The Lunar New Year is upon us—tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Rooster. This is my year. I’m a rooster, and if you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar, you could deduce that I will be turning 24, 36 or 48 this year. I’ll let you figure it out. In Chinese horoscope theory, it’s supposed to be an unlucky year for you when it’s your year. Funny, it seems that it’s been unlucky for a lot of folks … Read More
Have you ever stopped and suddenly thought, is this the one? Could this be my perfect food? I thought this on maybe the third or fourth date I had with Hakurei turnips. It was a sneaky sensation, crystallizing with a subtle sweetness and juicy bite that was so unlike any other thing. I got the same feeling when I tried my first bite of miso-marinated, broiled fish—only it was a smack-in-the-head awakening, a firestorm of personal penchants as if from a … Read More
Someone recently asked me what the difference was between scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin. The best answer is that “scalloped” simply means that the potatoes are thinly sliced, as in discs. And “au gratin” means, roughly translated, “with grated things.” No, those grated things don’t have to be pieces of cheese, necessarily. It could be small, grainy crumbs of bread as well. Many French and Italian gratins don’t feature any cheese, but they are baked with crispy stuff atop … Read More
Oh, happy fall. Like with many folks I’ve spoken to here and there in the past couple weeks–friends and strangers at the post office alike–fall is a favorite time of year. It ushers in cooler nights and breezes, colorful leaves on the trees, and that unmistakeable smell… of fall. I liken this to the scent of apple cider. It’s somewhat earthy but sweet. Of course, fall is when we see the annual harvest of apples, and cider is somewhere not … Read More
It’s slightly warm, but it’s a salad alright. The peas are still crisp but have deepened in color. The carrots are infused with a hint of ginger to bring out their sweetness even more. And the little, white turnips? They taste so much better than the raw, rigid slats after being tossed quickly in a hot pan. That’s the easiest solution that I can offer for an ingredient that’s been puzzling a lot of people I know.
Is there anything more heavenly when breakfast time calls than potatoes cooked crispy in butter? Yes, I can think of something — when those potatoes mingle with the sweet flavors of root vegetables, also cooked crispy, in butter. There are simpler ways to combine these forces, as in a golden hash or a roasted tray of assorted chunks. I’ve slipped root vegetables ranging from parsnips and sweet potatoes to rutabagas and sunchokes into platters of these for many breakfasts past. … Read More
Probably one of the last foods I hear talked about what when talking about Thanksgiving are turnips. It’s probably one of the last foods you’ll hear about, period. But it’s something I see in so much variety this time of year at the farmers market, and looking into the turnip’s many virtues, this is not so surprising. They’re an exceptionally useful and easy crop, adaptable to many climates and types of soil, and able to be left in the ground … Read More
Apparently I’ve been mispronouncing hakurei turnips as “haruki” turnips for a long time. This was finally corrected by Keha McIlwaine, who was selling the most beautiful specimens of them I’ve seen at Queens County Farm Museum‘s stand at the Greenmarket last Friday. While shopping there, I witnessed a couple trying to decide whether to buy the turnips, and what to do with them. Keha suggested they could be sliced up and sauteed, along with their healthy, bright greens. But they … Read More
This is a cozy comfort food for a fall-time side dish or snack. I’ve long felt that turnips were under-appreciated, probably because of their sharply bitter taste. But when you roast them, their natural sugars come to the surface and caramelize in brown, fudgey smears. When you boil them and mash them, they can be combined with cream and butter to soften their taste. Here’s one other way to tame the harsh flavor of turnips, and make it a welcome … Read More
Here is a really good example of the fact that I’m half-Chinese. I have no idea what this is, but I just made it for a snack. It’s sort of like hash browns, but with turnip slices, and condiments fit for dumplings. I gotta say, though, it was a lot simpler to make than either of the above, and its taste satisfied somewhere in between.