Dips and Nibbles

The Spread

The Spread

A good friend came to town this past weekend, visiting from Seattle.  The plan for Saturday night was to make a huge spread and enjoy!  We made fresh goat cheese, pureed beets, warm Brussels sprout salad and bagna cauda (anchovies, cream, garlic oh my).  I won’t overwhelm you with all the recipes right now so we’ll start with the beets.

I got the recipe out of my current favorite cookbook Jerusalem.  The photos are gorgeous and every time I flip through I pause at the picture of the bright purple-red beet puree.  Luckily my friend is also a fan of the earthy beet flavor so we decided to try the recipe.

Give just over two pounds of beets a good scrub and roast them whole at 400 degrees for about an hour.  You know they are done when a knife slides through easily and the skin begins to separate from the flesh.  Give them plenty of time to cool and peel away.  Put on gloves if you don’t want pink fingers!  I was able to just rub most of the skin off but a paring knife might be necessary in some spots.

Ready to Roast

Ready to Roast

After peeled- cut into 1/2 inch cubes and put in a food processor or high-powered blender with 2 cloves crushed garlic, one red chili (I had to use a serrano-which worked fine!) and one heaping cup of plain Greek yogurt.  Blend until smooth.

Time to add extra flavor.  Put the puree into a  mixing bowl and stir in 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup (I used a combination of maple and agave since I didn’t have date syrup on hand), 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp za’atar*.  Salt to taste.

Put in your serving bowl and top with 2 thinly sliced green onions, 2 tbsp chopped and toasted hazelnuts and 2 oz crumbled goat cheese.  Serve at room temperature with bread for dipping but you might just find yourself eating it by the spoonful!

Ready to Serve

Ready to Serve

 

I wish the picture wasn’t so dark, the color really was phenomenal.

 

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually includes a combination of dried herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram), toasted sesame seeds, sumac and a bit of salt.

 

Are you a fan of beets or do they taste too much like dirt?  What do you like to do with your beets?

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Just Throw it on the BBQ

I got lucky this weekend, not only did I have a good friend visiting from out of town- said good friend is also an excellent photographer.  Don’t get used to the beautiful pictures you’ll see with today’s post, I’ll be going back to the camera phone soon enough.  We had a plan to make a pizza with roasted butternut squash and a side salad of beets.  At eleven in the morning this sounded like an excellent idea.  I had all the ingredients on hand and it was a grey, cool day.  By five the sun was beating down and we were both enjoying soaking up vitamin C in my backyard.  BBQ it was!  But we were still going to have pizza and beets.

We got the BBQ going and prepped the beets while the coals got ready.

Bee Salad Ingredients

Beet Salad Ingredients

The beets were sliced about 1/3 of an inch thick into discs.  Next time I’ll go up to about 1/2 an inch.  Before grilling we lightly coated the beets in olive oil and dusted with salt.  Fresh mint, goat cheese and reduced balsamic vinegar were prepped to garnish.  Onto the grill!

Beets Cookin'

Beets Cookin’

Cooking times will vary, depending on the heat of your coals and thickness of your beets.  I would suggest checking after 5-6 minutes and every couple of minutes after.  These got a little crisper than I would have liked on the first side.  I had set a timer for 10 minutes, 8 probably would have been ideal.  The other sided cooked for 6 minutes.  We got going on the pizza while the beets cooled.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

I cheated.  No homemade dough this time around.  I had some herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s that I took out of the freezer this morning.  The texture was a little bit runny after it thawed so I kneaded it with a little flour and it came right back to life.  Now onto prepping our toppings.

Pizza Toppings

Pizza Toppings

For veggies- yellow bell pepper, red onion, roasted red pepper, kale and tomato.  More cheating, store-bought marina and sliced fresh mozzarella.  This is where grilling pizza gets a bit tough.  After rolling out the dough we had to be sure that we’d be able to transfer it to the grill and get it off without sticking.  I rolled out the dough and put it on a very well floured baking sheet so that it could easily slide off.  I also dipped a paper towel in olive oil, grabbed it with long tongs and oiled the grill, be careful it is hot!  I was able to slide the dough on the grill easily.

We crossed our fingers and hoped to be blogging about this pizza, not ordering take out.  After 4 minutes, I was able to easily lift the dough with a metal spatula.  I flipped it, raw side down onto the baking sheet (more flour so it would slide off again).  Now we got to topping the pizza on the already cooked side.

Pizza Topping

Pizza Topping

We finished with a bunch of kale on top and back onto the grill it went.

Kale!  The foil ball is a bulb of garlic roasting.

Kale! The foil ball is a bulb of garlic roasting.

 

This cooked for another 4 minutes or so until the cheese was melted.  I had put the pizza right over the top of the coals but it might be wise put the pie off to the side so that the toppings can cook without the crust getting too crispy.  You’d want to check and turn on occasion so it cooks evenly if you use this method.

Done!

Done!

Moment of truth…the dough was cooked all the way through!

All Dressed Up!

All Dressed Up!

Pizza and beets, not the most obvious combination but oh so tasty.  I guess this isn’t really a recipe post, more of a cooking method post.  It was fun to take the cooking outside and the barbecue really added an added layer of flavor to everything.  A note on time, by the time I got the briquettes going and prepped all of the food this took a bit longer than cooking inside, but the experience and enjoying the summer weather was worth it.  Time to eat.

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

Have you ever made anything on the grill that is traditionally done inside?  How was it?