Monday, March 08, 2004

My First Time

When I first moved to California, there were a number of foods that I ate for the first time (sushi, fresh mangoes, pad thai, saag paneer) and foods that I prepared for the first time (papayas, dulce de leche ice cream, fresh asparagus). It had been a long time since any of those "first times". Until Friday, when I decided that, no matter what, I had to cook the two rutabagas hiding in the fridge. They were frightening me, but dammit, I'm bigger and I've got a sharp knife (not to mention a spiffy OXO peeler!)

I don't know why I was so intimidated by a rutabaga, but I was. I had never eaten one, never mind cooked one. I could tell that it was a root, but I really didn't know much beyond that. Is is like a potato? Like jicama? Should I roast it? Bake it? What?

Eventually, I decided to combine my friend Liz's advice with Deborah Madison. It would be hard to go wrong with those two as my muses. And it actually worked!

I was stunned to discover that this white and purple item was yellow inside. How did that happen?

I peeled and diced the rutabaga. I peeled and diced a potato, but into larger pieces. I put them both into simmering buttermilk-and-water, along with several cloves of garlic. I cooked them until soft. I drained off most of the watered-down buttermilk, and stuck them in the food processor, along with some stilton (note: much too stinky of a blue cheese. Try something milder and perhaps fresher than English stilton tends to be in California). Deborah Madison suggested leeks. Liz suggested chard. I used baby spinach, and enough heat to wilt them. Served in a pretty blue bowl with a pat of butter and a bit of pepper. Yummy enough, and a reasonable comfort food to start the weekend with. But I'm mostly impressed with the fact that I overcame my fear of the unknown and mysterious rutabaga.

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