Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ode to a Parsnip

How is it that I have only discovered this root so recently? I've seen them around, and usually imagined that they tasted a bit like turnips. Recently, a friend suggested that I use them in my veggie pot pie that I made, and among all the other veggies I used in this dish, the parsnip stood out far above the rest.

So I bought some more. What would I do with them this time? I hopped onto epicurious and found a rosemary parsnip risotto recipe. Seemed simple enough, and I've made carrot risotto in the past, so I figured this wouldn't be too far off.

Oh, but I was wrong!! The parsnip and rosemary flavours complemented each other so well! The parsnip tastes like what the carrot only hints at, and when slowly cooked for a while, becomes even sweeter than its shorter, more colourful cousin.

The most fascinating part of the recipe was the drizzle of Balsamic vinegar right before serving. Don't skip this step! It perfectly complements the sweet and strong herbal

Adapted from

I used Pacific Foods organic vegetable broth, which is orange in colour and gave the risotto a pretty orange hue. Otherwise, I'd imagine the risotto might turn a bit grey. This dish makes fabulous leftovers!

8 cups vegetable broth

5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds parsnips (about 7 medium), peeled, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
5 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) arborio rice
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Aged balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)

Bring broth to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep warm.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsnips and 3 teaspoons chopped rosemary. Cook until parsnips begin to brown, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir 2 minutes. Add enough warm broth to cover; simmer until almost all broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, and cook until rice and parsnips are tender, allowing each broth addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring frequently, about 20 minutes total. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary, and cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Schoc Chocolates - Lemon White

One of the best rewards from owning an I.B.O.C.* is that friends visiting from far away remember this and often bring treats to restock it. My latest discovery came from Raymundo and Kiwi Kate, who were back visiting from New Zealand and brought us not one but three fabulous chocolate bars from a brand I'd never heard of: Schoc Chocolates - Real chocolate for real people.

The three bars were all intriguing flavours, two of them in a dark chocolate base, one in white chocolate. I'll describe the other two once I've gotten around to tasting them but today's review is Lemon White. This normally wouldn't have been the first one I would taste, because while white chocolate was a favourite of mine when I was much much younger, these days I lean more towards the darkest. But Big E chose this one to taste first and I was very pleasantly surprised.

But first things first: the tablets come in pouches covered in a variety of chocolate-related words, such as Mayan, Xocolatl, sensuous and... physio-physiology. Huh?
I'd seen the pouches before on Dolfin Chocolat tablets, and am quite fond of that particular style of packaging. Why? I'm not sure. There's something satisfying about the smoothness of the exteriour and how well it reseals once a piece or two are taken.

The flavour was excellent! Unlike other lemon chocolates I'd had before (which tend to use lemon rind and lemon oil for flavouring) this one uses bits of dried lemon. This makes for a surprising and very pleasing tartness that is the perfect contrast to the sweet rich creaminess of the white chocolate.

Schoc describes this flavour thusly:
Lemon...our own dried lemon in creamy white chocolate
The Cacao Power category is a tough one for white chocolate, so I'm going to make it not apply. That is not to say that this tablet wasn't packed with delicious cocoa butter... it's just different. However, dreamy creamy meltiness is much more easily achieved with the white chocolate. Lastly, the surprise factor of the real lemon makes the flavour do well in the complexity category, though I'd imagine that their lemon and cracked black pepper in dark chocolate is even more complex.

I look forward to trying the next two tablets, as well as hopefully many more visits from Ray and Kate...

Cacao power: n/a Meltiness: 5 beans Flavour Complexity: 4 beans

*International Basket (or Bowl or Box) of Chocolate