March28

Beets :: Quick Clean Up for Spring

I'm willing warm temperatures to come on strong...any day now.  If nothing else, sunshine and a bit of spring cleaning is a decent place to start.  If you're looking for a nice 'jumpstart' towards beach season, give a thought to a nice bowl of roasted beets, or a simple beet salad, or some more creative uses for the colorful root veg.  Beets are like your personal springtime cleanup crew.  Jammed with antioxidants and nutrients to detox the liver along with a good dose of fiber, they'll flush out toxins and kick up digestion super fast.  Just beware, they'll stain virtually anything they come in contact with, nothing a good washing can't take care of.  Check out these brilliant photos and easy beet recipes from my latest column in Rue Magazine's fourth issue.  Click here for Bright Beet & Feta Dip with Grilled Toasts; Golden & Ruby Beet Salad with Oranges, Hazelnuts & Fiore Sardo Cheese; Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Goat Cheese-Hazelnut Frosting (oh yeah, they're crazy good!).

...and a few more gorgeous pics from the talented Rima Campbell.

Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes :: with Goat Cheese-Hazelnut Frosting

Serves :: 36 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

• 5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (64% cacao or higher)
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, divided
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups beet puree*
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

goat cheese-hazelnut frosting
• 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 8 ounces soft goat cheese (1 large log)
• 8 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons Frangelico liqueur

*For the beet puree, trim roots and tips of 4 large beets and place in a large pot, cover with water.  Simmer for about 40 minutes until tender.  Drain water and allow beets to cool.  Remove skin by rubbing off with your fingers or a paper towel.  Cut beets into quarters, place in a food processor and blend until smooth.  

Directions

Preparation - Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line mini muffin trays with mini paper liners. Melt dark chocolate and 4 tablespoons butter over a double boiler. Cream remaining butter with sugars in a large bowl with an electric beater or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add eggs one by one until well blended. Beat in chocolate, beet puree and vanilla. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into batter and mix well. Spoon batter into cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 7 minutes and swap the position of trays in oven. Bake another 7 to 9 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool and transfer to a cooling rack.
Frosting - Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat until well-blended. Frost each cupcake using a knife or piping bag and tip for icing.
*For the beet puree, trim roots and tips of 4 large beets and place in a large pot, cover with water. Simmer for about 40 minutes until tender. Drain water and allow beets to cool. Remove skin by rubbing off with your fingers or a paper towel. Cut beets into quarters, place in a food processor and blend until smooth.

TAGS: spring, cupcakes, beets

posted: 03.28.11

March23

Where You Should Be Eating Now :: Hudson Clearwater

A little undercover, the type of vibe that makes you want to stay all night, warm and rustic design, killer music...and a whole lot of incredible food.  Located in the West Village, Hudson Clearwater is the restaurant scene's newest, best kept secret.  I've waited far too long to post something about this place, but figured we could all use a bit of food-driven excitement on such a dreary day.

HCW is keen on keeping a low-profile, making your experience that much more personal.  No distinct storefront awning and a clandestine garden entrance help make the space the cool, hidden gem that it is.  Step inside and you'll immediately be welcomed by an open kitchen where you'll watch first-hand the energy, excitement and authenticity that goes into executive chef Wes Long's menu.  He's the type of guy who'll take time to greet you and chat about anything and everything for a few minutes (or longer), as will any of HCW's four owners, Mark and John Barboni, Christopher Brandon and Matthew Hechter.

Long's genuine appreciation of food and his attention to good health, flavor and sustainably-sourced ingredients is clear.  Not too shocking, it's one of the reasons I keep on coming back.  HCW's vision of fusing health and seasonality into knockout restaurant fare runs deep and it shows.  Given my frequent visits, I've been lucky enough to experience just about all of the menu (and a few chef tasting meals as well).  A few dishes to daydream about this afternoon...arugula with spiced pecans, St. Andre & apple ribbons; the aged white cheddar shortcake, roasted root vegetables and horseradish creme fraiche; crispy duck breast with grilled onion and swiss chard ragout; the cured pork belly (yes, I'm suggesting you order pork belly) with grilled beets, creamy polenta and cherry-dickel caramel.  Be sure to get a side of Brussels sprouts and the potato-cauliflower gratin with radish salad, they're pretty amazing.  I won't call out a specific dessert because that'd be discriminatory and they're all stellar, but twist my arm and I'd shoot for the lemon bar with fig compote or the chocolate-cherry ganache with fresh fruit...so light and balanced, you'll comfortably leave the table without feeling like someone needs to roll you out the door.  And an fyi, or word of warning, definitely glance over the cocktail list.  

Good guys doing up genuine food.  You can't really go wrong with that.  Looking forward to Long's spring menu, due out very soon.
And ps., you'll definitely want to keep this little secret to yourself (and a few very lucky friends).  

image via :: Urban Daddy

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March21

A Few Foodie Ways to Help Japan

I'm coming off a gorgeous sun-filled weekend that was fairly calm and relaxing...and gave me some time to think about the tragedy in Japan (or maybe it was a wee bit too much CNN and Meet the Press).  Either way, after a little internet scouting, I found some interesting food-related ways to help support relief efforts. Check 'em all out on my post today over at Rue - including a fundraising event at EN Brasserie this week.  And stay tuned for the much-anticipated premiere of Rue's Issue 4 tomorrow!

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posted: 03.21.11

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