Beets are a perfect vegetable. They are colorful, tasty, high in fiber, and nutritious. They are a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Flavored Beets. When I read the ingredient list, the Flavored Beets sounded a lot like the Harvard Beets that my mother made in my youth, so I decided to give the recipe a try.
The Flavored Beets turned out wonderfully. This recipe is a keeper. The delightful sweet sour sauce was lovely, and worked perfectly to enhance the rich, earthy flavor of the beets. The sauce was not as thick as I remember the Harvard Beet sauce my mother made, but the taste was very similar.
2 cups sliced, cooked beets (I boiled, then sliced 4 medium beets – though canned beets would also work.)
3/4 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
Put the cornstarch and vinegar in a saucepan; stir until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Add butter, and stir until melted. Add beets, and reheat until the beets are hot while gently stirring. Serve
Beets are a tasty low-calorie vegetable, have lots of fiber, and are chock full of nutrients including vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. But I often struggle to find good beet recipes. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Beets a la Poitevine. Beet slices are immersed in a light sauce that brings out the natural sweet goodness of the beets. At first I thought that this recipe might be similar to Harvard Beets – but it is very different. The recipe calls for no sugar, and only a minimal amount of vinegar which I could barely taste.
I was curious about the French name of this recipe, and googled it but didn’t come up with much. Poitevine may refer to a place in France. There is a village called Bussière-Poitevine in central France.
Wash and trim beets. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water; add 2 tablespoons vinegar to reduce bleeding. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce temperature and simmer until the beets are tender (approximately 30 – 45 minutes, depending upon size). Remove from heat, drain, and cool slightly, then peel beets. The skin is easy to remove after cooking. Slice the peeled beets.
In the meantime melt butter in a saucepan, then add diced onion and saute until tender. Stir in the flour and salt; then gradually, add the chicken broth while stirring constantly. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Continue stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Gently stir in the sliced beets, and cook until hot and bubbly while gently stirring. Remove from heat and serve.
The original recipe called for adding additional butter as well as the vinegar at the very end of the cooking process. This seemed unnecessary to me – so I added all the sauce ingredients prior to adding the beet slices. After I added the beets, I just cooked it until the sauce returned to a boil and the beets were hot.
Sometimes salads can seem a bit boring, so I was delighted to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Cabbage and Beet Salad. This salad makes a lovely presentation that is just a tad dramatic. And, a subtle homemade French dressing adds just the right amount of flavor to the salad.
Here’s the photo and recipe for Cabbage and Beet Salad in the hundred-year-old magazine:
1 small cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups shredded cabbage)
2 medium beets, cooked and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1 cup diced, cooked beets)
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons onion, finely minced
Put shredded cabbage in a bowl; gently stir in 2/3 of the French dressing. Put in refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours.
Put diced beets in another bowl; gently stir in 1/3 of the French dressing. Put in refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours.
To serve: Drain any excess dressing from the shredded cabbage, then arrange the cabbage in a ring with a hole in the center. (I pressed the cabbage into a circular mold, covered with the serving plate, and then quickly flipped and removed mold – but a mold is not necessary.)
Drain any excess liquid from the beets. Place beets in the center of the ring. Serve immediately.
To make French Dressing: Put olive oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, and paprika in a small bowl; stir to combine. Stir in minced onion.
I’m always on the outlook for salads and relishes that use seasonal ingredients. When browsing through the January, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping, I came across an intriguing recipe for Beet Relish. Of course, I had to try it.
The Beet Relish contains chopped beets and cabbage in a tangy vinegar dressing that has a fun horseradish kick. This recipe makes an absolutely beautiful, slightly flashy, sweet- sour side dish.
Combine sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard, and celery seed in a bowl. Add chopped beets and chopped cabbage; stir to combine. Add horseradish to taste. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Here is the original recipe:
I halved the recipe when I made it. I also used much less horseradish than called for in the original recipe. A little horseradish adds a nice peppery flavor to this dish–but too much can easily overwhelm the other flavors.
16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, August 7, 1911: I wound up my driving this afternoon, and I’m not sorry either. Carrie was over this evening. We did some planning for that picnic, which we wish to have some time next week if we can.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Grandma began driving horses five days ago. As discussed in the August 2 entry, she probably was operating a horse-drawn roller that leveled the plowed ground in preparation for planting winter wheat.
As Grandma planned for the picnic, she may have thought about foods that she could take. Beets are in season, so a hundred years ago Grandma may have thought about taking Pickled Beets and Eggs to the upcoming picnic. Here’s an old recipe that I use to make pickled beets and eggs.
Pickled Beets and Eggs
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup reserved beet water from cooking beets
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 piece stick cinnamon
2 cups cooked beets, sliced (leave beets whole if small)*
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
Combine vinegar, beet water, sugar, and piece of stick cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat.
Put sliced beets and hard-boiled eggs in a glass jar or other container. Pour cooked liquid over the beets and eggs. Chill overnight to marinate. (For darker eggs, chill for several days before serving.).
*Peel beets before cooking (or canned beets may be used–though that’s probably less authentic).