I have Olympic fever! Witnessing so many great performances has had its effects on me - now, I just want to be even more active and healthier.
Of course, one way to achieve that goal is to eat super-clean, with lots of vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. Luckily, my profession allows me to know not only about these products but also how to prepare them in (I hope) innovative and creative ways. One of the classic dishes at Toqué! is le gratin de chèvre with beet juice.
And since introducing that dish, we have regularly used beets in many different ways. At this time of the year, you will find them in our Beet Crispy Cream and Smokey Salmon Caviar.
I love beets because they are naturally sweet and low in calories. They contain folate, vitamin C and potassium. Even the leaves are good for you, and can be used in salads.
The most common beet variety is the beetroot, or garden beets. Other well-known varieties include sugar beets (known for their high sugar content) and Crapaudine beets. They range in colour from deep red to white. In my opinion, the Chioggia beet (originally from Italy) is particularly beautiful: When sliced, it has concentric rings of red and white, almost like a candy cane. When cooked, it goes pink.
Many people find beets difficult to work with, but a few simple tips make things easier. Beets should be washed just before cooking so that they retain their nutrients and colour. They should be peeled after they are cooked: Once they have cooled down, the skin will come right off. Generally speaking, beets are ready when you can easily pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife.
Baking is one of the best ways to prepare beets: Wrap the beets in foil and put them in a pan, then bake them until tender in a 350F to 400F oven (from 1-1/2 to 2 hours depending on your oven and the size of the beets).
Cooking them directly on coarse salt is a great method as well, and works well for making beet carpaccio.
Of course, boiling is the easiest. Just put the beets in a pot of boiling water, cover and simmer until they are tender. This can take between 40 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets.
Once you've mastered the basics, get fancy with these stunning - and delicious - beet crisps.
Beet Crispy Cream and Smokey Salmon Caviar
1.5 kilograms raw, whole beets
A little butter
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 bunch scallions
I cup mild olive oil
2 cups 35% whipping cream
Smoked salmon caviar
To make the crisps, slice about 500 grams of the beets as thinly as possible using a mandoline. Brush some tempered butter on two sheets of parchment paper. Lay the beet slices on the buttered parchment, season with salt and pepper, then cover with the other buttered sheet.
Cook in a 300 F oven for 8 minutes, then remove top parchment sheet and continue to cook until crispy (it should take about another 8 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
Juice the remaining kilogram of beets in a juicer, then filter through a coffee filter. Add the honey and reduce the mixture over low heat until it reaches a nice consistency.
Blanch scallions in boiling water and blend with the olive oil. Strain through a coffee filter.
Whip the cream until thick, and season with salt.
To serve, divide the cream between two separate bowls. To one bowl, add a few spoonfuls of the scallion oil. In the other, cut the cream with the beet-juice caramel.
Spoon some of each onto a platter with beet crisps and dabs of smoked salmon caviar.