It’s February, one of my oldest friends got engaged on Saturday, one of my other friends is pregnant after two years of wanting to be, and today Tim and I sat on picnic tables in 30-degree weather and took photos of ourselves with a tripod for the cookbook. I know it’s winter around here, and everyone’s glum about the need for coats and hats and heaters, and I know that it’s even colder in my home state and in the areas north of it, but today I’m feeling happy and hopeful in spite of the non-sunny skies. There is so much joy around me, so much beauty, so much warmth and light in the midst of the cold. While we were shooting today, I looked at Tim, setting up shots with me, telling me his vision for how something would look and then working with me to make it happen, and I was struck like a bolt with how blessed I am to be doing all of these things with him—the good and the bad, the overwhelming and the unknown—to be rejoicing with him, to be leaning on him when I’m weak, to be helping him when he is, to be both supporting and supported, to be both loving and loved, to be experiencing the mystery of getting older and feeling new feelings, like a body that goes through cleansing periods or legs that ache when I sit at my computer too long, and to have another person right next to me, holding my hand on the same ride. I am so thankful for my husband. If I haven’t said it before, I want to say it now: I would never have worked on a cookbook without him; I wouldn’t have wanted to. Anyway, because all these thoughts are hitting me in early February, they are hitting me alongside all manner of Valentine’s Day paraphernalia, from packaged Valentines to weekend getaway packages to heart-shaped cookie cutters (one of which I bought last weekend for $0.79, hence today’s treats), so maybe it only makes sense that I have hearts on the brain. I wanted them on my smoothie last week; I wanted them in my lunch a few days later; I’m already dreaming up biscuits and jellos and mini cakes to make with them later.
What happened here was an off-the-cuff, lets-just-play-with-food experiment that created something not quite gnocchi and not quite bread, one that we’re calling beet patties. They are beautifully deep pink, in that festive way my sentimental heart likes things to be in early February, and they are firm and dense, enough so that you’ll find it much easier to eat them with your hands than utensils, despite what the pictures might imply. Unlike a lot of beet-infused doughs, this one actually tastes like beets, too—in a good way, we promise, sweet and earthy—but, but!, the real crowning glory of this starter-entree-snack is the butter.
Inspired by a cooking class we took last fall, this butter is garlic meets cheese meets just a little bit of greens, and I’m telling you, I want it on everything I eat from now on. When the hot patties come out of the oven, all puffed and pretty and firm, you dollop some of this fragrant butter mixture on top, and it immediately starts melting, mingling with the pesto you’ve made from the beet greens, all shiny and rich, digging into the patties and heightening their flavor. I knew we’d stumbled onto something good when I asked Tim, who was standing next to me by the table as I photographed them, what he would think if he got these at a restaurant. “Would you like them?” I asked him. All he could do was nod with a full mouth.