Sunday, 8 February 2009

Vegetable love: beets gone wild.

This year, for valentine's day, and for Vegetable Love I created these crepes: savory chocolate crepes filled with bloo pate, baked beets and apples, all served on a salad of bitter greens dressed with chocolate-balsamic sauce. My love of savory chocolate dishes continues. I just can't help myself. And what could be more romantic than beets? They're like beautiful rubies, except you can eat them! The bloo pate, beets and apples play on the classic trick of juxtaposing very strong fermented salty flavours (the pate) with sweet (the beets) and fresh (the apples). The bitter green salad keeps the whole thing from being cloying or too heavy. I tried to think of a clever name for them, but all I could come up with was "from russia, with love", which kinda sucks. Also, I just couldn't get a good photo of it. It's winter. It's dark. The kitchendancing cave is not brightly lit. More importantly, we were too hungry to fuss over the camera. And yes, as per the rules for Vegetable Love this is virtually fat free, clocking it at a whopping 1 square of chocolate per 4 servings as the only source of added fat in the whole thing. Saunter on over to the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen to see what this whole Vegetable Love thing is about. Feel free to vote for me if you think this looks as yummy as I can assure you it was.

I know that valentine's dinners are typically for 2, but this easily serves 4, because I like to spread the love, dammit, and hate the couple-obsessedness of the world. If you're good at making crepes, there will be extras that you can just have for breakfast the next day (you can fill them with bananas or any other fruit). For the whole sordid uncouply affair, you need crepes, 1 batch bloo pate (without the optional tahini), 4 medium beets, 1 apple, 4c washed and chopped arugula and 2 cups washed and chopped red chard, 1 batch balsamic dressing and lots of looooooove. Music and whiskey also help. The recipes are all below, followed by the assembly method. This dinner takes a bit of advance planning (the bloo pate really is much much much better if it sits overnight), but the time actually spent cooking is pretty low given how fancy this looks. Once you get the hang of making the crepes, this is an easy (though involved) dinner to make. If you've decided to make this and want it *now*, you can make a faster version of the bloo pate (though it won't be as nice, and will be quite a lot sharper): use well-rinsed canned pinto beans, cut the ume paste down to about half, add about 1/2 tsp of salt, and use a full tsp of agave.

For the crepes:
1.5 cups whole wheat spelt or buckwheat flour
1 tbs arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1-2 tbs unsweetened cacao powder (darker is better)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2-1 tsp black pepper, depending on how much you love black pepper
pinch salt
pinch sugar or 1/2 tsp of agave
1.5 c usweetened soy or rice milk
1.5 c water

Mix all dry ingredients well. Add wet ingredients and mix very well (I use a whisk). Let stand for at least 30 min. Your batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it's too thick to pour easily, add more water to thin it out. Heat a nonstick pan on medium heat and pour 3 tbs of batter into it. Immediately spread the batter out as best you can into a very thin layer using the back of a spoon. (This takes practice). Turn heat down and wait until crepe is cooked through. You shouldn't need to flip it. The trick is to get the heat just right, and to spread the crepe out very quickly. This makes about 12 crepes, assuming that all of them survive. If you've never made crepes before, expect to lose the first 3 or 4...or 5. Make pancrepe scramble with them later. Stack all your surviving crepes up in a plate.

The recipe for the bloo pate is here. Ironically, the bloo pate is very pale pink. This amuses me.

The beets are simply washed and roasted in their skins for 40 minutes at 400F, then cooled, peeled and sliced.

The apple is just sliced.

For the chocolate-balsamic dressing:

1 c balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/3 c.
Remove from heat, and melt 1/10th of a (about 10 grammes) very good, very dark chocolate bar into it.

To assemble, put 1/4 of the chopped greens (arugula and chard) on each plate, assuming there are 4 people around. Drizzle with balsamic dressing (the arugula, not the people, though if you double the recipe for the dressing, you should have enough for both). Now, heat your nonstick pan up again on low heat, and add one of the cooked crepes to it. Spread the crepe with about 2-4 tbs of bloo pate (the more you add, the heavier and saltier the crepes will be). On half the crepe, add slices of apple and slices of beet. Add a little bit of black pepper and/or a sprinkle of lemon juice if you're so inclined. This is also amazing with a few toasted walnuts added, but they're by no means necessary. Cover the pan and let everything heat through. Fold crepe in half and lay it on top of the salad. Garnish with a fresh fig, or some coriander, mint, or dill. Repeat for the other three plates.

See? Easy. Leaves lots of time for making out and slow dancing.

Slow dancing music: One night with you. The King crooned it first and best. And it still gets the girls.


sinead said...

P.S. Yes, Jake, this is what I was working up to.

Susan Voisin said...

Wow! I'm dying to try the bloo pate on just about anything, but the complete recipe looks like a work of art. Incredible! Thanks so much for entering it into Vegetable Love.

Jake said...

This post makes me so sad that you won't marry me.

sinead said...

But we can still have an illicit, food and nerdiness-based romance, no?

Jake said...

But of course!

Anonymous said...

Looks delicious! And, I love the humor in your writing! :-D

Anonymous said...

ohh. this looks like a winner. :)

Jen Treehugger said...

I actually dribbled on the keyboard reading your description. This is sooo fantastic I can just imagine how good they must taste.
Good luck!