Sunday, January 9, 2011

a de-cluttering feat & roasted beets

For the dawn of this new year, one of my resolutions is to de-clutter!

I have numerous clients who apologize profusely for their "tiny" kitchens when I arrive to cook.

It always makes me smile when I think of my shoebox of a kitchen.

Organization truly is key when it comes to tiny spaces.

When dealing with drawers, I try to organize in categories. For example, everything pastry or baking-related (measuring devices, scoops, whisks, microplanes, piping tips, candy thermometers, brushes, spatulas and circle cutters) belong in one drawer.

My electrical stove is extremely temperamental. The top right burner gets hotter on one side so I have to rotate the pan to attempt an even sear. The front left burner doesn't even work-- it just smokes (I need to get that one fixed).

My trick to dealing with a less-than-perfect stove is to use high quality cookware that transfers heat evenly. My pick? Le Creuset.

I am also in extreme close quarters when it comes to counter space. Rolling out pie crusts, tart doughs or cookies is always interesting on my limited counter. Working quickly in small batches is ideal for me.

I keep my spices simply organized against my cabinet door through the magic of velcro to avoid clutter and prevent spices from sitting in the back of the cabinet for months and months.

My top three spices used: crushed pepper flakes, ground ginger and star anise.

My pantry is multipurpose: dry food staples, entertaining platters, Le Creuset cookware, cast-iron skillets, vases, party supplies, trays, broom and coolers.

I try to avoid purchasing those naughty, processed pantry staples such as chips, caloric crackers and boxed meals. Instead, I bulk up on oatmeal, couscous, brown rice, canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, jarred olives and capers, dried pasta, cereal and ingredients for any pastry whim I may fall within!

For me, making soups is extremely therapeutic-- especially in a clean, organized kitchen.

After a sigh of relief from a weekend of "de-cluttering," I simmered a bright and flavorful soup with intense colors, warming spices, and a swirl of elegant cream perfect for the recent icy weather.

Roasted Beet Soup with Star Anise and a Grapefruit Cream

Serves 4.

1 red onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 t fresh ginger, minced
2 star anise
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
3 beets, peeled and diced
1 T apple cider vinegar
4 cups vegetable stock
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Saute onion, celery, ginger, star anise and red pepper flakes until vegetables are tender and translucent-- about 10 minutes. Season with salt and fresh-cracked pepper.

Add beets and deglaze pan with apple cider vinegar and vegetable stock, careful to scrape brown bits off bottom of pan. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes until beets are tender. Stir in fresh cilantro and check for seasonings. Remove star anise and set aside for garnish.

Let soup cool slightly then puree with an immersion blender. Garnish with a drizzle of grapefruit cream, star anise and additional grapefruit zest if desired.

Grapefruit cream:

1/4 c heavy cream
1 T fresh grapefruit zest
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together ingredients. Spoon atop hot soup.

Cheers to a zen, healthful and delicious new years!



Anna Patricia said...

This is amazing, it's great to read about all the care and attention to detail you practice in the kitchen. Very inspiring... I actually have the same goal, bought myself some cabinet turntables and racks for my pantry ;)

Callie Salls said...

I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Was your pantry organization a success?


Weekend Cowgirl said...

Hmm. Cleaning my kitchen before you come to visit!!!