Who Needs Scallions? Mashed Potatoes and Rutabaga

Two dinner posts in one week instead of dessert? This is Ghost Baker blasphemy! And I picked rutabaga to work with; such a bizarre looking vegetable. Maybe hitting our 100th DinnerCakes post this week has made me loopy.


Don’t worry, I’ve just been cooking a lot lately and trying new things… and thankfully they seem to be working out well! Weight loss and weekly baking weren’t really fitting together, though I believe Chef Edwin got a good laugh at my dreams of a pound cake diet (which he sarcastically termed my “pound diet”).

My mother-in-law got me a subscription to Food Network Magazine for Christmas which I have already toyed with before here. This was a really cool gift because now I get great, seasonal recipes delivered directly to my door (er, mail slot). Today’s recipe was inspired by the Nov/Dec 2008 issue featuring some fancy potato recipes.


The original recipe called for a few things that I thought were a little unnecessary for my purposes (a weeknight side dish). And my husband quickly vetoed my quest for fresh parsley and scallions in the grocery store stating incredulously, “Who has ever eaten something and said it needs more scallions!?”

So here we are! I took out some of the “fluff,” used basic Russet potatoes instead of Yukon Gold and added broccoli. This recipe makes a shallow baking dish full of mashed potatoes and rutabaga. We had enough leftover for a full week of dinners and/or lunches… quite a bit, really. But I surprisingly never got tired of it! This dish really is a nice surprise. I’d only had rutabaga once before at Thanksgiving 2008. I thought it had a very distinct, almost bitter taste that didn’t agree with me, but combining it with potatoes makes it much more mild and very enjoyable.

mashed potatoes and rutabaga

Mashed Potatoes and Rutabaga
adapted from Food Network Magazine

1 pound rutabaga (yellow turnip), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons margarine, room temperature (I did half regular butter and half margarine in an attempt to reduce the fat content, but you certainly don’t have to)
3/4 cup half and half, warmed
salt, to taste (I used coarse Kosher salt)
1/2 tablespoon oil (I used Smart Balance oil)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
3/4 cups plain breadcrumbs

In a large pot, cover cut rutabaga and potatoes with cold, salted water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to a simmer until the vegetables are tender (they should hold there form, but there should be little resistance when pierced with a fork). This will take approximately 30 minutes.

Drain the water and turn the heat down to low. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter (not the margarine) and mash (I used a potato masher) until smooth (I like to leave just a few potato chunks in mine, but I know everyone has there own preference!). Add the warm half and half and salt. Keep warm on low setting.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of margarine with the oil in a skillet on medium. Add the breadcrumbs and broccoli and cook until broccoli is tender, stirring so that the breadcrumbs don’t burn.

Pour the potato mixture into a shallow baking or casserole dish. Sprinkle potatoes with the breadcrumb/broccoli mixture and serve.

Note – after discussing this dish with Edwin, we think mashed cauliflower might also be good in here, possibly as a substitute to the Russet potatoes. Let us know if you try it out!

More Cabbage (Roasted Stuffed Turnips)

It’s a cold wet day here in DinnerCakes land. Perfect for staying indoors to cook; and I use the term ‘perfect’ loosely. I hate the cold. Hate it. People who love winter are nuts to me. It’s only November and I’m counting down the days till May. Yeah the whole snowy landscape looks charming an wondrous; but that’s just until you get outside and you realize you’re freezing and you can’t feel your face. But I digress…

The Lone Turnip

I volunteer at a cooking store in Bethesda every now and then called L’Academie de Cuisine. I’m not “living the dream” of quitting my job and becoming a full time chef (let’s face it people, dreams don’t usually translate well to real life), but working there as an assistant gets me some great exposure to different kinds of cooking along with meeting a wide variety of chefs. Recently I volunteered for a class under Christine Ilich in which we made some really great soups (which I will have to write about some time). She was great to work under and really emphasized variation and adaptation with cooking. We actually didn’t completely follow any recipe passed out to the attendants that day and the soups were still amazingly tasty. A true sign of culinary prowess.

Prepping The Filling

Christine had brought some vegetables from her personal garden for the class and some of them just weren’t used. I, never one to turn down free food, gladly took these off her hands (score). One of the things I took back with me were a couple of turnips. Turnips, it turns out, are part of the cabbage family. So if cabbage is the black sheep of my made-up lettuce family, then turnip is like the uncle that you never call. You never talk about turnip. You know he’s there, but you consider it a good year when you’ve minimized your time with him as much of possible. However, I am not one to waste food. Ever. Unless it is spoiling, by god, I will find a use for it!

Roasted Stuffed Turnips

Smitten Kitchen has this excellent post for roasted stuffed onions. These things are amazing. I have often just eaten them as the main (and only) dish for dinner. Screw chicken, man, just give me another friggin’ onion. Inspired by Christine Ilich’s excellent soup variations and by Smitten Kitchen’s mouth watering onions, I decided to try my own adaptation.

Looking back, I would have added some more seasoning. These things are good, but nowhere up to the level that is the roasted stuffed onions.

Roasted Stuffed Onions
adapted (loosely) from Smitten Kitchen
3-4 turnips
1 celery stalk; chopped
2 garlic cloves; minced
2 cups roasted bread roughly the size of crutons (or croutons)
1 onion; chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8oz baby spinach; coarsely chopped
1 cup peas; frozen or fresh
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter; melted

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prepping the turnips
Scrub the turnips. If old (rough, brown skin), peel them. Cut off the tops and bottoms, about a 1/4 to 1/2 an inch. Core the turnips using a melon baller (it’s really easy). Leave a 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick wall. Try not to go through the bottom, but don’t lose any sleep over it if you do. Take the “innards” and roughly chop them, then combine with a 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place on a baking sheet with the hollowed turnips and let roast for 20 minutes.

The filling
Prepare a heat-proof bowl with the spinach, bread, stock and melted butter. Once the turnips are out of the oven, reset the oven to 350°F. Saute the onion, celery, garlic and turnip “innards” until soft; approximately 5 minutes. Add to the prepared bowl and mix together.

Stuff the turnips with the filling. If you have extra, no worries. Throw it in the pan as bedding. It’ll still be quite tasty. Roast the turnips for 20-25 minutes, until the turnips are softened, slightly browned.