Beet green and goat cheese timbales with braised golden beets

Beet green and goat cheese timbales

Beet green and goat cheese timbales

In the winter months we all live in much closer proximity to our household spirits. We’re all inside more often, with the doors and windows shut tight. We’re always around, being our clumsy noisy human selves, making messes and dust and unwittingly feeding our spirits. They can’t slip out into the open air for a spell, so they gather in the corners and stick in the cobwebs in the window wells. The dust spirits dance in irked agitation in the chilly sunbeams, tangle in the curtains, and bake behind the radiators, the pee spirits howl from behind the toilets, there’s nowhere for them to go! Nowhere to go! In the kitchen, the more benign food spirits hover in the air smelling like roasted mushrooms and boiled potatoes, lingering like the smell of a holiday. I love our Ordinary spirits, of course I do. They keep me company all day, but I think we’re all looking forward to a time when we can open the windows and doors and let them out for a while, let them fly up to the trees and cling to the bushes, let them explore the neighborhood. I’ve noticed, of late, that the spirits in the kitchen have become so desperate, so brazenly bold, that they’ve started to show their faces. Whenever I run hot water in the sink, or boil water on the stove or in the kettle, a beautiful oval of mist forms on the frosty windows. And in each oval a face appears! They’re funny, happy, mischievous faces, watching us as we cook and eat and talk.

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It’s nice to have their company in our warm home on dark cold nights, but I’m sure that they, too, are dreaming of a long late balmy evening, when they can slip from our windows into the sweet summer air.

beet green timbales with braised golden beets

beet green timbales with braised golden beets

I was quite proud of this meal! I bought a bunch of golden beets, which seem at once wintery and summery. I wanted to do something that used the greens and the beets, and this is what I came up with. I made a dense sort of quiche with the greens, using goat cheese and a little corn meal for texture. I seasoned it with rosemary, thyme and garlic. And I baked them in a muffin pan with large, shallow cups. I lined these with crumbs made from toasted pecans, corn meal and whole wheat bread. I didn’t know if they would come out properly, and I feared I’d have a burnt sticky mess, but they came out perfectly…crispy and buttery outside, and tender and tasty within. I made a sort of sauce for them with the beets sliced very thin, braised in white wine and balsamic and then stewed with tomatoes until the beets were tender crisp and the tomatoes were completely broken down and saucy. And that’s that! We ate them with small potatoes roasted with capers and lemon and a simple arugula salad.

Here’s Bob Marley with Put it On. Feel them spirit!

1 head golden beets, including greens (my bunch included 4 smallish beets)
spinach or chard
2 T butter
1 t thyme
1 t rosemary
1 plump clove garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup goat cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
3 T cornmeal
1 t baking powder
pinch nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup pecans, toasted
1 slice whole wheat bread
2 T corn meal

2 T butter or olive oil
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1 t basil
1 t balsamic
1/2 cup white wine (++)
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.

Peel the beets, cut them in half lengthwise and thin into 1/8th inch slices. Set aside. Trim and wash the greens. Roughly chop them. You want about 2 packed cups. I added some chopped clean baby spinach to make up the difference.

Melt 2 T of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme, rosemary and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute or two, then add the greens. Stir and fry for a minute. Add a few tablespoonfuls of water, cover, and cook until the greens are tender but still bright. Remove the lid, and cook until the pan is quite dry. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a food processor, combine the nuts, bread, and 3 T cornmeal, and process until coarse and crumbly. Generously butter 6 large shallow muffin cups (deeper ones are fine, too, but you’ll need to cook them a bit longer.) Line each cup with crumbs. You can pile them in the bottom and then press them to the sides with your fingers. Don’t worry about getting it completely even.

In a blender or food processor combine the eggs, milk, cheeses, 2 T corn meal, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Process until quite smooth. Add the greens, and process to combine and chop them. You don’t want it too smooth. Pour this mixture into the crumb-lined muffin tin.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or so, until they’re puffed and golden brown, and they spring back when you press gently on them.

Meanwhile, melt 2 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced beets and stir and fry until they start to brown and soften, five – eight minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil, stir and fry for a moment, and then add the balsamic and wine. Continue to stir and fry until the wine is reduced and syrupy. Add about 1/3 cup water, cover, and cook until the beets are as tender as you like them 20 – 25 minutes. Continue to stir and add water so that everything is tender and saucy. Season well with salt and pepper.

Run a knife around the timbales and carefully lift them out. Put them on a plate and spoon the beets over them.

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