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Roasted Beets, Citrus and Spinach Salad

 - by Elizabeth

This recipe, originally from Bon Appétit (February 2011, by Myra Goodman and Sarah LaCasse; their photo is being used) was the salad I chose to use for our Valentine’s Day Dinner this year.  I don’t know why we didn’t go out.  We both seemed to be moving at glacial pace at home, with job and church responsibilites sapping all our energy to look up a restaurant, make the reservation, change our clothes, pay 60 bucks a person for a Valentine’s Day meal of some significance.  We could have paid only 20 bucks a person at Chili’s or something, but just try and have an intimate conversation in THAT place.

Yield: 4 servings   —  Active Time: 20 minutes, with Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes (includes roasting and cooling time) We found that this filled us up quite a bit–if I were to use this as a first course again, I’d eliminate the feta cheese.

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit peel
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make: whisk vinegar, mustard, citrus peels, and honey in small bowl. gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Salad:

4 2 1/2-inch-diameter unpeeled beets, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 small pink or ruby grapefruits, all peel and pith cut away, segments cut from between membranes
2 oranges, all peel and pith cut away, segments cut from between membranes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss beets and oil in large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each beet in foil. place directly on oven rack; roast until tender, 60 to 70 minutes. I ended up roasting mine about 90 minutes; somewhere I read that the more the merrier as it carmelizes the sugars in the beets and makes it incredibly delicious.  Agreed!  Open foil; cool 30 minutes. Rub skins off beets; cut each into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If your beets are big, you may want to cut them in half.

Place spinach in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Divide among plates. Add beets and citrus segments to same bowl. Add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange beet mixture atop spinach; sprinkle with cheese and chives. Serve, passing any remaining vinaigrette.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

We were shopping–the Mr. and I–for Christmas, and beside the register was a brochure pushing anything Martha.  I picked it up because she had a recipe for these cookies.  I’d been thinking about trying to find a recipe like this ever since Dave and I had chewy gingerbread cookies at the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley.  That day we’d driven down across the Delta, got stuck in horrid traffic, our tempers frayed and flared, but we made it to the Collective about 45 minutes before they closed down.  Our pizza was delicious, the salad was crisp, but the cookies–oh my–the cookies!  After we visited the Berkeley Rose Garden we went back for two more, but alas!  They’d sold out.  So they remain in my memory.  These resemble those from the Cheese Board, but I can’t remember now if the Berkeley variety had chocolate chunks in it. Oh well–these are delicious, too.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies—yield: 30

originally from Martha Stewart, amended by me

Ingredients
14 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses (I use the green label molasses)
2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

2/3 cup granulated sugar, in bag (for coating)

Directions

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and spices into a medium bowl. Put butter, brown sugar, and grated ginger into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in molasses.

2. Beat in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the baking soda mixture. Mix in chocolate chips. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic (or place in gallon-sized Ziploc bag). Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (up to overnight).

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Shape dough into 1 and 1/2-inch balls, and drop them into a bag filled with some granulated sugar, tossing to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, pressing down on each cookie slightly to flatten. (I used the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar.)

4. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Cook’s Confessions: I left mine in the fridge for 3 days–just couldn’t get the time to bake them up.  They were fine.

Note: you can store fresh ginger in the freezer.  When needed, peel with a paring knife, then grate on the fine section of your cheese grater.

These cookies are best when warm–so set them in the sun for a few minutes to soften.