A recent birthday visit to Zola restaurant--the traditional birthday dining room for the Foxes--brought to mind one of the all-time great beet vehicles: chef Deb Paquette's Beet and Heat salad. When I asked Deb if she would share the recipe with the Bites Beet Beat, here's what the self-avowed beet fanatic said:
It is amazing how the "dirt" veg has risen to fame. And the end result being a "grateful dead" toilet visual! (Do you know how may peeps go to hospital after eating beets and freaking out? Amazing.) Maybe there should be a warning label on them: "Be Aware--Fecal Surprise" or "Consumption of this product may cause psychological anal seepage" or "After eating beets don't poop in the ocean, may cause shark attacks!"
Ah, the inaugural Iron Fork champion is quite the imagist. And, man, can she cook up a beet. In fact, she was delighted to share the formula for Beet and Heat, which, she pointed out, is published in Cooking from the Heart, a compendium of chefs' recipes to benefit Share Our Strength.
Well, no wonder she was so willing to share the recipe for Beet and Heat (printed in the book under the more generic name Roasted Beet and Cranberry Salad): It is impossible for mere mortals to reproduce. In fact, the recipe--with its various movements devoted to preparing the beets, cranberries, sage goat cheese and walnut-Tabasco dressing--takes up three pages of the book, which is, frankly, more than I can type.
So instead, I offer Chef Deb's much shorter and lesser known recipe for beet brownies, also included in Cooking from the Heart.
Beet Brownies (Serves 24)
2 medium beets or one 8-ounce can
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 pound plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
To roast fresh beets, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss beets with oil, wrap in double layer of aluminum foil, seal tightly and transfer to a sheet pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the beets are tender but firm. (A fork should poke through easily.) Unwrap, cool and peel. (Canned beets are ready to use.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 10 pan with 1 tbsp butter.
Melt the remaining butter and the chocolate in a medium heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. (Alternately, microwave it in a microwaveable container on the low setting for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.) Set aside to cool slightly.
Place beets and sugar in a food processor and purée. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Add the beet purée to the melted chocolate, then stir in flour, salt, chips and nuts.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cut the brownies when cool. Store in an airtight container.