cookbooks I ever owned. Instead of boiling the beets, however, I "oven-steamed" them using a method described in another cookbook, Greene on Greens. While that method takes longer than boiling, it produces a depth of mellow, earthy sweetness reminiscent of roasted beets, which you won't get from boiling. And because I find traditional Harvard beets to be too sweet for my taste, I added some warm winter spices to balance the sweetness of the honey, provide complexity and dimension, and enhance the natural flavor of the beets.
3/4 to 1 lb small beets, washed & trimmed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch* of ground cloves
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of mace
*By a "pinch" I mean less than 1/8 tsp, but feel free to adjust amounts to suit your taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Individually wrap each beet tightly with foil, then place in oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until softened but not mushy. Remove from oven and allow to cool to touch, then unwrap and slip the skins off the beets (they should come off pretty easily without need of a knife). Cut the beets into bite-size cubes (traditionally they're sliced, but I prefer the texture when cubed) and set aside while you make the sauce:
Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue to stir or whisk while cooking until thickened and clear -- this will take about 10 minutes or so. Stir in the cooked beets and cook until heated through. Serve hot. Makes 4 side dish servings.