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25 Jan 2010 - 16:25
15 Jan 2010 - 18:53

raw beet foam

Sunday, 02 Aug 2009

El Burrito is training for a marathon this fall, and we've been doing a lot of research into proper nutrition for a marathoner. He's been an athlete forever, but running only for about a year or so and we are still learning about the very specific tolls this sport takes on your body.

So recently, we've been all about iron due to its relationship with VO2 max.  VO2 max is your body's maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise.  High VO2 max means you are super fit!  One determinant of VO2 max is the transportation of oxygen through your red blood cells, and as iron is a key component of hemoglobin it is an important part of an athlete's nutrition.  Further, since I was a child I've teetered on the edge of low iron counts, so generally we make an effort to include iron in our meals.  

We don't eat too much red meat, so the goal has been to expand our repertoire by snooping around the farmer's market.  First came the usual suspects, spinach and beans.  Pretty soon we came to be known as Popeye's Trumpet Band in our building.  Ok, not quite true, being from Mexico I am pretty much immune to the bean's revenge and el Burrito has developed a good tolerance as well.  But not wanting to ruin spinach and beans forever as a food source, we had to find some alternatives.  Enter those beautiful rubies of the earth: beets.

I bought some red beets at the Union Square Greenmarket earlier this week thinking that I would make some cold beet summer soup.  When I got home though, a bag of pinenuts on the kitchen counter just wouldn't stop staring at me, so I had to find a way to make them feel included too. And then I poked around and found my favorite toy as of late: a siphon. So beet soup became beet foam, and wow, were our tastebuds happy.  The mouthfeel of foam is so special if you are like me and have a thing for textures.  The airiness feels ethereal as it melts in your mouth and then you have the crunchy creaminess of the pinenuts to bring you back to earth.

It turns out the beets are not only a great source of iron, but they are also rich in folate.  If you've never tasted raw beets, you are in for a treat! The taste is very different from cooked beets, sweeter less "like dirt," and I urge you to try this even if you "hate beets."  The mix of fresh beets and carrots results is a sweetly perfect marriage. The cilantro and pinenuts balance out the flavors and return some earthiness to the dish.

raw beet foam

4 small beets
150 mL (5 oz.) fresh carrot juice
85 g (3 oz.) of fromage blanc
1/2 clove garlic
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
a lime
a handful of pinenuts
cilantro to taste
sea salt to taste

Wash the beets, making sure to remove all dirt and any whiskers.  I use a brush.  Cut off the greens, but don't throw them away!  Save them for another dish, they are delicious and nutritious!  Peel the beets with a potato peeler.

Grate raw beets in food processor.  Change blade and add 1/2 clove garlic and as much cilantro* as you wish.  Process the grated beets, garlic, and cilantro to a paste.  Slowly add in olive oil until it is well incorporated.  Add carrot juice and blend into a puree.  Add the fromage blanc.  If you can't find fromage blanc, I think it should work to use plain yogurt or perhaps creme fraiche.  Add sea salt to taste.

Use a fine colander to strain the puree.  This will leave you with a liquid portion and a chunky fibrous portion.  Reserve the chunky fiber, mixed with 1 tablespoon of lime juice, in a separate bowl.  Ensure that the liquid portion doesn't have any globs or bits. If needed, pass through a sieve again.  You need a liquid that is free of all chunkiness so that the siphon doesn't clog up.  Pour the strained liquid portion into a cream siphon. Load 1 cartridge of N2O and shake the siphon vigourously about 5 times.  Refrigerate loaded siphon for approximately 30m.   

Toast pinenuts in a dry pan until golden. You can also toast them in the oven. Let them cool.

This should be plated immediately before serving.  Use a small glass container for serving--  a short fat clear shot glass is perfect.  Fill about 1/4 of the glass with the reserved chunky lime-beet fibers.  Fill the next 1/4 of the glass with toasted pinenuts.  Next, foam time! Take the siphon out of the fridge. Do a test in the sink to make sure that you are getting foam.  If it is still watery, load another N2O cartridge and shake a few times.**  Turn the siphon upside down and fill the remainder of the glasses.  Decorate with a single cilantro leaf if you feel like getting fancy.

Foam is very voluminous, so this recipe will generously yield enough for a party of 10.  The foam will keep in a loaded, sealed, cold siphon for about a week.  Feel free to half the recipe.

If you don't have a siphon, you could still make this.  Just don't strain the puree, and forget about the foam. Fill 1/3 of your glass with the toasted pinenuts and then fill the glass with the puree.

* I used cilantro essential oil rather than fresh cilantro here.  The taste is the same, but the sensation is very different. Essential oils spread over your entire mouth ensuring that every bite tastes of herb.  If you prefer to use essential oil, I diluted one drop in 3 tablespoons of good olive oil and slowly added it to the mix until I reached the intensity I liked.    Proceed with a light hand, one drop of essential oil is enough to feed a party!

** I don't recommend loading more than 2 cartridges into any portion.  If you still don't get foam, it's likely that the ingredients you chose didn't contain enough fat to aerate. The resulting liquid will still taste good but you won't get foam.  Use the liquid as is and just have your guests drink the dish!

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Hungry Burro - raw beet foam

Comments (1)

yumka | 05 Aug 2009 - 07:05

if you drink or eat many beets you should be aware that it can alter the color of urine ect to red. you are not bleeding to death.

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