Post-election, as I move forward this year into 2017, I’m going to more intentionally to support business and community leaders who speak out against the injustices and hate incidences impacting people in their communities.
The other week, I felt compelled to pay Penzeys Spices a little visit. Not only as a small gesture of appreciation to Bill Penzey for speaking out against racism and sexism, but because Penzeys Spices are really, really good. In a December Facebook update, Penzey ends with, “The kindness of cooks makes a great bedtime story.” Sure, some people are mad, but most of the comments share stories about cooking and community.
I’m going to fill you in on a little secret about the Uptown Minneapolis location: There’s a small parking lot in the back!
My spice cabinet is a mess and I’m kind of OK with that. I’ve got cheap, house-brand dried herbs and a variety of finishing sea salts. Some of them are conventional and some of them are organic. I can’t quite bring myself to toss a couple eight-year old tins of herbs I bought with my mom in Door County during her last summer on earth. And the other spices are aged everywhere in between. You’ll find lots of old bay, a big shaker of Lowry’s, and Accent for those times I can’t quite pull the flavors together.
I use spices for as long as I feel like it. That’s my philosophy.
Sometimes, when I really want to treat myself, I treat myself at Penzeys.
The shop is filled with nearly any kind of spice or herb that you can imagine. There are sections for seasoning blends, salts, peppers, curries, chilies, and more. Do you have a friend who doesn’t enjoy baking or cooking? Grab them a shaker of cinnamon-sugar and encourage them to go make cinnamon toast!
This month we hosted a Friendsgiving celebration. The theme was appetizer and desserts and it was perfect. I made crostini topped with lemony goat cheese and diced beets, sprinkled with Penzey’s Greek Seasoning. Inspiration came from Life Ambrosia’s recipe and the most incredible lemon goat cheese I once bought from Baetje Farms at a farmers market in St. Louis.
Beet and Lemon goat cheese crostini with Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
Cook’s Notes: Many prefer to roast beets in foil, but I boil them until knife-tender. A long time ago, I interned at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis for a summer. When I asked a chef how she prepared beets, she replied, “I just boil them,” so I do too. Penzey’s Greek Seasoning includes salt, but is not overly salty. Treat it like a finishing salt. This recipe prepared enough crostini for a large group. We eagerly enjoyed the leftovers. You can always make less.
Three medium beets, Any color will do.
1 package of plain goat cheese. (I bought the larger roll at Trader Joe’s)
Honey, to taste
Zest of one lemon
Lemon juice: A little for seasoning the goat cheese and for dressing the beets
Vinegar, to taste (red wine, white wine, champagne or white balsamic)
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
Optional: Penzeys Greek Seasoning
- Remove goat cheese from fridge, and allow to soften at room temperature.
- Scrub beets clean. Place in a pot filled with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until knife-tender. While you are waiting for the beets to cook, prepare goat cheese spread.
- When beets are tender, drain and allow to sit until they are cool enough to peel. Using your fingers or a small knife, remove the beet skin. Usually, it will slide away from the beet.
- Dice beets into small cubes.
- Toss diced beets with olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and/or vinegar to taste, salt and pepper. A squirt of honey can balance out the flavors.
- Mix goat cheese with enough olive oil to give it a smooth, spreadable texture, the zest of one lemon. Add lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper to taste. I aim for an intensely tart lemony and slightly sweet flavor.
- Before serving, slice baguette and toast slices in olive oil. Season bread with salt and pepper.
- Spread toasted bread with goat cheese. Gently top with beets. Sprinkle with Greek Seasoning and serve.