28 Jul2013


Ever since I acquired or was given a beautiful book in the mid-1990’s about Argentinian Estancias or massive haciendas with their spectacular homes, vistas and lifestyles, I have been enamored with the slow, feudal and stately concept of a hacienda lifestyle. It’s a fleeting fancy, and the reality is I would prefer a nice terraced penthouse cooperative on Fifth Avenue, but I do like the idea of a hacienda, without all the maintenance and staffing issues (not to mention likely land reform). In the May, 2013 issue of Food & Wine, there was an article on the Vik couple, he a megajillionaire financier from New York City (probably with a beautiful apartment there), with a huge collection of art, and an 11,000 acre Chilean property turned vineyard and hotel. They also have properties in Uruguay and elsewhere. They featured a few of the recipes enjoyed while visiting their little spot of land in South America, and I lapped it all up. :) Down to the wonderful hats they all seemed to wear at their outdoor barbecues, soft cashmere sweaters draped over their shoulders as they might do strolling Madison avenue. My panama hat is lonely in it’s box, there aren’t too many places to wear it to these days in Manila… At any rate, one of the recipes, for a rustic dish of smashed beets, caught my eye and we had most of the ingredients in the house, so I set out to try and cook it…


The recipe, credited to Marcelo Betancourt (are there a lot of Betancourt families in South America?), is here, and I pretty much followed it as much as I could. I just had problems smashing the beets so that they would retain a circular shape, all of our beets broke into pieces. But the texture, intensity and variety of flavors, the visual burst of colors all made for an extremely unusual and surprisingly well-liked appetizer with some sliced pieces of french bread. If you are looking for something new to do with beets, you may want to try the recipe.


The sweet soft roasted garlic spread on a piece of bread and topped with the earthy, flavorful beets and a touch or two of greens for texture and visual appeal made for a very luxurious feeling appetizer. I suppose this could be part of the main meal as well. But I doubt I could look as cool as the guests in the magazine spread, as smashing the beats wasn’t so easy… and one large one jumped off the chopping board and splatted right onto my worn shorts. If they had been linen pants, a fine belt and shoes and the beet splattered all of them, I wouldn’t have been in good humor for dinner. :)



  1. Natie says:

    The Upper West Side in NYC is predominantly Latino, and we have quite a bit of Betancourts. In fact, if you search for patients in our computers, you’d probably come up with 30 or more registered.

    Careful with beets, even with the canned ones. ” If it’s red, you’re dead” .. Good Housekeeping stain warning…

    Jul 28, 2013 | 10:08 am


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  3. MP says:

    No need for manicure after handling beets (w/o gloves)… I have never tried beets but this one looks appetizing. Maybe I will give it a try but I will make sure I won’t be wearing fancy clothes in case one escapes my fork…

    Jul 28, 2013 | 10:39 am

  4. betty q. says:

    Have been sooooo busy gardening and am rewarded now with a bumper crop of beets of different colors. You might want to try putting the peeled roasted beet In a clean empty can of evaporated milk, top with a circle of parchment paper, smash it with the bottom of a clean heavy condiment bottle or a can of tomato paste. You can smash it to desired thickness and save you dry cleaning costs! It works!!!!!

    Jul 28, 2013 | 3:08 pm

  5. Footloose says:

    In the summer, when his job took him to Baguio, my dad would come home with a bounty of vegetables we hardly ever see during the rest of the year. Sugar beets, we called them, was one of them. We loved them because they were sweet, gave off this deep delved earth flavor and its spectacular colorful effect on our urine. Past childhood innocence and into naughty young adulthood, it slips your mind that you have eaten them and only recall you had after racking yourself with guilt trying to zero in on whatever you did that needed exorcising.

    Jul 28, 2013 | 7:56 pm

  6. millet says:

    off-topic, but just couldn’t resist this ultimate single-use implement: http://laughingsquid.com/a-baguette-shaped-shoulder-bag-to-carry-protect-your-baguette/

    Jul 28, 2013 | 9:07 pm

  7. marie says:

    MM, I’m a lurker and I like reading your blog, but isn’t it a bit distasteful to romanticize a feudal past, considering all the slavery that it entailed?

    PS I like beets.

    Jul 28, 2013 | 10:09 pm

  8. Khew says:

    Perhaps the beet flattening could be done within a plastic bag? And would it make a difference if they were sliced in half or thirds first?

    Jul 29, 2013 | 1:25 am

  9. friedneurons says:

    I’m growing beets in my garden right now. The thing is, I don’t even like ’em. lol. I like the beet greens, though.

    Jul 29, 2013 | 2:06 am

  10. Leticia says:

    The corner of Brazil where I grew up is pretty close to Argentina and shares the 19th century feudal structure. Your introduction made me think of wasted human lives. ;) But that’s me, the ultimate pessimist.

    Jul 29, 2013 | 8:18 am

  11. ConnieC says:

    Khew, rather than crush the whole beet, couldn’t crush it down to 3/4 of an inch without the beet falling apart….either my beets were to large or too mature (had to boil them for much longer than 30 minutes), and had to crush them in a straight sided bowl. Next time I will just slice them and bake in the oven with the herbs where the beets can crisp as well. I added a honey- ginger- balsamic vinegar dressing with avocado on the side and my family all enjoyed it…..and we did not even have rice or crusty bread.

    Thanks MM for post. This is a keeper.

    Jul 29, 2013 | 9:02 am

  12. Clarissa says:

    I love beets! I get excited over them actually. And I am the only one I know who screams “beets!” in excitement. Will try this !:)

    Jul 29, 2013 | 9:14 am

  13. Marketman says:

    Letitia and Marie, I have a side of me that completely agrees with your sentiments… and another side that romanticizes it. I think the world evolves, and we are learning… but then again, in the Philippines, for all of democracy’s pluses, and we have theoretically been free for nearly 30 years since the Marcos dictatorship, one is hard-pressed to see the gains for 80-90% of the population. In many senses, the fuedal style persists in some sense. For the most basic example, take small to medium scale enterprises such as our restaurants. Despite paying above average wages, full benefits, etc (which many businesses simply do not do), when an emergency strikes for one of our 180+ employees, a death occurs, a college tuition is to be paid, and money is tight, etc… then staff still return to the firm to help them out, which we often do… in a frankly, totally feudal manner. And we don’t charge interest like so many loan sharks out there. And yes, inevitably they may feel a debt of gratitude… It’s more subtle than it was 100 years ago, but in a world where 80-90% seem to be living from paycheque to paycheque, it is the current reality still… not much different from say my great-grandparents time.

    Jul 29, 2013 | 9:44 am

  14. betty q. says:

    ms. Connie c…the weather has cooperated the last few months and I am now rewarded with a bumper crop of beets…different colors. st me share with you my way of smashing them without getting your clothes soiled!

    I prefer to do this with baby beets. after roasting them, peel the and put 1 beet at a time in a clean empty evaporated milk can. A baby beet fits perfectly in it. Then cover with a circle of parchment paper. Smash it with the bottom of a heavy condiment bottle or a can of tomato paste. You end up with uniform sizes of smashed baby beets with no mess except in the can…

    You can only smash it to a certain thickness since the evap milk can diameter only goes so far…

    If you want to smash a mAma beet, best to use an industrial size empty can of tomato sauce! Use the bottom of an empty 1 litre canning jar!

    Jul 29, 2013 | 2:11 pm

  15. betty q. says:

    Got a beet tip on how to smash them without soiling your clothes, MM, but still am not able to post it…tried twice! Just like you said, maybe it went to your junk folder!

    The can works for baby beets…for mama beets, best to use an empty industrial size can like tomato sauce or fruit cocktail if you want them all round but still cut a sliver at the bottom so it doesn’t roll around when you are smashing it with a 750 ml. can of something.

    Jul 29, 2013 | 11:05 pm

  16. rp says:

    #5, #8 i concur [alongside some people’s fascination w/ the Royals or Pope– it’s all so…pre-enlightenment] ;-)

    Jul 29, 2013 | 11:17 pm

  17. Footloose says:

    Did not impinge upon my democratic sensibility at all since I thought one can be as exorbitant as one wishes as long as he/she is dreaming. But to actually consider dressing up your black female employees as Aunt Jemima (and I guess, the males as Uncle Ben) is truly ante bellum confederate and really deserving of the comeuppance that swiftly befell her and her brand.

    Jul 30, 2013 | 8:58 am

  18. Marketman says:

    “Butter is the bomb”… :)

    Jul 30, 2013 | 9:02 am

  19. natie says:

    And, boy, did she Bomb! What was she thinking!!?

    Jul 31, 2013 | 2:55 am


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