1 cup plain all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp mustard powder mixed with a little water to make a paste
2 green onions finely chopped
1 cup sweetcorn
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Jarlsberg work well)
2 tbsp butter
Winter has at last taken up residence in western North Carolina, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy fresh, colorful and seasonal salads. This one will give you quite a pow in the taste buds and as always, takes minimal effort to prepare.
Right now radishes are really coming into their own. They are a good accompaniment to something like pasta or rice for their ability to help break down starch in the body. Plus, they come in some truly glamorous colors. I love watermelon radishes though they are pungent.
Full disclosure, you will need a food processor or mandolin to get nice, thin, palatable slices for this salad. Experiment with your roots here, the list below is by no means exhaustive. I usually stick to 3 different vegetables to allow them to shine. If you are using radishes, consider adding a little sugar to counterbalance the heat. I also find pairing them with sweet beets helps with this as well.
- 1 part rice vinegar
- 2 parts sesame oil
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp of sugar (optional, useful if your radishes are really strong)
A combination of three of the following thinly sliced in equal parts
- Beets (red or golden)
- Small turnips
- Fennel bulb
- Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)
As tomorrow is Halloween I thought this would be an ideal time to discuss the humble rutabaga.
When I was growing up in the UK, we always made Jack 'O' Lanterns from rutabagas or swedes, as they are known over there. Pumpkins were pricey, particularly around Halloween time so my mum always bought swedes. They are harder to carve since the flesh is very dense and not at all hollow like a pumpkin. I prefer them to pumpkins in that they are far cruder looking and therefore infinitely more creepy. Pumpkins are a bit jolly (orange, smooth etc), rutabagas are sinister and so perfectly suited to Halloween.They are also quite pungent, even now the smell of them takes me back to that time. Autumn was so exciting to me. First there was Halloween, then Guy Fawkes' night then my birthday and the smell of raw or cooking rutabaga is permeated with that childlike excitement still.
Rutabagas don't seem to be very popular in the US, in fact every time I bring them to the check out at my local grocery store the cashier looks utterly confounded by the thing and usually asks me what it is (mind you they also do this with leeks, parsnips and various other produce too). I live in the South where the climate is rather kind and rutabagas thrive in wet, cold climes so perhaps if I went farther north I would find them everywhere. The taste is mustardy and they are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables that also boasts broccoli, spinach, arugala, Brussel sprouts, kale and more as members.
Despite their rather modest look, I think they are too often overlooked in cooking. They can be steamed then mashed with lots of butter and then mixed with steamed, mashed carrots as a much healthier and tastier alternative to mashed potatoes. If you roast them they develop a stringent and sweet flavor. They are a popular addition to Cornish pasties, and many British soups and stews contain them because they are plentiful in the Autumn and therefore cheap.
The stew below has a heartiness due to the rutabaga and lentils/beans however the tomato and vinegar lift the flavors, preventing it from becoming too stodgy.
Fall Stew with Rutabaga and Greens
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 pound of kielbasa sausage finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/4 cup of cider or red wine vinegar
1 rutabaga cut into 1/2 inch cubes
28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of dried lentils (i like to use a mix of different varieties) or a 12 oz can of white beans or black eyed peas
Two big handfuls of greens such as kale or mustard greens (stalks removed and roughly chopped)
If you choose to grow vegetables, sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes should be at the top of the list. Drop the knobbly little tubers into the ground in a sunny spot where their tall flowers won't cause an obstruction, and you will enjoy year after year of this nutty crop with almost no effort. Sunchokes are perennials so they don't need to be sown every year. Their bright yellow flowers are lovely in the late summer. It's best to harvest sunchokes after the first frost because like Brussel sprouts, these vegetables turn sweet after a hit of sharp cold.
I was once told that they are the gassiest of vegetables but I think that's a small price to pay for this under-used gem. Sunchokes are a wise alternative to potatoes. While starchy, they are much better for you since the starch does not turn quickly to sugar in your body the way potatoes and other white starches do. True they are a little awkward to peel but if you cook them in their skins this becomes less of a problem.
Come up with as many uses as you can for potatoes and I guarantee sunchokes can be used in the same way. Whether baked, mashed, boiled, steamed, their flavor is far more interesting than potatoes. Plus you can eat them raw. I like them slice on a mandolin so they are thin and crispy and they honestly taste like a water chestnut!
While everyone gets excited about the bounty of summer, it's autumn fruit and vegetables that I love. Crisp apples, juicy pears and robust yet versatile turnips, rutabagas, celery root (AKA celeriac) and sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) etc.
Parsnips are sweet and delicious with a creamy texture when cooked. They are very popular in Britain where they hold their own as a side for the beloved Sunday roast. I love to roast them in the oven with a drizzle of honey or puree them. If you have a mandolin or food processor try making thin slices then deep frying in olive oil.
In the puree below the parsnips are cooked in milk which is then used in the puree, making it irresistibly rich.
Serves 2 as a side dish
2 large parsnips
1/2 tablespoon of butter
half a cup of whole milk
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