Channeling My Inner Dwight Schrute

I probably looked at a thousand recipes in looking for the “perfect” recipe to try for my first attempt at making dinner. I knew it couldn’t be something to easy, and also couldn’t be something too difficult. My boyfriend had sent me a recipe for beet carpaccio, which would fulfill my “using an ingredient I don’t like” rule, but being that the first step was preheat oven to 350° and I only have a stove top to work with, that wasn’t going to happen. Plus, who willingly eats beets? The extent of my knowledge about beets is The Office jokes. I was mindlessly cruising StumbleUpon and by chance came across the absolutely beautiful blog Not Without Salt, and specifically a post entitled “Dating My Husband” that had a recipe for a beet and goat cheese pasta dish. I knew it was something that I HAD to make, and I also bought a freshly baked loaf of bread and things to make a mesclun salad.

So yesterday I snagged my boyfriend (a food shopping guru who knows all the best little out-of-the-way places to get fresh ingredients) and he took me on a mini tour of the little markets that I had never been to in Buffalo. Guercio and Sons is an amazing place with fresh produce and specialty items that I had never even seen before (even better that they have the best prices I have ever come across – way better than any normal supermarket), Gondola Macaroni Products had fresh handmade pasta, and D’Avolio is a specialty store that has what I can only imagine is every kind of olive oil ever made.

So later that evening, it was time to get down to business. After Googling some things that show my low level of food knowledge and a few calls to my boyfriend (both of which contained asking questions such as “How do I grate the last little bit of something without getting finger shavings in the food?” and “How do I juice a lime?” – I take comfort that I am NOT the first person to Google stuff like that, ha ha) then came scrubbing the beets, peeling the beets, then grating the beets – all of which made me look like I had been an actress in some crummy B horror movie leaving red stains all over my hands (and arms, somehow!) and kitchen. At least it cleaned up easily. Chopping up onions was fun being that I seem to be EXTREMELY sensitive to them and my eyes started watering the moment I took the flaky peel off, and once I started actually chopping them up I could hardly see through all the mascara running in my eyes. But I made it through. The pasta water was boiling, the beets and onion were prepared and I started throwing stuff in. By that point Luke had come over so he assisted me and showed me tricks and how to do things easier, etc, which really helped.

One of my best friends and partner in crime, Danielle, also came for dinner, willingly subjecting herself to being a guinea pig and possible food poisoning. Good thing I remembered to ask Luke to bring an extra fork, being that I only had two. What I DIDN’T have, however, was a corkscrew to open the two bottles of wine Danielle brought, but luckily with some help from a steak knife Luke managed to open the bottles. Mental note: buy forks; corkscrew.

It took longer than the recipe called for, but eventually everything was ready! I found it very hard to multitask and pay attention to the noodles, the cooking beats, mixing in the goat cheese, making sure nothing was cooking too long or burning, getting things out to make the salads (which I was informed was called mise en place), but somehow everything appeared to have turned out and it was time to stuff our faces.

Despite my proclamations of “I don’t like beets!” I must admit that the dinner was delicious. The beets and the goat cheese and walnuts went together perfectly, and the red of the beets on the pasta made it look like something made on the Play-Doh spaghetti factory I remember playing with as a kid – very cool to see such a red food. The recipe had made enough for probably 5-6 people so I have a lot left over. If I were to make this again (which I would) the only thing I would change is that in the original recipe it didn’t say how small to grate the beets, and I did it the size of what potatoes would be for hash browns, but in the future I would definitely make them much smaller. Other than that though, there’s nothing I would change.

I really think that I can call my first dinner a big success! Danielle and Luke both loved it (I have the type of friends who would tell me if it sucked, plus they ate everything AND took leftovers home.) and I begrudgingly will now admit that MAYBE in certain dishes I don’t hate beets. Even more awesome is that now I am actually EXCITED to learn to cook and not as apprehensive as I was before. I can’t wait to figure out what my next recipe will be…

3 Responses to “Channeling My Inner Dwight Schrute”
  1. Luke Copping says:

    Delicious looking and delicious tasting, I wish I had a better camera setup to photograph just how beautifully creamy and crimson this dish was. The color alone made an amazing impression. and the taste did not disappoint, though I agree, the beet could be grated finer next time.

  2. Natalie says:

    Hey I love the premise of your blog! I will add it to my blogroll & follow along! Go Buffalo Foodies!

    • 29andhungry says:

      Thank you – added you to my blogroll as well! I’ll be checking out your blog for tips on where to go when I don’t want to cook (which… well, I just want Chow Chocolat now 😉

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