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ugust
02
Technique Tuesday: Roasted Vegetables and Fruit


 

By this point in the summer I definitely get into a rut and prepare fruit and vegetables from the gardens and market in almost the same ways daily.  Not that that is a bad thing, as with produce this amazing, at the height of their season, there is often very little that can improve upon them.  A little grilling here, a little lightly dressed salad there, a little sautéing tossed with fresh pasta over there…

Vegetable and fruit roasting feels like almost too basic a technique to even justify a whole blog post.  However, several times during the year I have these ah-ha moments where I am bored with what I have been cooking and then suddenly remember to mix things up I just need to roast, which I somehow forget about for spells at a time.

The long exposure to dry heat and the contact with the surface of a baking sheet or roasting pan transforms produce in ways very different than grilling, steaming or sautéing.  Most importantly it evaporates much of the water in the fruit or vegetable, drying it out some (Take that watery zucchini!), and deeply concentrating the flesh and the flavor.  Also the edges of the produce start to get brown and sweet and caramelized and utterly irresistible after the natural sugars are exposed to heat and the surface of the baking dish.

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arch
17
Bonus round!


Last fall was complete chaos in our home.  I was in the final weeks of getting my culinary degree, worrying more about my impending final exam than I had about anything else in my life to date, and was growing very weary of my year-long commute to the city, away from home and husband, for 5 nights a week.  Every other detail seemed to go out with the compost.

So it didn't surprise us much when a few months later, after a few good snowfalls, we both looked at each other and realized we had never harvested our second planting of our famed and favorite heirloom beets.  While not a huge amount, there was about a bed and a half of beets still in the garden, now frozen solid to the ground.  We treasure them, and were disappointed, and felt stupid and wasteful.

Fast forward to yesterday's magnificent first kiss of spring weather.  All I wanted to do was be outside, digging in something.  I walked through one of our gardens, with the ground now visible for the first time in many months---and low and behold, there were tiny sprouts of beet greens peeking up from a variety of leafy debris.  Further investigation, and a few dirty fingernails later, I discovered beets!  A lot of beets!



Our small second crop of golden, bull's blood, detroit dark red, and chioggia beets had successfully overwintered.  Protected enough somehow by the mulch on top of the beds, and apparently benefiting from some very extended root systems, these beauties made it though, and managed to do so well enough that they now had the energy to start sprouting leaves again.  Remarkable.  And fresh beets for dinner in March.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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