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The air is redolent with the smell of parsnips…

January 16, 2012

My kitchen has turned into a parsnip preparation room. I was surprised by the parsnippy smell which has invaded the house – it’s quite pleasant, but also quite strong even though I’m only doing the essentials so that I can put them in the fridge.  My uncle Walter used to say that you should cook parsnips whole, and without peeling them; the beloved says this view is echoed by many. All I can say is that they must either have very small parsnips or very large cooking pots. These parsnips need chopping – and peeling too, and some of them have lots of limbs which need careful washing.  And there’s a huge lump of tough parsnip down the middle of most of them which definitely needs cutting out.

Parsnip, potato, red pepper and leek casserole for dinner (chop everything up and put in a casserole dish, add some salt, ground black pepper, a glug of olive oil and half a cup if water, stir well, put the lid on and bung in the oven for an hour or so) with lentils and spinach. Very hearty winter type food. To lighten things up?  Tiramisu for dessert.

This is Jeaniegran’s recipe from Florence, where they apparently serve great slabs of the stuff in the markets. It should be served in a clear glass bowl, but I quite like the old willow pattern serving dish.

You’ll need 16 sponge fingers, half a cup of black coffee, 3 tbsp brandy, 2 oz sugar, 2 eggs and 7 oz mascarpone cheese – and you need to make it the day before you want to eat it  (sorry). Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks up with the caster sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk the whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Line a suitable bowl with half of the sponge fingers and drizzle a spoonful of coffee and a little brandy on each biscuit. Empty the mascarpone cheese into a bowl and stir it well.  Fold the egg yolks into it and then fold in the egg whites. Put a layer of the mixture over the sponge fingers and then put the rest of the sponge fingers on top and add more coffee and brandy (don’t drown it) and then add the rest of the mixture. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and refrigerate overnight.  The perfect antidote to parsnips.






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