Friday, May 11, 2012

Stand Out Sides: Roasted Beet and Apple Salad

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Last week was my first foray into an extracurricular activity here in New York City.  Actually let me start at the beginning.  My job is based in real estate, and so, I often am on Google Maps mapping out our properties and other properties that we might want to buy, etc.  A couple weeks ago I came across one property which next door had a little tag that said "French Culinary Institute".  WHAT?!

You can't expect me, or any real food person for that matter, NOT to click on the link and see what it was about.  When I found out they had amateur classes, I was thrilled.  I couldn't wait to see what they had to offer.  After perusing their website for about an hour (did I say I was at work?  If anyone from my company is reading this, I was at home...honest!), I decided to sign up for a basic class called Knife Skills.  You got a recipe book and knives and 3 classes of instruction from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. the first 3 Saturdays in May.  Signing up right then was a good way to commit myself to following through.

Because when the day finally came, I was nervous!  I love cooking but my knife skills could definitely use work!  As you all know, I usually have my sous chef (aka John) do the cutting because he is so painstakingly precise.  It actually drives me nuts to cut like that.  Anyway, my first day was last Saturday and I had a WONDERFUL time!  Chef Lance, our teacher (who we must call "Chef") is fascinating and clearly loves to cook.  It rubs off on all of us.   For our first lesson we made vegetable stock and then a delicious vegetable soup and this roasted beet and apple salad.  Rather than plating and eating it there, I took it home to share with Mom, Dad, K&E, and Awa.  By the time my class is done next week, M will be home and she can partake in the goodies as well!


Roasted Beet and Apple Salad (adapted from the French Culinary Institute)
Serves:  4
Roasted Beets
  3 large beets
  1 tablespoon salt
  1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Apple Salad
  1 Granny Smith Apple
  4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Vinaigrette
  2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  2 tablespoons shallot (one small section)
  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1/2 bunch fresh tarragon

First roast the beets.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the beets in aluminum foil, season with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil.  Wrap up the beets in aluminum foil (one package for all of them, no need to wrap individually).  Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the skin is blackened and they are done (they get pretty fragrant).  Let the beets cool then peel them.  Dice them into small squares (this is called macedoine in cooking school).
Peel the apple and also dice into squares.  Toss with the beets and set aside.  In a small bowl and with a wooden spoon, work the goat cheese to soften.  Add extra virgin olive oil (1/4 teaspoon at a time), until the cheese becomes a paste and is easily spreadable.
Make the vinaigrette.  Finely dice the shallot.  Add the white wine vinegar.  Stir in the olive oil and then drop in the tarragon leaves.  The vinaigrette will be broken unless you are using a high-powered mixing machine!  Toss the vinaigrette with the apples and beets. 

To serve, our chef made a ring mold of the salad and spread the goat cheese on top.  I don't have ring molds so I spread the goat cheese on the bottom of each plate and topped with the salad.  If you place the goat cheese in the fridge again, it will crumble nicely and you can add crumbs of the goat cheese in and around your salad.  The possibilities are endless.




Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part - we get our own uniforms!  Yup, I look all official and cheflike.  For the next three weeks, I will be all cheflike!  And then I hope to incorporate my newfound knowledge into my daily life.  At the very least, that vegetable stock was so full of flavor (without ANY seasonings), that I can't wait to share it with you come the chilly weather!

Until the next time my oven is on...

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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