Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get Your Rutabaga Out Of A Rut

My dearest readers, it has been a woefully long time...2013 has been a bear of a year, but I have been cooking consistently and taking pictures--just a matter of putting it all out here in a more regular manner, which I promise to do (no, really). In the mean time, I have been writing a lot, including a weekly music column called Crossfade Roulette, editing my Mom's amazing book, and yoga-and-Pilates-teaching it up.

So, back to talking about food. You have long heard me proclaim my general disdain for recipes and measuring. And while disdain might be a bit of hyperbole, I am a firm believer in cooking the way all great chefs do--with a utilitarian mind and a creative palate. In other words, look at what you have lying around and I promise you you will come up with something incredibly great precisely because it is so fortuitous. Do not forget technique, however. Hone your knife skillz (because we know "girls only like guys who have skills) and figure out what goes first in the pan. Once you have developed a general *sense* of things, you will be able to start playing on the Bobby Fisher level of cook-boxing.

 This is why I have decided from now on not to bother giving you measurements for things...because you gots to get schooled, son (and daughter). Also from now on, you will know that everything I post on here is solely-Toni-T-created, yet inspired by a smorgasbord of influences.The soup below was inspired by almost-eating a rutabaga puree at Thanksgiving. I say almost because I have almost joined the ranks of those annoying vegans (ha ha!) and did not eat the puree since it had butter in there. In fact, I literally ate cranberry sauce that I had made for Thanksgiving. Ah, the joys of veganism ;)

Start by playing this lovely song:
Yellow Split Pea and Rutabaga Soup

Soak about 1-2 cups of yellow split peas overnight, changing the water at least twice. Your co-habitors will thank you.

Take one rutabaga and peel it. Place both the split peas and the rutabaga in a pressure cooker. Before you blame me for already forcing you to buy things, let me reassure you can do the same thing in a pot. It is just that the pressure cooker is the proverbial easy button of pots. It gets you there faster.

Cook until both lentils and rutabaga are very soft--maybe 10 mins in the pressure cooker. In a pan, heat some oil. Once the oil is hot, put about a spoonful of black cumin seeds. Cook them until they "open up." Add about 2-3 chopped shallots and some garlic; cook until both are soft. Add some Aleppo chili pepper flakes--yes, I am a snob when it comes to my heat. Add this entire business to the cooked peas+rutabaga, add some water, and cook this whole business until the flavors start to incorporate a bit better. Towards the end, add a bunch of fresh thyme--not dry. Trust me...dry is really kind of gross. If you have some dried chervil, chives, or tarragon, throw them in there too. Salt and pepper to taste.

This is really it. Also, while I am on the soapbox, I want to put two big myths to rest right now:
a. you need veggie broth to develop flavor in soup. Negative. This soup did not have any veggie broth and was perfectly flavorful. Veggie broth is for newbs. I mean I am sort of joking, but considering most people are not using homemade veggie broth, you might just be putting salt water in your soup. Not very flavorful.

b. you need some kind of thickener whether soy milk or almond milk to make creamy soup. Negative. The rutabaga here creates a luxurious creaminess of the most exquisite kind. Stop with that milk nonsense.

Easily one of the luckiest most recent experiments in Miss T's kitchen--try it out yourselves and let me know how you like it. I served this to my friend, the super-talented textile artist, Miss Katie Kinkade recently during one of our modern-day-version-of-a-quilting-bee sewing session and she was a fan.

Happy New Year, friends!

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