Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Staying In Touch Long Distance

One of the big challenges about being over here is feeling isolated - I can have wonderful times and wonderful French friends, but my history is living 6 hours behind me and without that I do feel lonely. It's hard to be relevant when one is so far away... As a means of keeping in touch two of my sisters and I have decided to have a little recipe club. Each of us chooses a culinary "theme" she's interested in exploring and contributes it to the pool (need not be an ingredient, could be a technique or anything). Then we all spend the month working on and trying out recipes that have something to do with that theme. Hopefully we'll email about them, discuss them, send photos, whatever. Honestly, hopefully we'll just continue to be important parts of each other's lives...

So this month is the début and the project doesn't even have a name but the contributed themes in no particular order are: parsnips, leafy greens like chard, and lentils.

Best-loved recipe contributions and suggestions for what to call this virtual cooking club are most welcomed!


  1. One vastly popular parsnip recipe at my house comes from my favorite cooking blog, it tastes like it was a lot more work than it actually is:


    Gâteau de Panais au Chorizo

    - one large parsnip, about 1.3 lbls (600 g)
    - 4 eggs
    - 1/4 C milk
    - 2 oz (60 g) chorizo (the Spanish kind, already cooked)
    - a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
    - olive oil
    - salt, pepper

    (Serves 2 to 3.)

    Scrub, peel, core and grate the parsnip. Heat some olive in a large skillet, then add in the grated parsnip and 1/4 C water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until completely softened, stirring from time to time. Transfer into a colander to drain.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Bring about 4 cups (1 liter) of water to a boil in your kettle or in a saucepan. Dice the chorizo. Rinse and dry the parsley, pluck the leaves and chop them. In a medium mixing-bowl, beat together the eggs and milk, fold in the cooked parsnip, chorizo and parsley, and season with salt (optional, as the chorizo is salted already) and pepper.

    Pour into a greased 8-inch (20-cm) ovenproof dish (I use a charlotte mold, a souffle dish would work equally well) and even out the surface with a spatula. Place the dish in a larger one (a gratin dish for instance) and pour boiling water in the larger dish so the small one is in about an inch (2.5 cm) of water. This is called a "bain-marie" (literally bath-mary, don't ask), and it regulates the temperature so the egg mixture will cook without boiling. Put both dishes into the oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until set and golden on the surface.

    Unmold and serve immediately, with a side of lightly-dressed greens.

  2. I think Clotilde should get extra credit for already having a recipe that combines two of this month's themes as of December 2005:

    Soupe de Bettes et Panais

    - 1 tablespoon olive oil
    - one onion, peeled and chopped
    - 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    - one bunch swiss chard, rinsed, trimmed and chopped (bettes, blettes ou cardes in French)
    - 3 medium parsnips, srubbed, peeled and sliced
    - salt, freshly ground pepper
    - 1/4 cup milk

    Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons water. Cook for five minutes or until translucent. Add in the chard and parsnip, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook for five more minutes, until the vegetables start to color. Cover the vegetables with hot water (or homemade stock if you're that kind of person), bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and soft. Stir in the milk.

    Whip out your handy-dandy immersion blender, your old-fashioned potato masher, or just a fork if that's all you have but there's a holiday gift idea for you right there, and whiz or mush the soup to the desired consistency or until you get bored. Add in a little more water or milk if the soup is too thick, reheat if the soup is too cold, and serve in pretty bowls, with a thick slice of fresh country bread or cripsy Italian breadsticks.

  3. Another Parsnip favorite of mine, Andy adored this though we used walnuts, I think instead of macadamia:


    Parsnips, pears and any blue cheese are a harmonious trio. This is an
    elegant winter salad that starts off a meal in style. It's
    well-balanced nutritionally, with the buttery macadamia nuts for extra
    protein, so it can also be served as a light main course.


    • 4 small parsnips, peeled and cut into fourths lengthwise
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 handfuls of arugula
    • 2 dessert pears (such as Bartlett), sliced into wedges
    • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts, toasted

    • For the dressing
    • 5-1/2 oz. Gorgonzola or other strong blue cheese
    • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup olive oil

    Preheat oven to 400F. Place the parsnips in a roasting pan and coat
    with the olive oil. Drizzle with the honey and season to taste with
    salt and black pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for about 20
    minutes, until golden. Let cool.

    To make the dressing, mash the Gorgonzola in a bowl. Stir in vinegar
    and whisk in the olive oil witha little salt and black pepper until
    fairly smooth.

    Arrange the arugula on individual plates and follow with the pears,
    toasted nuts and roasted parsnips, then pour the dressing on top.
    Finish with more black pepper.

  4. What great idea!

    Not so much a recipe, as an idea- might be hard to find Cotija and Black Eyed Peas there. Actually BEPs are an African staple, so you might be able to find them.

    Heck, it would probably taste good with lentils too.

    I don't really have a recipe, but my mom makes a really good red lentil soup with mediterranean spices. Funny story, She used to make this all the time, and then I ended up posting it on Chow.com, and then she lost her recipe and was googling to try to find it, and one of the results was my post.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594716. I'm sure there's a real recipe somewhere.

    Finally, I think the lentil soup from "The Best Recipe" is a real winner. I always make it with Beluga (black) lentils, but they suggest French Green lentils, which should be easy to find. If you can't find it I can send it to you. It's one of those "greater than the sum of its parts" recipes.