Thursday, September 07, 2006

making beet powder

So perhaps I was a little adventurous over the weekend. Technically it was a 3-day weekend, although since I began grad school we have never had Labor Day off. In any case, I took the day off with Big J and little j and we had a great day. I had a fridge full of veggies from the local CSA which included a copious amount of beets. So I went to my standby resource, Epicurious, did a search for beets and came across a fabulous recipe from The French Laundry: Ashed Chevreaux with Slow-Roasted Yellow and Red Beets and Beet Vinaigrette. Not too difficult, I've roasted beets, I know where to get cheese, I can certainly make a vinaigrette. Ahhh....but upon reading the recipe further, that's where it caught me: BEET POWDER. Not only would I get to use the juicer component to my handy Kitchen Aid, I would be able to use the juice for the vinaigrette as well as the resulting pulp to create powder. Now this was a challenge I couldn't refuse. In addition, I decided to use up the spinach with a spinach lasagne from The New Best Recipe. Oh, I was outdoing myself for a Monday dinner.

Let me just say that beet powder is not at all difficult to make; it is, however, incredibly time consuming. First, I thought that two and a half pounds of red beets would be sufficient. I was wrong. After boiling, peeling, cutting and juicing the beets, I was left with a scant 1/4 cup of juice instead of the required one cup, although I did have enough beet pulp. But I ran to the nearest Food Lion (more on that tragedy masquerading as a store later), and bought three cans of beets. I should have known better, they were salted. But what choice did I have? I dutifully fed them into the juicer and came up with just a cup -- from three cans!

Now the fun began: I dumped half a cup of beet pulp onto paper towels and soaked as much juice as I could, then spread it in an even layer on a piece of parchment and placed it in the microwave. The recipe instructed me to microwave on low for 30 - 40 minutes. Two issues: what exactly is low? And I have never used a microwave for longer than 4 minutes. So I selected the power at 20% and started at 15 minutes. Watching closely to make sure the parchment didn't catch on fire.

Finally, after 50 minutes in the microwave, the pulp seemed to be dry enough to grind to a powder in our coffee grinder. And sure enough, it was a fuschia powder, which was lightly sprinkled over the combination of roasted beets, beet greens, cheese, and the gorgeous deep red vinaigrette drizzled over the top.

Was it worth it? Considering that little j turned up her nose and immediately declared that she didn't like anything on the table...well, I would have to say not so much. Big J, however, loved it and ate his portion as well as finicky j's. And considering that the presentation was 90% of this dish, I think I'll save the beet powder for an occasion other than Monday dinner.

1 comment:

pennyplay48 said...

I am making beet powder with whole organic beets. Peel wash thin as possible slice. put in hydrator when completely dry. put in powerful blender. I have a vita-mix and powder then put in bottle with label. And there is your beet powder to put in drinks and etc. Need a lot of beets though. Use only fresh whole beets, no can, or gmo beets. Hope this helps. Damianna