Ellen Clifford
January 10, 2015 9:20 am

I’d call Bar Tartine an aspirational cookbook. It is packed with beauty. Packed with wisdom. Packed with lofty ideals. Not everyone is capable of toasting and grinding every spice, brewing their own vinegars and fermenting their own sauerkraut. But everyone can dream. And everyone can compromise by hand-making some ingredients and purchasing others. Do that and you will be SO richly rewarded by the things you make. You may even be inspired to make more. Calcium chloride and mesophilic cultures here I come!

Bar Tartine was written by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns, the creators of the restaurant by the same name. At Bar Tartine, everything is handmade. That is what makes their recipes daunting at first. Every recipe has a gajillion sub-recipes. It is a solid concept. After all, if you start with a strong foundation with flavors you have created yourself, the ending dish is going to be extra elevated.

It can make you a bit exasperated when approaching some of the recipes if you approach them as a perfectionist. You can’t make the dish before you make it’s sauce before you make the spice mix in the sauce before you make the dried, roasted, and ground herbs in the spice mix. And all that is before you even get to pickling the garnish and straining the homemade yogurt. It’s a lot.

I was tempted to give up before I started, I admit. But I did not want to throw the baby out with the bath water (and really, I’d just drain the bath, no need to go splashing it about). And this cookbook is a beautiful baby. So I picked recipes with minimal sub-recipes and subbed in some ready-made stuff for things I did not want to make. Or, as the case was in the recipe I am giving you, I subbed in ready-made ingredients because I wanted to get this review written soon. It takes a long time to ferment your own vinegar. But don’t think there aren’t some new projects brewing in my kitchen.

Being inspired to dream is my favorite thing about this book. You can get kitchen-obsessed and make all your own potions and such, or pick and choose which ones to buy pre-prepped. Granted, I do think that hand-making things usually yields superior results. After all, I’m the girl who makes all her own mustard and would never buy pre-fab cinnamon rolls. BUT! Even without enough time to ferment my own red wine vinegar and sprouted dill for this recipe it was still bonkers good. BONKERS I SAY!

It is also gorgeous. And pink! Delightful. Here’s how you can make your own.

Beet and Bleu Cheese Salad adapted from Bar Tartine  by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns

  • 2 pounds of beets (without the greens)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I had about heaping teaspoon’s worth)
  • 1/2 cup unfiltered grape seed oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (the book has a recipe for this but I used some I had bought)
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. firm blue cheese, crumbled (I used feta instead)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, cut into 1/4 inch rounds (I used a handful of chives instead)
  • 1/2 bunch chopped dill
  • 4 Tbsp. dill sprouts (these take a long time to make, like weeks. So I had to omit)

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place beets in one layer in a roasting pan and add water. Cover tightly and roast until they are easily pierced and tender. It took me just under an hour. Take them out of the oven (don’t forget to turn it off) and let them cool to room temperature, then peel and slice into 1/2 inch cubes. They don’t have to be perfectly square. Put them into the fridge until they are good and chilled. In a deep bowl whisk together the garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, kosher salt and pepper. Add the chilled beets, cheese, onions, dill and dill sprouts. Mix it all up and allow to marinate about 15 minutes. Delightful. Looky look at that pink cheese!