Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week Fourteen: Mixed Bag of Weather

Over the past few years, I’ve been finding September to be a very strange month. The days leading up to Labor Day are hot and sticky, and then on that darned Tuesday everything gets all confused about what season it’s supposed to be. Do the leaves start to fall now? Do I need to keep blooming? Should it get cold at night? How hot are the days, again? Does it rain, or should it hail instead?
Seriously. Please explain.
We had beautiful days and cool nights this weekend. Friday I had to dress for two seasons: fall on top (sweater and fall-colored nails) and summer on bottom (skinny jeans, sandals, and pink toenails). I can’t say I minded; it really was a beautiful day. I unfortunately wasn't able to post last week, but don’t worry, nothing exciting happened. We got more of our usual: carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, lettuce, and so on.
More tomatoes, including a few "orange blossom", this week.
This week we got a bunch of good stuff: peppers (two kinds), broccoli, collards, a melon, tomatoes, beets, radishes, onions, and carrots. I pickled the radishes, half an onion, and a couple of the peppers... can't wait to try those! Unfortunately it does seem that most of the “delicate” summer veggies are going away for the season since the weather’s turned cooler… thanks for everything, cucumbers! It was great while it lasted
Collards and broccoli (!)
I signed up for some “techniques of cooking” classes over in Cambridge, and the first class this past weekend was knife skills – so I’ve been practicing the proper grip and slicing technique. I’ll try to play with (and document!) my newfound skills and cuts as I get more stuff to slice up. My immediate takeaway from the class was that I have a weird mental block about using the “claw” grip… I totally get that it’s supposed to protect you from slicing off your fingertips, since you have your knuckles out in front, but then I worry about slicing my knuckles off. Even though that’s not supposed to happen at all!

Frying peppers, bell peppers, and onions.
Little radishes and another melon.
I got an “all vegetables all the time” cookbook from my aunt for my birthday (wohoo!), so I’d been eager to try out one of the beet recipes in there. I got a chance to try it tonight – it’s sort of a beet and potato latke thing. I’ve also kept up (of course) with my regular pickled things… the frying peppers I got a couple weeks ago were great, and last week’s tiny bell peppers were, too. 
Golden beets this week
Crisp Beet and Potato Cake (from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop)
We halved this recipe since I was making something else alongside... and I'm very glad! I'm sure we would have had too much for the pan if we'd used the full amounts. I think next time we'll try draining the beets a little bit; the outside seemed to be overly crisp and the inside a little mushy, although it still tasted great! It had the potato-y goodness of a latke and the "red" taste of the beets, which I thought made a great combination. Confession: Most of (okay, all) the hard work of washing, grating, and mixing was done by Dan, so thanks, honey!

1 lb russet potatoes (we used farm potatoes, no idea what kind)
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 medium beets (we used one red and one golden in the halved version)
1/4 c fresh snipped chives (subbed in leeks instead)
2 T butter

Peel the potatoes and grate with a box grater (don't forget your safety glove!) or a food processor. Toss with the salt. Peel and grate the beets, then mix with the potatoes. Throw in the chives and mix well.

Melt 1T butter in a wide (10-inch) nonstick skillet. Once the butter stops foaming, add the beet-potato mixture to the pan and press down to spread in an even layer. Cook over medium heat about 10-12 minutes until the bottom is nice and crispy. Press down with a spatula every now and then.

This is the tricky part: getting the cake out of the pan, onto a plate, and flipping it back into the pan so you can cook the top. Once the bottom is cooked, carefully slide the cake onto a big plate (ours wasn't quite done so it didn't slide very nicely). Melt the last tablespoon of butter in the pan until it stops foaming. As I'm re-reading the recipe now, I realize there is a much easier way to have done this: flip the cake onto another plate and then slide back into the skillet. (In the heat of the moment I just asked Dan for help, since I was stirring risotto and he happened to be there. He saved the day.) Cook the second side another 8-10 minutes until crisp on the bottom.

Slide onto a plate and serve in wedges.

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