I can’t believe I’m forced to consume the entire Brownie Pie I made last Wednesday! (By the time I’m done writing this article, it should be just a vague memory.)
After sifting and whipping, and then more mixing and scooping, I placed my baking pan full of chocolaty batter in the deepest depths of our oven with my hopeful heart stomping anxiously inside my chest. I was testing a new recipe while adding my own twist. The twist was of an orange shape, shave, fragrance, and flavor. What came out of the dark and hot chamber was this brilliant fudge brownie with a crisp top, cracking under the slightest pressure as the ice breaking on a river in spring (anywhere east and north from LA, one understands).
Oh, I was so proud and so in love with myself for having completed my bakery challenge. Not wasting any time, I scooped a generous portion out for our friend and her two daughters who stopped by to visit with us. They complimented the cake, mentioned its FRAGRANCE and how INTENSE it was, after which they politely left HALF of the brownie pie on the plate. Next in line was Jason. Taste it he did. The spoon vanished inside his mouth, wiggled its silver tail, and then instantly repelled backwards. I glanced at Jason’s face. His expression was puzzling for a moment. I watched his mouth stretch gently askance, and then mysteriously curve up and down into a zig zag (Yup, just like in a cartoon!) as he spitted “Hmmm…it’s too… orangy!”
I really wanted to stamp my shoeless footprint on that sour grimace of his.
But I didn’t. I took the goods back to the kitchen, wrapped it up neatly, and put away on the shelf. There will be people banging on the door begging for a slice of my famous fudge brownie one day, with Jason leading the crowd. I will make them pay! … a bag of colorful beads, a fan of feathers, and a golden tooth per each slice. That’s right, my cake will be worth as much as the White People paid for the entire Manhattan …or so. Dammit.
A lot of experimenting goes on in my kitchen, clearly. It’s almost like a science lab minus the science part. Just to end that Thanksgiving reminiscing, and in time to start prepping for Christmas (oh, boy), let me quickly walk you through my latest culinary trial – Mashed Rutabaga and Cauliflower.
You see I am not a big fan of mashed potatoes. Even as a kid, I would have my mom call me to the kitchen when the potatoes were ready, so I could put aside a few before my brother beat the crap out of the rest of the guys in the pot. I bet as an infant I was stealing whole carrots when nobody was watching, and fussed around when fed those purees from a jar. I bet I grew teeth overnight after that first tasting.
I should talk to my mother!
Back from talking to The One Who Brought Me To Life. Mama dismissed my theory on premature teething. Moreover, she informed me that whatever food they put in front of my face it would disappear within nanoseconds, apple and carrot purees included. “I don’t like the way this conversation is going. Good night, mother.”
Until this past Thanksgiving, I was a rutabaga virgin. Never before did I have an opportunity, nor desire to mess around with that oddly looking bulb. Since I love cauliflower, I thought I’d cook both together, with a parsnip for company, and to keep the Party in the same color theme. And so she did. (“She” being me. Don’t ask me why I sometimes refer to myself in the third person. It appears at times that I experience my life through narration, as if I was reading about my character. OK, I’ll stop talking before someone calls for the authorities.)
I know that now you just really WANT THAT EFFIN RECIPE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HOW MUCH LONGER CAN WE LISTEN TO THAT NONSENSE you’re thinking. Ok, ok… Let’s do it. (I’m such a pushover!)
MASHED RUTABAGA WITH CAULIFLOWER
– 1 whole cauliflower, with leaves trimmed and cut into florets
– 1 rutabaga root, peeled and cut in large cubes
– 1-2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut in big cubes
– 1 tbsp organic butter
– 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
– 1/4 cup chives, roughly chopped
– kosher salt
– freshly ground WHITE pepper
– 2 bay leaves
The fun part begins when all your veggies are in a big pot, covered with water, bay leaves floating about, and seasoned generously with salt (say 1 tbsp or more). Turn off the heat and drain the veggies the minute they are cooked aldente. That’s right, you want them to still have a good bite. Why? Because all these vegetables tend to soak up a lot of water the longer they cook. You don’t want your dish soggy and beyond mushy, do you? When the water is all down the drain of your sink, put the pot back on the stove over a very low heat for a couple of minutes, thus allowing more moisture to evaporate from the potatoes and the gang. But watch not to burn their precious bottoms!
When all the dirty work is done, time for make up and hair. Add the butter and grated cheese into the pot along with another tablespoon of kosher salt and almost as much of pepper. The heat will melt all those goodies while you hit the pot with a potato masher. Bang it good, ensuring that all the gooey, cheesy and buttery goodness is distributed and incorporated among all the vegetables. Don’t bash it too much, though. It’s not supposed to be baby food, ok? Keep it rustic and chunky. Scoop the dish into a pretty bowl and sprinkle your chives all over, just as that green glitter you used to put on your cheeks on the way out to a discotheque… way, WAY back in the day.
The dish came out GOOD BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS. I know for a fact that Jason was secretly terrified by the idea of making that meal in the place of traditional mashed potatoes. He always claims he trusts me, and loves 99.8% (precisely) of all the food I make. That doesn’t change the fact that he experiences moments of sheer terror when sporadically I juggle some culinary ideas in front of his face. Let’s thank The Lord for helping me deliver those ideas happily and with no complications… in 99.8% cases.
A Brownie Pie? What Brownie Pie?