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"Beet Rosti" or Beet Pancake (Hold the Syrup)

From South Cumberland Farmer's Market

<p>I love Mark Bittman&#8217;s recipes, especially his attention to creative meatless recipes. Here&#8217;s one I recently discovered:</p> <p></p> <p><span class="caps">THE</span> <span class="caps">MINIMALIST</span>; Beet Pancakes (Hold the Syrup)<br /> By Mark Bittman<br /> Published: June 17, 1998</p> <p><span class="caps">ALTHOUGH</span> sweetness is not an unfamiliar sensation at the dinner table, no so-called savory food gives quite the experience of the beet, whose intensity is incomparable. This has typically led cooks to counter its sweetness with acidity or other sharp flavors, a natural inclination that has given us beets with vinegar, beets with sour cream, beets with lemon, vinaigrette, ginger, and so on.</p> <p>But the sweetness of beets is wonderfully exploited in this dish, created by Michael Romano, the chef at Union Square Cafe. It&#8217;s a thick beet pancake, cooked slowly until the beet sugars caramelize and a crunchy, sweet crust forms, reminiscent of creme brulee. A touch of rosemary does not diminish the sweetness, but simply adds a dimension to this versatile side dish, which is good with braised meats or grilled food or can accompany a salad as a light dinner.</p> <p>The concept and technique are unusual for beets, although they are identical to those used in rosti, the Swiss grated-potato dish. The beets are peeled and grated raw; the grating disk of a food processor does this task easily, but a box grater also works. The beets are then combined with flour, an essential ingredient. &#8216;&#8217;The beet resembles a potato, and you can cook it like a potato,&#8217;&#8217; Mr. Romano said. &#8216;&#8217;But it doesn&#8217;t have the starch of a potato, and if you don&#8217;t add some flour, the pancake won&#8217;t hold together.&#8217;&#8217;</p> <p>In this dish, butter is the fat of choice; it complements the beets perfectly. If you choose to substitute, use a neutral oil like canola rather than strong-tasting olive oil. The beet rosti must be cooked in a nonstick skillet, preferably one measuring 12 inches across. (If you have a 10-inch skillet, decrease the amount of beets from two pounds to one and a half; the quantities given for the other ingredients can remain the same.) And keep the heat moderate. Cooking too quickly will burn the sugary outside of the pancake while leaving the inside raw.</p> <p>Beets bleed and can easily stain clothing. Peel them over the sink, and wash the grater as soon as you are finished with it. Oh, and wear an apron.</p>
Source: (Entered by Nancy Burnett)
Serves: 4 servings

2 lbs beets (3 very large or 4 to 6 medium)
2 tsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
salt & freshly ground pepper to tast
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp butter
Minced parsley or a few rosemary leaves

Step by Step Instructions
  1. 1. Trim beets, and peel them as you would potatoes; grate them in food processor or by hand. Begin preheating 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. 2. Toss grated beets in bowl with rosemary, salt and pepper. Add about half the flour; toss well, add rest of flour, and toss again.
  3. 3. Put butter in skillet; heat until it begins to turn nut-brown. Scrape beet mixture into skillet, and press with spatula to form a round. With medium to medium-high heat -- the pancake should gently sizzle -- cook, shaking pan occasionally, until bottom of cake is nicely crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Slide cake onto a plate, top with another plate, invert the two plates, and return cake to pan. Keep cooking, adjusting heat if necessary, until other side is browned, another 10 minutes or so.
  4. Garnish with parsley or rosemary, cut into wedges, and serve hot or at room temperature.