Video & Recipe: Cheesy Rutabaga Mash

Today’s a very exciting day on the blog. I’m posting my first video demo! Making a video for MITK is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I have a background in video production and I love to cook, so you’d think I would have done it sooner.

May I present to you my entry for the CreateTV Cooking Challenge

I chose to make rutabaga the subject of this video for lots of reasons. I discovered it earlier this winter after I (once again) found myself exhausted with butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I had a hard time finding references for what to do with rutabaga – there are very few videos and articles devoted to this often-ignored vegetable, which is really a shame because it’s DELICIOUS! Seriously. And what I really love is that it’s not sugary-sweet the way that butternut & sweet potatoes can be. Rutabaga is wonderful roasted, but it’s positively ethereal when mashed with potatoes and cheddar.

You will love this, I promise.

Recipe: Cheesy Rutabaga Mash

MagicInTheKitchen_EP010

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 25-30 minutes / Serves 8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds rutabaga (1 med-large)
  • 1 pound Idaho baking potatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2.5 tbsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 quarts tap water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (salted is OK, but you may want to decrease the kosher salt)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper, the better!)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Use a Y-peeler to peel the rutabaga, making sure to peel away all the wax and skin. Cut into 2″ pieces and set in a large pot or Dutch oven. Next peel the potatoes and cut into 2″ chunks, then add to the pot. (If you want to do this ahead of time, you can refrigerate the rutabaga and potato separately- potato should be kept in cold water to avoid browning up to 4 hours ahead of cooking).

Add the bay leaves, 1.5 tablespoons of the salt and water, covering everything in the pot. Cover and set on high heat until boiling.

Once the water boils, continue cooking for 22 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the rutabaga. If it crumbles a little, that’s okay – this is a situation where a little overcooking is actually quite fine.

Drain and remove bay leaves. Return vegetables to the pot, then add butter, milk, and the remaining salt. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until it’s uniform and silky.

Next add the cheese and 1/3 cup chives and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Top with the extra chives, freshly ground pepper and serve.

Storing: If you have leftovers, or do what I do and cook a lot of food on Sunday, this dish keeps up to 4 days stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and reheats beautifully in the microwave.

A couple of things I learned as I was researching rutabaga and testing this recipe:

Make sure to cook the rutabaga uncovered once the water starts boiling. While it’s cooking rutabaga releases a gas that’s kinda smelly, so you don’t want to contain that within the pot. Including the bay leaves in the cooking water is essential for this reason, and it also helps neutralize the bitter edge rutabaga can sometimes have.

Rutabaga will keep for weeks in the fridge, but keep in mind its taste will get sharper the longer it sticks around. You can still cook with it, but you may want to add more butter & cheese so it’s not as pungent.

Potato is a key ingredient here because it has the starch that rutabaga lacks. Potato is what gives this mash its silkiness and body.

You could use another cheese or combination of cheeses here, like Pecorino Romano or Fontina or even goat cheese. Just remember that some cheeses, like Pecorino, are saltier than others, so you may want to adjust the second addition of salt.

You could use cheddar and skip the chives, instead seasoning the rutabaga with a combination of spices, like chipotle chile powder and smoked paprika. This would go wonderfully with pork and chicken. I prefer my cheddar & chive version with steak.

 

The Chicken Caper

  
Presenting Wednesday night’s dinner: steamed broccoli, roasted spaghetti squash with butter & Parmesan, and lemon caper chicken. I’m exhausted, so this post will be short, but I had to post because I made this dinner totally on the fly and every component was perfect, note for note. Also- 8 SmartPoints!

Spaghetti squash: cut in half, spray on some EVOO, roast cut side down for 26 minutes at 415 degrees for “al dente”

Chicken: split a breast into two cutlets. Dust with flour, salt and pepper. Brown both sides in a non-stick pan over medium heat, then remove chicken. Add 2 tsp EVOO to pan, then 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic, one small thinly sliced shallot, 2 tbsp capers and their brine, and the juice of 3/4 lemon. Cooking 3 minutes, stirring so garlic doesn’t burn, then toss chicken in the sauce and cook for another minute. 

Broccoli: steamed in microwave for 3 minutes, topped with the juice of that last 1/4 lemon and sea salt.

BOOM.

My Summer in Food

It has been a very hot and very busy summer.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for fall. Apples, apple cider donuts, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ice cream, butternut squash, hearty vegetable soups, braised beef…

The chilly air means sweater weather. Orange is the dominant color of my wardrobe. I am never without a hot beverage (or a chronic case of the sniffles). And every Sunday, the apartment will be filled with aromas of simmering soup, roasting vegetables or a bubbly, baked pie. I can’t wait.

But before autumn comes to Brooklyn, here’s a look back at some of my favorites this summer—the home-grown, the raw, the cooked, and the more successful experiments…

Late June

I discover garlic scapes at the farmers’ market. I’m so fascinated by their shape and aroma that I buy 2 bunches…and have no idea what to do with them.

Voi-la! Pesto. Made with garlic scapes, olive oil, parsley, parmesan, and some pecans I had in the freezer. As potent in flavor as it is bright in color.

JULY

Yellow corn grits with shrimp and bacon. A lovely mess, worth every minute spent in an infernally hot kitchen.

Cooking Light’s lightened-up Lemon Bars. Tart & creamy custard, crunchy nutty crust. A new fave.

August

My birthday cake, made from scratch by my mom. Layers of golden sponge cake, vanilla custard and chocolate cream, surrounded by toasted almonds and hazelnuts. I rationed out portions for myself for the week. The cake didn’t last longer than 3 days.

Raspberries from my mother’s garden. The bushes grow wild, and no matter how much she cuts them back, they take over half the yard every summer.

The fig tree dominates the other half of the yard, and threatens to take over the house. By the 17th of August, the tree has fruited completely, but not one of these little guys is ripe for the picking. Wait for Labor Day, mom advises.

Is there nothing in the world more emblematic of summer than a perfectly ripe peach?

Oven roasted ratatouille with garden grown eggplant, tomato and zucchini…

…makes an excellent topping for pizza!

I finally got around to making The Kitchn’s Magic One-Ingredient Ice Cream. Google it, read the recipe, follow it to the letter, and be amazed by the texture and flavor (helped immensely by cinnamon and vanilla).

Early September

I love my mother’s hands in this shot. She’s shaping the foundation of our dinner…

Foreground: Mushroom/Sausage Pizza. Background: Margherita

More raspberries. This time, I make sauce: raspberries, sugar, Grand Marnier. Right now I’m having some with fro-yo. Mmm.

Sunday September 2nd. Finally, the figs are ready.

Stracciatella Alla Romana, Plus a Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Chicken Stock

I saw this recipe in The New York Times Dining Section last weekend.  Stracciatella alla Romana, otherwise known as Roman Egg Drop Soup, is the perfect dinner for a chilly spring evening.

Forgive my shadow that's cast over “i straccetti,” or the savory, eggy little rags floating in this delicious, simple soup.

It’s not only a pretty dish; it’s light, feathery texture, robust flavor and ever-so-slightly spicy warmth will make you feel happy, snuggly, and satisfied.  And it’s a dish that comes together in 20 minutes, provided you have one ingredient on hand: homemade chicken stock.

If you do have homemade stock on hand, go forth, make the recipe and let me know what you think. I was lucky enough to have farm fresh eggs on hand for the Stracciatella, so I used more than were called for. It was not a mistake.

But in the event you don’t have homemade stock on hand— fret not, friends!  Save the soup recipe to make another night.

I have two approaches to making chicken stock, and both are equally simple. There’s the quick method, which takes about 2 hours of largely unattended time and can be done after work on a weeknight, or whenever you can eke out 2 hours from your day.   Then there’s the brown stock method, which takes anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of largely unattended time—perfect for a lazy or busy day spent at home. Either way you choose, you’ll still end up with a stock that’s better than anything you can get out of a carton or a can, and ultimately much less expensive.

And if you don’t eat meat, proceed without the chicken and make vegetable stock. Cut the simmering time by half, and you’ll still end up with amaaaazing stock.

What you need to make chicken stock:

  • One roasted chicken carcass (details below)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 1-2 parsnips (if you can’t get them, it’s not a big loss)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley and thyme are essential, sage is a nice addition, but anything else may alter the flavor of the stock)
  • black peppercorns
  • A large stockpot
  • A jelly-roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet, or a roasting pan
  • Cheesecloth (totally optional)
  • A mesh strainer (preferably a large one)

 How to make Brown Stock:

First ingredient: the carcass! If you’ve just made a roasted chicken, or roasted one a week ago and froze the bones, you’re ready to go. The important thing is that the chicken has already been cooked, and that some meat (preferably the wings) is still clinging to the bones. If you’re starting from scratch, get a raw, preferably organic, 3 -4 pound chicken. Rub some some butter on its skin, sprinkle salt and pepper all over it, and bake it at 400 degrees for an 1 hour. Then, carve the chicken, eat the meat or save it for some other use, and save the carcass for the stock.

A lot of chefs recommend using the neck bones and giblets, which you can do, but I don’t and my stock still tastes great. Generally speaking, you don’t want to include the heart or the liver—these organs are filled with blood, and blood will make your stock bitter. We want none of that.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Make sure your veggies are washed, but it’s not necessary to peel them. Cut the onion in half or into quarters. Slice the top off the head of garlic so the tops of the cloves are exposed. If your carrots, celery and parsnips are large, you can cut them in half across the middle. Next, lay your vegetables on the rimmed baking sheet or pan, making sure there’s some breathing room in between each piece—you want them to roast, not steam. Suppress the temptation to add oil or salt. They are not invited to the party tonight.

Let the vegetables roast 35-40 minutes. Check them out. Are they browning?  If yes, take them out. If not, leave them in until your see some brown. Remove the veggies, turn off your oven, and add the veggies and your chicken carcass to the stockpot. (If you are using a carcass that was previously frozen, make sure it is fully defrosted.)

Add enough cold water to the pot so that the carcass and vegetables are fully submerged, and then some more. Bring the mixture to a simmer. This will take a while, so in the meantime, let’s tend to the other ingredients.

Get about 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, and 6-8 sprigs of thyme. You can put all of this in a cheesecloth pouch and tie it with butcher’s twine, or you can leave it loose—either way, you’re going to have to strain the stock anyway. Get a bunch of parsley and trim the stems.

An hour after the stock has been simmering—and it’s really important that it simmers and doesn’t boil—add the herbs, give the stock a stir, and find something to do for the next 45 minutes.  Check on the stock periodically over the next 5-7 hours and do the following:

  • Make sure the mixture is at a simmer
  • Skim off any foam that rises to the top
  • As water evaporates, add more. How much? Enough to cover everything in the pot.

As time passes, after the housework is done, or you’ve watched the Lord of the Rings series, or read Great Expectations, your stock will have turned a rich brown color, and the entire house will smell fragrant and delicious. You will attract neighbors and potentially some stray cats. The aroma is impossible to ignore. Inhale with pride.

Then turn off the heat and get an apron. Now it gets a little messy.

Get a large bowl and your strainer, and then using using tongs or a serving spoon, remove the veggies and chicken parts (which by now have nearly melted away), and place them in the strainer, pushing gently to extract as much liquid as possible. Then, discard the solids.

Pour the remaining stock in the pan through the strainer.  You may see some bits of herb and veggies; that’s okay. If you want a clear stock, strain again through a piece of cheesecloth over the strainer. Divide the stock into containers, allow to cool for an hour, and refrigerate anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.  The fat will congeal and rise to the top. Skim off, and then use the stock or freeze indefinitely.  Ultimately, you’ll end up with about four quarts of stock, which you can use for soups, sauces, or to add flavor to just about anything.

How to make quick stock:

You’ll still need a roasted chicken carcass (as described), but in this method, skip roasting the vegetables—just wash them, leave them unpeeled, cut as described in the previous steps and put in a stockpot with the carcass. Add cold water so that everything is submerged, bring the mixture to a simmer, add the herbs and peppercorns, and let simmer for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Strain as described. The stock will be much lighter in color, but still very rich in flavor, and especially useful as a base for lighter soups, stews and sauces.

 Why I don’t add oil or salt:

Stock is the base for a lot of recipes, and since it doesn’t require sautéing, no oil is required. Salt is generally added while preparing a recipe, or for finishing, so you don’t want to start with a salty base.

Sunday Cooking Wrap-Up: When One Ingredient Makes All The Difference

My day began with a minor disaster—and a lesson: don’t attempt to separate eggs without being properly caffeinated first.  After 5 wasted eggs and 2 cups of coffee, I successfully separated nine eggs and made an angel food cake for my father.

While the cake was in the oven, I prepared a savory experiment for my boyfriend—an ultimately successful adaptation of David Tanis’s Orecchiette al Forno (you can find the recipe here).  My adaptation may qualify as a new dish entirely—I didn’t use orecchiette, and I didn’t bake the dish, so we can cross out the “al forno”. This is how it turned out:

Conchiglie Rigate with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage & Ricotta

Instead of orecchiette, I used conchiglie rigate (ridged shells), a sturdy pasta that holds up to reheating and even better—has the perfect concave shape to trap bits of sausage and sauce, so the all the flavors really get into the pasta.  Before preparing a container of this lovely dish for a surprise delivery, I stole a few bites. (Okay, more than a few.) I think my boyfriend will be happy.

So after making a cake for dad and pasta for my boyfriend, it was time to make something for myself.  On chilly & rainy days like today, the only thing I want is soup.

I cooked some beans, gathered and chopped my veggies, and defrosted my chicken stock—all the makings of a hearty soup. But I wanted a little something extra. Not heat or spice or meat, but a something fresh with a nice pop.

Enter pesto. A little bit of pesto sauce does what dried herbs cannot do—add the sweet zing of fresh basil, garlic & extra virgin olive oil in one concentrated shot.  Plus, it turns average soup into something fancy-sounding: Soup al Pistou. Oui!

Vegetable Soup al Pistou

Adapted from WeightWatchers.com

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4 (about 1.5 cups soup/serving)

Ingredients:

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups cooked cannellini beans, with a 1/2 cup cooking liquid (or just used canned)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced tomatoes (with their liquid)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 heaping teaspoons pesto sauce
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (for topping)

Method:

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Next, add carrots, celery, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Add chicken stock, raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in beans, peas, zucchini, and tomato. Allow mixture to cook at a rapid simmer (you don’t want a rolling boil) for another 10 minutes. Add spinach, stirring into the soup until it’s wilted. Remove the pot from the heat, add the other teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste.

Divide soup into 4 bowls. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of pesto on top of each bowl, following with the grated cheese.  Have a seat, a sip of wine, and stir up your soup. Enjoy with a piece of warm, crusty bread. Voi-la!

 

Note – If you’re dining alone like me, and want to save the rest of the soup for lunch and dinner during the week, refrigerate the soup (without the pesto or cheese) within two hours of cooking. It’ll keep for 4-5 days. Add the pesto and grated cheese when you reheat the soup.

Weight Watchers Points Plus Value

  • 5 per serving

A Love Note to Pasta

Oh, Pasta. It’s been too long. 

I’ve been avoiding you for awhile.  You didn’t do anything wrong—it’s just that…well, every time we get together, I can’t stop myself.  Having Cheese around doesn’t help things—I just overindulge. And then I feel bad about myself…

I’ve gotten tired of grain salads. Polenta’s great, but it’s not the same.  And that dalliance I had with your whole wheat cousin?  That was a mistake.  Won’t happen again.

I have some ideas for us, Pasta.  Big ideas.  I want us to be together again, but since I can’t trust myself with you and Cheese, I need to invite some more friends to this party and——

Oh. Hiiiii!

You’ve caught me in a very emotional moment. I’ve forgotten myself.

Yes, it is true – I miss pasta. Also realizing I have yet to post a pasta recipe on this blog. What’s that about?

I suppose in my quest for weight loss/healthy eating/fruitless attempts not to OD on carbs, I have neglected my precious pasta—my favorite food growing up, a reliable go-to for quick dinners, a perfect main course with nothing more than a little butter, pepper and cheese. In the past week, however, I’ve come across a few recipes that look & sound so mouth-watering I can’t wait to make pasta again. Had a feeling I wouldn’t be alone on this, so I had to share:

Recipe #1: Pasta with Pistachios, Meyer Lemon and Broccoli

Recipe #2: Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips

Recipe #3: Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Flickr

From Leftovers to Lovely

The Lunch: Beet & Butternut Hash, Arugula Parmesan Salad, Poached Egg

The Time: 15 minutes

The Ingredients:

  • for the hash: leftover roasted beets & butternut squash, added to sauteed onion & garlic. Sprinkled with rosemary and pepper. Lots of pepper.
  • for the salad: arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano, balsamic dijon vinaigrette.
  • for the topper: a large egg, poached for two and a half minutes, pierced and flowing with hot golden yolk.

Happy Thursday, all!