From the incredible space (think lofty, meticulously restored barns, proper yet subtle lighting, captivating floral arrangements, yet simple layout and clean design), to the impeccable service (there are MANY waitstaff around, and most are supremely attentive, yet they are never in your way), and the absolutely divine food (farm fresh that day, the menu is...well, it's not really a menu. It's whatever preparation the chef is thinking and feeling that day, influenced by what is freshly picked and likely what the day presents).
I've been to Blue Hill at Stone Barns a couple of times now, and though they have pushed aside their turkey tail rolls (never was a big bread eater when dining out until Stone Barns...thank you for converting me, Dan...but my waist thanks you for taking these off the "menu"...), their "mini Beet Burgers" have been presented as an amuse every single time I can remember. That is DEFINITELY a good thing, as these little morsels are the perfect combination of flavors, colors, and as far as I'm concerned, food groups!
The beet burger, to my understanding (Dan, if you or another Blue Hill staffer is out there reading this and I'm incorrect, please let me know), begins with a not-too-sweet almond financier type of "bun." It's definitely almond-y, and there is a hint of sweetness, but not like a cookie. This bun is sliced in half, like a proper burger bun, and on the bottom half lies a dollop on beet puree. Literally, cooked beets finely chopped in your food processor. Add to that another dollop of fresh goat cheese, and a sprig of mache -- or as I prefer, a de-stemmed piece of baby arugula. Cap it off with the top of the financier/burger bun and voila!
I've been thinking about these little morsels often recently, partly because next week I have to create a canape to serve at L'Ecole. They are so elementally simple, but the flavors, when put together, truly sing I think. So, when my pastry chef was presented with a rather large bucket of almond financier batter Friday afternoon (ironically, I had already told her I wanted to learn to make a not-too-sweet financier batter that morning), I immediately had visions of beet burgers as my weekend project.
Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, quart container of almond financier batter in hand. Add a little creativity, and some artistic license. And here, I present to you my version of Blue Hill's Beet Burger Sliders.
Almond financier batter (Try this one from Epicurious.com)
Beets (I had three rather large ones)
Plain goat cheese (I like Laura Chenel's, but any soft and fresh goat cheese will suffice)
Baby arugula or mache
Salt to taste
Financiers: I preheated my convection oven to 325 degrees F and lightly buttered a kind of non-stick mini muffin tin (if I had a real nonstick I would NOT have greased it as the batter has lots of butter/fat in it). I baked them about 15-20 minutes, until they puffed nicely and a tester came out clean. I then cooled them in the tin.
Beets: After taking off the greens, I placed the beets submerged in cold water and brought it to a boil in a covered pot over high heat. I then lowered the heat to a simmer and cooked the beets about 45 minutes until easily pierceable with a knife. Cool them in an ice bath and then peel. Place the beets in a food processor and process until nearly a paste. Put aside.
Goat cheese: I took some cheese out of the package and warmed it up a bit so that it was easily spreadable.
Greens: I used arugula and took the stems off some larger leaves -- I like the peppery bite this green offers in contrast to the creamy cheese and sweet beet.
Assembly: Slice a financier bun in half (or really 2/3 up from the bottom, as the top is larger than the base). Place a dollop of beet paste on the bottom, then a dollop of goat cheese. Lay an arugula leaf on top, and cap with the top of the financier. Then, stand back to marvel at your morsel of delicious-ness...and then eat it!!