Monthly Archives: December 2012

I discover parsnips

parsnipsI realise this is about as exciting as saying I’ve discovered spuds to most of you, but I don’t come from these parts you see. Thank goodness curiosity got the better of me, and I bought what I thought were another variety of carrots. Biting into these, I was amazed by the buttery, rich, gingery taste of these. Many possibilities quickly came to mind. I’ve made puree—no need for butter or cream, i find, their natural richness and zing carry through perfectly. Also a simple stew with white beans and rosemary, flavours so complementary I could eat this dish over and over again, if not for the fact that I’ve been forbidden to buy parsnips again! And then this parsnip-rosemary cake that I adapted from an old favourite carrot cake recipe.

400g    grated parsnip
250g    flour
50g      ground almond
2 tsp    baking powder
2 tsp    baking soda
2 tsp    cinnamon
1 tsp    a mix other ground spices (nutmeg, cloves, ginger, etc.)
¾ tsp   salt
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped up
150g   olive oil
200g   sugar
4         eggs

Preheat oven to 180º celsius/350 F. Prepare a 9″ round cake tin/ large loaf tin.
In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, ground almond, baking powder and soda, spices, salt, rosemary). In another even larger bowl, beat oil and sugar until well-mixed. Add eggs one by one, beating after each addition. Add parsnips. Gently fold in flour and mix just till everything is evenly distributed; do not over-mix. Pour batter into tins and bake for about 40-50 mins.

While I’m wont to reduce the sugar when making carrot cake, this one needed the sugar called for. I guess because parsnips are naturally less sweet than carrots. I would also up the spices. But all in all, it was a most delicious cake, unusual perhaps and not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly mine. I also found out something strange—people don’t know parsnips!?!? (You see, it isn’t just me, and at least I have an excuse.) I got puzzled looks when I mentioned this root. Apparently it only came back into the ‘public domain’ not so long ago with farmers’ baskets. Poor parsnip!

parsnip rosemary cake

A few of my favourite things

And unlike the singing nun, I don’t have recourse to these only when the dog bites and the bee stings.

fruitcake and dolfin choc

Boozy fruitcake you can smell the minute the lid of the tin is opened. One day i’ll write more (i’m a bit of a fruitcake about fruitcake), but this was an off-year. Cold, sick and sad. But even half-hearted fruitcake smells lovely in the oven. Next year, fruitcake, I promise thee. In the meantime, i ought to start macerating the fruit—yes, I give it a year’s head start.


And the chocolate. I would like to write a letter to the person at Dolfin responsible for creating this flavour combination. I’m aware the pink peppercorn-choc combination is out there, but I first came across it via this beautiful slim Dolfin bar years ago. Maybe he laboured over it, maybe he just scribbled it down in a hurry (you know, like the boss wants six new ideas from everyone and the meeting is starting in FIVE minutes); maybe it wasn’t even him, it was groupthink. This is something I can eat at any moment. It drives me to distraction when there’s one in the house. And that elegant wrapper encased in (wasteful) plastic, trifold, like the letters we no longer write.