During my interview with Jody Adams, I told her that I had tried her recipe for "Orange Beets", from her cookbook, In the Hands of a Chef. I have often baked beets, but by simmering them with oranges and some spices, they added a new dimension. More importantly, the recipe couldn't have been easier, and, best of all, my 1 1/2 year old son enjoyed them. (My toddler isn't quite there...yet!)Yet, Chef Adams also reminded me that fresh beets (which are available right now at farmer's markets), can be delicious raw. She steered me to chioggia beets, which are a glorious red and white. Grate them and you have a lovely multicolored slaw that needs nothing more than salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil.In terms of the cooked beets, in the cookbook, Chef Adams points out that disposable surgical gloves or an old dish towel are ideal for skinning cooked beets without staining your hands pink (though your children might find this amusing.)
As for the orange beet recipe, she notes that you can make this dish in advance, but you should reheat the beets in oil or butter. I actually ate them cold and thought they were still delicious. I think these would also be a delicious side dish at Thanksgiving due to the use of the warm spices.
Jody Adams' Orange Beets from In the Hands of a Chef, reprinted with permission of Jody Adams
2 Oranges, washed and quartered
1 small onion, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 tsp. coriander seeds
4 bay leaves
1 Tbs. fennel seeds
6 medium beets, washed and greens trimmed to an inch
salt and pepper
1. Squeeze the orange quarters to release the juice into a large nonreactive saucepan that will hold the beets in a single layer. Add the rinds, and all the remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the beets by an inch. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking until the beets are tender. Depending on the size of the beets, they'll take from 45 minutes to an hour to cook. Allow the beets to cool slightly in the cooking liquid.
2. As soon as the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stems. Cut into slices or quarters, season with salt and serve immediately.