Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Consider the parsnip

This evening on the news we saw a brief interview with Jamie Oliver, who is cooking for the G-20 summit. No pressure, huh? He was saying that if he had a private moment with Obama, he'd tell him to start taxing sugary foods, since Americans eat about 4x as much sugar as they should. I like that idea, but I highly doubt that I'll see a sugar tax in my lifetime. What they should do first is tax meat instead of subsidizing it.

Two cooking features this week:
1) Parsnip/pear/carrot soup
This was part of the first meal I ever made for the Mr. He recollects fondly that it sounded weird, but was good. I think I tried it on a whim, because I had never cooked with parsnips before. I really didn't even know what they were supposed to look like. Well, the picture is above, and they look like overgrown albino carrots. The flavor in this soup is really delicious and creamy, even though it's vegan and impeccably healthy. I think of parsnips as wild carrots flavor-wise. The flavor is sweet, but with an edge. Parsnips also have more nutrients than carrots and a heap of potassium. Here's the recipe:

1-1/2 cups each of chopped onions, pears, carrots, and parsnips ((peel the last three ingredients first)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg, and salt
2 teaspoons (packed) brown sugar

Heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the chopped things and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices and brown sugar and saute for another minute. Add 4 cups water and simmer about 15 minutes, or until everything is very tender. Puree the whole mess in a blender.

2) The cake I made for my mom's 60th birthday. This was about 10x more complicated to make than the soup above. It is also not vegan, not by a long shot. But it was freaking great. The cake is an orange cake, with the egg whites whipped separately to keep it light. The filling is a mixture of ricotta cheese with jam, dried fruit, and almonds. The glaze is simply chocolate with a bit of almond extract added. Has anyone ever noticed what a crowd pleaser almond extract is? People love the flavor, even if they can't quite put their finger on it.

That's all for now. Next week I'll probably write about mindful eating, which seems to be a hot topic lately.

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