This weekend I took my 15 year old kidadult and three of his friends to my best friend Michele's farm in Upstate New York. Some of you may recognize the name Windswept Farm from previous posts.
What is it about teenage boys and tractors?
The boys cut greens for my girlfriend's holiday wreath making; an entire hay wagon full!
I remained hopeless in the bow tying division. Thankfully for the wreaths and her customers Michele is an expert and had quickly tied up 65! (I helped by handing her wire and scissors)
While Michele and I made wreaths and bows for her local holiday bazaar we talked about the farm, the grape and vegetable harvest, our children and our friendship that has spanned 30 years. I still have a warm feeling today thinking about the last 48 hours spent in the embrace of a lifelong friendship and shared memories.
The boys cleared and leveled a field, rode a 4 wheeler, helped with feeding the horses and generally had the best time four 15 year-olds can have without a video game in sight! Michele's husband proclaimed them excellent farmers and invited them back anytime. He knows free labor when he sees it! Of course it didn't hurt the boys performance that Michele's lovely 15 year old daughter was on hand to be suitably impressed.
What did you do this weekend?
All the wonderful root vegetables are in markets now; parsnips, turnips and beets of every color. These fall harvest vegetables store beautifully over a long period of time so stock up now while they are plentiful and inexpensive. Just keep them in a cool, dark and dry place and you can enjoy their goodness throughout winter.
Mixed Green Salad with Roasted Beet Vinaigrette and Warm Goat Cheese Crouton.
Four small to medium sized red beets, scrubbed and greens chopped off
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap each beet in foil. Place wrapped beets in shallow roasting pan and fill with water to cover beets halfway. Roast in oven for 1 1/2 hours or until soft when pierced with tip of knife. Remove from water and allow to cool.
When cool enough to handle, unwrap beets and slip the skins off. You may want to wear gloves and cover your work surface with paper to avoid beet stained hands and counters.
2 roasted beets
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper
Place 2 beets in food processor. Minimally process using on / off pulses. You don't want to puree the beets, just mince. Remove beets from processor and place in medium sized bowl. Replace bowl of processor on machine. With machine running, pour in sherry vinegar and slowing drizzle in olive oil until emulsified. Add honey, pulse. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk into the finely minced beets.
Warm Goat Cheese Croutons:
4 ounce log goat cheese
1 egg white
1/4 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Slice goat cheese log into 6 rounds. Dip into beaten egg white, then bread crumbs. Freeze for 15 minutes. Heat oil on medium high in small nonstick frying pan. Quickly add goat cheese rounds and brown each side about 30 to 60 seconds. Turn and brown other side. Remove to plate.
6 cups mixed greens
2 roasted beets, sliced in rounds, then halved to form half moons.
Pine Nuts, toasted (optional)
Arrange 1 cup of greens on 6 salad plates. Arrange a few half moons of beets on top of each salad. Place one warm goat cheese crouton on top of beets. Drizzle all over with (room temperature) roasted beet vinaigrette, top with pine nuts.
A Cook's Notes: This is a lovely luncheon salad when served with a warm, crusty bread. For dinner, serve with roasted chicken, bread and a crisp Riesling. That's what I'm having for dinner tonight!