Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beet, Fennel, Kumquat Salad

When people ask us what to get us for the holidays, Jason and I say in unison -- baby-sitting.  But when we were visiting my parents for the holidays in Baltimore, we got much more than that.  Not only did they watch the kids while we went out, they gave us a gift certificate to Demi, and even made us a reservation.   20 years ago, when we came to the US, they didn't know what "medium-rare" meant.  Now they know the hottest spots to eat out all over the country.  I never thought it would come to this, but they are more obsessed with restaurants than we are (or even than we were before kids).

Demi was indeed fabulous.  One of the best meals I've had in a long time, and definitely the best meal I've ever had in Baltimore.  See -- you should always listen to your mother.  The standouts were tuna with vanilla soy broth, braised pork belly with lentils, and a beet salad.  The first two will take a little work to recreate at home, but the beet salad is simplicity itself.  Mine is a bit different.  I replaced orange sections with kumquat slices, and used pickled beets instead of raw as a topping, but the basic idea is the same.  It's colorful, layered, and festive -- a nice change from brown winter food.  

Beet, Fennel, Kumquat Salad
Serves 4-6 as the first course

For pickled beets:
1/4 Lb beets of any color (I used candy striped)
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (or 1/2 Tbsp table salt)
2 tsp sugar

For baked beets:
3/4 Lb beets of any color (I used candy striped)

For the salad:
1/4 cup soft goat cheese
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin on a mandoline
5 kumquats, sliced thin
1 Tbsp lime juice
Mint for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled beets procedure (at least 24 hours in advance)
  1. In a small non-reactive container, combine boiling water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.  Mix well to make a brine.
  2. Shave beet on a mandoline and add to the brine.  Cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to a week.
Baked beets procedure (at least 24 hours in advance)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Wrap each beet tightly in foil and place on a baking dish.  Bake until tender when pierced with a knife or toothpick, 1.25-2.5 hours depending on the beet size.  Note that beet don't get as soft as potatoes, but you shouldn't feel more resistance in the center than you do near the skin.
  2. Cool beets, rub the skin off with your hands and trim top and bottom.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Assembling the salad procedure
  1. Remove pickled beets from the brine, dry off on paper towels and slice into matchsticks.  Set aside.
  2. Slice baked beets 1/8 inch thick using a mandoline and arrange on plates.  Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Top each beet slice with a small dollop of goat cheese, and a slice of kumquat.  
  4. Mix fennel with lime juice and a pinch of salt.  Arrange on top of beet slices.
  5. Sprinkle with pickled beet matchsticks and remaining kumquat slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with mint.


pyatachok said...

Admitting that your mother CAN be right sometimes is the MUUUSIC to my ears :).
Of course the lovely gift helped a little too, but it doesn't matter - the goal is reached: and it's proven that Moms and Dads also have quite a good taste in choosing the restaurants :).
BTW your salad looks not less appetizing then Demi's and I bet it's yummy too.

Anna said...

This looks fabulous!