Saturday, September 17, 2011

Delicious Collaboration Beets

     So, I had this crazy idea for a party where all the guests would go to the farmers' market on their way to my house, buy whatever looked delicious, and then work together to prepare it in my kitchen. When I pitched it to my friend and colleague Erin, (inaugural hostess of Beer in a Kitchen) at our hazing the new kid talking smack about our  professors welcoming our new MA student bar outing, she thought it was awesomely not crazy. Joanna and Chad agreed with the not craziness of this idea. 
     Thus, two Saturdays later, I found myself tidying up Urban Cottage in preparation for Farmers' Market Brunch, and the doubts were assailing me. Would this work? Would everyone show up with watermelon? Was there too much beer involved in the planning of this brunch? But once people started arriving and chopping and frying and baking, things were looking pretty good. Then, Trey called from the farmers' market, 
     "I don't know what to buy. Are we going to cook it at your house? How is this going to work?"
     "Buy whatever looks good. Seriously. This is pot-luck cooking," I told him.
      And someone predicted he would buy beets. Someone else suggested it would be maple syrup. Or sunflowers. 
     "I could see that working," says my husband, "roasted beets with a maple syrup glaze and the sunflower seeds tossed in."
     I had to do it.

Delicious Collaboration Beets
1 3/4 lb beets with skins and tails intact and stems trimmed to 1"
1/3 c. sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/2 stick (1/4 c.) butter
1/3 c. maple syrup (this is an estimate, I eyeballed it, and then added more for more flavor)
3 T (ish) vinegar (cider or white)
salt and pepper to taste
     Preheat oven to 400 dF. Place beets in cast iron skillet or roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, cover and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. When the beets will no longer burn your fingers, slip the skins, tails, and stems off. Chop the beets into chunks of desired size and set aside.
Place a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat,  when the skillet is too hot to touch, pour in the sunflower seeds, stirring constantly for two to three minutes to toast. They will be aromatic and begin to brown when toasted. Pour them into your serving dish.
     In that same skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the beets, and boil until the liquid in the skillet has thickened and the beets look glazed, stirring frequently. This may take 4-10 minutes. (The recipe I started from said 4; it took me 10. Perhaps because I eyeballed the maple syrup.) Combine the beets and glaze with the toasted sunflower seeds in your serving dish. May be served hot or cold. Still delicious the second day.

All in all, Farmers' Market Brunch was pretty amazing. There were cheesy, berry muffins, breaded zucchini, maple syrup, 2 cantaloupes, a gigantic watermelon, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs, and bacon. We're totally doing this again.