Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cornish Pasties and Rutabaga Bisque

When Sara first moved into our co-op and started cooking with us, she had to adjust to just how much food our ravenous, leftover-loving, lunch-packing, dinner-guest-encouraging residents needed. "Maybe I should just use half the broccoli?" she would say, tentatively. "Are we really going to eat all that pasta?"

(In On Writing, Stephen King mentions an alcoholic who, when asked "How much do you drink?" answers, as if it were obvious, "All of it." How much do we cook? All of it.)

Sara went to pick up the first share of our new Red Fire Farm CSA last week and was given the choice of several turnips or one enormous (enormous!) rutabaga. What did she pick? The rutabaga.That's our girl!

The giant rutabaga looked great in our kitchen for a while. But eventually we just had to figure out how people eat rutabagas.

One common use for rutabagas is as filling for pasties (though the Brits who make them may call rutabagas "swedes"). Pasties are a traditional Cornish miner's meal and lunchbox combined -- a tough pastry crust (tough enough to survive dropping down a mine shaft and thick enough to keep the insides warm) wrapped around a hearty filling. The crimped part of the crust, traditionally discarded, is a handle for your grimy miner fingers. (Pasties are also findable where those miners traveled, like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.)

We used this recipe for vegetable pasties, which may not be the most traditional (because the filling is cooked in a pan ahead of time instead of inside the pasty), but they cooked in about half the time the recipe specified (making them sort-of-reasonable for a weeknight dinner) and they sure were tasty. (Here's a meaty version, via Emeril.)

With the other half of the rutabaga, we made this smoked paprika and rutabaga bisque (we also threw in a handful of butternut squash), which was really different from our usual winter orange soup and brought out the lovely unique earthy taste of the rutabaga.

P.S. A quick pronunciation lesson: The spelling is the same, but these Cornish treats are called PASS-tees. The items typically employed in burlesque are PAYS-tees.

P.P.S. Some extra rutabaga recipes:
P.P.P.S. Enthusiasts, don't miss the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute or the International Rutabaga Curl.

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