Glazed Parsnips

IMG_6204This time of year, it’s all about root vegetables.  The more of them we eat, the better we’ll be able to handle spring when it comes.  Which is not today. winter day 2014 02 24

This is how Mom used to cook parsnips, glazed in a cast iron frying pan.  It is still my favourite way to eat them.

Parsnips have a flavour that is so different from any other root veg, sweet and earthy.  They’re an old historic vegetable, used as both a sweetener and sustenance.  They add depth to mixed vegetable dishes, such as roasted roots or a good bordelaise mirepoix.

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Dutch Baby

IMG_6567For a few summers when in my teens, I was fortunate to be taken along to the Okanagan for a few weeks to babysit.  Besides spending hours on the beach and boating, I soon took over the morning breakfast ritual.  Out behind their cabin was a wood oven with a ¾” sheet of steel for a cooking surface.  I would go out early, and get the fire going, until the steel was just the right temperature.  Previous summers lighting the woodstove on Thetis gave me the necessary skill set at the ripe old age of 14.

The first day I made French toast.  I’d been told that the children weren’t fond of it, but went ahead anyhow.  I love French toast, especially when sprinkled with sugar and drizzled with lemon.  I won the kids over the first go; they’d just never had it with a custardy center.  By the end of our second week there, the neighbours had started “dropping” by at breakfast, often with a loaf of bread or some eggs.  One morning I made breakfast for 20.  This was most probably my first catering gig.

Even though this is not a recipe for French toast, it is a recipe for an easy breakfast dish that tastes great with sugar and lemon!

The Dutch Baby is basically a huge popover.  You can use a small cast iron pan, enameled bake ware, or a plain cake pan, anything from 8-9” in diameter.   All you need is equal volumes of eggs, milk and flour, with a bit of butter.  When it comes out of the oven, its sides will have risen up well over the edge of the pan.  Simply invert it onto a plate and serve with a sprinkle of sugar and a drizzle of lemon ~ fresh fruit, a dollop of preserves or a bit of syrup work well, too.  Plan on sharing one between two, or one each for hungrier folks. Continue reading

Mixed Baking Spice

IMG_6641 A spoonful of this, and a spoonful of that ~ usually we add many different spices to a baking recipe.  However, there are lots of times that adding a premixed spoonful will give you great results, with a bit of mystery that you wouldn’t get by mixing in two or three.  Speculoos/Speculaas cookies and biscuits are identified by a spice mix.  This same mix has moved its way into pastes and spreads.

This one is similar, and it can be used in any baking with apples and pears, beautifully, or anywhere you might use a pumpkin spice mix. I use it in bread puddings, fillings for sweet rolls, and in cookies.

The recipe doesn’t make too much, so it keeps fresh.  Give it a try the next time you go to grab a clatter of spices.  Continue reading

Rutabaga with Dijon

IMG_6198The under-loved rutabaga (swede, neeps or yellow turnip) has been part of the European diet since pre-historic times, and been used as livestock fodder since at least the 1400’s. It has fed folks through famine, and kept livestock alive through the winter.  It may be whimsy, but I can easily visualize a young serf walking towards his hovel with a turnip in hand, or a young maid with a wooden pail of turnip heads for her cow.

The tops are highly nutritious food & fodder, but the root is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, as well as many other minerals & vitamins, and keeps really well in your fridge for up to a month.

Some people find the taste of brassicas (of which rutabagas are a family member) bitter to taste.  However, their health benefits are significant enough that including them in our diet is important.  I for one love the taste of rutabaga.  It can be mashed with potatoes (Neeps & Tatties) or with carrots, but it does beautifully on its own.  If just a little tang and sweetness are added, any bitterness falls to the wayside.  So, eat your brassicas & roots, folks, all at once! Continue reading