to stick to the cauliflower, not run off.  As further evidence that this may seem complicated but isn’t really, your goat cheese can be whipped ahead of time.  I made mine the night before and it was perfect, I just had to let it warm up to room temperature and give it a couple of stirs to loosen it up.

Your guests, your family, your dining companions will be dazzled sho’ ’nuff when they walk in your kitchen and see this waiting for them.

I repeat: Elegant as hell.

I repeat: Elegant as hell.

It’s soft enough to cut with a serving spoon, so don’t be afraid to dive into the cauliflower, dress it with a happy dollop or seven of goat cheese and feast yourself silly.  A dish this gorgeous makes every dinner better.  Set aside a little time.  It’s worth it, if for no other reason that it’s ultimately really simple and if you do what the dish requires (braise, roast, food process), you’ll look like a kitchen rock star.

Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Dip (Muhammara)

During one of my semi-annual trips to visit my old Russian professor in the Boston area, George and I got to experience the red pepper dip known as muhammara for the first time.

Oh. Em. Geeeeee.

Amazing.  It was deeply flavored and fruity and sweet and spicy and roasty and redolent of garlic and rich, toasted walnuts.  All that in one dish?  Yeah!  I knew after trying it that my mission (which I chose to accept) was to learn how to make it myself, since my local supermarket sure isn’t carrying pre-packaged muhammara.  Happily, they carry all components.  After years of tasting and experimentation (a rough job, I know), I can finally say neener neener, made it myself, and celebrate one more weirdo recipe in the repertoire.

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 fresh roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded, plus the liquor they exude after roasting
  • 2/3 cup (ish) plain bread crumbs (or maybe not as much, or maybe more; it depends on what you need to achieve the right texture)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 or 3 or 4 garlic cloves, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (check the ubiquitously dubbed “international” section of your grocery store)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (or none, or more, purely to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste (if you use pre-roasted peppers, be sure to go easy on the salt since they will be saltier than if you roast them yourself)
  • olive oil for garnish

The first thing to do is roast the peppers.  (If you are pressed for time you surely may use jarred or frozen roasted peppers.  Just drain or defrost them and make sure they’re peeled and seeded.)  There are two different camps surrounding roasted peppers; you can char them at high heat just so the skins blister off, but the flesh of the peppers really won’t cook.  Or, you could roast them at a lower heat so the peppers cook thoroughly.  It depends on what you want to achieve.  I chose to roast the peppers at a lower, slower heat (400°, 20 minutes, turn once, back in the oven for 20 more minutes) since I wanted them to be softer and more amenable to become a dip, and not as dependent on a fatty olive oil added at the end to provide a soft texture.  Plus, I love the liquid they exude.

Mmmm, peppery goodness.

Mmmm, silky pepper goodness.

See that golden liquor oozing out among the roasted peppers?  That’s pure concentrated pepper sweetness, and it would be a crime to not include that in your dish; it is TOO GOOD.  Once the peppers are roasted and cooled  (in a heat-proof bowl that’s covered with plastic wrap, so the skins will steam apart from the flesh, making your job that much easier), peel them, pull out the stems and seeds, put the roasted pepper flesh into a food processor and strain that pepper liquor into your food processor as well.  You won’t regret it.  If you use jarred or frozen peppers, you won’t have this, and you’ll need to resist the temptation to use the liquid from the jar.  It’s probably going to be too salty and/or vinegary to be of much use; you can throw in a splash of cranberry juice or broth or water if you want to get a little extra liquid rolling around in your dip.

While the peppers are roasting, measure out your walnuts, put them in a dry pan (meaning, one with no oil in it) and let it start warming over a medium heat.  Don’t wander too far away since it won’t take long for the walnuts to start to brown and once they’re brown they’re ready to burn.  Don’t let that happen.  Also, you need at least 1/3 cup, but make 1/2.  You may need more than the third, depending on how soft (or not) the dip is when you first blend it, and walnuts will help add structure.  Besides, the temptation to snack on fresh-roasted walnuts is great, and you wouldn’t want to short the muhammara.  I speak from experience here.

And so.  Put all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor; remember to start with 1/3 cup each of bread crumbs and walnuts, and then taste test your muhammara so you may appropriately tinker.

Give it a whirl!

Give it a whirl!

Blend, scrape down the food processor bowl, taste.  Repeat.  Bread crumbs and walnuts will provide structure so if your dip is too runny, add in a little bit more of one or the other (or both!) at a time.  You’ll want it to be firm yet scoopable, like a really thick hummus.  Scoop it into a bowl, drizzle it with a little olive oil for a garnish and serve with bread or crackers or pita wedges.

Hell yeah.

Hell yeah.

Trust me, once you try this you’ll want it again.  And again.  And again.  Bonus: it’s easy!  Enjoy.  xoxo

Nosh: Broiled Beets with Horseradish Cheese

Beeeeeeeeeeeeets.

Spring is here, and that means my CSA is about to go beet-crazy.  Huzzah!  In anticipation of needing to have beet-ready recipes, I decided to take one for the team and do some early tinkering with nuggets of beety goodness.  This recipe was inspired by the good people at Putney Farm, though I wanted something less brightly citrus and more heartily savory-umami.  Besides, I have horseradish cheese in my fridge that I don’t want to go to waste.  Of course I thought to pair horseradish, even in cheese form,w ith beets.

p.s. I wasn’t really taking one for the team; I just said that because I wanted you to think I was doing you a tremendous favor.  Fact is, I liked it.  A lot.

So.  Here is what I used:

  • Beets (I used three medium-sized beets)
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil to drizzle on said beets for roasting
  • 2-3 slices of horseradish cheese from the deli counter at your local supermarket
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives (or other herb you have on hand) for garnish

Annnnnd…that’s it.  Entirely.

Really.  This is easy.  It just takes a little time.

So.  Wash off your beets.

Beets!

Beets!

I’ve seen varying opinions of what to do with beets when you roast them (and yes, sure, I know boiling is an option…I guessbut honestly, people, why? It doesn’t take any less time and roasting is so much more yummy.  But to each their own.) and I kind of can’t believe there’s so much debate.  Cut off the greens.  Cut off the roots.  Some people peel them and trim them entirely beforehand, but whatever.  Yes, beet juice will run into the roasting pan if you peel or cut them open while they’re raw.  And?

Anyway.  Drizzle some oil on them, then toss with thyme, salt and pepper.

My fancified technique is: drizzle and toss in yummy things.

My fancified technique is: drizzle and toss in yummy things.

And then cover your beets.  Either use a pan with a lid or cover your pan with foil (that’s what I did).  Put them in a preheated 400° oven and leave them alone for at least 40 minutes, maybe an hour depending on size and such.  Mine cooked for about fifty minutes.  In that meantime you could…read a book, maybe, or prepare the rest of your food.  Take a nap.  Whatever.  The point is, you can’t rush beets.  Nor should you want to.  Because they are nutritional powerhouses, and good things take time.  Patience, people.

You’ve reached the end of your beet roasting when a knife sinks into them like butter.  Check the beets after forty minutes and if the knife meets resistance when you try to pierce them, put the foil back on and put said beets back in the oven.  Give them another ten or fifteen minutes or so after that depending on how almost-done they felt.  Once they have fully cooked, take them out of the oven to let them cool for a few minutes.

While they cool, get a baking sheet and lightly coat it with oil (rub it on or spray it, whatever works), turn on your broiler and boost the heat.  My broiler tops out at 500° so that’s how high I hiked up the temperature.  When you peel your beets you can choose to wear rubber gloves OR, of course, you can choose to not, which will dye your fingers red.  That’s no big deal.  A day later, my hands have returned to their normal flesh tone and I am none the worse for the experience.  So.  Peel, and cut into nice flat slices of beet about half an inch thick.

So close! Just a little bit longer.

Just a little bit longer before nommy time.

Next, take a few slices of that beautiful, tangy, slightly spicy horseradish cheese and just break them up to fit on top of your sliced beets.

Cheesy goodness!

Cheesy goodness!

And put those tasty veggies right in the broiler.  Do not wander too far afield.  Your oven is super-hot and it won’t take very long for the cheese to melt and bubble on top of your beets, and it won’t be too much longer until it blackens and burns and then all this?  For naught.  Ever vigilant!  Stay in your kitchen, guard your beets.  Chop your teaspoon of chives and keep them at the ready.  When the cheese is browned and melted and gooey, take the beets out of the oven and hit them with the chives and another shot of fresh-ground pepper.  Within a very few minutes you’ll have a dish that looks like this:

Sup sup sup sup suppertime!

Sup sup sup sup suppertime!

When we started to eat these, George started chuckling.  “I feel like I’m eating a steak,” he said, as he cut into a beet that was dense and pungent and almost chewy.  He wasn’t off base–those beets had some heft!

Serve this with some garlic and herb mashed potatoes and a nice fresh salad, because it’s all so good for you I can’t even stand it.  Some people get ready for bikini season.  I get ready for beet season.  And you know?  I’m just fine with that.

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