Yum. This has been a good few days for food. Sundays are football days at our house, and since the Giants were playing at 4, we wanted to keep our dinner menu simple - you know, something that could be put together at halftime. Pizza is always a good, quick option for times like these. We'd gone up to Trader Joe's on Saturday specifically for some pizza dough (and maple creme cookies - they're unbelievably good). For this pizza, I went for the garlic and herb dough. And since Jeff's birthday is tomorrow, I decided to make it a fancy one in his honor. Behold my awesome vegetable arrangement:
Even with the cheese in the way, you can see what a lovely job I did. It's one of the best-looking pizzas I've ever made. My new stove has two ovens, and the smaller top oven ensured that the pizza was close to the heat all around, resulting in a remarkably crispy crust and golden-brown top. I used to have to turn on the broiler to get that effect!
Then there was dessert. Jeff got to request whatever he wanted for his birthday, so, of course, it was peanut butter. A peanut butter pie. I certainly give it props for prettiness, but it's not my favorite recipe ever. The peanut butter cream is great, but the chocolate kisses on top did nothing for me (since they're hard and need to be chewed and the peanut butter is soft and creamy, it's impossible to get both flavors in your mouth at once). And the crust, which is crushed vanilla wafers and roasted peanuts, was overkill. I think it needs a nice layer of some chocolate ganache. When I find the time to attempt that experiment, you'll be sure to get a recipe.
Now, about today's concoction . . . this recipe, though it looks a tad bland sitting there at the top of this post, takes mashed potatoes to a whole new level. The nutritional value of turnips, the tang of buttermilk, the flavor and crunch of bacon, and the sweetness of sauteed apple, all wrapped up in a smooth, creamy side dish. Potatoes have vitamins, too, but something like 90% of those are in the skin (I think I got that tidbit from Alton Brown). When you peel them and mash them up, especially if you add things like butter and cream, you no longer have any semblance of a healthy side dish. I'm hoping the turnips, apples and low-fat buttermilk helped mitigate that in this recipe, because this is something I need to do again. Soon. Perhaps Friday?
Apple-Turnip Mashed Potatoes
From the Southern Living Farmers Market Cookbook, which I wholeheartedly recommend checking out.
2 garlic bulbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
3 bacon slices, cut into 1/4" pieces
2 medium-sized Golden Delicious apples, peeled and chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3/4 c buttermilk
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut off the top of each garlic bulb, so that the all the cloves are showing. Place bulbs on a piece of aluminum foil, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and fold the foil to seal. Bake for 30-35 minutes until soft. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Squeeze the pulp from the garlic cloves into a small bowl.
Meanwhile, put the turnips, potatoes and enough salted water to cover in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain.
While that is going on, cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes until crisp. (While there seems to be a lot going on at this point, the only active thing you should be worrying about is the bacon - the garlic, turnips and potatoes can tend to themselves. Just make sure to watch the time.) When the bacon is finished, remove it from the skillet, reserving about 2 tbsp of drippings. Saute the apples in the bacon drippings until tender and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Once all the pieces are ready to assemble, combine the apples, turnips, potatoes, roasted garlic and thyme in a large bowl (I like to use the still-hot pot that the potatoes cooked in). Toss in the butter and mash with a potato masher until well blended (the heat from the vegetables should melt the butter fairly quickly). Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency (it's fine if it's still a bit chunky), stir in the buttermilk and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the crisp bacon just before serving.
The cookbook claims this is about 8 servings. This, of course, depends on how reasonable your idea of a serving is!