Sunday, July 26, 2015

Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm {Community Education Class}

Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm

Nick and Amelia Neaton graciously opened up their CSA farm operation for a BHM Community Education class, offering a tour of the working organic farm which is projected to be USDA certified organic in 2016. Our group toured Sweet Beet's acreage on a gloriously sun-drenched Saturday morning with icy cold cucumber mint water in hand. After the tour, they sat down for a true "Farm to Table" meal, created around local produce from Sweet Beet and The Local Roots Food Co-op. I don't want you to miss a bite so I've included the tasting menu with all the recipes, photos and shots of the farm. 

Farm to Table Experience Tasting Menu

Chilled Cucumber Soup garnished with Nasturtium served with Zucchini Tortillas

Mediterranean Lamb Skewers // Chimichurri & Cucumber Herb Yogurt
Accompanied by Raw Beet Slaw & Kale Pancakes

Buckwheat Honey Raw Milk Pudding with Currant Curd & Calendula
 Flaxseed Caramels

Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm

Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
The peaceful fields at Sweet Beet Farm in Montrose, MN.
Chilled soup is something special and elegant. A recipe you'll want to keep in your back pocket for any summertime entertaining. 

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Nasturtium
recipe adapted from 

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 4 servings — easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. 

2 good-sized cucumbers, peeled, de-seeded, roughly chopped
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dill leaves
1 tablespoon mint leaves
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch salt
Couple cracks freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Nasturtium leaves and flowers, for garnish

Drop everything but the olive oil and nasturtium in a blender. Depending on the power of your blender, whir and combine within seconds, or stand over the blender with a spoon jabbing at the cucumbers to submerge and finally emulsify. Guess which one I did? Good guess. So, after you get everything creamy and delicious, as the blender is running, stream in the olive oil. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving - flavors get better with time. Serve with a spicy nasturtium leave atop and the flower aside, both edible with the flavor of a spicy radish. Stores for a couple days in the fridge. 
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
My kitchen was in the Neaton's pack shed, where Amelia and her 10 working members pack the 90 shares that provide our local community with food.

A savory pancake excellent served with creme fraiche and chives as an appetizer or as a side to a savory dish, like Mediterranean Lamb Skewers.

Kale Pancakes
Recipe adapted from

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 2 dozen silver dollar pancakes

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups greens purée, see below
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (a combo of mint & Italian parsley work, too)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup milk
3 eggs
More oil, if necessary for greasing griddle

I love this method when my greens collection from my CSA box gets out of control. You can blanch beet greens, collards, kale, chard, or any other sturdy, leafy green to preserve and have on hand all winter long. 

To Make Greens Purée: Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop in assorted greens (heavy on the kale) - no need to chop, just de-stem. Submerge in the hot water for 1-2 minutes. Strain greens and drop into an ice water bath. Move greens to a food processor and pulse into a fine mince, but not really a watery mush. Think: boxes of frozen spinach at the grocery. Portion out 2 cup measurements into freeze-safe containers. Freeze up to 1 year. 

To Make Pancakes: In a medium-sized skillet, heat grapeseed oil over moderate heat for a minute or two. Pour in greens purée and onion, stir and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add herbs. Allow to cool. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Measure milk into a large measuring cup, crack in eggs, whisk to combine. Pour egg/milk mixture into flour, whisk to combine. Add in sautéed greens. 

Meanwhile, heat up a large griddle. When griddle is hot grease with additional oil, if necessary, pour 2 tablespoons of batter unto hot griddle and cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancake. Flip and cook through, another 2-3 minutes. 

Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
The scenery at Sweet Beet Farm.
Why not try your hand at homemade tortillas? Hefty enough to be a taco shell or folded into quarters as a simple side to salad. 

Zucchini Tortillas
recipe adapted from 

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 12 4" tortillas

Olive oil, for greasing pan
8 cups shredded zucchini
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling on zucchini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. 

Prepare two large baking sheets by lining with parchment and spraying with olive oil. Don't use cooking spray — that's so 1990, get on board with an oil sprayer that doesn't use nasty propellants and is a million times more eco-friendly because you consume less packaging. Get one here.

Grate zucchini with a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or on a box grater. Layer grated zucchini in a large colander, sprinkling a bit of kosher salt on each layer. Set aside to drain for 10 minutes. Once zucchini has leached out a bit of its moisture squeeze remaining water out with cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel. Toss zucchini into a large bowl with remaining ingredients, mix well. 

Portion out 1/3 cup measurements onto prepared baking pans, using your fingers flatten into 4" circles. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness in the last 10 minutes to prevent over-darkening. Remove from oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet before peeling off. Serve warm or room temperature. 
  Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm

Grating beets is an undesirable job. Everything turns red — the cutting board, your fingers, your hair. OK, not your hair. So, be wise: Use plastic gloves, stir with nonporous utensils and chop on nonporous surfaces and most preferably, a food processor with the grating blade attached will be slick and quick.

Raw Beet Slaw
Recipe very loosely based off this one

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: A large salad to serve a crowd, about 10-12 servings

5-7 large beets, peeled and grated
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place grated beets, onion, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Measure vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, place the lid on tightly and shake to combine. Pour dressing over beets, toss and combine well. Serve. Stores in the fridge for several days.
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm

Lamb is my new favorite ground meat. Full of mild flavor which pairs so well with curry. The grated onion keeps the lamb juicy with a capital 'J.'

Mediterranean Lamb Skewers
Recipe very loosely based off this one

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 8 skewers

2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 onion
2 tablespoons curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for grilling

Place ground lamb in a large mixing bowl. Using a box grater, grate onion over the lamb so the onion juices drip onto the lamb. Season with curry, salt and pepper. Using your hands combine well, but don't over mix. Form 1/2 cup portions of the lamb into long hot dog shapes, thread a skewer through the center. Heat up your grill. To prevent sticking on the grill, mist lamb with olive oil. I heart this contraption for spraying. When the grill is nice and hot, place skewers on grill. Cook on each side for 7-9 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with Chimichurri Sauce and Cucumber Herb Yogurt.

Cucumber Herb Yogurt

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 1 1/2 cups sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup peeled, de-seeded and finely chopped cucumber
2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
Juice of 1 lemon, about 4 tablespoons
3 tablespoons milk (possibly more to achieve desired consistency)
1/2 cup assorted herbs, such as dill, mint, Italian parsley, oregano — chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all in a small bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Flavor gets better with time. 
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
A spin on Italian Panna Cotta I've created my own version using the freshest milk available — raw milk straight from the dairy farm. Make sure to use buckwheat honey for the distinctive flavor, there's nothing else like it. 

Buckwheat Raw Milk Pudding with Currant Curd and Calendula
recipe adapted from Everyday Italian

Yield: 6 servings

Printable Recipe Here

4 cups raw milk, divided
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup buckwheat honey
1 tablespoon sugar (optional, if you prefer less sweet)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup currant curd (see below)
6 tablespoons currants, for serving
2 teaspoons calendula petals, for serving

Pour one cup of milk into a large saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over, whisk to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften gelatin. Turn on stove top to medium heat and whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes more.

Whisk in remaining milk, honey, sugar, and salt, stir until sugar dissolves, making sure not to boil milk, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and pour into individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve top with 2 tablespoons currant curd, 1 tablespoon currants, and a sprinkling of calendula petals. 

Currant Curd
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Printable Recipe Here

Yield: 1 cup curd

1 cup currants
Juice of 1 lemon, about 4 tablespoons
1/2 cup cane sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Place currants, lemon juice, sugar, salt and eggs in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring up to the gentlest bubble, whisking frequently, taking care not to scramble your egg. Add the butter and  attempt to pop the currants with a fork or potato masher, tiny little buggers, they are. 

Once the curd has thickened, pass through a fine mesh strainer and use the back of spatula to completely pop all those bugger currants. Reserve and refrigerate with plastic wrap covering the surface until ready to use. 
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Flaxseed Caramels
And the drama… 
Have you ever made caramel before? Well, I'm happy to admit this was my first blissfully unaware caramel making session. Now, you who've made caramel before, know why I say "blissfully unaware" because you comprehend what was in store for myself as I was bound and determined to recreate the saliva-inducing photo I obsessed over for nothing less than two months in Saveur magazine. As I stood over the hot as hell stove top, blistering hot sugar spitting onto my forearms, face and chest for the recommended 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 40 minutes, unto 50 minutes and finally, 60 minutes I wondered why someone in their right mind would ever, I mean EVER, consider stirring a bubbling cauldron of scorching hot sugar mess.  
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
But, all was well after the caramel settled into the pan, mottled with flax seeds, looking so unassuming. Remnants of scorching hot sugar in the kettle tempting me to lick and possibly be burned (again). After the caramel cooled, then was the fun (insert extremely facetious tone) part of cutting 1" caramel cubes from a recipe that has two generous cups of flaxseeds which have resolved to end up on your kitchen floor. Oh, Saveur you make it look toooo easy. Now — don't YOU want to make caramel? 

Get the Recipe Here at Saveur Magazine

Are you spying the welcome table at the event? Cucumber Mint Water. This is your official reminder to make more Cucumber Mint Water. Every sip feels healthy, like you're hydrating the parched dessert of your self. Fill a large pitcher with a sliced cucumber, a handful of mint — stems and all, top with water. Be hydrated. 
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
Farm to Table Experience at Sweet Beet Farm
And that was that! Everything tasted delicious, the farm was at its very best, beautiful self and the conversation was dotted with subjects like pollinators, The Dark Act, and managing colonies. I want you to try out the recipes, check back, and let me know how it went. If you have an event where I could cook for you — contact me here to connect. Cheers! Xo, Becki

Past Community Education Classes Here:

A special thank you to photographers of the day: Colleen Moselle & Constance Carlson
Bigger gigantic thank you to Molly Pool! 
This post includes affiliate links.


  1. What a beautiful day out at the farm! The spread looks super scrumptious too!! I'm eyeing the kale pancake for sure.


I'd love to hear all about your kitchen adventures! Xo, Becki