Beet & Goat Cheese Salad – 3 ways

Did you ever watch The Office (US version)? Dwight was one of my favorite characters, I loved how he was all kinds of inappropriate to the point of offensiveness and then you’d get a rare glimpse of his kind-heartedness. Whenever I cook anything involving beets, I think of Dwight and his beet farm. Fun fact – beets are known as beetroot in the UK.

Especially in winter, a bunch of fresh roasted beets provide a much-needed pop of color in the kitchen and I especially enjoy the red and yellow jewel-tones next to a snowy white goat cheese. I have lots of friends who’ll always order beet salads when eating out but wouldn’t think of cooking beets at home – now there’s no excuse 😉

If you buy beets of a similar size, they’ll cook at the same rate which makes life easier. Beets are also pretty flexible, you can roast them high and fast or they’ll happily hang out at a lower temperature if you happen to be braising something else in your oven.

I usually roast my beets in a little foil packet (skins on) with a splash of olive oil until a cake tester or toothpick slides easily through, slip the skins off, slice and then toss them with a little oil and vinegar. Small beets might be done after 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Large beets might take 2 or 3 hours at 300 degrees. They’ll happily sit in the fridge for a good 4-5 days ready to be added to your salad of the day. And if you’re not in the mood for cooking beets, I’m a big fan of the fresh packages of white wine and balsamic organic baby beets you can find in the store from “LoveBeets” How to roast beets in the ovenClockwise from top left: skin-on beets about to go into the oven, using a paper towel to slip off the skins, sliced beets, sliced beets in a little olive oil and vinegar ready to eat.

So, you’ve roasted your beets, now what? Now you need some kind of soft cheese. If you can lay your hands on Meredith Dairy marinated cheese, also known as cheese crack in our house, then it’ll be a happy day. Don’t be put off by the name, I realize that “Sheep & Goat Blend Marinated Cheese” doesn’t exactly sound appetizing but this soft, rich and creamy cheese has just the perfect hint of thyme and garlic and will blow your mind. You can find it in Whole Foods, the Cheese Iron in Scarborough and even Market Basket.
Meredith Dairy marinated goat cheeseIf you can’t find the above cheese a regular log of soft goat cheese works great. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try regular cream cheese or Boursin garlic and herb cream cheese.

Oven Roast Beets

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
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Ingredients:

4 large beets (I’d probably roast a bunch and use them throughout the week)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place beets (skins on, you can remove the leafy tops and tails) on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil. Loosely crumple the foil at the top to enclose the beets. Place foil packet on a baking sheet and pop into oven.
2. Exact cooking time will vary with beet size. I usually roast beets at 350 degrees and they’ll take 1-3 hours depending on their size. If you’re cooking something else and need your oven to be cooler or hotter just adjust the cooking time. Beets are done when a cake tester or skewer slides easily through to the middle.
3. Leave beets to cool in the foil packet. There will likely be a little liquid in the bottom of the foil packet (condensation and beet juice), turn the beets so that all sides get to lie in the liquid, this will help the skins to slip off more easily).
4. Use paper towels to slide skins off beets
5. Slice beets into wedges and toss with 1 tbsp good olive oil, 1 tsp vinegar and salt and pepper.
6. Enjoy or store in a baggie in the fridge for 4-5 days

So you’ve got yourself a package of deliciously sweet roast beets. What to do with them? Here are 3 serving ideas:

1. Simple beet and goat cheese salad with pomegranate
Prepare roast beets as in recipe above or open a package of Love Beets (confession, the beets in the picture below are the honey & ginger Love Beets). Divide between two plates. Crumble over marinated cheese and pomegranate arils. Enjoy
Simple salad of roast beets, Meredith Farm marinated cheese and pomegranate arils

2. Roast beet and goat cheese salad bowl with baby greens
Divide wedges of roast beets between two bowls, crumble over goat cheese. Add any other salad items you have in the fridge – tomato wedges, sliced cucumber, baby greens. Drizzle over a little oil and vinegar.
A healthy salad bowl with roast beets, crumbled goat cheese and baby greens

3. If you want to get all fancy, maybe impress a special someone, then try a beet and goat cheese tower.
Roast your beets per recipe above and let cool. Remove a very thin slice from the bottom of each beet (so they’ll stand up on the plate) and then slice them horizontally. You’ll want 3-5 decent sized slices. Spread each slice with your choice of marinated goat cheese, Boursin cream cheese or other soft cheese and then refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Don’t skip this step. You need the cheese to harden before you slice. If you skip the refrigerator and slice the beet/cheese stacks immediately, everything will just smush under your knife.
How to make beet and goat cheese tower appetizers
Once your little beet and cheese towers are chilled, use a large sharp knife (wipe it clean in between each slice) to cut the beet tower into 4 quarters. Turn the quarters “inside out” when you plate them so that the inner corners become the outer corners and your beet tower has a square appearance. Fill the inside of the tower with baby greens (and crumble over some bacon if you have it!).  Enjoy!
Elegant oven-roast beet and goat cheese tower

Once you’ve tried roasting beets for the first time, the possibilities are endless. Make a beet and blue cheese checkerboard, beets also pair well with crunchy walnuts and they liven up almost any salad.

Breakfast “pizza”

Good morning! I don’t know about you but it’s most definitely a snow day here in Maine. Yup, it’s the second day of spring and the ground is blanketed with a thick layer of fluffy snow. I work from home and most days I can be found sat at the computer in my PJs. The best part about snow days? It’s totally acceptable to stay in your PJs and eat a late breakfast to fuel the shoveling.
Naan flatbread with gruyere cheese, spinach, bacon and fried eggs

I’m a bad New Englander and we’re all out of bread (although we do have milk) but luckily I always have a couple of packages of these Stonefire naan breads in the freezer for emergency breakfast pizza situations. Bacon, egg and cheese seem like prerequisites for breakfast and then I added spinach because adding spinach makes everything healthy and low-calorie right?

This is a super easy and tasty breakfast, perfect for two people. You simply cook up bacon, wilt spinach, fry eggs, and layer it all on your flatbread which is made toasty warm in the oven with a generous layer of melty-cheese.
How to make breakfast pizza - crispy bacon, wilted spinach and fried eggs
How to make breakfast pizza, layer gruyere cheese, wilted spinach, crispy bacon and top with fried eggs

Breakfast Pizza

  • Servings: 1 very greedy person or 2 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 pizza base or naan or flatbread
~2oz cheese – gruyere or cheddar work well
6-8oz smoked bacon ~half a package
1.5 tbsp butter
~3oz of baby spinach
2 eggs

Directions:
1. Grate cheese. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Saute bacon over a low-medium heat in a non-stick frying pan, turning regularly until golden brown and crispy. Remove bacon and set aside to drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Carefully wipe out pan to remove the majority of the hot bacon fat.
3. Add 1/2 tbsp of butter to frying pan and cook baby spinach until wilted. Drain any excess liquid and set aside. Wipe out pan (do this well unless you want green eggs).
4. Add remaining 1 tbsp butter and fry eggs to personal preference (sunny side up for me! You could also poach them, I was being lazy and doing everything in one pan to minimize washing up)
5. While eggs cook, scatter grated cheese over flatbread, add spinach and bacon and pop in oven (on baking tray/cookie sheet) for 5 minutes. You can leave two little hollows for your eggs if you like.
6. Take flatbread out of oven and add eggs. Enjoy!

Quick and easy breakfast pizza with stonefire naan, bacon, spinach, cheese and sunny side up eggs

National Macaron Day

A colorful selection of macarons from Bottega Louie

Did you know that it’s National Macaron Day today? In honor of this celebration of such a critical food group I will be eating macarons but most definitely not baking them. Because I can’t don’t bake.

With rather excellent timing, I came home last week to find a large box marked “perishable” on the front porch. Opening it up, I found a most thoughtful thank-you gift from a friend – yes, a pink box of perfectly wrapped macarons.
Beautifully wrapped box of macarons by Bottega Louie

Please understand that I ate ALL the macarons with a pure intention of becoming a macaron expert for this blog post. Well, except for the pistachio macaron because I’m deadly allergic to pistachios. I will admit, for a second, I did wonder if my friend was secretly trying to kill me but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and just fed the pistachio macaron to the dogs. They seemed to like it. Favorite flavors were violet cassis, rose and coconut.

Macarons are delicious little two-bite light, airy yet slightly chewy meringues sandwiched together with a flavored cream. They can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days but you’d want to let them come to room-temperature (about 10 minutes) before enjoying with a cup of tea or a glass of champagne.

Earl Grey Macaron from Bottega Louie

Anyway, if you’d like to try to make your own macarons, I’ve rounded up some rather good-looking macaron recipes:
Martha Stewart’s Macaron Recipe
Super detailed macaron recipe with lots of pictures and helpful info from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Food 52’s how to make French Macarons

And if you’d prefer to just order them (you’re a smart cookie!), here are the best places to order macarons online:

Bottega Louie – based in Los Angeles, LA, I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of these macarons. Your box of macarons will be carefully wrapped in a reusable cooler bag with dry ice. A box of 15 macarons (spring flavors or create your own selection) is $37.50 plus shipping. The packaging is especially beautiful and this feels like a very special gift.
Lette Macarons – a box of 12 macarons (you can choose your own flavors) will set you back $23 plus shipping
Francois Payard – this classic NYC bakery offers a box of 12 macarons (2 each vanilla, pistachio, coffee, dark chocolate, passion fruit, raspberry lychee) for $30 plus shipping.
I also found a Maine-based mail order macaron option – Morsels by Anne Taylor

Happy Macaron Day!