Saturday, October 17, 2020

Thre's no recipe for this

 The point of most recipes is two-fold: one, to be able to re-create the dish. Two, to provide a template for how the dish could be, so a cook has something to refer to when making a variation. 

Okay, three, sometimes a recipe is there to tell a story, and to also recreate the dish associated with the story. Which can be delightful - I was tickled pink the first time I read MCA Hogarth's Mindtouch, and she included the recipe for kerinne in the back of the book.

I'm going to ignore four for signal virtue, as experienced cooks look at the ingredient list and preparation method, and go "This person has no idea how to cook, or what they're trying to make. They just wanted to splash organic heirloom locavore non-GMO cruelty-free cage-free grass-fed blah blah blah buzzword all over the page." Because the travesty of some trendeigh idiot trying to virtue signal a recipe for gumbo without a roux or the full holy trinity was an offense unto food. 

But back to one and two - I often post recipes here because they're an amalgam of several other recipes, and I want to remember later how to re-create the dish. Unfortunately, today's dish would be impossible to recreate. So I present it only for the value of making you laugh.

Scalloped Turnips a la clean out the fridge

2 old, large turnips, one of which started to sprout in the fridge. (I forgot they were there!)
the end of a wedge of whisky-aged cheddar, grated
a wedge of "Oh, right, I got this to try and never did" mild blue Mornay cheese, grated
about 2 oz of cream cheese maybe, cut in chunks
a knob of butter - what was left on the butter dish
the almost-half a red onion on the cutting board that needed used up, sliced thin
a yellow onion, sliced thin
a palm-full of dried thyme, since it's getting old and I figure I need more to get the same flavour
a palm-full of dried parsley
a generous shake of mesquite-smoked salt
a few shakes of red pepper

Chop the ends off the turnips, peel, cut into manageable-sized chunks, and slice thin on the grater, ideally without adding any knuckle via the grater. Chop the onions in half, then slice thinly.

In a heavy-bottomed cast iron (I used my enameled cast iron braiser), melt butter. Add onions and salt, and let cook until starting to caramelize. 

Meanwhile, in a tea kettle, boil a liter of water. Dump turnips in large microwaveable bowl, cover with boiling water. Microwave for two minutes, because that's probably what you punched in when the cat distracted you by jumping on the counter and heading for the cream cheese. 

Remove cat from counter. Rescue cheese to cutting board. Stir the onions so they don't burn. Grate the cheese. Pause between cheeses to stir onions, and add thyme and parsely, and tell the cat he'd better not be paws-on-helping-cat on the cutting board. 

Cat will reply with insouciance and a tail wrap. Do not trip.

Finish grating cheese, turn on oven to 375 like you meant to do and forgot earlier, stir onion. Throw in cream cheese, stir so it starts melting. Pull the bowl of parboiled turnip slices out of microwave, careful not to splash hot water. And not to trip over helpful cat who is helping. Drain turnip slices somewhat successfully.

Stir onions and cream cheese and herbs, then add turnip slices on top, using the water that didn't completely drain to deglaze the pan. Sigh wistfully over how you should have opened a bottle of white wine to use for deglazing instead, and use for a glass for the cook. 

Once pan is deglazed, add the grated cheese in. Remember to turn off the burner. Stir until everything is evenly distributed melted gooey mess, smooth flat. Stick in oven that's still preheating, set timer to 30 minutes.

...yeah, there's no way to recreate that recipe. For one, you'd have to start by acquiring a paws-on helping cat, and much as I'd like to give you all 17 pounds of mine right now, my husband would object. For another, I'd have to remember who makes and where we got the whiskey cheddar to try, and I think the mornay was a seasonal item. And measurements? What measurements?

So, I really do not recommend forgetting turnips in your fridge. Really, you should get what you plan to use and enjoy it, right? But hey, my fridge is now cleaner and emptier, my stomach is happy with a nice meal, my brain is happy because it now knows parboiling is a perfectly viable method to make large turnips no longer crunchy, as well as less pungently turnip.

And if you laughed at the recipe, well, my goal for posting it here has been met!


  1. Now that we've stopped laughing, my lovely thoughtful wife agrees that I should tell you: you just described a major percentage of the dishes cooked in this household. Three cats (10 lbs, 15.5 lbs, and 17.5 lbs respectively but never respectfully) help by staying underfoot at all times. And we eat well. :)

  2. I've cooked like this! Except for the cat, he stays outside. That's what we call cooking where I'm from.