Friday, March 9, 2012

Creamed Turnips

I love shopping at my local city farmers' market.  Every Saturday morning as my coffee is brewing, I ruffle through my kitchen drawers, searching for my sturdiest reusable bags, prepping for the 20-minute hike out to the market.  I definitely have a "go-to" bag: a beautiful, sturdy cotton shoulder bag with a gaudy image of the New Orleans French Market on the side.  I love this bag because it reminds me of sunny mornings in the French Quarter when the perfume of jasmine is fresh in the air.

With my to-go mug and reusable bags in hand, I set off to the Durham Farmers' Market with a pep in my step.  More often than not, I am energized with the anticipation of hunting for the best vegetables and experimenting with what ingredients are in season.  Recently, I've been cooking a lot with turnips.  My market has a beautiful array of turnips, and I couldn't pass up these eye-catching root vegetables.  I put them to excellent use with Lena's intriguing recipe for “Creamed Turnips:"

6 white turnips
Juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups of milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika 

       Pare 6 white turnips and dice them.  Cook 15 minutes in boiling water to which the lemon juice has been added to make it rather acid.  Drain and set away to cool.  Mash the yolks of 2 hard-boiled eggs and blend with flour.  Then add warm milk gradually, and cook over hot water until thick.  Add seasonings.  Add the diced turnips and simmer for a few minutes.  Remove from fire and add a teaspoon of lemon juice.  Serve at once.

I started off this recipe by boiling the eggs.  I used my mother's full proof technique:
I put two room temperature eggs (extra large) in a pot, and covered with water to 1 inch above the eggs.  I placed the pot over heat and brought to a boil uncovered.  Then I turned off the heat, covered the pot and let sit for 12 minutes.  I drained the eggs and rinsed them in cold water to stop the cooking.

While the eggs were cooling I diced the turnips. 

I placed the turnips in a soup pot, filled the pot with water until the turnips were covered and added the juice of 1 lemon, making sure to catch the seeds.  I brought the water to a boil and cooked for 25 minutes.  

Meanwhile, I created a double boiler over top of the soup pot of turnips.  I mashed the two egg yokes with 2 tablespoons of flour in a saucepan.  I heated 1 ½ cups of milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Then I slowly added the milk to the saucepan, continually stirring until the cream sauce became thick (about 15 minutes).  Then I added the salt, pepper and paprika to the cream sauce, which turned a rosy pink color.

I removed the cream sauce from the heat, drained the turnips and added the turnips to the cream sauce, folding to coat. 

Then I finished the dish with the juice of ½ a lemon, folding to incorporate.

The dish had a subtle flavor with wonderful smooth texture to the cream sauce.  I was pleasantly surprised at the creaminess of this sauce without using any butter.  

This dish would be a perfect side to a holiday meal as it comforts the belly and warms the spirit!

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