Saturday, March 9, 2013

Beet Jello, Prunes, Walnuts, Oranges

Beet Jello -- that's the affectionate name my kids gave to this dish.  Something tells me that term wouldn't stand a chance on a restaurant menu.  Beet verrines, maybe?  I can also see this problem solved by simply listing the ingredients and leaving the prep to the diner's imagination.

Prunes, Walnuts, Blood oranges, Orange Blossom Reduction

Now we are talking.  But the inspiration for this dish was not contemporary American dining.  It was a Russian salad of raw beets, prunes, and walnuts bound with mayo.  I hate raw beets and strongly believe that unless you are Dwight Shrute*, you should cook your beets before eating.  I've remade this salad before with great success and in the spirit of Food Perestroika, decided to give it another makeover, this time in a more contemporary style.

Beet Jello with Prunes, Walnuts, and Oranges 

Serves 8 as an appetizer

For Beet Jello
14 oz trimmed, scrubbed beets
1/2 cup pitted prunes, quartered
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice
3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (about half that for fine grained salt)
1 packet gelatin

For Whipped Goat Cheese
2 oz soft goat cheese
1 oz whole milk yogurt
1 oz heavy cream

For Orange syrup
2 oranges (regular or blood)
1 oz maple syrup
1 tsp orange blossom water

Smitten Kitchen Candied Walnuts

Beet Jello Procedure
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Wrap beets tightly in foil (if they are small, you can wrap them all together).  Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 1 - 2.5 hours depending on beet size.
  2. While beets are baking, put prunes into a small bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside.
  3. Cool beets, rub the skin off with your hands.  Cut into large chunks and place in the blender.  Add balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and salt.  Puree until completely smooth.
  4. Drain prunes reserving the liquid in a 1 quart bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the prune liquid and let sit for 5 minute.  Warm up 3/4 cup of beet puree until almost boiling.  Stir into gelatin mixture and mix until gelatin is dissolved.  Add another 3/4 cup of beet puree (that should be the rest of it, but you might have a bit leftover).  Add the prunes and stir well.  
  5. Divide among 8 ramekins or little cups.  Refrigerate until cold.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.  
Whipped Goat Cheese Procedure

In a small bowl, mix goat cheese and yogurt with a fork until smooth.  Stir in cream and whip with a whisk or electric mixer until thick.

Orange Syrup Procedure
  1. Section oranges and squeeze the membranes to get as much juice as possible.  
  2. Put the juice that you got into a small non-stick skillet (you should have about 1.5 oz).  Add maple syrup and orange blossom water.  Simmer until thick and syrupy.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated.  Warm up the syrup before serving to loosen it up.
To serve
Top each beet up with whipped goat cheese, orange sections and walnuts.  Drizzle with orange syrup.

* In an Office TV series, Dwight Shrute, an overly ambitious paper salesman and beet farmer, bites into a whole raw beet as if it was an apple.  Kids, don't try that at home!


Mariah said...

I'm curious why this is tagged as vegan on foodgawker. Gelatin is not vegan, neither is goat cheese, cream, or yogurt.

Helen said...

Hi Mariah,

The goat cheese topping is not integral to the dish and can be easily left out. The gelatin I used is not vegan, but I believe there are vegan options. There is also agar-agar.


Stephanie said...

Sounds great - I'm going through a formed food phase!

Colette (Coco) said...

This is so different. I love it!