Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beets, Kale & Tomatoes...

We are growing 3 types of beets this year.  We'll always have the big standard Kestrel Red's, but pictured here are our special ones: Golden and Chioggia. We did golds last year to rave reviews.  They are nice and sweet and look and taste spectacular when roasted. The Chioggia (a.k.a Candy Cane or Bullseye) are new for us this year. A keeper for sure.  They are early, have lighter neat tops similar to the golds, cook a bit faster, are more mild compared to the big reds. Thinly sliced in a salad is a beautiful way to show off these great beets! They are actually an Italian Heirloom I have learned, and are named after a coastal town in Italy. Starting next week they will be in abundance at the Farmer's Markets at our stall.  I have also made another recent discovery: BEET CHIPS!
First, you have to chop the beets very thinly.  I used my big red beets for this.  I think they throw the best flavour.  (Chioggia and Golden seem to brown a bit too much when crisp) Use a mandolin to slice your beets thin.(I don't have one, so I use my Cuisinart with a 2mm blade which does a decent job.)  I dump a plentiful amount of the sliced beets into a bowl and top with olive oil and sea salt and mix with my hands to coat the beets well. I didn't have time to mess around with putting the beets 'single file' on my baking sheets.  I did my best not to put wads of them on, but it was pretty messy and a lot of beets went on each tray.  I baked them at 350 for about 1/2 hour.  They go dark and give a nice 'roasted look'.  Keep baking until they begin to 'lighten'.  Another 1/2 hour even. Once they go 'pink' they are crisp! They really shrink, so use as big a beet as you can.  Not every single one went totally cripsy, but I noticed once they cooled down they got more crisp. They are very, very good!
Really awesome baked beet chips!  On the right hand side of the photo are 'dark' beets.  These ones are not finished crisping up. Remove the pink crispy ones and let the 'rubbery' ones finish! Totally addictive!
Now here's some of our Nero Di Toscana, or 'Dinosaur' Kale.  I've already rubbed olive oil and salt into it.  I will place this stuff on the baking trays and using the same method, 350 for about 10 mins, flip another 10 mintues you will have baked kale chips.  It will go very dark and crispy when finished. I also add cayenne pepper to them!  Today the kitchen island is full of kale and beet chips!  Tomhas, the teen who is staying with us for July is raising his eyebrows at them BUT he did try them, so it's a start!
I picked these today!  So very exciting to see the first ripening of the tomatoes!  These are coming out of the zany jungle of heirlooms in our 'covered field' under glass (aka old glass cold frame #1). There is soo much maintenance to do out there!  I haven't had a rainy day to work out there, so there will be some late evenings and early mornings when it's cool enough to be under that glass in summer temps!  We have heirlooms in the field as well this year, so they will hopefully be in abundance!  Cheers, it's going to be an awesome summer with lots of great food to eat! :)