Linguini With Roasted Beets, Fresh Tarragon and Caraway Seeds
February 21, 2011, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Pasta | Tags: , , ,

This past week was Valentine’s Day and apparently, according to CNN Money, Philadelphia knows how to celebrate.  Their ranking is based upon the amount of money spent per transaction on Valentine’s Day.  In Philadelphia, individuals spend $134.93, earning 4th place on the list.  At the top was Phoenix at $160.41 followed by Houston ($149.78) and San Francisco ($149.19) and then Philadelphia.  New York City rounded out the top five at $130.30.  Supposedly, while Phoenix and Co spent the most, NYC is the sexiest based solely on lingerie sales while San Francisco and Boston tied based on the number of marriage proposals.  These are fun statistics, but I hope no one actually bases love/romance on money spent!  In keeping with this theme, there was a great article in the Miami University Student Newspaper about the culture of dating and how technology is changing the way we date.  Today’s post maintains the Valentine’s Day theme although really only through the association of the color red with the holiday, but gesture of preparing a meal, as well as the flavor of the dish, well exceeds the $135 you might spend elsewhere for Valentine’s Day.

Linguini with Roasted Beets, Fresh Tarragon and Caraway Seeds (from Food and Style)

I don’t necessarily find the color of this pasta appetizing, but then again, you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  Beets are a very under-appreciated vegetable.  The flavors of (cooked) beets are sweet.  I’ve primarily only had them pickled and accompanying several other items as an appetizer.  However, caramelized beets in the with of balsamic vinegar and caraway seeds are incredibly more delicious. The combination of the three presents the beets with a “deep, rich and earthy flavor.”  The blog which created this recipe, Food and Style, also suggested pairing it with a wine called “Le Cigare Volant” from Bonny Dune Vineyard.

As for my suggestions, make the beets a day or two ahead of time.  Otherwise, this is a very time consuming recipe.  Lastly, serve the dish with any red wine that you love, although the Le Cigare Volant was pretty good.  Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!


Cheese and Crackers

It’s been said that there are two guarantees in life: death and taxes.  In Philadelphia, there are also guarantees: winters will be frigid and summers will be excruciatingly hot, people will eat soft pretzels regardless of the time of day and Philadelphians live and die with their professional sports teams.  In my life there are also guarantees: I will run, I will work extremely hard in school or work and I will have cheese and crackers a few times in a week.   I figure as long as I uphold my first guarantee, to run, I can uphold my last guarantee, to enjoy cheese and crackers.  My explorations into cheese isn’t profound (mostly due to the ridiculous and outrageous costs of cheeses), but I have enjoyed quite a few varieties and continue to learn about others through people, restaurants and books.  I know what flavors and textures I like and what I don’t, and I know cheese doesn’t always have to be on cracker, but also on a burger, part of a sauce and even an ingredient in ice cream.  This post, a trio of cheese balls, unfortunately stays away from the unique and moves just beyond  the classic.

A Trio of Cheese Balls (from the kitchn)

First of all,  I should define each of these cheese balls.  Moving from left to right, Cheddar and Olive Cheese Ball with Dijon, Lemon and Dill, Blue Cheese Ball with Candied Almonds and Goat Cheese Ball with Chives, Cucumber and Caramelized Shallot.  They are all great, but please do not underestimate the contribution  of each ingredient (when shopping or eating) to the overall flavor to the cheese ball.  Certain ingredients, especially the green olives in the Cheddar and Olive Cheese Ball, provide a vital flavor that moves the cheese from ordinary to extraordinary.  I do not recommend serving all three simultaneously unless you have a large and/or a cheese-happy crowd.  Lastly, the best of the trio, by far, is the Blue Cheese Ball with Candied Almonds.

If you decide to indulge, a few tips: First, goat cheese is very soft so a small adjustment must be made when adding the chives, cucumber and caramelized shallots.  Blend/pulse the chive-cucumber-shallot mixture separate from the cheese.  Spread the mixture out over a plate and dab it with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.  Without doing so the cheese ball will not solidify enough to actually form a ball and instead form more of a thick dip.  Second, make the cheese balls a day or two in advance to allow the flavors to fuse.  Lastly, cover the balls in their respective coatings just before serving.