Beets Margaret Atwood

March 12, 2017
Beets Margaret Atwood

Sometimes you fall head over heels for a book. It’s such a great feeling. Over the years, there have been a few… The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominque Beauby, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. And others of course, too many to list. My latest addition is the luscious food book, A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World, by Susan Musgrave. It’s the source of the rather fabulously titled, Beets Margaret Atwood.

For most of the past year, I had A Taste of Haida Gwaii on my bedside table because it’s as much a book of stories, as it is a book about food and recipes. Heartbreakingly honest, laugh-out-loud funny and packed with photographs of this wonderful remote bit of Canada, as well as fabulous food shots – this book is such a gem.

I’ve written about A Taste of Haida Gwaii before. Last year, I read sections of it out loud to my mother. Her favourite was the chapter about Welsh Griddle Cakes.

More recently, I made Susan Musgrave’s, Beets Margaret Atwood, which the WordPress spell checker keeps suggesting that I change to Beats Margaret Atwood.

For the full story on this dish, see my column in the Kingston Whig-StandardThis is an interesting recipe, a take on the classic French Potato Dauphinoise, using very thinly sliced beets. The dish will take on a hot pink hue while cooking but don’t worry, by the time it’s fully cooked, the cream will be absorbed into the beets and the dish will return to a more appetizing beet red colour.

This recipe is slightly adapted from A Taste of Haida Gwaii.

Beets Margaret Atwood

  • 1 bunch of baby beets (about 1.5 lbs or 680 grams) scrubbed and peeled if necessary
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 scallion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup vegetarian (or chicken) stock
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • daubs of butter

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. (190 deg C)

Cut the prepared beets into very thin slices (about 1/8” or 3mm thick) using a sharp knife or mandoline. Layer the slices in a buttered gratin dish or 2-quart pyrex dish. Press the beets down with the back of a spoon to compress slightly.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the stock, heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper to a simmer. Pour this mixture over the beets. The cream mixture should come to just below the top layer of beets. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test for doneness. If the beets are tender to the fork, top the dish with the cheese, panko and several daubs of butter. If the beets are still not quite tender, return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, and then add the cheese, panko and butter. Once the topping is added, bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and nicely browned.

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  • Reply Amanda | What's Cooking March 12, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    What an incredible history. I really like Margaret Atwood so of course this dish would appeal to me. It sounds delicious. I wonder if I could use cashew or coconut cream in place of the heavy cream. I can imagine all of the conversation over the table with these unique characters. Very cool. Thank you for sharing. I do love a dish with a history.

    • Reply Lindy March 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Amazing Amanda! I am positive you could substitute a non-dairy milk. I bet cashew milk would be perfect. Not as sure about the cheese but honestly, I felt the cheese was lost anyway. And yes, it’s such a great story… Susan Musgrave is as great a legend here as Margaret Atwood. The pair of them together must be an incredible thing…so much talent and intellect and humour.

    • Reply Stacey Bender March 12, 2017 at 11:53 pm

      I bet a big dollop of whole fat Greek yogurt whisked into cashew or almond milk would work too. I haven’t used coconut cream; does it alter the flavor of the cooked dish to taste strongly of coconut? Not that that would be a bad thing; just a good thing to know going in.

      • Reply Lindy March 29, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        Stacey – so sorry not to reply sooner. I was off gallivanting in Cuba! Very happy to see you here. I hope all’s well in your world. And I PROMISE to drop by your blog soon! xo

  • Reply apuginthekitchen March 12, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Lindy it sounds like a fascinating read and unique and delicious recipe. Using beets rather than potatoes is such an interesting take on the classic Potato Dauphinoise which I love.

    • Reply Lindy March 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Suzanne – I tried to get online while I was away (in Cuba) and reply to you to say how happy I am to hear from you. I also love potato Dauphinoise – but oh my – all those calories. (Same for the beet version!) I promise to visit your blog soon. I’ve taken on way too many projects and sadly blogging comes last these days. I so miss the connection. xo

  • Reply chef mimi March 12, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Oh my – I need to make this! Beets beat potatoes any day!!!

    • Reply Stacey Bender March 12, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      I wonder if you could mix the two?

    • Reply Lindy March 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I’ve been buying beets ever since I made this recipe. Funny how we get in ruts with things. Hadn’t cooked them for years and now I’ve been doing them regularly – have taken to roasting them. So good!
      Promise to get to my reader and find out what you’re up to Mimi. I’ve been away in Cuba and then under siege with deadlines. Saw a very glam photo of you looking gorgeous on Facebook recently! And your hot smoked salmon. YUM!

  • Reply Stacey Bender March 12, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Bravo! I love this story. What a nicely written article in your paper. It makes me want to whisk myself away for a mini retreat at Copper Beech House.

    • Reply Lindy March 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Let’s meet there Stacey!!! xo

  • Reply Rebecca J Luce-Kapler March 13, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I love Musgrave’s book. I make the sourdough bread all the time. It is the only bread that I can eat occasionally as someone who is gluten sensitive. She is so passionate about place, food, and writing. All my favourite things!

    • Reply Lindy March 29, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Rebecca – How lovely to hear from you – thank you! I tried to reply from Cuba earlier but the Wifi kept cutting out. I love Susan Musgrave’s too. So much. Funny. Wise. Beautiful. And so full of great food.
      Hope you are well and happy! xo

  • Reply Karen April 10, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I love beets however they are prepared and can’t wait to give this recipe a try. Thank yo for sharing Lindy.

  • Reply petra08 May 28, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I love to find a good book and the beetroot recipe sounds delicious 🙂

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