Monday, September 20, 2010

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

I received a box via UPS this summer. I receive boxes all the time, every week, typically containing something for work: catalogs, lighting fixtures, lamps, flash drives, miscellaneous swag, the usual. But this box clearly contained something personal. The box itself had been delivered to a few other people before me and it had scratched out names and places on it. It was a little saggy and tired. I considered this box, what a mystery. I started to open it and then had the revelation that I could check the return address; it was from a man I did not know in South Carolina, a town I had heard of but never been to. As I opened it and I sifted through the crumpled ads from a Sunday newspaper it hit me right before I got to it, ‘Oh the apple peeler!’ I had purchased a hand crank apple peeler on eBay the week before and apparently promptly forgotten about it. My summertime daydreaming of fall foods led me to unconsciously go shopping.

This past spring
Food and Wine published a recipe for sautéed rutabagas. Jim loves the whole pack of them; rutabagas, turnips, celery root, etc. I’m always looking for starch-like alternatives and this seemed to fit the bill. The recipe was called Shaved Rutabagas with Butter and Black Pepper, and that is the entire ingredient list except for some sea salt. The directions are very simple and they are exact as well, it directs to saute for 10 minutes, well, it took me 10 minutes until my dish looked like the one in the magazine. Although I only use one vegetable and the original recipe calls for two. I’ve made this dish a few times by shaving the rutabaga with my vegetable peeler, this results in 3/4” wide by 2” shavings. I was certainly in love with the dish but I wanted something more lacy, ribbon like, because I like vegetables in ribbon form (zucchini, carrots, asparagus). I also thought the crispiness ratio would be improved with less surface area and I wanted to twirl that rutabaga on to my fork. So this brings us back to the apple peeler.

After I had unpacked it from the mystery box and clamped it to the counter Jim tested it with a lemon. Jim didn’t get very far with that lemon besides removing an inch of zest and giving it 3 vampire like puncture marks, but we had mastered the mechanics of it! Last night we gave it a whirl (no pun intended).

Rutabaga Ribbons – Adapted from Food and Wine – Serves 4 as a side dish

1 rutabaga – peeled and shaved in to ribbons
½ stick of unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste

Add the butter to a wide pan, heat over medium to medium-high heat, add rutabaga shavings, sautee for about 10 minutes until the edges become brown. Toss with salt and pepper.

Notes: Jim’s son has adopted the apple peeler as a toy of his. He enjoys playing with it by clamping it and unclamping and cranking the handle forward then backwards and back again and generally just staring at it quizically. So useless kitchen tool moniker be damned, it doubles as entertainment.

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