You might be aware that I recently attended an event hosted by Rennie, featuring the SORTEDfood chaps. As part of their Happy Eating campaign, Rennie has been sending SORTEDfood mystery ingredients for the past few months to explore and cook with – and a blogger version was launched at the event. Ten lucky bloggers’ names were drawn, inviting them to select a mystery box containing an equally mysterious ingredient.
Ruta-what?! “Well these look pretty swede-y to me”, I announced as I pulled one out of my Rennie mystery box. Rutabaga is what they are called, I was told. Although on closer inspection and further research, I would like to inform you that they are in fact the same thing. Fun fact: the name “Swede” is merely an abbreviation of “Swedish Turnip”. They aren’t often referred to as rutabaga – mainly in the US apparently. I do think it sounds fancier, though. And it rolls of the tongue. So I’m going with it. Love a good, satisfying word. Rambunctious. Another good one. Pavlova. And another. Enough.
I’d not really cooked much with rutabaga before. It’s not something I have ever really been drawn to. So this was a clean slate. A “starting from the very beginning” sort of affair. I’ll tell you now that I will be avoiding rutabaga for a while. I’m over-rutabaga-d if that’s even a thing. You see, I began this challenge determined to go down the “sweet” route. But I have come to the conclusion that rutabaga simply doesn’t do sweet. It’s a savoury ingredient with a flavour, in my opinion, too strong for the likes of cake or dessert. I think it’s when you get to the point where you’re simply adding flavours to drown out the taste of your main ingredient, you need to rethink what you’re doing. Because then what IS exactly the point in adding it in the first place?!
Now before I tried sweet, I though perhaps a rutabaga crisp might be fun. With a herby flavoured salt, like thyme. Looks pretty delightful in the picture below, yes? No. If crisps were, in fact, called “soggies”, then we could deem this a success. But they’re not, so we can’t. I tried both baking and deep-frying the pesky little slivers, but to no avail. It’s simply not the right texture.
Round two of Harry vs Rutabaga was of the sweeter persuasion. I thought that perhaps a vegetable based cake – similar to how one would use courgette, carrot, or beetroot, could be a good avenue to go down. The recipe that I developed incorporated grated rutabaga, honey, orange zest, and pistachios. Sounds pretty delightful, right? Wrong. The sponge rose beautifully, the orange zest released a mouthwatering aroma, but biting into the cakes left you with an instant and overwhelming brussel-sprouty sort of taste in your mouth. I am a fan of brussel sprouts, don’t get me wrong, but purely in a savoury setting. It’s not a flavour one desires from a cupcake. They did look pretty wonderful though! Don’t let them fool you. (*EEAAAT MEEE*)
After this particularly frustrating breed of cupcake fail, I gave myself a well-earned rutabaga break. And after a few rutabaga-free days, returned to the rutabaga drawing board. What flavours complement the vegetable? And how is it best cooked? Focusing on simplicity was the answer. And it is with that I finally developed a recipe that worked! I present to you my oh-so-scrummy rutabaga, potato, and chorizo cakes.
By “cake” I’m talking fishcake-style cake not birthday cake, if you get me. I’m so pleased with this dish – the sweetness that the rutabaga brings to the table works beautifully with the chorizo and runny yolk of the egg. It will definitely be one I would make again. Although I’ll put my hands up right now and say that my egg poaching technique needs some work. Give it a go and let me know what you think!
1 medium potato
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
+ spinach, butter, S&P, poached eggs to serve
1/ Peel and chop both the potato and rutabaga, place in a pot of water with a pinch of salt, and boil for 10-15 minutes until the veggie chunks are soft (mashable).
2/ Drain, and return the pot with drained goods to the heat to steam off any excess water. Nobody likes a soggy mash. Remove from heat, add a couple of tbsp of butter and salt & pepper, and mash away. It doesn’t need to be perfect, so don’t worry if there are some cheeky lumps here and there! Transfer to a bowl, and pop in the fridge to cool.
3/ Meanwhile, chop the chorizo into small chunks (about 1cm x 1cm). Once cool, place chorizo, rutabaga mix, egg, and a heaped tbsp of flour into a bowl and stir until fully combined. Season to taste.
4/ Get a good layer of flour on your hands, and dust a surface (this is where it can get a little messy!). Mould the mixture into small patties/cakes, making sure to give them a good coat of flour to prevent sticking. I used about 2 tbsp of mixture per cake, which made ten in total. Place on a piece of cling film on a chopping board, and return to the fridge for half an hour to chill.
5/ In a medium frying pan, heat up a few good glugs of olive oil, and fry the cakes for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
6/ Place one or two cakes on a plate, top with seasoned buttery wilted spinach, a poached egg, and some extra cracked black pepper. Enjoy the yolky deliciousness!
Big thanks to Rennie and SORTEDfood for the opportunity! Check out SORTEDfood on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. And head to Rennie’s website for more info on their products and the #RennieHappyEating campaign.