Sunday, June 5, 2011

GirlyEgg Gourmet takes on the Atlanta Underground Market!

No... it's not at the Atlanta Underground!  The Atlanta Underground Market is a "foodie heaven" (http://www.atlantaundergroundmarket.com/).  You've probably heard of or seen the concept of a "pop-up" restaurant on shows like Top Chef - or perhaps even attended on in New York or San Francisco.  Atlanta Underground Market is similar - but more like a pop-up food court!  Once a month, members of this "underground" food club are sent an email just prior to the event alerting them to the time and location. Basically, it's "a private club and the event is in a private venue for members, by invitation only..." - which adds to the excitement and mystery!  What you'll find at the market is a collection of folks selling portion sized goodies averaging $1-$4/each.  The food is "home cooks and food artisans in Atlanta,  who have awesome dishes to share, but who don't have the platform to do so outside of their circle of friends"... and apparently, that's ME!

I heard about the market through my neighborhood message board and thought it would be a neat thing to attend!  So I signed up to become a member, and 24 hours prior to the event, I received an email alerting me to the time and location:  The Castleberry Point neighborhood in downtown Atlanta.  So amid the horrid monsoon that evening, we enjoyed a plethora of fun and exiting foods!  We found everything from professionals honing their recipes to food artisans "testing the waters" to homecooks - like me! So... as I always say when I see something that interests me..."Hey!  I can do that!"... so I decided to check it out - this time as a vendor!

I sent an email to the organizer and asked "how" to sign up - they don't just take everyone, you see!  They want to make sure there is a variety of exciting and unusual things... so what's more interesting than BEETS!  Thus, I began the journey of making my Balsamic Glazed Beets and Ginger, Citrus Glazed Golden Beets for several hundred folks in a portion sized manner.... what they heck was I thinking?!?

So, where does one get so many beets?  At the Dekalb Farmer's Market - of course!  Yes, I became one of those folks pushing a cart with a 25# bag of red beets and 25# bag of golden beets... while people stared at me wondering, "What the heck is she gonna do with all those beets?"  I was wondering that myself, as I loaded them into the car!  Thus began the week long journey of "egging" 50# of beets on my Medium Big Green Egg!  Not only egging, though.... cooling, peeling, cubing, packaging for travel, packing cooking supplies, buying a catering stove, butane, forks, serving bowls, signage, table decorations... and many, many more things that see like a blur at this point!  Let's just say that by the time the week of prep was over, I was exhausted and my kitchen looked like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre!  There was red beet juice everywhere!  Clean up would have to wait until after the event!

The day of the market, was a hot day... I knew it was going to be outdoors, but didn't think to bring my tent.  Luckily, we were against a building and the shade came upon us quickly with the shifting of the sun.  My cousin, Colleen and aunt, Gerry were there as my "sous chefs".  Things actually went quite smoothly... though it was the day before Mother's Day and there were several big event in town, so attendance was smaller than the 1200 in the past - but just right to be able to keep a relaxed - but steady service, which enabled me to chat with folks as I prepared the dishes... one hot and one cold!

On the Menu - Atlanta Underground Market 5/9/2011: 
Balsamic Glazed Beets
Servings: 8

Ingredients
3 lbs beets
2 cups mango, cubed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp splenda - brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions
1.    Preheat Big Green Egg/Oven to 400 degrees.
2.    Wrap beets in aluminum foil (2 or 3 to a foil pack for small beets or individually for larger ones). Do not peel or cut beets. 
3.    Place in BGE or oven for 1 hour or until a knife can be inserted into the beet. Consistency should be a firm "baked potato".  If placing in the oven, put beets on a cookie sheet covered with foil to catch the "sugars" and prevent "leaking" in your stove.
4.    Prepare Glaze: Bring balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to boil in a large, oven proof or cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring until the brown sugar dissolves.
5.    Reduce heat and simmer until vinegar thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. 
6.    Add butter and salt and stir until butter melts and set aside. 
7.    Prepare Beets: Remove beets from Oven and unwrap. Allow to cool slightly for easier handling. 
8.    Slip or Peel skins from beets and cut into 1 inch chunks.
9.    Add mango to beets.
10.  Pour glaze over beets and mango; mix well. 
11.  Place skillet in the BGE or oven and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, stirring at least once. The glaze should start to carmelize on the beets. The longer the mixture is left in the BGE/oven, the more the beets will carmelize. Note that the beets, themselves, will also provide additional sugars for glazing. 
12.  Remove pan from oven and transfer to serving dish.

Tips:
  1. This recipe is great with any root vegetable (sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, etc.) or fall “squash” (acorn, pumpkin, butternut).
  2. Root vegetables, especially beets are fairly dense and take a long time to cook! Therefore, if you're in a hurry, you can parboil the vegetables (not the pineapple) in the microwave or on the stove-top (don't’ forget to save the healthy “broth” for other uses!) prior to adding to the balsamic mixture…
Variations:
  • Reduce the amount of brown sugar to 1 ½ tablespoons, and add 2 tablespoons of Captain Morgan’s Rum! The glaze will not get as thick in the skillet, but will glaze nicely in the roasting pan! 
  • Add 1 cup of fresh cranberries. The cranberries will “burst” and produce a nice sweet/tangy taste with the veggies! This is the way I do it when I do this recipe with onlysweet potatoes…. The red and the orange colors are spectacular!
  • Add some toasted pecans!
  • To serve it in a salad, omit the butter from the glaze (it will congeal), and roast as usual. Let it cool and then serve over a bed of arugula, and sprinkle the top with gorgonzola, feta or any other salty cheese…. And don't forget those toasted pecans!

Citrus & Ginger Honey Glaze Golden Beets
w/Arugula and Goat Cheese
Servings:  8

Ingredients
3 lbs golden beets
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup Braswell’s Ginger Honey
Arugula
Goat or Feta Cheese

Directions
1.    Preheat Big Green Egg/Oven to 400 degrees.
2.    Wrap beets in aluminum foil (2 or 3 to a foil pack for small beets or individually for larger ones). Do not peel or cut beets. 
3.    Place in BGE or oven for 1 hour or until a knife can be inserted into the beet. Consistency should be a firm "baked potato".  If placing in the oven, put beets on a cookie sheet covered with foil to catch the "sugars" and prevent "leaking" in your stove.
4.    Prepare Dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice and Ginger Honey until well blended.  Set aside.
5.    Prepare Beets: Remove beets from Oven and unwrap. Allow to cool slightly for easier handling. 
6.    Slip or Peel skins from beets and cut into 1 inch chunks.  Cool completely.
7.    Pour glaze over beets; mix well. 
8.    Place arugula on the bottom of each salad plate or bowl.
9.    Spoon beet mixture on top of arugula and top with goat or feta cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tips:  
1.    Braswell’s Ginger Honey can be purchased directly from their website: http://www.braswells.com/.  It’s a bit pricey on their website, but you might be able to find it in specialty grocers.  I get mine at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market for about $3.50/jar.  If you are unable to find the Ginger Honey, use fresh honey and 3 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger.
2.      The glaze can be poured over warm beets and left to “marinate” while cooling off.  This will create a more intense ginger flavor.

Variations:
·         Add dried cranberries to create a burst of color.
·         Substitute fresh orange juice for the lemon juice… or use half of each!

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