22 May, 2014

Feelin' the Beet

I am very weird when it comes to food.  If I do not like something, I throw a fit like an 8 year old, and then eventually try it again.  Just because I did not like it the first time does not mean I will not like it in a different presentation, or prepared by a different person.  I used to HATE scallops until I tasted the Chef's preparation of Scallops with Risotto.  That is when I realized that it depends on the presentation, technique and cooking time.  Scallops should be sweet and succulent and tender.  I thought that they were bland and rubbery.  I am delighted now when I have the chance to eat scallops again.

The only thing that has never made it off of the Icky List is Eggplant and Coconut though I have to admit that I have eaten both in presentations that I found enjoyable.  I am still not much of a fan!

One item that was sharing the short list right along side Eggplant and Coconut was Beets!  I was actually disappointed to not like beets as I adore all root vegetables including some funky odd balls like Salsify and Sunchokes.  But they tasted like dirt to me.  Just brightly colored balls of earthiness.  I could not see the appeal.  Although I loved that is was usually paired with Goat Cheese!

Moving to Mexico I gave beets another chance.  The Chef lives for roasted beets and can eat them by the pan full.  There is always a curious draw to the blood red as it oozes all over the roasting pan.  Like a moth to a flame, I was sucked in.  The Chef has added a Beet Salad to our Brunch Menu with a Honey Citrus Dressing.  So one Sunday I got brave.  I loved it!  The beets were sweet!  I couldn't believe it.  Could the terroir literally have changed the dirt flavor?  Or were my taste buds changing as I approached my three.... oh never mind that's, not it!!!  

I have found myself sneaking into the kitchen and snitching those gorgeous red globes from the fridge and experimenting with their flavors and seeing if they play nice with anything other than goat cheese.  Not that I am complaining, I love goat cheese!

I have discovered that the sweet earthiness of the beet loves to pair with acidity; be it from tangy Heirloom Tomatoes or with a zippy Citrus Dressing.  But I wanted to take beets further than the salad menu.

I adore the "Adult Grilled Cheese" as coined by Chef Cindy Pawlcyn... my favorite on her menu at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen of course.  The sandwich makings change daily, and are always a lot of fun!  The last time that we dined there before leaving the valley the daily special consisted of Rustic Walnut Bread, Fontina and Gruyere, with Apricot Chutney, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon optional....Swoon!

Thus was born the Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Feta, Beets and Baby Spring Mix.

Simple enough really; layer thin slices of roasted beets with feta cheese on a piece of bread, grill, when cheese is melted open, add a healthy pinch of spring mix. Presto!  

But if I am going to post a recipe for you guys it needs to be perfection, tried and tested until proven worthy.  Trust me that the sandwich was delicious, so much so that once I finished it I wanted another and then another... 

But there was something nagging at the back of my brain; how to grill the bread???  Being American I always grab straight for the butter when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches.  Boris, being a Chef toasts the bread in the toaster and grills the CHEESE directly in the pan.  I still cannot figure out how it does not stick!  And don't tell him, but grilling the cheese makes it taste even better!  I have heard some people use Mayo to grill bread for sandwiches... and then still there is what I call country bread which is fried in a skillet on both sides.  Dilemma!!!

Left: Butter Center: Mayo Right: Oil 
Left: Butter Center: Mayo Right: Oil
This called for scientific research.  So I enlisted the neighbor kids and the Chef.  Unanimous vote for Mayo!  I was surprised!  Even the Chef voted against his method.  And the best part is the mayo took longer to toast, meaning the cheese was more gooey and the tang of the mayo will compliment the beets perfectly!

So there you have it.  To make the best grilled cheese you need to fry the bread with Mayo.  And to kick it  up a notch for the adults, add some goats milk cheese like Feta or Raclette and layers of Beets.  I think you will be feelin' it too!

Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich 
with Feta, Beets 
and Baby Spring Mix

Sliced Bread
1/2 Roasted Beet (per sandwich)
Salt and Pepper
Feta Cheese or other Goats Milk Cheese
Spring Mix

Slather your bread with Mayo on both sides.  
Add Dijon mustard to what will be the inside,
Layer thin slices of beet and slices of feta cheese.
Don't forget to salt and pepper your beet slices!
In a Iron Skillet on low heat toast the sandwich on both sides until golden brown and the beets and cheese are warmed through.  ***Depending on how firm the feta is it will get somewhat melty but not gooey. If you want an ooey gooey sandwich I recommend a Goats Milk Raclette.***
Remove from the heat and peel apart the sandwich.  Toss in a generous pinch of Spring Mix.
Cut in half and enjoy with a glass of wine, because that is what us adults can do!
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