Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parsnips: The OTHER Root Vegetable

Truth be told, I've never given a lot of regard to parsnips. I'm certain they were never a part of the vegetable lineup served by my mother. I know my own interest in them is recent, and leaned more towards "another veggie to throw in the chicken soup." A few weeks ago, while waiting for my son to get his hair cut, I came across this recipe in the local paper's food insert (and yes, I did take the section of the paper with me). I tried it and was pleasantly surprised that the boys tried them; Boy #1 really liked them. We did them again last night and the response was the same. It says serves six, but it really served four, with me eating way more parsnips than I thought possible. 
Parsnips: The Other Root Vegetable

Not pretty, but very tasty 

Parsnips have a particularly pungent aroma when cut

Sprinkle the cayenne from up high to ensure even coverage

Really, really delicious

Glazed Parsnips
Adapted from Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hands on: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6
2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into finger-size lengths
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put parsnips in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and arrange parsnips on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and sprinkle with cayenne and rosemary. Bake 20 minutes or until parsnips begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve hot or warm.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring's a Springing (Cough, Cough)

We don't seem to do spring halfway anymore. Some years, it's a leisurely waltz towards full bloom. You could drive by someone's house for a few weeks and enjoy the budding azaleas, the dogwoods, the daffodils, all staggered to keep you interested. This year, not so much. Today's pollen count is over 8,000 and you can literally see a green haze in the air. It's making life temporarily miserable. I went out into the garden Friday afternoon for a bit and gave up and got in bed. It's a full on assault. Some of the redbuds that went into bloom late last week are already going green with foliage.

But, all this means that herbs in the garden are popping up. This recipe, developed by my Aunt Sally Hale, is a perfect intro into spring dining. It's light. It's colorful. It tastes so fresh. I hope you like it.

Aunt Sally's Sweet Bulgur Salad
Adapted from The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook


1 cup cracked bulgur wheat
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries or dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint


1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 generous tsp. sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad, put the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and just cover with boiling water. Set aside for two hours. Then, drain well and pat dry, if necessary, with a clean dishtowel. Mix all chopped ingredients into the bulgur. For the dressing, in a separate bowl or jar, combine the lemon juice and sugar. Stir or shake until sugar dissolves. Slowly mix in the olive oil. Pour mixed dressing over the salad and stir well before serving. Makes about 8 servings.

Spring's here. I can hardly breathe. Habersham County, GA 3/18/12. 

Add boiling water to bulgur wheat just to cover

It absorbs the water and gets nice and fluffy

The herbs are coming back! 

Delicious in every way

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thank You for Being an Enabler

My friend Helen is a dear soul. She went to see her in-laws over President's Day weekend and came home with a present for me. Her in-laws live in Virginia near someone who is a mushroom farmer (his mushrooms supply the very chic restaurant Le Cirque). Said mushroom farmer had two extra bags of chanterelles in peat and Helen brought a bag to me. So, this is an experiment. I've soaked the bag in water for an hour, and now have it on a stool in a closet down in the basement (I'm also aging a piece of cheese down there, so this means I've got a really moldy basement). Between the cheese and the mushrooms, I can see I'll be taking a few trips downstairs over the next few weeks.

Before the lights went out. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Don't Talk Smack About Me While I'm Standing Next To You

Bunco was last Friday. I appreciatively call it "Drunko," when it's been an especially trying week. There's nothing like commiserating with your girlfriends over a spread of appetizers and a few bottles of wine. I won the kitty of $17, and took home a prize that I like (theme: White Elephant gifts from Christmas). Batting 1,000.

A handful of people know that I'm an apprentice cheese maker at CalyRoad Creamery, not far from my home. We make a fabulous aged goat cheese called Big Bloomy that is divine. I made the following roasted tomatoes to pair with a Big Bloomy for Bunco. I love, love, love this dish. It's super easy to make, but everyone oohs and ahhs over it. Really, it's simple. Which brings me to the title of this entry. I walked into the kitchen to find two very dear friends, Surabhi and Tracy, talking smack about how it could not possibly be easy to make this dish, and that I was essentially fibbing about it. If you can turn tomatoes over, you can do this. I promise.

Pomodori al Forno
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September, 2008

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 15 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes
Non-Active cooking time: 2 hours to cool


1 cup (or more) olive oil, divided
2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or majoram
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh Italian parsley
Aged goat cheese (such as CalyRoad Creamery's Big Bloomy, or Bucheron)
1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil into 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with herbs, sugar and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using a fork or tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over a second time. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate when soft (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes), about 15-45 minutes longer.

Layer cooked tomatoes in a medium sized bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Do Ahead: Cover, chill up to five days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices. If you have any left over, stir into pasta sauce, or use as a pizza topping.