Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Parsnips, and Canned Deliciousness

This is a parsnip:
If you've never had a parsnip, I feel bad for you.  On the other hand, I totally understand.  Prior to last winter/spring, I had never had a parsnip either.  They must last longer than potatoes, because you could find them at the winter farmer's market when potatoes were long gone.

Potatoes aren't gone at the market (that I'm aware of... I hope not!), but they are gone at my house.  And there hasn't been any farmer's market for two weeks, so I've got three choices: Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, and Beets.  Sweet potatoes are a go.  Had them New Years Eve, and New Years Day, and there are more uses planned.  I do enjoy me some beets, but they also last very well in the fridge, so I'm letting them sit.  Plus I have them in pickled form, and I want to give that a try too.

So, like bird and Grease, parsnips are the word.

I would not recommend purchasing a parsnip at your grocery store.  At the grocery store, they seem to be vegetable candles.  It's gross and I don't get it.  But the parsnips are covered in a pretty thick layer of wax.  Apparently it's to seal in moisture and extend their shelf life.  But, according to the interwebs, parsnips stored in the refrigerator should last two to six months.   So... how old are the wax coated ones?!?

Anywho, parsnips often substitute for potatoes, but they're actually more closely related to a carrot.  And they taste kind of like a carrot, but sweeter... and less carroty... and a little more radishy... but not at all like a radish.

Confused?  Good, go buy one!

I've used parsnips in stews, and mashed like I did here.  I've also read that they make a mean chip, so that's an experiment for another day.  I need a deep frier!! (OMG! THE ONE I WANT IS ON SALE!  WHY DID I SPEND ALL MY MONEY ON CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!?!?!  BALLS!)

Since it's now easily available at the Winter Farmer's Market, I've got rainbow trout fillets stored away in the freezer.  I don't feel like rainbow trout is a very flavorful fish on it's own, but it takes on flavor well and because it's so think it sautes up well too.  I like to cook mine skin on, although I don't generally like to eat the skin.  I do need to figure out how to get the skin crispier.  That's always the complaint on Top Chef and Iron Chef and Chopped: Skin's not crispy enough!  I guess if I can't get it, I'm in good company.

I've found that salad is the #1 thing I've cheated on so far in my locavore challenge.  Especially around the recent holidays.  As I've said before, I'm always in charge of salad, and when I make a salad I make a SALAD.  A garden salad with everything that you could possibly pull out of your garden.  I never order salads in restaurants, because I never feel like they have enough STUFF.  A salad should be a little bit of lettuce and a whole bunch of STUFF.  None of these namby-pamby Caesar salads with lettuce and three croutons.  No.  STUFF.

Except, the stuff that goes into a salad isn't so much grown in Wisconsin in January.  And lettuce is.  And vegetables are good for me.  So I tried it.

Here, I just used mixed winter greens from Sweet Water Organics, topped with some of my own pickled beets and goat cheese.  I used a horseradish dressing on the whole thing, which I made with spicy radishes (but not horseradish) from the farmer's market.  The dressing was okay, but I wasn't super impressed with it.  The salad was good, and I think if I would have had a really good dressing, it would have been really good.  Not sure what exactly the right dressing was, though.

No worries.  I like goat cheese, and I like pickled beets, so I can keep experimenting with dressings until I find the right one!

Garlic Mashed Parsnips and Carrots
  • 1 lb parsnips, peeled
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and slightly smashed.
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • milk/cream to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Peel and slice the carrots and parsnips.  Add the carrots to a pot big enough to hold both the parsnips and the carrots and garlic, and fill about halfway full of water.  Cook until the carrots just start to get tender (about 8 minutes).  Add the parsnips, and cook until both parsnips and carrots are tender (carrots cook a lot faster than parsnips...).  Drain the water, add the butter, milk, salt and pepper, and mash just as you would  mashed potatoes.  Mash the garlic right in there with everything else.

Slightly Spicy Rainbow Trout
  • 1 lb rainbow trout fillets
  • salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter
Season the trout generously with salt, garlic, and onion, and lightly with the cayenne.  Melt 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan over high heat, and place fillets in skin down.  Once the fillets are most of the way cooked through, flip and cook on the top for just a minute or so to lightly brown.

I had to do these in two batches, since rainbow trout seem to be thin and wide.  When I did the second batch, I had to add more butter.  You want to make sure the trout doesn't stick to the pan.

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