Pear and Parsnip Soup

September 19, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

It seems like another lifetime now, but the year after my starter marriage

ended, I lived in a townhouse with my dear friend Gemini I.  Shortly after the furniture was placed and the boxes unpacked, we began to negotiate the rules of housework, grocery shopping, and TV usage when we got to chatting about food.  I remember asking, “Do you like cous cous?” (In those days, I ate it all the time, though it’s pretty much verboten now since I don’t eat wheat).  I was taken aback by her answer, which, at the time, I found a little odd.

“Well, I suppose I do,” she responded.  “There are times when I’ll cook it every day for two weeks, but then I might not touch it or even think of it for 8 or 9 months.”  I couldn’t imagine ignoring a food I actually enjoyed for that long (and chocolate? Well, that one would be calculated in hours–nay, minutes–rather than days or weeks). 

These days, though, I understand exactly what she meant.  When one maintains a food blog, the quest for the novel and atypical dish never ends.  This pursuit sometimes leaves old favorites languishing in the dust–or at the back of the cupboard (or both, in the case of our cupboard).  On the other hand, I might whip up something new from a recipe I found on another blog, and enjoy it so much that the HH and I will feast on said dish several times during the next week.  And the following week.  In fact, we might just consume that comestible every second or third day for two to three weeks (which does provide several useful photo-ops, after all)–and then dump it unceremoniously, just as Chaser dumps her squeaky ball (ad nauseum, I might add) at my feet.  Once I’ve gotten my fill, I move on, seeking the next culinary encounter.

Well, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I often find myself with a surplus of overripe pears in the house, as I did a couple of evenings ago. Since the HH refuses to share in the burden of eating fruit (hey!  That could be the title of Michael Pollan’s next tome:  The Burden of Eating Fruit: An Exposition on Overripe Organic Produce), I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes with pears, before they become too soft and squishy, too oozy, too yellow-flecked-with-brown.  Our freezer is already bursting with chopped, frozen pears, so I needed to cook up these babies–and fast.

It was then I remembered an erstwhile favorite, one that we consumed for a spell and then promptly forgot. It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Green by Flip Shelton. From what I understand, Shelton is kind of like an Aussie Rachael Ray, and isn’t taken very seriously as a chef (what’s that bogan doing cooking biscuits on the barbie? What a dag!  Well, she’s still ace to me.  G’day!).  The recipe sounds like an incongruous combination of ingredients (though not as incongruous as radishes, olives and grapefruit), mixing pear and parsnip with sautéed leeks, but the final result is incredibly tasty.  Fragrant, slightly sweet from the pears and slightly peppery from the parsnip, with a velvety smooth, light texture.  Yum-O!

And since this soup features both fruit and, well, soup, I’m submitting it to this months’ No Croutons Required, a monthly event hosted alternately by Holler (this month) and Lisa, which asks us to cook up either a salad or soup with fruit as a main ingredient. 

Oh, and before I sign off, I really must thank all of you for being so understanding and so polite.  I mean, it’s painfully evident that I was a total bust at the ACD this time round (okay, maybe not a TOTAL bust–I did last almost 2 weeks). And yet you’ve all had the diplomacy and tact not to mention it!  For that, I am grateful. 

And while I’ve decided this may not have been the best time to embark on an even more restrictive diet (school starting up, cold weather coming, cookbook calling), I do still try to eat foods that would fit within the parameters of the diet as often as possible, perhaps minus one or two ingredients. Well, turns out this fantastic soup could easily qualify as an anti-candida meal, even without trying (if you’re following the version that permits non-tropical fruits, that is).  It’s also a very simple, very nourishing concoction that offers fabulous fiber from the pears, a hit of extra calcium from the parsnips and a satisfying early autumn tummy-warming. You may even decide to make it again and again–at least, for a couple of weeks or so.   

Pear and Parsnip Soup

from Flip Shelton’s Green

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

It may not be entirely photogenic, but this easy, quick recipe produces a satisfying soup.  The combination of slightly sweet, slightly peppery, and slightly creamy works beautifully here.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

 peardandelion2.jpg

Why, oh why did I choose Sundays? What was I thinking?  I must have been on a chocolate high at the time and totally out of it.  Otherwise, why on EARTH would any sane person choose Sunday morning to track her weight loss (which, at this point, is actually a misnomer; for, as of this morning, I am now tracking my weight gain.  Oh, woe).  

Well, I suppose I can take some small comfort in the fact that we spent all of last evening at a spectacular birthday bash for my friend Gemini I’s husband. And, given that my mouth was basically open for business between 6:00 PM and midnight last night, I’m assuming some of this is temporary (I’m hoping. . . .).  Enough self-recriminations–must move onward!  And man, that gal sure knows how to throw a party. 

For your entertainment pleasure, I thought I’d try to remember as many as I can of the continual flow of appetizers and h’ors doeuvres that floated by all evening, aloft many a wait-staff’s capable hands. In addition to a huge buffet table heaving with platters of cheese, crackers, olives, breads and spreads and cut fruits, there was also an endless array of hot and cold appetizers, including stuffed button mushrooms, garlic-stuffed olives, one-bite caramelized onion quiches, mini crab cakes with wasabi dollops, bocconcini-stuffed sundried tomatoes, mini shrimp dumplings, mini hamburgers (yes, with mini buns–looked like plastic toys, actually!), mini cold rice paper spring rolls, chicken satay skewers, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and a probably six or seven other choices I’ve forgotten. 

The dessert trays were deadly, heaped with one-bite brownies in three or four flavors, double-chocolate chip cookies and plain ole vanilla ones, three kinds of biscotti, miniature individualized banana splits served in shot glasses, all topped off by the birthday cake, an enormous rectangle of vanilla sponge decked out with cream and fresh strawberries, all tied up with white chocolate ribbons and bows. 

One side of the room served as a bar station, where servers were generously dispensing custom pomegranate-blueberry martinis (I have no idea what else was in it, but it was delicious) and any type of wine or liquor you choose.  I was thrilled to see my favorite Australian shiraz in the group. . . all I can say is, good thing I wasn’t the designated driver last evening (thanks, HH!).

As it turns out, Gemini II’s daughter is actuallly a vegetarian in a highly carnivorous family, so there were lots of veggie options there–though I’m not sure whether that was actually good for me or not.  I threw WOCA to the winds and ate more than my fair share (and am paying the price for all that wheat I consumed).  

Which leads me to. . . .salad.  After that kind of indulgence, today I’m craving something basic.  A simple, cleansing salad seems in order. 

Now, I must admit that I’ve never really been a salad person.  Is it because I don’t like salads?  No, that wouldn’t be the reason; I thoroughly enjoy my mixed baby greens, for instance, whenever the HH and I have dinner at one of our local haunts.  After reading about the need to properly toss a salad on The Good Eatah’s blog recently, I thought my tossing skills might not be up to snuff.  Or maybe the idea of cold, raw veggies smack dab in the middle of a cold, raw winter is just too painful to bear? But that’s not it, either; I do still enjoy munching on my cold, raw apples and grapefruit.

Part of my aversion to salads may be rooted in the meals of my childhood, when “salad” meant iceberg lettuce, woody tomatoes, and wobbly cucumber slices, unceremoniously slathered with mayonnaise.  Still, I was confident that years of therapy had finally eradicated that association. No, I’ve decided that the reason for my anti-salad stance is actually twofold:  first, being basically lazy, I’ve always found it just so much work to wash, peel, and cut up all the veggies.  And second, my frugal (okay, downright cheap) nature has too often prevented me from taking advantage of time-saving salads-in-a-bag, as I’m unwilling to fork over my hard-earned discretionary spending money on those overinflated prices. You see my dilemma.

Still, once in a while I encounter a salad that does seem worth the extra effort, and today’s recipe came to mind.  Just like a fulfilling relationship, a bowl of delectable salad greens may take some work, but the result is eminently satisfying (hear that, HH?). Such is the case with several of our staple salads here in the DDD household, such as the Asian-Inspired Napa Cabbage Salad, the always-popular “Broccoli Delight” from my friend Caroline’s cookbook, or the super-easy and absolutely irresistible Raw Kale salad (“Ohh, Mum, that kale salad is our favorite!  Pick that one!”).  All these are delicious (and I’ll post recipes in future), but this time, I favored dandelion.

This simple, appealing salad accompanied our highly successful Savory Stuffed Crepes, which the HH and I enjoyed for brunch the other day.  Originally, this recipe called for the duo of pears and dandelion, but once, when I ran out of pears I subbed apples, and have now come to prefer the latter combination. 

I first tasted dandelion greens during my year studying nutrition, but had been daydreaming about them since my early twenties, when I read the novel The Bone People by New Zealand author Keri Hulme. In the book, the protagonist (an eccentric hermit whose lifestyle I sorely envied at the time) produced her own dandelion wine.  Well, if I can’t have the wine, I suppose the leaves will have to do. . . .but I would still love to sample that fermented version one day.

The salad marries a subtle, slightly sweet and creamy dressing with the bitter gusto of the dandelion.  Being high in calcium and other minerals, dandelions are a natural health food.  They’re also a great liver tonic, stimulating that all-important organ to filter the “bad” cholesterol out of the body.  And after all that booze last night. . . .well, come to think of it, I could have used a fresh juice with some dandelion leaves in it, too!

The recipe produces an abundance of fresh dressing that pools gently at the bottom of the bowl, perfect for sopping up with scraps of bread or for treating The Girls to a dressing-topped dinner. (“Um, Mum, did we hear that correctly?”) Overall, the salad is crisp, light, and very refreshing.  (“Didn’t you just say, ‘dinner,’ Mum?”) And it offers a fabulous array of minerals and vitamins. (“We were sure we heard ‘dinner.’ Isn’t that right, Mum?”)  And, as dandelion is both a high-antioxidant food and a leafy green, I’m submitting this recipe as my contribution to Sweetnicks’ weekly ARF/5-A-Day roundup (check it out on Tuesday evenings). It would make the perfect accompaniment to a healthy dinner.  (“Knew it!  Is it time yet?  So, when do we get some?“)

 Bittersweet Salad with Apples and Dandelion Greens

adapted from Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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The recipe was created by the exceedingly talented Jennifer Italiano, owner of Toronto’s first all-raw restaurant and one of my personal favorites, Live Organic Food Bar (they’ve now expanded the menu options to include macrobiotic and some other cooked items). 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Turnip and Pear Soup

January 29, 2008

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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

How can someone, especially someone who purports to be interested in healthy eating and vegetables, reach the ripe old age of 40-something and still never have tasted a turnip?  Shocking, I know; but yes, indeed, that someone is moi.  

I blame it all on Modern American Drama. One of the first courses I took as a university student, it was taught by my mentor, John Ditsky , for whom I harbored a 20 year-long crush (but that’s neither here nor there).

Truly, since my undergrad days, whenever I’d think of turnips, all that came to mind was that scene in which Estragon asks Vladimir for a carrot but gets handed a turnip instead–and the turnip, having resided in his filthy coat pocket for who knows how long, is not exactly an appetizing substitute.  So, for many years, just the thought of turnips would throw me into a bout of existential angst. I believed turnips to be the unwanted progeny of carrots.  Or perhaps parsnips. Or, on the other hand, just anything.  But then, I thought, what is anything, anyway?  And aren’t we all just nothing waiting for something? It was just a turnip, after all, no more than that.  Nothing to be done, nothing to be done. . .oh, when will He arrive?  When?? Must. . . take. . . off. . . this. . . .boot! [She exits.  End of Act I.]

Soooooo. . . . back to the turnips.  When our organic produce box arrived this past week and I spied a kilo bag of turnips, I was thrown into a panic.  What to do, what to do? Would there be a way out of this mess? (“Yes, you had us rather worried for a bit, Mum.  And why do you keep talking like that? Who is this Godot person, anyway?”). 

Well, I decided it was time to Confront the Turnip.  Like it or not, I was going to cook with these babies! In order to survive the ordeal, I decided to start small, something easy and relatively foolproof.  Soup!

One of our favorites here in the DDD household is a fabulous Parsnip and Pear soup from Flip Shelton’s Aussie cookbook, Green (and since turnips are the illegitimate offshoots of parsnips, it gave me an idea . . . ).  I had been both surprised and delighted by the fabulous melange of smooth, sweet, spicy, and savory in that soup. Shelton’s recipe was extremely simple, yet the final result exalted the lowly roots and fruit to a level beyond the sum of their parts. I thought, what about a similar recipe for turnips with pears? 

As usual, we had a bunch of overripe pears in the house, so there was no problem finding the fundamental ingredients. And it also occurred to me that this would be a very suitable entry to Sweetnicks‘ weekly ARF/5-A-Day  roundup, so it will also be my contribution to that event this week.

After a bit of digging around for some kind of turnip and pear soup recipe, I found something that sounded appealing in my old Sundays at Moosewood cookbook, called, oddly enough, Turnip and Pear Soup.  The challenge began!

The soup was ridiculously easy to prepare, and took only about 30 minutes from start to finish (including peeling and chopping).  It was warming and really quite tasty.  While I know that turnips are not to everyone’s taste, if you’re feeling adventurous (or existential–I mean, who knows when we’ll next have the chance to taste a turnip?), then go ahead and give this one a try. 

And, well, if it turns out you don’t like it, I suppose you could always serve it to Pozzo and Lucky.  They’ll eat anything. 

Turnip and Pear Soup (adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

turnipearsoup.jpg

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

Necessity is the mother of many a new recipe in our house.

Because there are only the two of us (humans) living here (“Don’t forget about us, Mum!“), it’s usually fairly easy to decide what to have for dinner, or what to buy at the grocery store.  My HH and I share many a similar taste, except for all that animal flesh he eats, and we even enjoy cooking together whenever we do cook (which seems to be less and less frequently these days, come to think of it).

One thing we have in common is an apathetic response to pears.  I crave a fresh pear probably twice a year–no connection to any other event or season; it’s just something that happens, and then I eat a pear.  When I do bite into it, I do appreciate all its lush juiciness, smooth, aromatic flesh and the little-known fibre boost it supplies. 

Pears wouldn’t be a problem over here, except that we are also the happy recipients of a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box.  When I’m not being lazy, or when I have extra time on my hands, I will contact the company ahead of time if there’s something I don’t want (such as cantaloupe, or extra mushrooms) and they will kindly exchange it for something else I do want (such as kale, or sweet potatoes).  However, more often than not, I am forgetful this way, and we end up with two to four pears in the box.

If I’m indifferent to fresh pears, my HH is positively aloof.  He won’t eat them; doesn’t like them; won’t even so much as glance in their direction.  The result of this situation at home is the all-too-frequent overly ripe pears sitting in a bowl in our kitchen, looking ennervated and gloomy and feebly hanging on for dear life.  What to do?

In the past, I’ve simply chucked them, with no fanfare and lots of guilt (well, at least I put them in the organic waste bin). Then I realized that I could quarter, core, and freeze them for later use in a morning smoothie, along with my frozen banana and berries.  This worked well, and I enjoyed the added flavor imparted by the pears.  Eventually, though, the number of ziplocs containing pears just grew too large.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to whip up some of my favorite oatbran banana muffins, and grabbed a bag of frozen overripe bananas to defrost.  To my dismay, I realized once it was too late to re-freeze them that the melted, leaky mass in the bowl wasn’t bananas at all, but a batch of my frozen pears.  What to do?

The pear slices were too soggy and soft to use as they were (and certainly not suitable to cut into dice, as is so often the requirement for any baked goods made with fresh pears).  I had a wonderful recipe for pear and ginger muffins that I’d made about a year ago, but it called for freshly diced pears, and this mass of oozing, juicy, soggy goo was just too amorphous for any such recipe. 

Then it hit me that I could do with the pears what I had intended to do with the bananas: grab my trusty hand blender and whip them in to a puree.  Then use the puree in a quickbread recipe.

I got to work and concocted what I thought would work.  I even threw in some Salba, as I’d just bought my first bag (for the low, low price of $13.70!!!) and wanted to experiment.  An hour later, I had four pear and ginger loaves–a little too flat, a little too dry, but on the right track.  A few more test runs, and I was pleased enough to give the results to my HH to taste. I told him it was a “spice bread.” 

Well, let’s just say, the days of the Pear Prohibition are over.  My HH made quick work of 2 loaves in succession that very night, then asked for another for breakfast the next day.  I’ve since told him they contain pear, and he’s even okay with it. 

Here’s the recipe, so you can see what you think. Another reason I’m excited about it is that this will be my first contribution to the ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday round-up next week, hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks.

[NB.  Those eagle-eyed among you (okay, technically “between you,” since among is reserved for more than two) will notice that there is, indeed, a photo attached to this post, despite my earlier whining that I’d forgotten my camera up north.  Luckily, I shot a few photos of my pear loaves last week, when I baked them.  Wow, that free camera can snap nifty photos!]

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Mini Pear and Ginger Loaves

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.