Creamy Baked Orzo and moments of desperation

It's was impossible for me to imagine before kids entered my life just how difficult it would be to accomplish anything with them around.
Last weekend, for example, I made candies (fun times... ugh), cooked and did the laundry.  Maybe I got a clean bathroom in there too.  That's it though... for the whole weekend.  It sounds like so little and my house is a constant reminder of just how little it is.
Today was different.  Today was a sunny day.  Not only a sunny day but also a warm day.  Not only was it warm and sunny but it was the first day that I've had without kids (both of them) for more than a couple of house in months.
The reason is simple.  My Mother-in-law has returned.  My Mom-in-law returns to Trinidad (home for her) for 3 months every year.  Because she is a very wise woman she is in the Caribbean for Jan/Feb/Mar.   And why not.  Wouldn't we all choose to be somewhere else (read: warm) for those months if we had the choice?  Maybe not all of you I realize but I certainly wouldn't refuse it if it were available.  My Mom-in-law, when she is in T.O.  insists on taking Kid #1 and Kid #2 for an overnight every weekend.  We grudgingly accept and in turn get a night to ourselves once in a while.
Today was her first weekend back.
As a result of the absence of my two lovely children, my accomplishments since 3 p.m. this afternoon go something like this:

 - made this orzo crap

- made apple bread to give to somebody (as yet undecided)
- washed all my windows inside and out, on both floors (I'm not kidding)
- swept the floors and stairways
- gotten the laundry ready to go for tomorrow
- made date squares

I'm having trouble believing it too, even as I'm typing it out it looks ludicrous.  And there, my friends, is at least part of the reason why my house feels like a complete disaster.  I don't feel as guilty as I did just a day ago.  Now, I'm getting ready to go out for a while with D.  It feels weird after 3 months but we'll manage.

So, onto the food.  Orzo is kinda in between pasta and rice although it's classified as pasta.  I kinda made this up because we finished the last of the squash crap yesterday and well, we need to eat... and my window of opportunity isn't always as big as I'd like it to be.  So, it tastes good, it's creamy and has lots of veggies in it.  Make it veggie or carnivorous, the choice is yours...

Creamy Lemon Orzo with veggies and sausage
serves 6

1 lb sausage (I used organic herbed lamb - yum)
1 small onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small zucchini in small slices
3 cups button mushrooms cut into thick slices
3 cups broccoli cut into florets
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup (plus a little extra) cream or milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (or so) cream cheese
juice from 1/2 a lemon (about a tbsp or so)
1 tbsp honey
salt to taste

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the sausage on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or until just beginning to cook through.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly
Cook the orzo and the veggie broth together for about 5 minutes and set aside.
Saute the veggies together with some oil or grease just until the veggies are soft, about 5 - 7 minutes or so over med/low heat.
Place the veggies into a large baking dish.
Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch slices and add to the veggies.
To the orzo mixture add the cream, cream cheese, lemon juice, honey, salt (pepper sauce if you fancy ;-) and most of the parmesan (save some for sprinkling on the top - or screw it and use more).  Mix it all together until it's all a nice creamy saucy thing.
Pour the saucy orzo over the veggie/sausage thing.  Mix it all together well.  Sprinkle with the remaining (or additional) parmesan.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until nice and bubbly around the edges.
Cool for about 10 minutes before digging in.

Turnip, Parsnip Puff Cake

Last week's food box contained a bag of turnip.  Let me just say that again.  A BAG OF TURNIP.

I was going to exchange it for something else.  I had my finger over the mouse ready to push that button... and then I didn't.  I thought at the time that I could do this.  I could totally do this.  I wasn't afraid of turnips.  I wouldn't let them intimidate me any longer.
The truth is though that I am afraid of turnips.  Turnips are intimidating.  They're kind of ugly (except for that nice purple colour at the bottom).  The word turnip is even ugly.  They're not like the best tasting veg out there either.  There's this nip to them that is an acquired taste.  They also never die.  They can live in your bloody crisper forever.  Mostly though, I just don't know what to do with them.  There don't seem to be any recipes with the word turnip in them that sound sexy, mysterious or intriguing.  I got lucky with this stew (and I'm pleased as punch with my success) but I do consider it a fluke.
So, having not pressed the magic 'go-away-and-never-be-seen' button, I got a bag of turnip.  I can honestly tell you that now, at the end of this week's food box, we have used the last of the bag of turnip. I ate turnip, D ate turnip and Kid #1 and Kid #2 (complaining bitterly through each of his 4 bites) ate turnip.  It's a proud moment.  Wanda 1/Turnip 0.

Last Thanksgiving my Mom made this stuff.

It's like turnip cake.  That's the best word I've got to describe it.  Look, seriously, it's got flour and bakign powder in it... it's cake.  It complimented the turkey and ham beautifully and elevated the humble turnip to a previously unimagined place.  What's more is that it was beyond easy to make and it's flexible which is a quality that I appreciate in a recipe.  I ended up swapping some of the turnip for parsnip and sweet potato.

Turnip/Parsnip Puff Cake
serves 4 - 6 as a side dish

3 ( - 4!) cups mashed turnip, parsnip (and a sweet potato thrown in there for good measure) still hot
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 eggs beaten
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
crumble for the top*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the butter and beaten egg to the mashed veggies.  Mix well
In an small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together and mix.
Add the flour mixture to the mash and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a smallish baking dish (square, round oblong - doesn't really matter just not a 9x13 size).
Sprinkle the top with crumble (or buttered bread crumbs would do nicely as well)
Bake for about 25 minutes or until it's nicely browned on the top and edges.
Cool for about 20 minutes before eating.

Spiced Turnip Stew

Here is my predicament.  We need to eat.
But I'm finding myself challenged by the veggies that are in my fridge.  Here's the list:

1 pkg button mushrooms
1 lg bag of turnips
1 parsnip
1/2 cup of cabbage

My pantry has potatoes, 1 acorn squash, 2 sweet potatoes... and I'm stuck.  I've been combing the net today looking for inspiration and I gotta tell ya that when it comes to turnips the inspiration is pretty meagre.  If anything, my experience over the last few months with squash and parsnips and rutabaga and turnip have convinced that there is a niche in the whole cookbook market for these veggies.  It's hard to find stuff and I've had to get creative in a way that I haven't pushed myself before.  I guess that I'm kind of proud of myself.  Duh, I'm proud of myself for cooking with vegetables that just two generations ago were what you ate to get you through the winter...

Onward and upward, I've taken out the mushrooms, cabbage, turnip and parsnip.  Scratch the mushrooms and parsnips.  I've decided to leave them for something else.  So I'm going with the cabbage (what's left of it) and the turnip.

I saw an interesting idea with turnip and chickpeas and this spice paste thing.  It said that the spice paste was Ethiopian.  I dunno, it just tastes good with all that crap in there.  I thought briefly about throwing some coconut milk in there but stopped myself this time around.  I would do it next time though.  Might be a nice addition.

I used Lima beans because... I had them.  What can I say?  If you do swap out the beans just make sure that they are beans that aren't too soft (or you could go the other way and do a split pea/dahl kind of thing - stroke of genius right there!)

What came out was an interesting stew that was chock full of taste.  It's really cool that the weird, somewhat spicy turnip taste was really well complimented by all that spice stuff.  You could totally use potato or sweet potato here but I like to think of this as the Canadian version.  So, yeah... another turnip recipe under my belt.  I'm gonna start writing that cookbook ;-)

Somewhat Ethiopian Spiced Turnip and Lima Bean Stew
serves 4 - 6

1/2 cup cabbage sliced about 2 cm thick
1 onion sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups turnips, diced
2 cups (about 1 small can) Lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 veggie bouillion cube
1 cup water
Spice Paste (below)

Spice Paste:

1 tsp each:
   fenugreek (I didn't have it though)
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar or honey

Mix all the spices together in a bowl with the salt and sugar (if it's the honey then leave out just for a minute).  Add just enough water to form a paste (and add the honey once this is done).  Set aside.

Heat a large pot and add some oil.  Turn the heat down to med/low.  Throw in the onion, turnip and cabbage.  Let that stuff cook in the oil for a good 7 minutes or so.  Mix frequently so that it doesn't stick to the bottom.  Add in the garlic and mix well.  Continue to cook for another 5 - 7 minutes.  Add in the lima beans and mix.
Add in the bouillion cube and the spice paste.  Mix well.  Add in the water and stir until everything is mixed well.  Simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the turnip and cabbage are cooked through.
This tastes even better the next day so it's a great dish for leftovers or a make-ahead.

Powered by Blogger.

Archivo del blog

About Me

My photo
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
View my complete profile



Blog Archive



FBC Member