Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seasonal Eating - Feasting on Rutabagas

A big part of living sustainably is raising our own food. Cooking almost completely with seasonally available produce was a big adjustment for me in our first years here. One thing it did was to make me a more conscientious vegetable gardener, I really had to plan the gardens better.

One of the things I decided to plant a few years ago was rutabagas. I had been visiting some local farmer friends and they were overwintering rutabagas under row covers. I had never eaten them before and discovered they were delicious. Besides that, I really liked the name, Rooootaaabaaaaagaaa. They are especially delicious boiled and mashed with lots of butter and salt and pepper.

This year I actually began craving them as they came close to being ready to harvest. After several meals of them mashed with butter, salt and pepper it was time to do something different. I felt like trying a cream of rutabaga soup, and this is how I made it. Sorry for the vague measurements, I just improvised and eyeballed it.

Wash and cut your rutagabas into chunks, leaving the peel on. Boil till soft. Drain and set aside. Mix half milk, half cream,(or you can use half and half), you are aiming for the soup to be half rutabaga, half cream. Melt several tbs. butter in a fry pan and add 2 or 3 tbs. flour - vary this depending on the amount of liquid you are thickening - I had about 4 cups of liquid and used 3 tbs. flour. Mix and cook the flour in the melted butter, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, slowly add the milk mixture. Stir and cook over low heat until it thickens. Puree the rutabagas and combine with the milk mixture. Salt and pepper to taste and add some nutmeg. Thinly slice a leek and fry in butter till it softens. Add some sliced almonds to the leek and cook for a few minutes. Serve the soup warm garnished with the leek almond mixture.

We ended up with quite a bit of leftover soup, I made a lot for three people! I just mixed in the rest of the leeks and almonds and stuck it in the fridge. Today was the first full day with our new intern so the routine was being adjusted. Lunch time came on fast and I needed some inspiration. The soup cried out to be morphed into... something. Oh yeah! It looked kind of like mashed potatoes. And one of the best things to do with leftover mashed potatoes is to make potato pancakes. That was it! Rutabaga pancakes! Here's how I made those:

Scramble a large egg into a large bowl. Mix in your leftover soup. Add more salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add enough flour to make the soup mixture somewhat stiff, and add baking powder proportionally - I put about 3/4 cup flour to 2 tbs. baking powder in around 3 cups of leftover soup. Mix well. Heat some oil (I used olive oil) in a large fry pan. After the oil is hot, put about 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan and fry till golden brown, flip once and brown up the other side. Keep cooked cakes warm in the oven by placing them on a plate with paper towels to drain excess grease. These turned out great, crunchy/chewy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside. I served them with a warmed pearsauce, but applesauce or sour cream would do just as well. Enjoy!


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