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Abrazos! xox Penny

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dirt Candy

Is the name of one of my favorite restaurants in New York ( and last week I was thrilled to read its glowing review in The New York Times. It got two stars!! The first veggie restaurant in 17 years to get such high praise. Dirt Candy is like a candy store for veggies and each dish is a playful mix of delicious tastes and textures. Just from a diner's point of view, in addition to the incredible flavors, Dirt Candy's real gift is its sense of food being all-out fun and, vegetables especially, being an adventure in humor and joy.

Genius-Chef Amanda Cohen presents her veggie dishes as a cast of A-listers: "Tomatoes!", "Carrots!", "Cabbage!" and so with that in mind, I approached the farmers' market with a little different eye. I bought a box of humble turnips and decided to turn them into "Turnips!". Quite a playful challenge as I bet I have only eaten a couple of turnips in my life, much less cooked them, and now I was looking at a whole box.

Then, right after the market I had to go to the grocery store and, oddly enough, the man ahead of me in the checkout line was singing the praises of all things...turnips! Some things are just meant to be. Game on!

And so, that is the thought for today...what sparks your sense of "play" and makes you feel like a kid in a candy store? Who inspires you?

For my own version of Candyland, I played three "games" with my box of turnips. The first, a traditional roasting. Once cooled, I sliced them up and used them as an earthy addition to a salad.

The second, mashed with fresh horseradish and scallions. Seriously, I couldn't even wait to plate them. A spoon in the pot made it a party.

The last game I tried was turnip "fries"...a real stretch for me as I am not crazy about fries in general but this was the recipe the man in the grocery store shared. Who needs candy canes when you can eat these instead? Oh my!

Here's how to make them...

Turnip Fries

Wash and peel 2 fresh, medium-sized turnips and slice into "fries". Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, sea salt and pepper. He used Italian herbs; I used Herbs de Provence. Bake at 350-375 about 30 to 40 minutes, turning once during baking. Because turnips are more watery than potatoes, they will be a moister kind of fry. No worries...gobble 'em up!

I served mine with veggie chili...

Get your hands on some "dirt candy" and have a happy play day!

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