Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Roasted Beet and Horseradish Creme // In the Thick of It (Weeks 35 & 36)


This week marks both the beginning and the end. For one thing, it is the end of quiet mornings, impromptu mid-week dinner dates and casual evenings spent with friends. It is also the beginning of a season that is bound to be so hectic we're still busy trying to wrap our minds around the thought of it. It's a strange little limbo period, really. Today, as I type this sentence, life still feels relatively calm, even though we've both admitted to the fact that, for weeks now, our brains have been running at full speed. But here we are, just hours away from being right in the thick of it. And although neither of us knows for sure how this whole summer of insanity will actually pan out, I can say one thing with certainty: neither of us would want our life together any other way.  



As we prepare to take on both a handful of new pop-up markets this season and a handful of new creative projects later this year, the chef and I have been talking a lot lately about the past. From where we currently sit, our hands dipped into so many different pots (literally and figuratively, I suppose), it feels hard to believe that this whole business started by way of a single conversation shared over a round of beers. Is that even possible? How did we manage to turn that conversation into all of this? That defining conversation feels like it happened so recently, and yet at the same time feels like it unfolded a lifetime ago (technically, it has been three years). 



Last week, we invited close friends over for dinner. Somewhere between filling them in on a few of our new projects and a few bottles of light, lemony wheat beers, we engaged in a fair share of reminiscing about the shop. We talked about that fated first morning -- an absolutely frigid Saturday in late November -- when the chef and I assembled ourselves inside a rented shipping container in Brooklyn, our opening day menu sloppily written on a dry erase board that incessantly blew over from the strong winter wind (I'd say a good 95% of our opening day customers were our friends). We thought back on all those months when our business was growing but we did not yet have a permanent space, and so our home kitchen became an absolute clutter, a storage space of sorts, where spare refrigerators and messy piles of restaurant equipment were piled against every open wall and inch of free tile. We fondly looked back on the period when we were without a commercial kitchen and, as a result, no matter what time you entered our small apartment kitchen it wafted with the heady scent of braising liquid and someone was always hunched over our kitchen island slicing onions or wrapping foil around hotel pans or making sure that our tiny electric oven (which, on many days, ran for twenty-four hours straight) wasn't on fire. 


Back then, when we (and our home…and kind of our entire lives) were a total makeshift disaster, there wasn't really any indication that what we were doing would all be worth it. There was no sign from the universe prompting us to believe that it would all pan out in the end. But despite our hemorrhaging bank account or the fact that our bed sheets were beginning to smell like slow cooked meats or that every article of our clothing was stained with a mixture of red wine and braising juices, we kept pushing forward…


It wasn't until the end of dinner, as we dipped thick cuts of roasted brisket and slow roasted buttery potatoes into this vibrant Roasted Beet and Horseradish Creme, that it occurred to me that it was one of the first condiments we ever sold. After surviving our first brutal winter as part-time business owners, that spring, the chef officially quit his job so we could get involved in the city's pop-up food scene full time. In some ways, we owe a lot to this creamy, jewel-toned beet spread, which has a hidden kick thanks to a generous spoonful of horseradish. That season, when we kicked things into gear full time, our sandwiches began to receive press from different food outlets throughout the city and, perhaps not surprisingly, many of those press photos featured our steaming sandwiches slathered with this nearly neon pink creme. I guess after a long gray winter, people can't help but crave a strong dose of color in their lives and on their plates. Since then, this recipe has become a springtime staple in our house. In addition to sandwiches, I often serve it as a cold dip to accompany an assortment of raw springtime vegetables or as a colorful way to dress up poached eggs. Looking back, maybe this springtime spread and the few pieces of press it helped garner was the sign we were looking for: an indication that someone out there other than our friends actually thought that what we were serving was worth a shot. Or maybe it just photographed well. Regardless, I hope that however you choose to serve this spread, it brightens up your day just a bit. Until next time…


Roasted Beet and Horseradish Crème

- 1 large beet, stalks and leaves removed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/3 cup prepared horseradish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the beet in the center of the foil and coat it with olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt, being sure to cover all sides. Wrap the foil around the beet, creating a loose pouch that covers it entirely.

Bake for 45 minutes -1 hour, or until a knife easily slides through the beet. Carefully unwrap the foil in order to let steam escape, but do not remove the beet or any liquid from the foil. Allow the beet to cool completely.

Carefully peel the skin from the cooled beet (it should easily slide right off with a paring knife). Cut the beet into one-inch cubes. Add the cubes and any remaining liquid into the bowl of a food processor and puree, about 1-2 minutes total, being sure to periodically scrape the sides of the bowl (note: if the beet does not easily puree, add 1-2 tablespoons of the sour cream into the food processor and continue to blend).

Add the beet puree, the horseradish, the mayonnaise and the sour cream into a mixing bowl and gently fold until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the remaining salt and the freshly cracked black pepper. When stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated, the crème will keep well for about one week.

4 comments:

  1. What a great story! It so awesome to hear how all the struggle was really worth it in the end, and how you just had to keep blindly pushing forward to get to where you are. Congrats! Also, this sauce. How beautiful. Can't wait to try it.

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  2. Thanks Raquel! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the story! I really love this sauce recipe -- it's so versatile! I hope you'll enjoy it! Thanks for dropping by :)

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  3. This sauce is so beautiful and sounds amazing! I can think of so many things that it would make taste so much better, or maybe I just want to eat it with a spoon! It feels so good when you put so much time and love into something and it ends up being completely worth it in the end, congrats!

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  4. Thanks Isadora! I appreciate your note! Thanks so much for dropping by! :)

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