But I did manage to make this for a friend’s birthday. We popped up with homemade stuff in a crate from the supermarket which we tried to disguise with ivy and hydrangeas from the garden. And since I’ve never met someone who adores meringues to this extent, that was obligatory too. We actually managed to pull off the surprise! And it was worth seeing her look of annoyance at the insistent doorbell turn to utter surprise.
I used this recipe for the chestnut flour madeleines but substituted almond meal for hazelnut. And discover that kefir—or buttermilk, I suppose—makes scones that remain tender even the next day.
I 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
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
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!