Roasted Beets with Pistachio Beet Green Pesto, Honey Yogurt, and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

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Last weekend was one of my favorite holidays-Passover.  Something about Passover just immediately brings me back to my childhood.  All it takes is the smell of chicken soup simmering away on the stove or the pungent smell of horseradish and I am instantly transported back to my home in Western Massachusetts where I can envision a mini-version of myself, wearing one of my nicest dresses, setting the dinner table before the seder.  Since I graduated from college, I have made it a point to cook a Passover dinner every year that I have been in Boston (except last year when I was interviewing all over the country) and every year I cook almost the same menu: brisket, matzoh ball soup, and chocolate flourless cake from the April 2006 issue of Bon Appetite magazine.  Each year I refine the dishes a little more and try to add something new to the dinner.  A few years ago I invented chocolate covered matzoh ice cream which was such a hit, I have made it again every year since then!  This year I added in a ribbon of the hot fudge from the hot fudge thumbprints I made earlier this month.  Other recipes such as the charoset ice cream with Manischevitz sauce were not as well received.

This year, I wanted to add some color and vegetables to the table so I set out to make my first beet dish ever!  I actually didn’t really like beets until a few years ago which is probably why I never learned to make them.  However, after repeatedly trying them they found their way into my heart and I realized that their earthy taste eventually gave way into a sweetness that paired perfectly with tart and creamy flavors (like goat cheese or yogurt).  I decided to get creative with my roasted beets and created multiple components to add varied textures and flavors to the beets.

In full disclosure, I hadn’t planned on posting the recipe on my blog.  However, after multiple people requested the recipe after seeing the photos that I posted, I racked my brain for the ingredients and proportions and below is what I came up with.  Therefore, if you make it, taste is as you go (as you always should) and adjust as necessary!

Roasted Beets with Pistachio Beet Green Pesto, Honey Yogurt, and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

(serves 6-8 people)

Roasted beets:
8-10 medium sized beets of varying color
olive oil
salt

Pistachio beet green pesto:
1/4 cup pistachios (plus more to top the final dish)
1/2 cup packed chopped beet green leaves
1 small piece of garlic
1/4 cup of oil
salt

Blood orange vinaigrette:
2 blood oranges
1 Tbs honey
1/4 cup olive oil
salt

Honey yogurt:
10 oz (2 small containers) greek yogurt
2 Tbs honey

For the roasted beets: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub beets with olive oil and salt.  Wrap beets of same color together in foil packets so they are sealed.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 45-60 minutes until they are fork tender.  Cool for 10 minutes and then run under cool water and remove the skins.  Cut into 4-6 wedges depending on the size of the beets.

For the pesto: Place first 3 ingredients in a mini food processor.  Slowly add oil until pesto is of a consistency that can be easily drizzles over the beets.  Season with salt.

For the vinaigrette:  Supreme or slice the blood oranges.  Reserve any juice that accumulated while cutting and then squeeze the remnants of the oranges to get more juice.  Whisk in honey, olive oil and salt.

Honey yogurt: Mix honey and yogurt together.

Assembly.  Spoon yogurt as the first layer on a large plate.  Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Top with the cut beets and blood orange segments/slices.  Top with a few more spoonfuls of drizzled pesto.  Spoon the vinaigrette over the beets.  Top with chopped, toasted pistachios if desired and herbs such as parsley or dill (if desired).

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Hot Fudge Thumbprints

Every so often you come across something new and amazing that changes your life forever.  For me…it was this cookie.  You might think I’m being a bit dramatic waxing poetic about a cookie.  But this cookie was beyond incredible.  Probably the best cookie I have ever had and I’ve had my fair share of cookies.

I had wanted to try Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, a bakery and cafe owned by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal, for some time.  However, its Wicker Park location in Chicago was just a touch out of the way on each of my visits.  A few weeks ago, however, I was in Chicago for a conference and discovered Revival Food Hall. Revival Food Hall is a foodie’s dream with several of Chicago’s best fast-casual concepts all under one roof!  Everything looked and smelled delicious and I definitely wandered around for a good half hour before deciding what I wanted to eat.

However, when I stumbled upon a small Mindy’s Hot Chocolate outpost, there was no hesitation about where I was going for dessert.  Deciding what to order was a bit harder, though, because I wanted it all!!! Eventually with some help from the friendly staff I decided on a chocolate chip cookie, a Buckeye bar (aka peanut butter and chocolate goodness), $8 hot chocolate (yes $8 but TOTALLY worth it), and finally, these life-changing Hot Fudge Thumbprint cookies.  They essentially taste like you took the best and richest hot chocolate you can find (like their $8 version) and somehow condensed it into a soft and fudgy cookie.  Wow!  As soon as I tasted it I knew I need to learn how to make them and immediately bought Mindy Segal’s cookbook, Cookie Love, online.

The cookies are a bit labor intensive and start with you making about 4 cups of hot fudge (you only need about 1 cup for the recipe so you can make more cookies with rest or use it as ice cream topping…or just eat it with a spoon because it is that good).  My hot fudge didn’t quite separate the way it is described in the recipe but after about an hour of simmering (which is longer than what is called for in the recipe) it seemed like it was as done as it was going to get!  I made these over 2 days so that the dough could rest overnight.  I also added some extra sea salt to the top (because salty and sweet in the best combination) and coated the cookies in green sugar since it was St. Paddy’s Day that weekend.  Everyone at work raved about these cookies so I will definitely be making them again!  Recipe below is provided by Eater.

Hot Fudge Thumbprints (By Mindy Segal, Cookie Love):
Makes about 54 cookies

COOKIES
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

FOR SHAPING AND FILLING
1 heaping cup smoked sugar or demerara sugar
1 cup Hot Fudge (page 236)

To make the cookies:

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
• Put the egg, yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla into a small cup or bowl.
• In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salts.
• On medium speed, add the egg and yolk to the butter mixture and mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 10 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
• Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed. Mix until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
• Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
• Heat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper.

To shape the cookies:
• Cut the dough into 6 even strips. Roll the strips back and forth into logs to round out the edges. Sprinkle the smoked sugar on the work surface and roll the logs in the sugar to coat. Using the top half of your thumb as a guide, cut each log into 9 pieces but keep the log together. Roll the logs again to round out the edges, then pull the pieces apart and place cut-side up on the prepared pans, evenly spacing up to 20 cookies per pan. With the tip of your index finger, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
• Bake one pan at a time for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and tap down the centers with the rounded end of a wooden spoon or a cocktail muddler. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies have slight cracks on the top and are set, another 4 to 6 minutes. When ready, the cookies will have set around the edges and you will be able to gently move them. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat with the remaining pan.

To fill the cookies:
• Heat the hot fudge briefly in a pot over high heat until the sides start to melt. Stir well, then transfer to a squeeze bottle or have a teaspoon ready.
• Once the cookies are completely cool, squeeze enough hot fudge onto the cookies to fill the indentation or spoon the hot fudge into the center. Refrigerate the cookies until the hot fudge has set, approximately 30 minutes.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Hot Fudge

Makes a generous 4 cups

Hot fudge was one of the first things I learned how to make in my early days as a pastry cook (thank you, Judy Contino), and I’m still fascinated by the alchemy of the process. Chocolate, sugar, syrup, and cream are simmered until the oils separate from the solids. At first it looks like chocolate gone wrong, but then I add butter and a generous helping of vanilla and whisk the whole thing thoroughly. The hot fudge magically comes together. Because the chocolate and cream need to cook for a while, use a sturdy pot to avoid scorching the bottom. Once made, the hot fudge lasts for weeks and weeks in the refrigerator.

3 cups heavy cream
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle’s, see page 269) or light corn syrup
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

• In a 6-quart or larger heavy pot over medium-high heat, combine the cream, sugar, and syrup until dissolved, approximately 3 minutes. Add the chocolate and salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer so that the bubbles percolate in the center of the pot. Cook, stirring periodically to avoid scorching the bottom, until the mixture breaks and the oils separate from the solids, 40 to 45 minutes.
• Whisk in the butter and vanilla thoroughly (you can also use an immersion blender to do this if you want it extra smooth) and let cool.

Hot fudge keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.