Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mashed potatoes and rutabaga, lentils with roasted mushrooms, cabbage salad

"Neeps and tatties" is the hilarious Scottish name for this mashed potato and rutabaga dish, I discovered when googling what to cook with a rutabaga. How could you read about something like that and not cook it immediately? Coupled with the fact that my cooking pal on this post, Jess, is a mashed potato connoisseur, it seemed like a great choice. We're currently at that weird part of Spring here in Philly where it's in the mid forties at night, thus cold enough to still eat some of our favorite comfort foods before full summer sweatiness of 100% humidity means that all recipes will be chosen purely based on how long any kind of heating element needs to be on to make them (i.e. preferably, 0).

Here's Jess artfully showing off what a rutabaga looks like. Should this blog become only about cooking with pals? Sure seems like it! Thanks 2 Jess for cooking with me and bringing really yummy mango sorbet for dessert, perfect pal hang! PS if this cabbage salad seems gross to you, honestly get out because this is only the beginning of raw cabbage salad season. So I guess just, prepare for that...plus it's delicious! One of us had 3 helpings ^_^

Neeps and tatties:

Enough potatoes (preferably yellow) to fill 5 C of ~ 1 inch cubes
Enough rutabaga to fill 4 C of ~ 1 inch cubes (see above picture for how much we used, I'd say around 2 lbs of each vegetable)
1.5 C full fat buttermilk, or whatever dairy thing you prefer. You could mix a little yogurt into whole milk, or just use whole milk. But we really liked the tangy flavor from the buttermilk
3 tbsp of unsalted butter, or more or less to taste
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Bring your largest possible pot about 2/3 of the way full of water to boil. We elected not to peel the potatoes but of course you can, and you should certainly wash and peel the rutabaga. Dice both potatoes and rutabagas into 1 inch cubes, but keep them separate because they have different cooking times. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt and carefully add in all of the rutabaga. Boil, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the potatoes and boil for another 15 to 20 minutes, until both the rutabaga and the potatoes can be very easily pierced with a fork. Drain the pot and let drain in the sink / continue to heat and fluff for a good five minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the buttermilk and get the butter ready. Now, this is important -- transfer the neeps and tatties a.k.a potatoes and rutabaga back to the pot you cooked them in, or a serving bowl, and add the buttermilk first without adding any butter. This is apparently what keeps the potatoes fluffy and prevents butter from pooling up. Mash with a masher or a fork until all the milk is incorporated, then add the butter and continue to mash and stir until it's all melted in. Then add the salt and pepper, and you're done! Easy!

Lentils with roasted mushrooms

This dish is a really easy one to throw together, and I love serving it with the mashed potatoes because it's very savory and almost meaty tasting. You could use any kind of lentil here and any kind of mushroom, you'll just be cooking both separately and throwing them together with some butter, garlic, herbs and mustard so truly nothing can go wrong.

1 lb cremini mushrooms, or your preferred type or a mix
1 C dried lentils, we used the small brown kind
1 clove garlic, diced finely
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp creamy Dijon mustard
handful of fresh parsley
olive oil

Set out a small sauce pan with lentils and 4 C water. Bring to a boil and continue cooking on medium to low heat, covered, for around 20 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked but not falling apart.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (you see what I mean about this being an early Spring, not a late Spring or Summer recipe). Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and separate stems and caps. Cut mushrooms into slices and dice caps finely, and place in a baking dish that will comfortably hold them all. You'll want it to be something pretty sturdy with some depth (so, not a cookie sheet), because the mushrooms will release a lot of liquid in the oven. Toss mushrooms with around a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until you see lots of liquid in the bottom of the dish and the mushrooms have shrunken in size significantly.

As lentils and mushrooms are finished (hopefully you can time it so they're done at around the same time) add them to a large serving bowl and toss with the butter, mustard, herbs, diced garlic, salt and pepper. All done! Make sure when you add the mushrooms to really pour in all of that liquid that the mushrooms release because the lentils will soak it all up, and it makes the whole thing taste amazing.

Red cabbage slaw

This is really my go-to salad choice, always. I think I have probably extolled the virtues of slaw elsewhere on this blog or / every day to you in person if you are my friend but this salad is honestly everything I look for. There's a vinegary bite that's well balanced between sweet and salty, cabbage always stays crunchy, and shallots are delicious. This simple slaw is a good balance to rich neeps and tatties (no, I won't stop saying it). One note, you might prefer more or less dressing here depending on preference or how large your cabbage is (ours was pretty small), so just double or half as desired -- or if you prefer a creamy dressing for a coleslaw type of effect, you could add a tablespoon of plain yogurt in to the mix here too. I like to use red cabbage because it's prettier and usually comes in smaller head sizes, but any kind of cabbage would taste good here.

1/2 red cabbage
1 small shallot
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Slice cabbage in half and remove tough core -- I do two diagonal cuts and sort of remove it as a triangle wedge from the bottom, but it's also easy to cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core on a bias. Slice cabbage into smallest shreds you possibly can. I guess some people use a food processor or a mandolin slicer but I've never found that necessary, just a steady hand to cut sort of ribbons from one quarter at a time. Mix all dressing ingredients together separately, then pour over cabbage slices, toss, taste for salt and pepper and enjoy! You might want to let it sit for just a minute before serving so that the cabbage can soften just slightly in the dressing.

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