So Bravo has announced thecontestants for Top Chef 6, and overall, it's great news. Two Philly chefs (both women, and... both Jennifers!) plus several from the DC area, including the dude from Zaytinya. It looks like a really interesting bunch.
And imagine my surprise when not only is Bryan Voltaggio from the Maryland restaurant Volt in the competition, so is his brother Michael Voltaggio from L.A.'s Bazaar.
(And if you think it's weird to have two brothers in the competition, it's worth noting that one of the owners of Zaytinya also owns/runs Bazaar... the restaurant world is a tangled web, for sure.)
(Also, I kind of have mixed feelings about Bryan Voltaggio becoming more famous, since his last name is Voltaggio... which I purloined for the main character of SIMMER! Am I going to have to change it now?)
(I've never even been to Volt, but isn't that just the most awesome last name?)
When you're a kid, there are certain things you learn and take for granted. You know it, so everyone else must know it. That you never leave for camp without a hat (to protect against ticks) and a sit-upon (to sit upon). That the second verse of "Fried Ham, Fried Ham" should properly be done in Underwater Accent. That irises bloom in June, right before your annual ballet recital. And that when you are hungry for a snack, you could do worse than reach into the fridge for some kohlrabi.
And then when you're an adult, you realize not everyone knows the same things. It is probably a pretty small segment of the population that knows the words to "Fried Ham", for example. And whenever you mention kohlrabi, people have no idea what you're talking about.
It's kind of like jicama, if you know jicama -- which more people seem to, now. And I don't know if my familiarity with kohlrabi is more of a Midwestern thing or more of a gardening thing. I remember distinctly the first time I read "cardoons" on a menu and had to ask what they were. But kohlrabi? Feels like I've always known.
Anyway, if you see kohlrabi (cahl-rahb-ee) in your farmer's market or grocery store, give it a try. They might be "white", like the above, or purple. Pull off the noodly bits, cut off the unchewable skin with a paring knife, and slice the rest. You can cook it like a turnip, I hear, but I have only ever eaten them raw. Slice. Munch.
So what I didn't mention before about those roasted beets is that I actually made two meals out of them. And no, I didn't use the greens. They were holey and past their prime. But I did use -- wait for it -- the stems.
Cut em up. Slice a clove of garlic. Splash with water and cook in a saute pan about 5 minutes, to mellow the garlic and soften the stems.
After the water has evaporated, splash with olive oil, lower the heat, and saute a couple more minutes. Salt and pepper liberally.
And if you're me, top with the last of that hard cheese you were trying to use up, cut in matchsticks, because matchsticks are cool.
(Matchstick reason #2: already had the knife out, too lazy to clean the grater.)
Oh, it's so hard to avoid "beet" puns, but I'm doing my best for you.
So Tuesday I gave some of the high-level roasting instructions for beets. You wash, you trim, you roast. Next, you peel.
The skin comes off very easily, especially if you let the beets cool in the closed foil packet. Again, your fingers will get red. You can go with golden beets only, but I like a mix.
So I cube these up (thank goodness my cutting board is already red) and combine them with:
one minced shallot
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 large mint leaves, julienned
splash (1/3 tsp?) of olive oil
1 oz of hard goat cheese, diced
As with so many of my recipes, this is a Whatever You've Got On Hand guideline-type recipe. Beets are especially great with soft goat cheese or feta. I happened to have some hard cheese I was trying to finish off. I cubed it instead of grating it since I wasn't heating the dish.
Also, heavily pepper this. It will also happily accept a lot of lemon juice and a lot of salt, so just keep tweaking and tasting til you like it.
Then, take a moment to savor the pretty. Then enjoy.
And afterward, wash your bowl promptly, because it looks like this.