Not Guilty Pleasure / by Anne

beet.chips.and.dip Some treats that I crave are so guilty that I can’t even stand them sometimes.  To want them, I need to be in a dark and reckless mood (or on a road trip).  We’re talking perpetrators like Rice Krispy Treats, Sno Cones, and Chee-tos.   They require alternate spellings of words because they are not legally food.

Then there are those treats that bring me joy from the first luscious bite until long after I eat them.  Instead of using specially formulated chemicals designed to hit my taste buds right, the trick to these delicacies is that they take a little extra  care: an exquisite salad that someone else made for me, a perfectly crafted spicy tuna hand roll, and the lunch I made for myself and Rosalie the other day.

Yes, I fed my kid chips and dip, and not only did I feel good about it, I felt like a benevolent, morally unambiguous mother.  I sliced beets thinly and fried them until crisp.  Then, for dipping, I mixed herbed goat cheese with yogurt.  The sweet, dark, crispy beets with the rich and generously creamy dip tasted good enough to accidentally eat them too fast, and yet feel fabulous afterwards.   The toddler agreed.  She doesn't appear to feel guilty at all.

Beet Chips with Chevre Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets
  • Frying oil, such as peanut oil or canola oil—enough to fill a medium-small pot a few inches deep
  • Sea salt or other table salt
  • 5 ounces herbed goat cheese (I used Laura Chenel’s Chevre—chabis & herbs flavor.  If you do not have access to goat cheese that is already herbed,  use plain goat cheese and blend in small amounts of thyme, rosemary, savory, and salt)
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • Extremely helpful tool: Deep frying thermometer.  I bought one at a drug store for less than three dollars and it made the work so much easier and saved me many mess-ups.

Directions

  1. Slice the beets very thinly with a sharp knife or (even more fun,) a mandoline.  Lay the beets out on clean towels or paper towels, then cover them with another layer of towel, pressing down to absorb moisture from both sides of the slices.  Note: if you use a towel, plan on possibly having a towel with large, pink polka-dotted stains on it.
  2. Heat oil to 350˚ over medium heat.  If the temperature gets too hot, remove pot from heat until the heat goes down, and turn the heat down slightly (I found that slightly on the lower side of medium got me to 350˚.  Your stovetop’s individual behavior will determine your exact heat setting).
  3. Put a few beet slices into the oil, giving each slice plenty of room to move around.  Hopefully the oil will sizzle softly around each slice and won’t do that unpleasant popping, because the moisture has been pressed from the surface of the beets.  About a minute into the cooking, turn the slices over to ensure even cooking.  Fry until the beets begin to change color from the deep magenta to a slightly lighter color, almost brown.   The whole frying process takes about 2 minutes per batch of chips.
  4. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chips from the oil and set on a plate lined with paper towels (or clean towels).  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  5. When you get into a groove with the frying, take a moment to make the dip.   Blend the cheese and yogurt together thoroughly in a small bowl, and keep chilled until ready to use.
  6.  Serve chips on a plate with the bowl of dip. 

Makes a light snack for 3 or 4 people.