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)
- In a small non-reactive container, combine boiling water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix well to make a brine.
- 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)
- 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.
- Cool beets, rub the skin off with your hands and trim top and bottom.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Assembling the salad procedure
- Remove pickled beets from the brine, dry off on paper towels and slice into matchsticks. Set aside.
- Slice baked beets 1/8 inch thick using a mandoline and arrange on plates. Sprinkle with salt.
- Top each beet slice with a small dollop of goat cheese, and a slice of kumquat.
- Mix fennel with lime juice and a pinch of salt. Arrange on top of beet slices.
- Sprinkle with pickled beet matchsticks and remaining kumquat slices. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with mint.