Cooking with Ornamentals

Cooking with Ornamentals

Part of Ep. 1103 Pretty Enough to Eat

Join Chef Rafe Montello from "We’re Cooking Now" as he prepares a Swiss chard and egg dish then glazes beets for a delicious, healthful meal.

Premiere date: Sep 24, 2003

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We've been talking a lot about how beautiful vegetables can be in containers and in the garden. Now we're going to eat some of these pretty vegetables. We're at Whole Foods in their cooking class. I'm with Rafe Montello. And Rafe owns "We're Cooking Now," a company that uses cooking in personal development. You also teach a lot of cooking classes here in the Madison area, right, Rafe? Here at Whole Foods and at other places.

Rafe:
Absolutely, Shelley.

Shelley:
And what are we going to do today?

Rafe:
Actually, Shelley, we're going to be looking at some vegetables from my childhood, the Swiss chard and the more recent variety of Rainbow chard. And we're also going to be demystifying beets.

Shelley:
In fact, I think both of these vegetables are much misunderstood. I use the small leaves in salads and that's about all I do with them. So, teach me to do something with these.

Rafe:
Great. Here we have the standard Swiss chard. I grew up eating this all the time. I was the second oldest of ten kids, so the Swiss chard I'm used to is actually a lot larger than this. But it's the same Swiss chard. And over here, we have the Rainbow chard. See how beautiful it is.

Shelley:
It's so pretty in the garden.

Rafe:
What we do, for the cooking of the Swiss chard is we have, we take the chard and we chop it up roughly, put it in a big pot with a little bit of water in the bottom and put a lid on it. And that sweats the vegetables down. The process is very similar to steaming.

Shelley:
Okay, and that reduces the volume, basically.

Rafe:
Absolutely, and pre-cooks the vegetable. The thing you want to make sure is you don't overcook it.

Shelley:
Right, overcooked vegetables are not exciting.

Rafe:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Now, you're using the stems and the leaves of the chard, and then some beet greens as well.

Rafe:
And we've also used some beet greens today. And again, this is a rough chop. You see we have some of the stems here of our Swiss chard are really long, it's just a rough chop here. In this pan, what we've done is we've taken a few tablespoons of olive oil, sauteed up some sliced onions. Some people leave this out, I like it in, it gives it...

Shelley:
Oh, I like the flavors.

Rafe:
Yes, and some smashed garlic. Then, we add the sweated down Swiss chard back in, and you can see what we have here, we're all ready to go. Everything is nicely cooked.

Shelley:
Slightly tender.

Rafe:
The onions have been a little bit carmelized, and our pan's nice and hot. Can you hear that crackling?

Shelley:
Is that at high heat, then, is that what you're cooking at?

Rafe:
Well, you know us chefs tend to have one temperature, and it's always high.

Shelley:
I'm beginning to learn that.

Rafe:
But that way, if things get too hot, you just take it off the burner. You have a lot more control.

Shelley:
And what's in there, Rafe?

Rafe:
This is a mixture of six eggs, a half a cup of parmesan cheese, a teaspoon of salt, a half-teaspoon of pepper. We take this...

Shelley:
It's whisked up first.

Rafe:
Absolutely, then we come in and we go ahead and give it a final whisk. And so, we want everything to be combined, and we put this in like this.

Shelley:
So, is this like a frittata?

Rafe:
Well, except that a frittata would have at least double the amount of eggs for this amount of Swiss chard. This is more like flavored scrambled eggs with Swiss chard in them.

Shelley:
Oh, okay. It smells great.

Rafe:
And you see how that's all coming together. This is just a wonderful dish. And it's a way to get your protein, yet have a real nice vegetable dish, too. And of course, you always have to...
Shelley:
Show off!

Rafe:
Yeah.

Shelley:
I do that and the dog eats well!

Rafe:
So, and you see, a beautiful dish. We'll let that cook for a little while.

Shelley:
So, that's all there is to it, let it cook a little bit?

Rafe:
That's it, just let it cook for a moment, make sure the egg is done.

Shelley:
Beets.

Rafe:
Yeah, over here we have the Chioggia and the red beets. There's also the golden beets.

Shelley:
And there's a Bull's Blood with burgundy leaves that's just gorgeous.

Rafe:
And here we have our Chioggia beet. This is one I roasted up this morning. Notice the white is largely at the top of it. Nice beautiful deep red color on the bottom.

Shelley:
And that's what it looks like raw. That's incredibly beautiful.

Rafe:
Notice the beautiful concentric circles.

Shelley:
And here, it's cooked and the colors still there.

Rafe:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Now, what are these half dead looking things? Rafe:
Well, these half dead looking things, as you refer to them, are my favorite way of cooking beets.

Shelley:
Really?

Rafe:
And that's to roast the beet. And I roasted these this morning, just washed them off. Notice you leave both the stems and the tail on. And put them in a roasting pan for 400 degrees for about an hour.

Shelley:
Wow! They really shrink down then, too. Then what do you do with them?

Rafe:
Well, then, we peel them off. And here I have a variety of different cuts of beet. You notice again the concentric circles.

Shelley:
But they're all pretty, even that one.

Rafe:
Absolutely. Typically, when you would be doing a dish like this, you wouldn't have so many cuts in one dish. I did that because I wanted you to see the different varieties.

Shelley:
What do you have there?

Rafe:
Over here, we have started with a 1/4 cup of butter that was melted. We put in 1/2 cup of sugar and then caramelized it. I add a little bit of water here, although that's not actually necessary, so that it would be a little bit easier to work with.

Shelley:
High heat again.

Rafe:
High heat again, of course, my favorite. And over here, we have the juice of one large orange, squeezed. If you want to add orange zest, you can also do that.

Shelley:
Okay, before you add it, though, I've had total failures. For caramelizing, high heat, sugar and butter and what, just stirring constantly? Is that what I did wrong?

Rafe:
You really have to stir constantly. And actually, a good trick, Shelley, is stir the pan and stir with the spoon.

Shelley:
Okay, so you really watch it until it turns this color light brown? Black isn't good.

Rafe:
Absolutely. Okay, now we put in our orange.

Shelley:
Mmm, that smells good.

Rafe:
And we let this blend together and reduce down, because again, what we want is a glaze, See, if we put our beets in at this point, it will be a little bit too thin.

Shelley:
And that's why the high heat, again, to help reduce this.

Rafe:
Exactly. Now, over here, we take a look at our Swiss chard. And you see, a frittata, again, would have at least double the amount of eggs as we have in this recipe. And, the last thing, oh boy, that smells good just like when I was a child. Put in a little bit of salt here. And actually, even though this is a sweet preparation, we want just a tiny bit of salt. We add our beets in. Let that all come together, our beets heat up. And let's start eating.

Shelley:
Okay, there's a fork.

Rafe:
Great! Well here, I'll give you the fork and I'll start to serve you up some of the chard.

Shelley:
Chard is one of the things I've never had cooked. I love it raw, so I'm real anxious.

Rafe:
Well, this is excellent. And again, as I was saying earlier, with all the focus on healthy eating this is an excellent way to get nutrition into the diet.

Shelley:
I'll wait on the beets, but I'm going to take a bite here.

Rafe:
Great.

Shelley:
Thank you Rafe.

Rafe:
Thank you, Shelley. How's that?

Shelley:
It's delicious!

Rafe:
It's an excellent recipe.

Shelley:
Notice I sound surprised. This is great. Thanks a lot.

Rafe:
You're very welcome.

Shelley:
Our website will also include my recipe for sauteed Cardoons with cheese. Remember, though, if you're going to eat Cardoons, you'll need to blanch the stems by tying cardboard around them like this. It makes them a little less attractive in the garden, but definitely more tasty in the garden. I'm Shelley Ryan. Thanks for joining me on the Wisconsin Gardener.

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