Happy November! It's the beginning of the month, which means it's also time for a new SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient reveal!
Your posts last month all made such great use of cranberries. Here are a few highlights that Ricki and I particularly enjoyed:
This month's featured ingredient is one that Kim and I both adore. Although they're a bit of a paleface compared to many other antioxidant-rich vegetables, they offer lots of great nutritional value as well as deep, succulent flavor. They may at first appear like off-white carrots, but this month's veggie offers its own unique, healthy and delicious properties. We're talking about--
What Are Parsnips?
They may look like albino carrots, but the gnarly parsnip, native to Asia and Europe, provides many health benefits. One of the less-lauded root veggies, parsnips appear to be paler carrots with somewhat bumpy exteriors and a light yellow or off-white flesh inside. Their flavor has been described as alternately nutty, sweet, or peppery; I also find them somewhat earthy. Because of their high starch content, they brown and caramelize well when roasted, releasing natural sugars for a mild, sweet flavor.
Known as a biannual plant, the flowers blossom from June until August, though only the roots are consumed (unlike carrots, the tops of which can be eaten). [source] Interestingly, parsnips aren't grown in warmer climates because they require frost to develop their flavor (one reason they're so abundant where Kim and I live, I guess!) ;) [source]
Health Benefits of Parsnips
While parsnips are a white root vegetable like potatoes, there are some significant differences between the two. Parsnips contain lower levels of protein and vitamin C than spuds, but they do provide more fiber. And parsnips contain a host of nutrients, offering an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, pantothenic acid, copper, and manganese. They also contain good amounts of niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium. [source]
In fact, some sources suggest that parsnips can be used to help regulate bowel movements and to keep the liver healthy. [source]
Choosing and Cooking Parsnips
When choosing your parsnip, look for cream or lightly tan exteriors, with a skin as smooth as possible. The smaller roots are the more tender ones; the larger roots tend to become woody.
Parsnips should be peeled unless they’re organic (in which case, wash well and scrub away any visible dirt before cutting and cooking). Some sources suggest that parsnips should never be eaten raw, but this is a fallacy; it's just fine to eat them that way! Use them to replace some or all of your potatoes in a mash; chop or grate and include in soups, stews or pasta sauces; roast on their own or in root vegetable fries; or mix up with your favorite carrot cake recipe, substituting parsnips for some or all of the carrot. The possibilites are endless!
Now, it's time for you to show us what YOU can do with parsnips! You have until the end of the month to link up your favorite parsnip-based recipes.
How to Participate in the SOS Kitchen Challenge
To participate, please adhere to the following guidelines. We hate to remove entries, so PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP!
You may enter as many times as you like, but please submit a separate entry for each recipe, and submit only one entry per blog post.
If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate! Simply email your recipe, or recipe and a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post it for you.
For all the details (and to view past challenges), check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge page. Deadline for submission is Wednesday, November 30, 2011.Kim and I look forward to seeing all your culinary creations using parsnips! :D
November 2011 SOS Kitchen Challenge: Parsnips
There are all kinds of fancy salts out there for you to blow your paycheck on. Confession: I own many of them.
Thankfully, one of my favorite salts is one that I make at home. Vanilla salt couldn't be easier to prepare, and the end result is lovely. I have two methods for creating vanilla salt, yielding different yet equally delightful results. I am sharing both methods with you; try each one and see which fits you best. I use my vanilla salt in baked goods, with fruit, over roasted sweet potatoes or squash, sprinkled over chocolaty desserts, or with roasted or grilled meats (helloooooo pork and chicken). I think you'll like it too. If you decorate the jar with a cute label and a bit of ribbon, you have a wonderful homemade gift.
Vanilla beans are über-expensive if you buy them one-by-one or in small quantities. The trick is to buy a big bag and split the cost with a friend. A fellow foodie and I split the cost of this 1/2 pound bag of vanilla beans. We each ended up with about 30 beans for only about $13 per person. Sweet deal, right?
Simple slaws are ideal for every season of the year. They are crunchy and light, yet satisfying and filling, and endlessly adaptable to a variety of seasonal produce. Despite this, my favorite time of year for slaws is late summer and fall, when farmers markets are bursting with fresh, crisp cabbages. The sweet, glistening, unblemished leaves tempt me from every vendor table, and inevitably, I go home with a weighty cabbage in my market basket.
I was inspired to combine my beloved green cabbage with another locally grown favorite, the spectacular Honeycrisp apple. The Honeycrisp was developed by the University of Minnesota's Horicultural Research Center in the 1970s, and has won a devoted following of fans. There are a number of wonderful orchards in the Minnesota and Western Wisconsin that grow this apple, and every year I anticipate the arrival of locally grown Honeycrisps at my farmers market and co-op. The flavor is sweet like honey and slightly tart, and it has a marvelously crisp, juicy texture that is, in my opinion, the sign of a perfect apple. Equally good for eating raw or baking, Honeycrisp is one of my favorite apples, hands down.
The combination of sweet, fresh cabbage, sweet and tart apple, plump golden raisins, toasted caraway, and a hint of nutmeg in this slaw is magic. It only takes minutes to prepare, and it holds up in the fridge for 2 days without becoming soggy.
Oh me oh my, autumn tastes so good.
Over the weekend, we had our seventh gathering of the MPLS Food Swappers. The MPLS Swappers is just one of the food swapping groups that has popped up around the world in the last year. I started the group after being inspired by the lovely Kate Payne and her swaps in Brooklyn, NY and Austin, TX. Since then, swaps have have popped up all over the place, and it's a huge trend in the local foods scene. So far we're the only one in the Twin Cities area (and I think all of Minnesota) and we've gotten a lot of local press. I guess you could say that we really love publicity.
My inconsistent and transitional housing situation lately has not made it easy to keep up with canning, so I'm feeling a little possessive of my preserved food. I was left scrambling to come up with what I would bring to swap. Instead of bringing something from my larder, I whipped up a tasty batch of this Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle using ingredients I had on hand. I was inspired by a recipe in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living which featured a recipe for Coconut Curry Cashews. While it looked great, I wanted something a little different but with the same flavor profile and made without cane sugar. So, I set forth on a kitchen experiment!
It was a total victory, a delightful combination of sweet-salty-spicy-crunchy that always wins me over. And it was a total hit at the swap. In exchange for bags of my lovingly prepared pepitas, I received frozen crappie filets, delicata squash, homegrown horseradish, red pepper jam, pickled garlic, homebrew beer (a great gift for my dad!), roasted pepita-chickpea mix, lemon-herb butter, and a gorgeous bunch of homegrown kale. I love my swappers.
To learn more about how our food swap works, check out the MPLS Swapper blog. And in the meantime, enjoy some brittle. Happy Thursday!
Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle
yield 6 cups
This makes a very large batch, big enough for a party or perfect for gift giving. Feel free to cut this recipe in half or thirds if you want to make a smaller batch. The spice from the curry powder is tempered by the sweetness of the maple syrup and coconut. And the saltiness combines the holy trinity of flavors to keep you going back for handful after handful. Keeps for two weeks at room temperature, but I promise you, it won't last that long.
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons curry powder (mild or hot, the choice is up to you)
- 1 tablespoon unrefined salt
- 6 cups raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded coconut
Heat oven to 350º F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place curry powder in a small saucepan and heat over low flame until it is lightly toasted and fragrant. Be careful not to let it burn! Then add maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt, whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
Meaure pepitas into a large bowl, then pour maple mixture over them, stirring to mix. Divide pumpkin seeds evenly between two parchment-lined cookie sheets, spreading coated seeds evenly over the surface in a thin layer. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes and rotating between oven racks. Remove from oven, divide coconut evenly between the trays and stir into mixture, then bake for another 15-20 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes and rotating between oven racks, until seeds are golden. I know, I know, it's a lot of stirring and rotating, but you don't want burned seeds and coconut. Then remove from oven.
Place baking sheets on wire cooling racks and let cool completely. The seed mixture will harden as it cools. Areas of the brittle will be very crisp, while other areas will be a little chewy and caramel-like. That's okay!
Break cool brittle into chunks. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container and consume within 2 weeks.
This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Check it out for tons of great recipes!
I just made some adjustments to the recipe - I realized I had made some typos! If you've already printed this recipe off or copied it to use, please use the adjusted recipe above. I hope you enjoy it! xo
Marble Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Strawberry Jam (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)
Do you the blog The Spunky Coconut? If you haven't visited yet, I suggest you do. Kelly creates wonderful recipes that are flavorful, unique, and easy to prepare, and I am consistently inspired by her positive attitude and creative vision. It was she that inspired this beautiful cake!
A few weeks ago I was in search of a recipe for a gluten-free cake for my cousin's birthday. When I landed upon Kelly's recipe for Marble Cake, I did a happy dance inside. Not only was the cake gluten-free, it was totally grain-free. A cake made of beans?! I had to try it. I found a chocolate frosting recipe in another post. Hoping for something a little more extravagant than a sheet cake, I decided to make a chocolate frosted marble layer cake, with my homemade strawberry-chocolate mint jam sandwiched between each layer.
Working with this cake and frosting was an absolute pleasure. Her cake recipes were easy to follow and simple to prepare. The cake was firm and moist, and came out of the pan easily. The frosting was also very simple to prepare, and the result was thick, sweet, and easy to spread. I was amazed; it actually behaved better than some conventional frostings I made in years past! As I sampled bits of cake scraps smeared with frosting and my strawberry jam, I knew this cake would be a winner, and smiled. I haven't made many layer cakes in the last few years, and I was having a blast.
Be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more great recipes.