Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beet Greens, Bloody Marys and BBQ

Oh hello first real day of summer! Glad to see you are finally here!
In case I didn't get enough sunshine (and sunburn) at the wineries on Friday, I vowed to spend as much of my day outside in the warm weather as possible (despite the overcast cloudies that were shielding my beautiful sun from view). Saturday also happened to be my one day off in 10 days so you bet I was going to take advantage!

My not-so-rigorous schedule went as follows:
  • 7am run in the sunshine. Got in a solid 4 and a half mile run before breakfast.
  • Came home shortly before 8 to the lovely smell of banana pancakes being cooked by my wonderful boyfriend. Fresh strawberries and homemade almond butter on top, naturally.
  • Did some dishes and headed out to the farmer's market at around 9:30 where the purchase of stunning beets, salad greens, two types of mushrooms (pink oyster mushrooms included! can't wait for the blogpost on those babies), a polenta baguette and a pint of start-of-the-season strawberries ensued!
  • Came home around 11 am and read some Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughter House 5) on our sunny porch in my recently acquired vintage lawn chair.
  • Jogged to the gym to do an arm workout with Colin around noon.
  • Put my swimmy suit on and packed a lunch of salad rolls, peanut sauce, sliced apples and pears and hazelnuts to take out to Fall Creek for a river picnic adventure.
  • Grabbed my tiny pomeranian and set out for Fall Creek around 2pm to lounge in the sunshine (this didn't quite go as planned but I've decided to erase those details from my memory as I only want sunny, happy memories from this day).
  • Got home by 6pm and prepared the dinner that you see pictured above!
  • Visited a graduation party in my exhausted, sunned-out state. 
  • Spent the rest of the evening watching The Wire.
That is what I call summer.

Anyway, back to the food.

The meal you see above consists of:
  1. Grilled Portobello burger with market salad greens, fresh basil and shredded carrots
  2. BBQ'd sweet yellow corn-on-the-cob
  3. Beet greens sauteed with onion and garlic
  4. A habanero-infused tequila Bloody Mary with pickled green beans
Mainly, I want to talk about the latter two meal components: The beet greens and the Bloody Mary.

Have you ever cooked beet greens before? How about infused your own alcohol?

Let me tell you, both of these things were new to me and they both turned out better than I ever could have expected, especially considering the rumors I had heard:

Infusing alcohol is difficult, time consuming, and expensive.

Beet greens are bitter with a strange, grainy consistency.

Rubbish I say! Pure rubbish!

Lemme tell you what's up.

Habanero-Tequila Bloody Mary 
  • 1.5 shots of Habanero-infused Tequila (Recipe below)
  • 1 cup spicy tomato juice
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp vegan bacon bits
  • Pickled veggies of choice (we did green beans and green olives)
  • Lots of ice!
Mix all ingredients in Powell's pint glass (or other cup of choice) and enjoy!

For the Infused Habanero Tequila
  • 1 bottle bottom shelf tequila (honestly, don't spring for the expensive stuff because the habanero flavor will make the quality indistinguishable)
  • 3 habanero peppers
  • Glass bottle to hold finished tequila
  • Small square of cheese cloth
Carefully cut the stems off the habanero peppers and remove the seeds.
WARNING: DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES OR OTHER SENSITIVE BODY PARTS WHILE DOING THIS. Seriously. You will burn yourself. I even used gloves during this process because I wanted nothing to do with habanero juices on my skin.

Cut the peppers into rounds and drop them in the tequila bottle.

Let tequila bottle sit for as few as 3 and as many as 7 days.

Place one layer of cheesecloth over the mouth of tequila bottle and strain the infused-tequila into a pretty glass bottle (you may need a funnel depending on the bottle you choose). This step is important because you want to make absolutely sure that there aren't any seeds or habanero pieces in your drinks (see related warning above).

Viola! You have just drastically improved your already delicious bottom shelf tequila for a total cost of about $15 (includes alcohol, peppers, cheesecloth and $4 glass bottle from kitchen caboodle).

Easy as pie! Actually, much easier than pie which I find to be a much more complicated process.

Onto the beet greens!

Beet Greens 
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Greens from 5 large beets
  • 1/2 cup white wine or veggie broth
  • 1 Tbs Braggs or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
Bring the olive oil up to temperature over medium heat in a large skillet. Toss in the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and continue to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes or until everything is softened and beginning to brown.

Slice the beet greens off at the base of the beet. Then cut the bulk of the stems away from the leafier parts and set the leaves aside.

Cut the red stem-like parts into about 1-inch slices and throw into the pan with your oil, onion and garlic. Saute for about 4 minutes, adding wine/broth as needed until the stems begin to soften.

Cut the leafier parts of the beet greens into 1-inch slices and add to the pan. Add the braggs and red pepper flakes and continue to saute (adding liquid as needed, but don't overdo it because they WILL cook down) for another 4-5 minutes.

Yummy yummy beet greens! Just as good or better as any other green, I would say. Redder, too! Use them as a side dish with your favorite pasta or BBQ meal!

AND - Want to know the BEST thing about been greens?! They are attached to beets!! You can use the beets for an entirely different purpose (roasting, toasting, raw - whatever) - it's like two different vegetable dish potentials with ONE vegetable.

Gosh I love beets and their greeny counterpart. Taken together, they may be my favorite vegetable.

Live Long and Prosper! Summer style.

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