Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Smokey pickled beet vinaigrette salad

Did I never get around to telling you about this beet salad that I made last year? With smokey tea-pickled beets and kumquats and blue cheese and all things springtime?

My apologies for the gap, then!

I made this salad for a meeting of our Lab Ladies' Tea series, previously featured here, here, and here. I always delight in bringing a non-sweet item to a potluck, and also, the fellow Lab Ladies are such wonderful bakers--there's always for sure going to be some amazing goods already on the table. This time around, we had a rough "Slavic" theme, for a special guest that we invited to tea to regale us with stories of fieldwork in remote parts of Russia. Of course, "theme" is a very loose suggestion here, but hence my inspiration of beets pickled in lapsang souchong tea. Also, I learned that move from Annelies Zijderveld's tea book, and the smokeyness worked beautifully against the sweet/sour vinegar and crispness of the fresh beets.

This time around, I asked the other Lab Ladies to share their recipes as well, so below the fold are their recipes to some absolutely wonderful baked goods: a lemony-brandy bundt cake from Clara, an orange nut chocolate babka that Sarah made, jam-filled cookies by Emily, and savory kale, feta, and green chili khachapuri from Andréa. We had a huge picnic on a sunny balcony in the Berkeley hills overlooking a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and everyone got pleasantly sun-red from the weather and cheek-red from the smiling and tea. ♥ these girls. Go, women in science!

Read on for recipes...

California pickled beet salad
serves 4 to 6
inspired by Momofuku's pickled beet recipe

for pickled beets
makes about two 32-oz jars - make at least 1 day ahead

3 large red beets
3 large yellow beets
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 Tbspn salt
1 dry bay leaf
6 juniper berries
1 heaping tspn rainbow peppercorns
1 1/2 tspn lapsang souchong loose leaf tea
4 Tbspn Grand Marnier, optional

1. Throughout the process, keep the red and yellow beets separate so that the red beets do not bleed colour into the yellow beets. Peel the beets. Slice thinly with a mandolin or sharp knife. Layer the sliced beets into the jars--one jar for red, one jar for yellow. Leave at least 1/4-inch at the top of each jar.
2. In a small pot, combine the rice vinegar, white wine viengar, water, sugar, salt, bay leaf, juniper berries, peppercorns, and lapsang souchong tea. Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat, stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
3. Remove the liquid from heat and pour into the jars, making sure to cover to the top of the beets. In each jar, add 2 Tbspn of Grand Marnier, if using. Close the lids and shake the jars to make sure the liquid is evenly distributed. Let the jars cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 day (to 1 week).

for salad

130-150g baby kale
1 bunch chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 can cannelini beans, drained
Humboldt Fog cheese and/or another mild blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup kumquats, seeded and sliced thinly
pickled beets (strained) + 1 cup pickling juice
1/2 Tbspn dry mustard powder

1. Mix the baby kale with the cut chives. Place in serving bowl.
2. On top of the kale, arrange the cannelini beans, crumbled cheese, sliced kumquats, and pickled beet slices.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of the pickled beet juice and 1/2 Tbspn dry mustard powder. Dress salad as desired.

Phoebe's Mystery Cake (from Clara)

Cake ingredients
2 cups ground almonds
½ cup very fine breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
8 eggs, separated
2 tsp baking powder
1¼ cups sugar
pinch of salt
grated rind of 1 lemon
¼ cup brandy

Syrup ingredients
1½ cup sugar
1½ cup water
¼ cup brandy
½ cup lemon juice

1)            Preheat oven to 375°. Generously butter and flour a bundt cake pan.
2)            Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are a light yellow color.
3)            Dilute the baking powder in the brandy and pour into the egg mixture.
4)            Add the almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, and lemon rind.
5)            In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
6)            Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

7)            Boil together the sugar and water until it reduces to about half. Be careful not to let it burn or caramelize
8)            Remove it from the water and add the lemon juice and brandy.
9)            Pour the hot syrup over the cake and set it aside. Let cool.

10)        Serve with whipped cream.

Orange Zest Babka (from Sarah)

Sarah used the Poires Au Chocolat recipe here, except with orange zest instead of lemon.

Jam-filled cookies (from Emily)

Emily used the recipe for jam kolaches here, except with her own homemade (fig?) jam!

Kale, Feta, and Green Chili Khachapuri (from Andréa)

Andréa used the recipe here, but with the following changes: "I changed the filling a lot, not intentionally, but because I used what I had.  Instead of ramps and green onions, I used kale.  I used feta and fresh mozzarella, no ricotta.  I left out dill and parsley, because I didn't have any, and used dried mint instead of fresh. On top of the cayenne, I put an Indian green chili, because I had one. And I baked them rather than frying them, because it seemed easier.  I think they would be even better if I had brushed them with butter."


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