Quiz-How many of our garden baby beets does it take to make a batch of Thomas Keller’s red beet ice cream?
Answer-A whole heck of a lot! How about just making half a batch? Still, a whole heck of a lot! Four packages of beet seeds, a garden plot of newly conditioned soil, consistent water, love and sunshine has still only produced finger sized beet roots after 5 months of growth. Like our world smallest carrots, harvesting these beets while they’re still cute with baby roots could also qualify them to be another potential “worlds smallest” dish. We’re not trying to break “worlds smallest vegetable” records here, nor are we that impatient of gardeners who are unwilling to see our veggies to full maturity. But a shortage of garden space, lots of warm sunshine and over-crowded herb seedlings screaming out to be transplanted are forcing us to harvest half our root vegetables while they’re still baby small. Besides, these midget beets do make for some adorable photography!
We attacked our beet root plot today to make a Spring batch of red beet ice cream. In Thomas Keller’s, The French Laundry Cookbook, he discusses a chocolate cake his mother used to make for him in which she added grated beets to it. The result was a unique cake with a deep, dark, beet red color. When he created this red beet ice cream, he knew that he wanted to serve it with the same kind of chocolate cake. We didn’t make the chocolate cake that was included in the recipe because we figured the ice cream was a nice enough treat for this weekends warm weather. Besides, we just made two birthday cakes for the twin brothers’ birthday yesterday- we’re kinda caked out right now. Keller’s chocolate cake will be on our cooking agenda later on.
The recipe requires extracting the juice of raw beets with a juicer. We don’t have a juicer and opted for liquefying the quartered beets in our blender, with the addition of a little water. It worked quite nicely and we continued on to strain the beet liquid and reserved the required beet pulp for use further on in the recipe. He also tops this ice cream with candied walnuts and a walnut syrup, but we only had pecans in the pantry so the pecans replaced the walnuts.
The red beet ice cream is so delicious!! Not really knowing how the beet flavors would transcend to an ice cream, we were both curious and cautious. But the creamy, smooth and full, sweet beet flavors in this dessert were so beautiful! One word of caution: this recipe follows the fate of the beet root in many steps- whole, peel, cut, pulp, juice, strain, reduce, strain (Keller loves to strain), temper and strain some more. You’ll be seeing red stains everywhere from your hands to the kitchen. Just don’t wear your favorite Spring white shirt for this concoction! Oh, BTW- did we mention that you’ll be straining a lot in this recipe?
P.S. (Update) We had some leftover chocolate sauce which we just tried on the beet ice cream with the candied pecans. That put it over the top with and incredible layering of flavors. Damn Tasty!
We are submitting this red beet ice cream to this months Grow Your Own blogging event created by Andrea. This event celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. If you cooked something that you grew from yours or a friends garden or farm, please share it with this great event! The warm weather is arriving so start your veggies!
The left over baby beet greens were so tender and perfect, their fate became a delicious sauteed beet green salad. Since we couldn’t let the greens go to waste, we created a this salad with what available ingredients we were able to find in our kitchen. This simple saute of shallots, black pepper, soy sauce, beet greens, and feta cheese, all topped with the candied pecans was delicious too! The soft, slightly melting feta cheese went so perfectly with the greens, that we don’t feel guilty at all harvesting the beets early just for their leaves!
Total Time: 3 hours
This recipe is also from Thomas Keller's "The French Laundry Cookbook". He tops the ice cream with the candied walnuts which have been cooked in a poaching liquid. The poaching liquid mise en place works great for most any poached fruit dessert.
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