I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this week. It's my Spring Break, and instead of gallivanting off to some exotic locale, I figured I'd be happiest if I spent the week at home, catching up with some books, recipes, and movies with my housemates. Of course, that means more time for the blog, which has made me very happy, indeed. And with all of this produce from the first farmers' market of the year, this break couldn't have come at a better time.
I had grabbed three big Chioggia Beets, an Italian heirloom variety with gorgeous stripes of pink and white. Also known as candy-stripe or bulls-eye beets, these little guys are one of my favorite farmers' market finds. Oh, and I asked the farmer, and now can proudly pronounce their name correctly - it's kee-oh-gee-ya!
I've had a beet chip recipe tucked away from an old issue of Gourmet. The original recipe blanches the beets in a simple syrup before baking, but I think I prefer blanching in plain water and tossing with a bit of canola oil and sea salt. Chioggia beets can be sweeter than standard beets, so I didn't feel the need to add more sugar.
I sliced the beets paper-thin with my mandolin, though next time I'll slice them thicker, as they crumbled quite a bit when they cooled. Plus, a thicker chip will hold up to a dip, which is always a good thing. The trick with these chips is to take them out of the oven earlier than you think. They won't get crispy in the oven, they need to crisp as they cool, so start checking by taking a few out of the oven instead of peaking at them while they are still inside.
The result is a sweet little chip - they shrink a lot, because the water in them is not replaced by the usual oil of frying - and they would be a good way to get some extra fiber and plenty of other nutritional boosts: they are high in folic acid (great for pregnant women), potassium, calcium and antioxidants (betacyanin, which is what gives beets their rich red color). A perfect snack from a superfood with style.
Tomorrow it's back to school, but I only have a few weeks left. This last lap will be a killer, but I'll make it through to find summer waiting at the finish line. Until then, I'll be sneaking into the kitchen every chance I get, and can't wait to share those adventures with you.
Baked Chioggia Beet Chips
* 2 medium beets with stems trimmed to 1 inch
* 1 cup water
* 1 Tablespoon canola oil
* Sea salt
Peel beets with a vegetable peeler, then slice thinly (but not too thinly) with mandolin or sharp knife, using stems as handles.
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add beets, then remove pan from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Drain beets in a colander, discarding liquid, then let stand in colander 15 minutes more. Toss beets with oil and salt.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 225°F.
Line a shallow baking pan with nonstick liner, then arrange beet slices snugly in 1 layer. Bake beets until dry, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Immediately transfer chips to a rack to cool (chips will crisp as they cool).