just a smidgen

A Year in Provence ~ Betteraves Printemps

Betteraves Printemps

Some readers may wonder where Smidge’s particular passion for “all things edible” arose. Having grown up in a home that was constantly filled with the fragrance of home-made baking, it began innocently enough. But once that tiny seed was planted, it grew into a passion.

I think it truly became a life-journey after reading a few simple pages from a much-loved book. That’s all it took… simply a few deliciously written words

and I was hooked…

“It was a meal that we shall never forget; more accurately, it was several meals that we shall never forget, because it went beyond the gastronomic frontiers of anything we had ever experienced, both in quantity and length. It started with homemade pizza – not one, but three: anchovy, mushroom, and cheese, and it was obligatory to have a slice of each. Plates were then wiped with pieces torn from the two-foot loaves in the middle of the table, and the next course came out. There were pates of rabbit, boar, and thrush. There was a chunky, pork-based terrine laced with marc. There were saucissons spotted with peppercorns. There were tiny sweet onions marinated in a fresh tomato sauce. Plates were wiped once more and duck was brought in… We had entire breasts, entire legs, covered in a dark, savory gravy and surrounded by wild mushrooms.This is the passage that captured my attention and heart:

We sat back, thankful that we had been able to finish, and watched with something close to panic as plates were wiped yet again and a huge, steaming casserole was placed on the table. This was the specialty of Madame our hostess – a rabbit civet of the richest, deepest brown – and our feeble requests for small portions were smilingly ignored. We ate it. We ate the green salad with knuckles of bread fried in garlic and olive oil, we ate the plump round crottins of goat’s cheese, we ate the almond and cream gateau that the daughter of the house had prepared. That night, we ate for England.”

― Peter MayleA Year in Provence

Here was this whole other world where food was integral to lifestyle..
not “fine steak-house dining” or a 60’s home-cooked dinner.

This was something I could sink my teeth into… and then to be able to mix it all together with my love for photography and writing.. well, let’s just say…

“beh oui”

{We did eventually make it to Provence one spring and loved it!}

But to live there for a Year…

Well, that would certainly be a dream, wouldn’t it!

I just don’t understand the lack of commotion and fuss over beets, it seems recipes are remarkably scarce..
{excepting, of course, this Fresh Market Beet Salad recipe}
*please overlook the dreadful, unskilled photographer I was back then

Beets are so charming in both shade and shape!

Sweet Dylindra Beets are a gorgeous purply-red oblong..
Chiogga are a smaller, round heirloom beet, hiding pretty white and red stripes
when sliced horizontally.
Sweet Golden Beets are, well… sweet smallish, and round.
Baby beets are simply beets culled early to allow the other beets room to prosper.

Which to choose?

Isn’t variety the stuff of dreams?

I’m not sure why I seem to have an obsession with this tender tap-root of late?

They’re off-putting to many because of their sturdy and stoic, brawny exterior… but give them a little time in a fiery, hot oven.. and this gentle roasting reveals a split in their formidable outer shells… then magically every bite after that is..

a hale and hearty, deeply tender, sweet, earthen, woodsy taste on the tongue…

I promise you…no other vegetable is quite like it.

Bon. Une petite dégustation. 

Betteraves Printemps
{Spring Beets} 

Betteraves Printemps? ~ Spring Beets
  • 1 1/2 lb (680 grams) beets
  • foil
  • 500 g (2 cups) blueberries
  • water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp (splash) Crema di Balsamico Bianco
  • (White Balsamic Dressing/Glaze)
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • le fromage de chèvre (goat cheese)
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Lightly rinse beets with cold water, pat dry and seal in a foil pouch. You may want to double wrap in foil to avoid leaking in the oven. Roast in oven for about 1 hour or until a fork pierces a beet easily.
  3. Remove beets from foil package and allow to cool in a colander in the sink. Rub to remove outer skins, using a sharp paring knife if needed. Rinse quickly then pat dry and slice in thick 1/4-1/2? slices horizontally.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse then simmer blueberries over medium heat, with a splash of water to cover the bottom of your saucepan. As they are simmering, splash with some White Balsamic Glaze. In a separate glass, mix cornstarch with a little water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries. Continue to simmer until the cornstarch has thickened to make a nice blueberry sauce, adding water as needed. Stir in the honey, add more to sweeten to taste.
  5. Add in the sliced beets to the pot and stir gently to coat. Cook until beets are heated through.
  6. Serve with dollops of le fromage de chèvre (white goat cheese).



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