Let’s talk about sex, baby. Okay, probably not.
But let’s DO talk about the new adventure I’m about to embark on! It’s not exactly sex related, but it is relationship-related and that’s close enough right? The tingly-toes feeling, the flirting, the bait and hook(up). More or less. Yes, let’s talk about that. And beet crostini.
The Food Blogger’s of Canada food blogging conference this coming weekend is ON and while I’m super duper stoked to be attending, I’m also a little bit nervous. And by a little bit, I mean I probably just pooped my pants thinking about it.
I know, I know. Everyone is nervous at these kinds of things but let me explain. Nay, let me bitch and
wine whine moan for exactly 1.6 minutes. Because sometimes, ya just gotta let it out.
I spent 10 years working in the restaurant industry. I became a master(bater) at social gatherings. How to say hello and shake hands effectively, how to ask questions about a person without falling into the traps of “so what do you do” and “how do you know XYZ”, and how to make an exit, gracefully. Except maybe when it came to the actual exit. I suck at walking. If there’s a bench or a wall or my right foot nearby, you can pretty much be guaranteed that I’ll walk into it, over it, through it, on it. I’m a physical mess. War wounds, I call ’em. War wounds.
Since leaving the restaurant industry, I’ve become something of a recluse. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. I DID speak at a food blogging conference last year. I attend plenty of media and trade related events. I also still have real life friends I see on a regular basis and I’m always more than happy to meet the bf for drinks or go see a show. So I’m hardly a hobbit (I’m not sure why hobbits in my mind don’t leave the house, but they don’t). But when it comes to face to face, in person meetings, I get all ants-in-my-pantsy.
Maybe it’s because all of my business is conducted over the internet. Maybe it’s because I’m so busy with work that if something can be dealt with over email when it’s convenient for me (and the other person), I’d rather handle things that way. Or maybe it’s simply because after a decade serving people and listening to their complaints about how their wine glass has finger prints on it (uh, hello, you DID just have your dirty little paws on it, didn’t you?), my bullshit tolerance is basically zero.
Either way, I’m nervous as all get out. There’s going to be new friendships formed, old acquaintances reunited, brands to impress and lectures to learn from. What if I say “fuck” one too many times? What if I’m not skinny enough to be a food blogger (yeah right. hahahaha…). What if I miss a great opportunity because I was too shy to walk up and say hello? What if I actually do poop my pants? What if what if what if what if what if….. And even as I go over all this in my mind, I know I’m being ridiculous. I know that what ifs’ll kill ya. Fuck what ifs. Just take a deep breath, do it anyway, hope for the best, and see what happens. Chances are, what you imagine in your head, will never be what materializes. What if isn’t real.
The only saving grace for me (other than the Ativan I’m popping like jujubes – jk, jk) is the fact that I know in my heart of hearts that everyone I plan on meeting is going to be freckin awesome. Like, amazing. It’s rare that I get to be in a massive room surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds of people who are into food and writing and photography in the same ways I am. It’s not often I get to actually talk with (and probably hug because let’s face it, I’m a hugger) people in my industry whom I admire and respect and stalk on occasion. I know they’re going to be stellar. Or, put another way (because I’m in need of a seguey to get to today’s recipe and at the risk of sounding ultra-creepy) they’ll all be tenderly sweet.
Speaking of tenderly sweet…. (see how I did that?)
Is there anything more salt of the Earth than farm fresh, tenderly sweet, just picked beets?
You know, except salt. And maybe Texans.
But chances are, most good Texans don’t enjoy being plucked from their homes, chopped up and roasted to 425 degree oven perfection so we’ll stick with beets. And salt. Mmmm…. salt.
It’s true; I’ve shared my fair share of beet recipes on the blog. Some of which feature Roasted Hazelnut & Goat Cheese Beet Salad, Golden Beet Bruschetta, Moist (ew, I hate that word) Chocolate Beet Cake, and my absolute favourite, Scratch Garden Beet Gnocchi. You want something that’ll blow your socks off,
I’m that’s your gal. I even published a whole podcast on beets. Yep, just beets.
And now we’re bringin this party round the ’bout for another bready, veggie dish because like all good round the ’bouts – the hokey pokey, the speedway, or a good & honest circle jerk – some things just never get old. Hence my Sweet & Earthy Red Beet Crostini (with greens!). There’s nothing much better than beet crostini.
…Btw, if you DO still want to talk about sex, here you go.
- 6 Medium Sized Beets with leaves still attached, farm fresh
- 1 Lemon for juice
- Handful of Walnut Pieces, toasted
- 1 Ball Fresh Burrata, drained
- Few Drizzles of Balsamic Reduction
- Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 1/4 C Chicken or Veggie Stock (optional)
- 1 loaf of rustic tasty bread
- Good Quality Flaky Sea Salt for serving (I like Maldon)
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- As it heats, prepare the beets. Using a very sharp knife (and watching your tiny pretty fingers), cut away the skin of the beets. Throw the skins in the compost and then 1/4 dice the beets. Chuck in a baking pan and drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Toss in the hot oven for 25 - 30 minute or until fork tender. You don't want them to get much colour on them because we want 'em super silky tender so shake the pan every 10 minutes or so to make sure they cook evenly.
- As the beets cook, wash and dry the greens. Chop roughly into bite sized type pieces. Place a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle in a glug or two of olive oil. When shimmering but not smoking, throw in the greens. Season well with salt, pepper, add about a 1/4 C of water and stir well. Cover and steam. After about 3 minutes, remove the lid, squeeze in the lemon juice and the stock (if using) and stir again. Allow the excess moisture to cook away then remove from the heat. Set aside.
- Once the beets are done, you can toast the bread if you like. Turn the oven to broil, cut the bread into thin slices and lay on a baking tray. Baste with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under hot broiler and allow to toast to golden brown. This happens quickly - make sure you don't burn 'em. If you like your crostini EXTRA crunchy, flip the bread over and toast the second side.
- Now build! Smear the greens on each piece of toast, followed by the burrata and then the beets. Finish with toasted walnuts and a pinch of Maldon. Drizzle lightly with balsamic reduction. Alternatively, you could just chuck it all on the table and let everyone build their own crostinis. Either way.
- The freshness of your beets will greatly affect the flavour and texture of this recipe. Use the freshest possible to make sure they're tender and moist. Old, large beets tend to be woody and don't have much flavour.
- Maldon salt is a high quality - and expensive - sea salt. It's meant for garnishing, not cooking. Every kitchen, if you're serious about cooking, should have a couple staple salts in their pantry. I suggest a coarse kosher salt for salting pasta water, a slightly finer sea salt for baking and seasoning vegetables and a finishing salt like Maldon for that extra special touch. Once you have it, you won't go through it too quickly.
How do you deal with a case of the jitters? Any suggestions for me? Have you attended food blogging conferences? Other conferences? What were your experiences? Do you like beets? Beets on bread? What else do you like to put on bread? Spill it!