I’ve just realised that I haven’t posted anything to tempt the sweet of tooth lately. Not a morsel. By now I really should be posting something in honour of poor, executed St Valentine. A saint with only the most tenuous links to pleasure, romantic love, and chocolate. So tenuous as to be non-existent, an invention of Chaucer, and the English.
I digress. And possibly depress. But still, I should post something chocolately. And soon.
It won’t be grand. It won’t be clever. But it will fulfil my self-imposed brief, “do no (culinary) harm.” Kind of like my own Hippocratic Oath. But with calories. So what am I doing posting something whose title ingredient belongs in a roasting tray with carrots, onions and honey, or pureed into a thick winter soup? Well, because it is so good. Not perhaps chocolate good – although we can debate that. Or I can arm-wrestle you. You would probably win on both counts, although my high spinach intake might give me an edge.
But I wish to champion the humble parsnip. Parsnips, those misshapen anaemic looking carrot-alikes, get no real love, and I have no idea why. Chefs love them. They are cheap, versatile (have a look at any fancy UK restaurant menu and you will see what I mean), keep well, are good for you. Sure they were once seen as only fit for cattle feed – along with kale, shock, horror – but we have mostly come to our senses and use them as people food too. But not very much. And not very creatively.
What seems to really seal the no-deal deal is that they really do need at least a little cooking to enjoy them. So not one for the raw foodist. Even those who are happy to risk their teeth with rock-hard cauliflower, or nibble spongy strands of raw zucchini usually draw the line at raw parsnip. I can’t say I have ever taken a parsnip and thought, “I fancy a nibble at you.” But. But. A little weeny bit of cooking and, ah, they are lovely.
Prejudices about looks aside, the parsnip – when young and firm – is beautifully sweet, almost nutty, with a hint of earthy herbs and tangy citrus. When cooked – either roasted, boiled or steamed – the natural sugars develop and become almost fragrantly spicy. That’s what makes it so perfect for cakes. If you think about it, it is not very different to using carrots in baking, and no one thinks that is weird. Beetroot too seems to have leapt over the barrier and run across the finish line of baking acceptability. My Chocolate and Beetroot Cake is one of my most asked for recipes at work. All I am asking is to give this recipe a go. Or sub it into your carrot cake recipe.
I have given these parsnip, pear and rosemary muffins to numerous classes over the past couple of years and of anyone who expressed an opinion, 1) they really liked them, and 2) no one detected the parsnips. So you could give these to fussy kids and either 1) tell them nothing. Ever. Or 2) tell them about the parsnips AFTER you get the thumbs up. Slap on a buttercream icing and seal the deal for sure.
Usually I make these with half refined spelt and half wholemeal flour. But I have been lucky enough to be working with Sharpham Park spelt products as part of the month-long Spelt Challenge and used their Baker’s Blend for this recipe. It is probably really for bread but it worked great and had a super texture. I already use some of their products (I get them at Waitrose) but I didn’t realise how extensive is their range. Expect a few more savoury and sweet spelt goodness from me as I get creative with their very nutritious and high quality products, all organically grown and processed in Somerset. As a supporter of Bowel Cancer UK, Sharpham Park already have some superb and health-aware recipes on Great British Spelt Recipes.com.
And so to the giveaway. Not spelt, but coffee. More specifically coffee from Gourmesso. Gourmesso are an alternative to the more expensive Nespresso capsules and are designed to be compatible with Nespresso machines.
As I don’t have a Nespresso machine I can’t review them. But after reading reviews online, and seeing the 4.5 and 5 stars, I accepted their offer of 2 boxes of coffee, including their 15 different varieties and some decaf. Most stuff I get offered to review or promote I decline. But with Gourmesso there were no strings attached, no conflict of interest for me (coffee is good for you) and good independent reviews. Plus it seems a good bit cheaper than Nespresso, and with free delivery. So I want to pass this goodie on to you. Who doesn’t want coffee? Especially FREE coffee that you can enjoy in your pyjamas and without waiting in a long queue.
To win a box of Gourmesso coffee capsules all you need to do is tell me why you need coffee.
Pop this in as a comment on the blog, OR send me your answer/comment on Twitter (@foodtoglow), with a link to this post (use Bitly to make the link smaller) and mention @Gourmesso. Tweet + blog comments get double entries!
This offer is available to anyone living in the UK, but it makes sense to have a Nespresso or Nespresso-type machine already. ;-). This offer will close February 10th at midnight. I will pick a winner at random, so no pressure to be super clever with your answer. But please do try and make me laugh. I will contact the winner by email.Good luck!
Last year: My Quest For Perfect Hummus
Two years ago: Savoury Beetroot and Cheese Loveheart Scones
Miss R’s track of the week: Vintage Trouble – Blues Hand Me Down (we’ve seen them live – fantastic show)
This is an easy and really delicious way of making a sweet treat healthy and packed full of fibre. I used 225 grams of Sharpham Park Organic Spelt Flour “Baker’s Blend,” but any combination of refined and wholemeal would be good too.
100ml (3 ½ oz) rapeseed/canola or other neutral-flavoured oil
100g dark muscovado/dark brown/molasses sugar*
2 heaped tbsp best quality lime marmalade OR 2 tsp lime juice (marmalade is amazing)
100g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour (see note in recipe header)
2 ½ tsp baking powder
200g parsnips, finely grated (use smaller ones for sweetest flavour)
1 small ripe pear, diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
75-100g dried pear, snipped into small pieces OR dried apple
1 tbsp poppy seeds
A few tablespoons of oats, to top (optional)
Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper baking cups, or oil well. Depending on the size of your tin this will make 12-16 muffins, or a 23 cm/9 inch cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/350F.
Vigorously combine the oil, eggs and sugar until it is thick and leaves a trail when the spoon – or beaters – is lifted.
Sift over the flours and baking powder; fold in the remaining ingredients with the lightest of hands. Too much mixing will make the cakes tough. Fold the ingredients in just until the flour disappears and no more. I tend to use a silicone spatula or a large metal spoon rather than a wooden spoon as it is easier to lift and turn rather than mash the mix.
Divide the mixture evenly between the cups or into the cake tin. Top with the oats if you like. Bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes (depends on your oven), or the cake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before removing and stripping off the baking paper and cooling on a baking rack.
* I haven’t used liquid sweetener such as honey or date syrup, if you decide to perhaps leave out the fresh pear: it mainly contributes moisture rather than flavour in this recipe.