Thanks to Alyssa Finn for this guest post. Alyssa is getting her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition at NYU and is a Hazon volunteer on the New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride Exec.
Yesterday, I came home after a long bike ride in the New York sunshine. On my plate for the evening was a pile of reading in preparation for my chemistry exam the next day. I stared at the pile of books and papers. I looked longingly at my kitchen, the primary source of my procrastination.
Then I remembered: horseradish!
A few weeks ago, I purchased a gnarled hunk of fresh horseradish with the intention of making it for Passover – but there it sat like a forgotten lump in my fridge. I’d also recently bought and cooked a bunch of beets – so I had every reason I needed to put studying off just a little longer and make red horseradish.
I consulted my copy of The New York Times Passover Cookbook (definitely a worthwhile book to have on your cookbook shelf!) for a horseradish recipe, to get a general idea of what was involved.
After a few moments with my vegetable peeler and a spin under the faucet, my horseradish root was ready for a shred in the Cuisinart. Through the plastic bowl, I could see little matchsticks of horseradish, sitting there and looking rather benign. I took off the lid to inspect and take a curious sniff. Mistake! All of a sudden the fumes invaded my nose and my eyes practically burst open with tears! If I desperately needed medical attention, I was screwed – I could barely speak.
I immediately threw the cover back on my food processor so I could prepare the other ingredients without falling over or disintegrating. Before opening up the lid again, I went to my kitchen drawer and pulled out my ski goggles (which, in retrospect, are not unlike the goggles I wear in chemistry lab). I usually reserve these goggles for chopping onions, but they seemed more than appropriate on this occasion.
I added the vinegar, honey, salt and beets and ground and ground as fast as I could. The mixture turned a sanguine red, but I swear that stuff remained more potent than most of the chemicals I use in my school experiments!
When it came time to taste my creation, I took a deep breath and dipped in a small spoon. But when the paste hit my lips, all I could taste was VERY STRONG HEAT! Acting fast, I threw the whole mess of horseradish into a Tupperware and hurled it into the fridge.
I’d created a tiny, red, fire-breathing monster. And it was sitting in my fridge, taunting me. Needless to say, I didn’t get much studying done that night. Instead, I spent hours washing my kitchen to get rid of the powerful horseradish smell. Still, like it or not, it seems the chemistry lab came to me.
The nutritionist in me wonders: what makes ground up horseradish so powerful? What sort of chemical compounds are released once it’s ground, and why do we react so strongly to it? And does the heat lessen with time in the fridge, or is it fated for the compost pile (in other words, will my horseradish ever be edible)?
Anyone with suggestions for these questions will be rewarded… with all the red horseradish you can eat! Or, you can just make your own – here’s the recipe:
Alyssa’s Murderous Maror
*Warning, this horseradish is only for the very brave. I highly recommend slipping on a pair of ski goggles before working with the horseradish.
1 lb horseradish, peeled and cut into rough chunks
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
2-4 Tbs white wine
1/4 cup honey (The Times‘ recipe called for sugar, but I substituted)
1/2 tsp salt
2 beets, peeled, cooked, and quartered
1. Fit your food processor with the shredding attachment and shred the horseradish, one chunk at a time.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, white wine, and honey. Whisk to combine and set aside.
3. Switch to a metal blade on your food processor. Add the beets, one at a time, and pulse to combine. Stream in the wet mixture while pulsing, until you have a thick, red paste.