Arugula, Beet, and Blood Orange Salad

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So the Super Bowl was yesterday and blah blah blah. I may offend many of my fellow Americans when I say this, but what the hell¬†is with everyone and football? Grown men darting around in Spanx, fighting to the death over a¬†charmingly-named “pig skin”, bashing heads like they’re auditioning for Braveheart? Um, hello?

Can you tell I never played sports?
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Beet and Potato Pancake

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My coworker sent me this last week and it’s sad how close it hit home. I love potatoes. Like, LOVE them. More than so many things. My boss is scared to even look at french fries when I am nearby, because he knows I will fly into a rage if anyone touches them.

I think I have a problem.

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Oh, well! Better happy with a potato, than normal and sad without one.

The true name of this dish is roesti. It’s basically a gigantic plate of hashbrowns, but Cook’s Illustrated gave me a lovely variation that I used for inspiration. They added beets, but I one-upped them with the further addition of celery root (aka, the unsung hero of the underworld…get it? Because it’s a root?…Screw you guys, I’M laughing).

I paired it with some goat cheese and horseradish sauce, fried shallots (clutch), maple-cayenne pecans (make extra, for insanely good snacking), and arugula salad. DIVINE.

Make sure to keep the heat on the medium-low side of things, so that you don’t burn the bottom. The pieces all went very well together and I would definitely recommend this as a complete meal, but if you just go with the roesti I think you’ll still be quite happy. I have visions of this with a poached egg for breakfast. Mmmm.

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Potato and Beet Pancake

inspired by Cook’s Illustrated

For the pancake:

3/4 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 small celery root, peeled and shredded
3 medium beets, peeled and shredded (I used both red and gold)
1/4 c finely diced scallions
salt and pepper
6 T butter

For the horseradish sauce:

3 T horseradish
1/2 c goat cheese
3 T sour cream
pepper

For the pecans:

1 c pecans
1/2 cayenne pepper
enough maple syrup to coat the pecans (approx. 1/8-1/4 c)

Fried shallots (fry at a low heat in peanut oil for best flavor)

Arugula salad (I went with a lemon-dijon-honey dressing)

For the pancake, mix the shredded potatoes, celery root, and beets together in a bowl with the salt and pepper. Melt 4 T butter in a large cast-iron pan over medium-low heat. When hot, press the potato mixture in until you have a pretty compact cake. You may need to move the pan around over the heat, so that the pancake is evenly browned. After about 15 minutes, loosen the pancake with a spatula, place a plate over the top, and invert onto the plate. Add the remaining 2 T butter to the pan and melt, then slide the pancake back into the pan to cook on the other side. Brown another 15 minutes.

For the horseradish sauce, simply mix everything together in a bowl.

For the pecans, spray a baking sheet with oil and then mix the pecans, syrup, and cayenne together on top. Spread out into a single layer and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

To assemble, place a wedge of the pancake on a plate, dollop on some horseradish sauce, sprinkle with the fried shallots, toss the arugula salad in with some pecans, and enjoy the heck out of one fine meal, you sexy son of a B.

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Creamy Lemon Chick Peas with Garlic Polenta

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I know it will be hard, but try not to be too jealous of this awesome meal I just consumed. I can feel your efforts straining across the world wide web, and I pity you.

I felt inspired by a friend’s description of his Tuscan dinner as the best dinner this year, so I decided to grab that metaphorical bull by his gnarly horns and craft my own. It almost proved impossible as my cupboards are fairly dismal, but being resourceful and so fabulous, I made the most of what I had. The result?

The Odd But Delicious Creamy, Lemony, Chick Pea, Spinach, and Arugula over Garlic Polenta. That is the full title.

If you know me at all kitchen-wise, you know it’s very difficult for me to use recipes. Cooking is like Jazz music, baking is like Classical. There is a time to improvise and a time to follow the rules, and cooking with rules is like drinking non-alcoholic beer: where’s the fun? Tonight was no different: I looked at what I had, closed my eyes, and ate the result.

Half-way through this experiment I was thinking it might be one of those nights where I try and feed my cat one of my failed attempts at genius, but I was so very wrong. My thinking all along was to have a creamy, garlic-y polenta with some form of chick peas on top. To make it saucy I mashed up about half of the peas and added lemon juice, wine, and cream. The greens gave it color and a good bite from the arugula. And it all took about 10 minutes. If you’re into meat then I would add some grilled chicken, possibly marinated in some garlic-rosemary-buttermilk.

For the chick pea extravaganza:

1 shallot, diced
2 T olive oil
1 15oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 artichoke hearts, cut in half
1 handful spinach
1 handful arugula
1/4 c white wine
1/4 c lemon juice
3/4 c cream

Mash about half of the chick peas.

If you want this to be really smooth I would recommend blending them with the lemon juice. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over med-high heat.

Saute shallots until translucent and add the chick peas.

Cook until hot, then add the wine and reduce a bit. Toss in the lemon juice and continue cooking until everything “comes together”; ie when it starts to look like a cohesive mass and not separate ingredients, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and artichoke hearts and let cook until thickened.

Turn off the heat and add the greens, mixing until it’s one dreamy mass of delicious.

For the polenta:
3/4 c dry polenta
2 cups hot water
1/2 c cream
1 head garlic
Salt to taste

Cut the top of the head of garlic off (a few millimeters worth, just to expose the meat inside), drizzle on some olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Pop them out of their little sleeves, then mash with some salt and olive oil until it forms a paste.
Bring the water and cream to a boil in a medium sized pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and slowly whisk in the polenta.

Simmer and stir constantly until it is thick and creamy, 3-5 minutes. You’ll know that it’s done when you look at it and say, “wow, I want to eat that right now.”

Stir in the garlic paste.

Dish up some grub and dive in.

NOM…NOM NOM!