Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top Form

When my parents were in Paris on vacation with friends earlier this year, my Mom picked up a fun gift for me: a set of press molds for cooking and plating. I had never had any before and loved the idea of dressing up a meal with a little fabulous presentation!

These forms can be used for all kinds of stacked dishes--lentils, aspics, salads and tartares--anything you can stuff inside that will keep its pretty shape. For my first attempt I thought I'd convert a dish we already love to see what kind of presentation I could come up with, so I chose a simple roasted beet salad with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. The creamy tartness of the goat cheese and richness of the walnuts really make the beets shine--it's the best combination, I promise, even if you're not a huge beet fan!

Serves 2 as a first course

10 oz beets, about 4 small or 2 med-large beets
2-3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mixed greens
olive oil
white balsamic vinegar (you can substitute here with other vinegars)
salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 425. Scrub the beets and trim off the greens, leaving the root end intact. Divide between two sheets of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and fold up the foil to make a tightly closed packet. Roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beet (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for close to an hour. When they're finished they will still be firm, but you will be able to stick a fork through the center easily.

Meanwhile, toast your walnuts and set aside. Now, at this point I sprayed the inside of my molds with cooking spray, worried that everything (especially the cheese) would stick inside, but I think it would've been fine without this extra step. Place your mold on a plate and thinly slice or crumble half of the cheese inside; repeat for the second plate. If you have a press with your molds, use it to compress the cheese into a uniform thickness at the bottom of the mold. This can be done easily with the back of a spoon, as well.

Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top of the cheese, taking care to distribute them uniformly over the cheese. Be sure that they go right up to the edge of the mold (but don't stack them too high at the edge) so you'll be sure to see them in a pretty layer.

Once your beets have cooled enough to handle, slice off the root end and peel them. Be careful here with your clothes, since everything will be bright red! Slice the beets thinly and place in a bowl. If you're using larger beets, cut in half first before slicing. Toss beets with some oil and vinegar and season with fresh ground pepper and salt, then divide them among the two molds, arranging the beets carefully on top of the layer of walnuts.

Finally, in the same bowl, toss your greens with a bit more oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and arrange on top of your stack in your molds. To remove the mold, twist gently to the side first to loose the ingredients from the metal surface, then gently pull up. Now you are ready to serve a gorgeous but super easy dish.

Don't they look amazing?! Maybe I'll try a tuna tartare next...

Bon Appetite!



  1. So good looking Liza and I love the wallpaper in your kitchen!!

  2. They look AMAZING! And actually, the way you describe everything makes it seem like it could be easy to pull off. Now if only I could get Dave to eat beets...


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