Remember how, when I started this whole 100 Recipe thing, I was playing sort of fast and loose with the rules of cooking, improvising methods, adding and omitting ingredients on a whim, and damaging all of my kitchen utensils in desperate pursuit of cake?
Lately, my methods have been a bit more disciplined. I check to make sure I have ingredients before I start a recipe, and I almost always use the kitchen tools for their intended purpose. Almost like I've become a proper cook or something. Today, in keeping with my recently-realised kitchen maturity, I decided I must use up some vegetables that had been sitting in the fridge since Thanksgiving. Yeah. Root vegetables stay good for a long time, it's ok.
I looked at them and I turned to google. Rutabaga recipes - search. My internet connection seemed slow, so I loaded up Netflix in another tab to make sure I had a connection. I got distracted and watched the first half of the episode of Top Gear where they go to Bolivia and Richard Hammond is tormented by insects. I remembered my task. Back to the vegetables. Google and pinterest both let me down, so on to my cookbooks. Richard Hammond had forgotten his malaria pill. I mean, I found a recipe. Seemed easy, boil, toss in butter and herbs, bake, done. I'd have this dish done before the Top Gear boys hit the Atacama. Have I mentioned that I like Top Gear?
The recipe called for 1.5 pounds of rutabaga, and I wasn't entirely sure I had that. Scale out, 1.3, close enough. First step, peel and dice the vegetables, and boil in salted water. Done and done. I didn't even cut my fingers open or damage a knife. Drain and set aside.
The next step called for me to melt some butter in a large skillet and add two cloves of minced garlic. There were two problems with this instruction: I cannot add only two cloves of garlic to anything, and I have destroyed my garlic press, insisting the steel should be able to handle the giant cloves of elephant garlic Aidan brought back from the farm this summer. Snapped the handle clean off. I minced 5 cloves of garlic with a santoku and felt I was being suitably restrained.
Once the garlic was lightly browned, I added the chopped boiled vegetables, as instructed, and looked at the next step. Add chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh thyme and chopped fresh chives. My parsley plant was still recovering from the last time I needed parsley and cut it down to almost nothing, I only had dried thyme, not fresh, and I was pretty sure my chive plant would not have survived the effects of Hurricane Sandy while sitting out on my front step. Sooooo, dried thyme then? Yes. Yes indeed.
At this point I got distracted by the noise of my empty recycling bins blowing away, and ran outside to get them before they landed in the lake. Coming back inside, I noticed that my poor neglected chive plant was not dead yet after all. Sweet! Handful of chives chopped into the dish.
The next step explained in what seemed to me a rather convoluted way that I should fry the bread crumbs in melted butter and then sprinkle them over the vegetables, which I had transferred into a baking dish. The Top Gear boys were about to take Viagra to save themselves having edemas in the mountains, and this all just was seeming not that interesting anymore. I transferred the mixture into a clay baking dish. I chopped up some butter into cubes and dumped them on top. I sprinkled the whole mess liberally with bread crumbs, and some parmesan for good measure. I threw it in the oven at 400F until the episode was over. (15 minutes? Let's call it that.)
When it came out of the oven, I tossed it all around a bit with a spoon, to get that melted buttery-breadcrumb mixture all incorporated. I tasted it, and it was not bad. It didn't taste quite how I was expecting though. Obviously, thyme, garlic, parmesan, all unsurprising flavours. But the vegetable bits themselves didn't taste the way I had expected. And then it hit me.
Rutabagas were what I used to make neeps and tatties to go with my vegetarian haggis back in January. They tasted largely like potatoes, which was, I think, what I expected from this dish. Except I now remembered that a rutabaga was, well, huge, and sort of dark purple and brown. The vegetables I had just prepared? Much smaller, mostly white, with a pale fuschia blush. Yeah, they were turnips.
There are no photos of this dish, because once I realized my mistake, I figured I'd never write about it, so just served them up with sprouts for dinner and went on my way. So here, instead, is a picture of the view across the lake yesterday at noon. Yes, noon. Hurricane and all that.