What's In The Fridge?

When I go to people's houses, I love taking a little sneak peak into the fridge. It's quite telling about their quirky habits, guilty pleasures and plain old taste. Do they eat packaged or processed? Organic or not? Fresh vegetables? Do they looovvee peanut butter? Sausage? Bacon? Cheese? Are they condiment hoarders? Is it empty? Too full? Do they even know what's in there? Don't worry, I won't make all my judgments based on the contents of your fridge, just half. And we'll look at mine for starters, so you can judge me first if you wish.

This week I caught a cold, a really nasty five-day-cold that is still in residence. I tried to rest, and I was, for me, but I had to go to the store because I had to eat, and I had to do laundry and sweep this dusty place. Needless to say, I wasn't flat on my back with my feet up like I am today. That's right, I took the day off work and slept for two extra hours. I still feel like hell, but I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere. I didn't have tons of energy to take pictures of my food while eating it, so now I'm going to tell you about what's left in the fridge. Even though most things are wrapped up in plastic, there are some good things hiding in there, because I did cook, and I did eat, well.

On the top-most shelf there are eight eggs next to two merguez lamb sausages waiting to be cooked. A row below at left is a block of peccorino romano cheese (more salty than parmesan) next to the almost finished jar of Katherine's golden apricot jam, a carton of soy milk, a small nip of real parmesan and a lamb garlic sausage that I haven't opened yet. Hiding behind all of that are some sad, forgotten black olives. Moving down a row is a bucket of rather strong tasting green olives which I love to eat chopped on a slice of bread with cream cheese. Next is a quinoa salad of canned salmon and roasted almonds with a sesame and rice vinegar dressing, followed by a massive container of lentil soup and more quinoa. Hiding behind must be my half round of blue cheese and block of emmanthal. The bottom row has a container of deliciously spiced, roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips, next to half an uncooked sweet potato and another parsnip, a bag of broccoli and a bag of green beans and a bag of carrots. On the door there are among other things, mayonnaise, mustard, ground flax seeds, some special ground chilli pepper that has to be refrigerated, ground cherry jam, cream cheese, fish sauce, chilli sauce, butter, and some almond butter.

Judy's Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

I love parsnips and I love sweet potatoes. Roasted they're even better. I threw this together while watching All About My Mother, by Pedro Almodovar (well I paused the movie while I put them in the oven). They'd be perfect alongside a huge pile of steaming kale and grilled pork tenderloin, or my quinoa salad.....

The roasted tomato heat of the aleppo pepper (yes the special one that needs refrigerating!) and powdered ginger really spice these root veggies up, while the humble sweet potato softens the palate with her caramelized sugary flesh. Add an apple and you're laughing.

2 large sweet potatoes
3 parsnips
1 big fat cooking apple
1 TBS aleppo pepper (or more to taste)*
1 tsp ground ginger (or fresh chopped would be terrific)
a couple pinches of dried rosemary, or more if you have fresh around
enough olive oil to coat all the vegetables
rock salt and fresh ground pepper

-Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cut up the sweet potatoes and parsnips into same sized pieces and place into a large roasting pan.
- Cut up the apple, add to pan**
- Coat with a couple glugs of olive oil.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add aleppo pepper, ginger and rosemary.
- Give the whole thing a good stir to evenly distribute the spices and slid 'er into the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.

- I didn't try it, but I can't help thinking an added TBS of maple syrup would be KILLER.

- Don't have any pork tenderloin, kale or quinoa salad? Make up a peanut sauce, soak some rice noodles, fry up some tofu, steam some broccoli and wow, there's a good little meal.

* If you don't have the aleppo pepper you could use regular chilli powder or chilli flakes. The aleppo has a low humming heat, and a deep roasted tomato flavour that makes it less sharp than the average chilli powder you can buy. It's really super berther, so give it a shot if you can.

**About the apple: it will cook much faster than the vegetables. I added it at the beginning and it coated the veggies with a nice, sweet sauce, but you could add it about 15 minutes before the rest are done to have firmer pieces.

I think I'm going to go and have some more for my lunch.

- Murph


  1. We've always loved James Beard's pureed parsnips recipe, which includes butter, cream and Madeira added to pureed cooked parsnips, then topped with buttered crumbs and baked. Only a few Thanksgiving guests have ever liked the dish as much as Bob and I do! (Many people take that polite try-me portion and push it around on their plates.) I never had parsnips as a child, probably because my dad hates them (or believes he does). In his childhood (1920s Boston) there was no question about eating locally and seasonally. Parsnips and turnips were chief among the few available vegetables in winter.
    When Stephen and Jane were around, Bob used to make both carrot and parsnip chips by deep-frying thin strips produced with a potato peeler.

  2. Margaret,

    That sounds absolutely divine! I can't wait to try it, especially because everything is better with buttered crumbs. And I love the chip idea too, what a great way to eat vegetables.

  3. Parsnip Purée with Madeira, from James Beard's
    American Cookery.

    In case you want to not wing it, here are Beard's proportions:

    3 lbs. parsnips, boiled in salted water to cover for 20-40 minutes, depending on age and size of parsnips (easier to peel after boiling and plunging into cold water to cool). This should yield 2-1/2+ cups of purée, done with a food mill or (by us) Cuisinart. Combine with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/4 lb. melted butter, 4 Tbsp. heavy cream, 1/4 cup or more Madeira.
    Whip together and spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Dot with butter, sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs (note the three separate additions of butter), bake 25-30 minutes at 350. He also suggests, but I've never tried, omitting the cream and shaping the puree into cakes, which you dip in flour and saute in, what else, 6 Tbsp. or more butter until nicely brown and puffy.

    Done as a casserole, this doesn't make a huge quantity, but it's so rich that people don't need to eat that much. Then, too, not everyone likes parsnips, anyway.

  4. Thank you Margaret! I'm going home on the 10th of December and I think I'll make this to impress my parsnip loving family!

  5. I must admit I have the jump on you Jude. Its on the menu for thursday night already. However I'm sure there will be no complaints about a repeat experience.

  6. Thanks for the gem Margaret! This evening I followed (more or less) your instructions with (more or less) your ingredients with delicious results. There were no parsnips at the store so instead I used one gigantic rutabega. I peeled and sliced it into chunks which I then boiled. After it was cooked I pureed it in the food processor with skim milk (no cream on hand) butter, sugar, salt and plum wine (the family's usual substitute for madeira as we always have plum wine on hand.)
    Things were getting a little desperate at this point as I had mistimed everything for dinner and had managed to get carmel on at least half of the utensils in the kitchen so I threw of some bread crumbs, grated butter on top and put the whole thing in the oven. What came out was a light and fluffy, not too rich or heavy but deliciously buttery casserole. I served it next to halibut and chard from the garden. We all loved it.


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