Friday, October 8, 2010

My secret ingredient

Sitting in front of my computer, trying to come up with something to write.
Looking at the blank page and that damn blinking cursor.
Driving me crazy.

Distracted by sounds outside the window.
Not enough energy to even look.
Distracted by the sudden gloom of the skies.
It was so sunny this morning.

Going through the photographs I've taken for this post.
They're pretty.
Colors, textures, flavors, aromas.

I got nothing.

It's not supposed to be that hard.
This is supposed to be fun, remember?
This is not a chore, a "job".

This is not supposed to be something that you have to do but something you enjoy.
This is your baby, your outlet, your own little space in that enormous cyber world where you tuck away your thoughts, your ideas about food, the recipes you fall in love with and, you share all of it with the world.

You don't have to write anything.
Just write the recipe.
Go ahead.

No one needs to know.

A song by PJ Harvey is stuck in my head.
I start to sing.
I love to sing.

I always sing while I'm cooking.
Perhaps that's my secret ingredient.

Purple and Golden Beet Chips with Spicy Sour Cream Dip
Adapted from epicurious

This is a great appetizer for a dinner party and a perfect, healthy snack for those autumn days that you just want to stay inside, watch a movie and nibble on something tasty. These chips are sweet, crunchy, earthy, fresh and totally addictive and the sour cream dip is spicy and delicious.

You can use just purple beets in case you can't find golden ones. Golden beets have a more earthy flavor and are less sweet than purple beets.

Soaking the beets in sugar syrup before baking them accentuates their natural sweetness, making them even more flavorsome.
I had to make two sugar syrups in two different pans. If you soak both kinds of beets in one pan they will discolor and you'll end up with strange-colored beets. Nothing wrong with some psychedelic beets but I want to keep it simple.

Curry powder is not a specific spice but a spice blend. Madras curry powder is a spice blend that originates from the city of Madras in India. It is more spicy, hot and piquant than the normal curry powder but it's not overly potent. If you can't find it or if you prefer milder flavors, use a common curry powder.

The spicy sour cream dip is very versatile and you can use it to accompany all sorts of fresh vegetables and potato chips.

Yield: enough for 4 people as appetizers or, in my and S's case, snacks for 2 / one heaped cup of dip


for beet chips
400 g purple beets
400 g golden beets
240 ml plus 240 ml water
200 g plus 200 g sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

for spicy sour cream
25 g (2 heaped Tbsp) shallots, finely chopped
20 ml (1 ¼ Tbsp) olive oil
1 tsp Madras curry powder
250 g sour cream
1 ½ Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped plus extra for garnishing the dip
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: kitchen mandoline (optional) , two large baking trays


for beet chips
Peel beets and cut them into 1.5 - 2.5 mm-thick slices using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Don't slice the beets thinner than that because they will burn in the oven. Don't slice the beets thicker than that because they will not dry out and crisp up easily.

make the sugar syrups
Take two medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepans and put in each one 240 ml water and 200 g sugar. Turn on the heat and using a spoon, stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Then place the sliced purple beets in one pan and the sliced golden beets in the other pan. Remove both pans from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Note: If you're using just one kind of beets of the same color then you only need to make one sugar syrup. Combine the ingredients (240+240 ml water and 200+200 g sugar) in one large saucepan and proceed as described above.

Drain the beets in two separate colanders, discard the liquid and let beets stand in the colanders for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
Line two shallow baking trays (one for the purple and one for the golden beets) with baking paper and arrange beet slices snugly in one layer and not one on top of the other. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper over them and place one baking tray on the middle rack of the oven and the other on the lower rack. Bake for 30 minutes and then switch positions of the baking trays. Bake for further 30 minutes or until beets are dry. Keep in mind that the beets will shrink during baking.

Take trays out of the oven and immediately place beets on wire racks to cool. They will crisp up as they cool.

for spicy sour cream dip
While beets are baking, prepare the dip.
In a small skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the shallots over medium heat. Stir continuously until shallots are golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the Madras curry powder and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Take skillet off the heat.
Place sour cream in a small bowl and stir in the shallots together with the chives, salt and pepper. Stir everything to combine.

Keep dip in the refrigerator, covered with cling film, until it is time to serve. You can prepare this dip the day before.

Serve beet chips on a large platter along with a bowl of the spicy sour cream dip, garnished with some chopped chives.


  1. wow! I love beets and I love this way of presenting them and the sauce flavored with curry next to them. Looks like it was produced at a 4-star restaurant kitchen. Marvelous, Magda

  2. Gorgeous! And yet another G-free dish for me! :)

  3. Love beets but never seen these golden ones in Greece, you know that. Your spicy curry sauce compliments the sweet beets.

  4. Nice post for someone who starts out "i got nothing". I'm jealous. I can't even get into the kitchen these days. Sick baby boy after some nasty vaccines. Saddest thing ever. Thanks for the inspiring photos of those veggies.

  5. Beautiful pictures!!!

  6. This looks amazing... what a fabulous job! Gorgeous pic.'s too.

  7. Yummm. Beet chips are lookin' good ;)

  8. Besides the fact that I am sure the chips and dip are delicious, those beats...the color is breathtaking. I could just keep staring at them. I wish I could find such pretty little samples. All I can find are the big red kind. Will have to keep looking at yours...

  9. I find singing very regenerating as well. When I am really down, and feel compressed and too sad or empty to cope with anything, I always find a hidden spot when I can sing my lungs out. I don't usually sing when I am cooking because too many people will be hearing my squeaking voice. I think there is alwo some scientific explanation about relaxing your diaphragm.. It works, anyway.
    Beautiful pictures, really, by the way.

  10. Gorgeous beet chips!!! WOW! I love beet chips, but it never dawned on me to try and make these myself. Your photographs are inspiring and make me want to jump through the screen and bathe in your delicious dip. Very nicely done!

  11. They look beautiful! And I'm loving the golden beetroot that we're seeing nowadays! :)

  12. A beautiful hommage to beetroots and so inspiring that I know I will be making this come the weekend.

  13. Text/image placement are genius. You had me right there with you in those excruciating moments when pulling out words is like pulling teeth. As for the chips and photos, gorgeous. I'm ready to pull out the mandolin.

  14. Good idea about the sugar syrup---I've never tried that! Your photos are especially stunning--the colors of the season. For starting out with nothing, you created a great post. Keep singing!

  15. Beautiful photographs and lovely beetroots chips!

  16. I love this stream-of-consciousness beginning and fabulous recipe ending. Bravo!

  17. *Love* the photography. Love beets as well. Good combination. :)

  18. I've just found your blog via a comment on another blog. Your photos are stunning - why do you need to think of something to write? :)

    I only discovered the joy of beets once we came to Turkey. They always felt like a punishment back in the UK but now we can't get enough of them. I've never seen them served like this though. They look fantastic.

  19. Just chanced upon your blog; loved it.Until recently I took pictures with a much repaired, battered, point and shoot Nikkon....
    Loved the beet pictures.