Friday, December 18, 2009

top chef experiment: take one (roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree)

I love Top Chef.

It's like the most perfect combination of guilty reality television and food porn.

Thank god for a reality show that leaves me feeling inspired and not like I started out having a civilized glass of wine,

Which turned into a crazy drinking binge,

The decision to take scissors to the tightest, shortest, most man-made fibrous dress that I own,

Go out on the town,

Black out,

And finally end up in some stranger's apartment with no bloody clue how to get home.

Thank you Jersey Shore.

(Also: I would like to make it clear that I have never worn a drunkenly customized polyester dress. As for the rest - well let's just say my memory is a little fuzzy.)

Back to the topic at hand. Every season of Top Chef has outdone the last. After Top Chef: Vegas I'm not sure how it could get any better. 

The talent on the show was incredible. The food produced was both beautiful and, more importantly, yummy.

Or at least I think it was yummy. I'm mostly taking the judges' word for it that having to decide a winning dish based on basic use of salt and pepper as seasoning because the overall taste level was so high means that the food was incredibly good.

Why didn't it occur to me until now to actually attempt to cook some of my favourite dishes from the show? 

I'm gonna go with the old stand-by and say that my general lack of the use of logic had a lot to do with it.

But no more will I sit idly by and drool at my television.

Of course, that's partly because the Top Chef season is over (and I'm crying inside).

Last night marked my first experiment with a Top Chef recipe and I will continue to experiment with the recipes once a week.

I, once a week it is. 

I think I have a commitment problem.

I started with Kevin's recipe from the second last episode. I was totally in love with the dish the moment I saw it. It was gorgeous on the plate and a beautiful showcase of the flavours of carrot and beet.

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Carrot Top Puree

1 pound Beets (I used the local golden and candy-cane beets I had)
1 lb Baby carrots
2 tablespoons Butter
* 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Syrup
1 cup carrot tops
** 1/3 cup green onion (green parts only)
1/3 cup parsley
1/3 cup tarragon
1Z2 cup honey
2 cups olive oil
*** Dubliner cheese

* I made a syrup by cooking down apple cider until thick.

** The original recipe called for chives, which I couldn't find.

*** Original recipe called for San Andre cheese - a no go for me. As a note, San Andre is apparently made in the style of a pecorino so the next time I make this, I'll be going with that type of cheese. 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Trim ends off beets making one side a flat surface.
Place beets in a large pan with the flat side down 
Cover the bottom with 1/8 inch of water. 
Cover pan with foil.
Cook at 400 degrees for 90 minutes.

When cooked keep covered with foil until beets reach room temp. 
Remove beet skins.

Peel carrots and halve.
Cut into similar shapes.

Place carrots in single layer in deep saute pan.
Cover with water, butter and apple cider syrup. 
Cook uncovered on medium high heat until liquid is absorbed and carrots are just tender. 
If carrots are not tender add more butter, water, syrup and cook a little longer.

Remove from pan immediately and let cool.

Carrot Top Puree:

Combine carrot tops, green onion (chives), parsley and tarragon in blender.
Add 6 ice cubes.
Add enough olive oil to cover 3/4 ingredients.
Blend on high.
Add water if mixture gets too thick.

Season with s&p. 
Strain mixture.
Put strained mixture in covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Honey Vinaigrette:

Boil honey in pot.
Keep close eye on honey to observe it darkening by stages.
When it has darkened a few stages add apple cider vinegar.
Bring to boil
Season with s&p.
Whisk in 1 cup olive oil.

Putting it all together

Toss the carrots and beets with vinaigrette.
Spoon puree on to plate.
Top with vegetables.
Add thinly shaved cheese. 

The verdict:

This was SO good. I had to beg SeaBass to leave me enough veggies to take photos today. Immediately after posting this I will be finishing that little bit off! 

I'm looking very forward to the next experiment.

One last pic I had to share

Just loved the way the trees from my backyard got reflected in the bowl. An unexpected photographic surprise.


Beatrice said...

Are carrot tops carrot greens?

Tasty Trix said...

What a cool idea! I love me some Top Chef too - I live an hour from Volt, and had lunch there last Saturday. SO good. Your version of this recipe looks deeee-licious. Can't wait to see what you tackle next.
You reminded that I really need to start watching Jersey Shore ; )

Jenn said...

yes to the carrot greens Beatrice.

I used both the leaves and the stems.

Jenn said...

um...i think i might be coming to visit you Trix - voltaggios were my definite favs this season...kevin too!

Sook said...

I still haven't seen Top Chef. How lame am I? I've heard so many good things about the show, though. I'd have to start watching it. Lovely post!

Lisa said...

My sister and I love the show. We call each other the next morning and gab about it forever. I agree that the talent was the best ever this season but Carla is still my fav. Oh yeah...and your dish looks great too.

Jessie said...

wonderful dish! I love how colorful it is. Sadly I do not have cable so I'm unable to watch top chef

Anonymous said...

Yum - I was excited about this dish too when I saw it! I would love to have Kevin cook for me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenn, I just bumped into your blog from FBz and I'm loving IT! I had to check it out because of your gravatar. heh.

In any case, I too LOVE Top Chef and after reading about your plan to cook a TC recipe a week made me wonder if you'd be interested in doing this like a challenge or something.

I'd love to follow your lead on this. Thoughts?

feedfern said...

Wow! I'm so excited. From my garden, I have beets, green onions, chives, carrots in several colors with wonderful green tops, parsley and tarragon.
Inside I have honey and apple cider vineger, and S&P.
How can I not make this beautiful side dish tonight for my 97 year old mother and my hungry hubby?
Thanks for this delight.

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