Monday, March 29, 2010

Tuppence Reviews ~ $200 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Happy spring, all! Time to get outside again and get dirty. To celebrate, I'm hosting a $200 Visa gift card giveaway sponsored by Arm & Hammer plus Oxiclean gel detergent, together with Blogher, on my review site, Tuppence Reviews. For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling how your family likes to get its clothing good and dirty in the great outdoors. I'll pick a winner with a random number generator and notify the lucky commenter via e-mail at the close of the contest.

So, get on over there and tell me all about it. (Don't leave your comments here, though ... I can't transfer them, it wouldn't be fair.)

And enjoy your spring!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sesame Cabbage

It’s been said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s Irish. Judging by cabbage consumption in the U.S. on March 17, that appears to be true. Millions of pounds of cabbage are purchased for preparation on that day, served alongside traditional corned beef. 

But cabbage, I’ve found, is a funny thing. You can buy one medium-size head of cabbage, cut it in half, shred that half, and find yourself with enough cabbage to feed a family of four for eight months. And it’s a rare family of four that wants to eat cabbage for eight months. It’s amazing how much actual cabbage that head can pack!

In years past, we’ve had severe cabbage overload due to this phenomenon … the details of which I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, we ended up skipping the corned beef meal two years in a row due to bad memories.
But not anymore! Now, I pass right by the deceptively innocent-looking heads of regular (on sale for cents a pound) cabbage and head for the Savoy cabbages. Yes, they’re more expensive. And yes, their crinkly leaves make an unconventional-looking side for our corned beef, but the flavor is excellent and the best part is that half the head gets saved for Sesame Cabbage, which is the part we really look forward to.

Savoy cabbage isn’t given to the ridiculous excess of the standard globe-headed cabbage. One good-sized head will give us only two meals ~ perfect for a family of four. But if you find yourself with a pillowcase full of shredded cabbage leftovers, this Sesame Cabbage recipe will do just as nicely . . . in fact, it’s a very good way to help use up some of those leftovers. But maybe give the wrinkled sister Savoy a spin this year . . . you’ll thank me three months into the year when you’re not eating cabbage leftovers. 
Sesame Cabbage
Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced, rinsed, and spun dry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add thinly sliced cabbage. Cook cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, till the color intensifies and it begins to wilt.
  2. Lower heat to medium-low and place lid on skillet. Let cabbage cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until cabbage is tender and nicely browned on the bottom layer.
  3. Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil and sesame seeds, and toss to coat. If desired, sprinkle with rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, or you may use soy sauce, if you prefer. (Note: soy sauce will impart a dark color to the cabbage.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pureed Turnips ~ Wait, come back!

Let's play a game. I'll say a word, and you say the first thing that pops into your mind, okay? And, since you're not actually here, I'll play for you. Ready?

"Apple." Crisp.
"Potato." Mashed.
"Pumpkin." Pie.
"Turnip." Blecchh.

So how'd I do? I'm guessing my answers were pretty dang close to what yours would be if you were here. And I've gotta say, I'm a little bit disappointed.

Here's the thing. In the world of vegetables, underdog veggies know I've got their back. Lima beans? Love them. Brussels spouts? Aw yeah. Kale? My absolute fave. I adore rutabagas and parsnips and turnips; squash and cabbage and collards. In fact, there's only one vegetable I've ever eaten in my entire life that I haven't been able to cozy up to yet: sorry, bok choy ~ it's me, not you.

What I can't understand is why there's so little love for the turnip. It can't be the taste ~ tender young turnips are so sweet and crunchy and good-for-you-licious. Is it because turnips aren't happy little summer vegetables? Can't be ~ neither are carrots and every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a brown bag is packing some.

Maybe, and I suspect this is the real answer, it's because they're beautiful. Turnips are drop-dead gorgeous in vegetable land. And face it, no one really expects that in a vegetable that spends most of its life underground like a troll. It doesn't seem right. Potatoes aren't lovely. Yams and beets are nothing to swoon over. And don't even get me started on celeriac. Maybe that's all it is . . . a little pigment envy.

Whatever it is, turnips get a bum rap. No one ever says, "Oh, can I get that with a side of turnips?" or "What's your vegetable tonight ~ I hope it's turnips!"

But why not? My friends, turnips are delicious. Earthy, sweet, complex . . . something like the sophisticated lovechild of a carrot and a rutabaga. With a radish in the woodpile.

But don't take my word for it. Go get some turnips for yourself ~ they're in season from about October to March, though you can get them pretty much year-round in most places. They store well in the fridge, but if you have a root cellar (I'm jealous!), they'll keep even longer there.

Pick turnips that look young and unblemished and feel heavy for their size ~ those will be the youngest and most delicious. Avoid any that are withered or wilty-looking, or that have obvious dings, dents, or rot spots. There are many excellant ways to prepare turnips, but whatever you do, don't overcook them. Overcooking intensifies the flavor in a bad way and turns a perfectly delightful vegetable into an odoriferous, unpalatable mush. Really, watch your cook time.

So, how do I like turnips best? Pureed, with horseradish whipped cream. Hea-eh-eh-ven. If you want, you can take the delight a step further: fold a beaten egg and the horseradish cream into the puree, then bake it at 350 degrees F for about half an hour to make an incredibly delicious side dish with a souffle-like texture. Either way, I like to garnish with a bit of cracked pepper or, better yet, chopped fresh chives right before serving.

Be brave, and go pick up some turnips before tomato season is here. If you've never tried them, be brave--do. If you tried them once and gagged on them, try them again, this way (and watch the clock this time!).

Turnip Puree with Horseradish Whipped Cream
 Makes about 4 servings
  • 2 medium turnips, cleaned, peeled, and diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 11/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Boil turnip dice in salted water until tender. Remove, drain well, and mash with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper. Whip cream mixture using a hand mixer or immersion blender to medium-stiff peaks. Serve a dollop of cream on top of each serving of pureed turnips.
    1. Beat 1 egg and fold into turnip puree along with 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Gently fold in horseradish cream. 
    2. Spray a 1-quart baking dish with nonstick spray and spoon turnip puree into dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until set and lightly browned around the edges. Let stand 5 minutes and then serve.



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