Easy-Bake Ovens; Itty Bitty Kitchens; Women Chefs; Sleep-Eating; Taste of the Outback; Beef Rolls

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Laura Avery spoke with Amelia Saltsman about the parsnip, which resembles an ivory-colored carrot. She describes the under-appreciated vegetable as sweet, sharp, citrus-y, and pleasantly starchy. Amelia recommends selecting the most cylindrically shaped snips, in order to get the most volume per vegetableIf you've got an onion and some parsnips on hand, you're well on the way to a very interesting soup. Here's here recipe for a simple soup is the color and silky texture of rich cream.

Smooth-as-Silk Parsnip Puree
Makes 6 servings

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 lbs parsnips
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Walnut or pistachio oil, optional
  • Fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt for finishing
  1. In a wide pot over medium-low heat, gently cook the onion until translucent and softened, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and cut the parsnips crosswise into 1/2-inch coins (you should have about 8 cups). Stir the parsnips into the onions and season with salt and white pepper. Cover and cook until partially tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups of the stock, replace cover, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to keep soup at a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Add 4 cups more stock and continue simmering until the parsnips are very tender, about 15 minutes more.
  3. Puree the soup with a standing or immersion blender. To remove all the fibers and get a silky puree, rub the soup through a fine-mesh sieve (a chinois or tamis) into a clean pot. You'll have about 5 cups thick puree.
  4. Reheat the soup, thinning with remaining stock to the consistency of heavy cream. Add a couple of squeezes of lemon--the soup shouldn't taste lemony, but the flavors should come alive.
Serve with a swirl of walnut or pistachio oil if desired and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Soup may be made up to a day ahead and reheated.
-- 2006, Amelia Saltsman

Laura also spoke with David West of Clearwater Farms about his ramps, which are sometimes called wild leeks. Ramps have an oniony, garlicky flavor and have a bit of a bite. David says that ramps are best used like an herb and can be prepared by holding the bulb section over a hot grill, while protecting the tender leaves by holding them inside your hand. Prepared this way, the ramps are a great side to grilled meats. The season only lasts 5-6 weeks, so get them while you can. David also informed us that morel mushrooms will be available very soon.

Our "Featured Listener Recipe" this week comes from Carolyn Meltzer Carter:

"This has become one of my staple dinner party items, as so many folks are on low carb or diabetic eating plans. It has no crust, but it's not missed. I originally picked this up out of a Suzanne Somer's cookbook, acquired at a garage sale, and futzed with a bit to my own taste."
Sugar-Free Cheesecake
  • 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (regular or lite), softened*** 3/4 to 1 cup Splenda, to taste (Carolyn uses about 1 cup)
  • 3 large eggs or equivalent egg whites
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups sour cream (Carolyn prefers 2 cups, but 2 1/2 works well, too)
***Note: To soften cream cheese, leave it out of fridge for several hours or put in microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time until very soft.

  1. Preheat oven to 350--. Grease or pan spray 8" springform pan.
  2. In a blender, combine cheese with eggs until well mixed. Add lemon juice, vanilla, salt and sweetener. Mix until thoroughly blended. Scrape the sides of blender often to make sure everything is mixing.
  3. Line the bottom of pan with parchment paper or wax paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 layers of foil, being careful not to cover the top. Pour the batter into the pan. It should have a cake-like consistency.
  4. Place baking pan into roasting pan that's deep and large enough to hold baking pan. (Carolyn suggests placing the whole thing on a sturdy cookie sheet to make it easier to remove from oven when it's cooked.)
  5. Run tap water until very hot. Pour hot water into the roasting pan around the baking pan up to about 1". Place whole works into center of oven for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour, turn oven off and leave everything in cooling oven with door closed for another hour. Remove from oven, take out baking pan, take off foil and continue to cool on counter for another half hour or so. Place in fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Strawberry topping: Cut up 1 basket of fresh strawberries. Place in pot on stove with Splenda to taste. Heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. (Strawberries will put out their own liquid, so you don't need to add more.) When slightly softened, place in food processor and puree as much as you like. Add more sweetener to taste. Chill, it will thicken as it gets colder.

David Hoffman spoke about his The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet, to which well-known chefs and authors contributed recipes that can be made in the toy. It's also full of stories, including one in which David recounts how Bobby Flay and others who were denied Easy Bake Ovens as children channeled their Easy Bake-envy into careers as food professionals. He provided the following recipe from his book:

Art Smith's Pecan Ice Box Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies, baked two at a time

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ozs (about 1/2 cup) coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
  2. With a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour, then the toasted pecans, to make a stiff dough.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, form the dough into a 9-inch log. Wrap tightly in parchment paper. Refrigerate or freeze in the freezer until ready to use. If using right away, chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least two hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the Easy-Bake Oven for 30 minutes. Butter and flour the baking pans.
  5. Unwrap and slice the dough into 3/8-inch thick rounds. Place two rounds in each prepared pan, slide into the oven, and bake until beginning to brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the pans on a wire rack, and when cooled completely, dust with the powdered sugar. The cookies can be prepared up to 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Recipe courtesy of The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet by David Hoffman (Running Press)

Justin Spring says that he went through a "kitchen-clutter intervention" which began with his admission that he was "powerless over kitchen clutter and that his life in the kitchen had become unmanageable as a result." His Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook, subtitled "Everything You Need To Know About Setting Up and Cooking in the Most Ridiculously Small Kitchen in the World-Your Own," features 100 recipes and countless tips on how to deal with small spaces. Here's an example:

Mom's Sunday Pot Roast
Serves 2

Justin actually slow-cooks this "ultra-simple" recipe in a toaster oven! By using a more inexpensive cut, boneless chuck steak, rather than chuck roast, you won't need to carve or slice anything, it's ready to go to the plate just as it is. Not a "gravy-making guy," Justine suggests using sour cream (or applesauce) mixed with prepared horseradish as an accompaniment, although he finds the pot roast is really delicious all by itself, garnished with just a little finely chopped fresh parsley.
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs boneless chuck steak, approximately 1 1/2" thick, with some fat on it
  • salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium beef broth (optional)
  • 2 shallots or 1 medium large onion, peeled but left whole
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, scraped and cut into chunks
  1. Preheat your (toaster) oven to 375--F.
  2. Line a 9" x 9" pan with tinfoil for easiest clean-up. Season the meat well with salt and pepper and put it in the pan with the shallots or onion. Add 1/3 cup of water or the broth if using. Put the pan in the oven uncovered and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the meat over, cover the pan with foil, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes more at a reduced heat of 350--F. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pan, turning and basting them with the juices as you do so and sprinkling them with some salt and pepper. Then cover it again with the aluminum foil and bake until the vegetables are done, about 30 minutes more.

    Chef-author Ann Cooper has spent the last few years developing a pilot program on Long Island, New York, for transforming school cafeterias into culinary classrooms for students, one school lunch at a time tells. She joins us today to talk about the obstacles women face in the culinary industry. If you'd like to read more about the evolution of women chefs, check out her book, A Woman's Place is in the Kitchen.

    Jonathan Gold of the LA Weekly, visits a restaurant in Alhambra where he loves the Shandong-style beef roll and the "house pan fried cake." 101 Noodle Express (626-300-8654) is at 1408 E Valley Boulevard. His mention of the "El Tepeyac burrito" refers to the the gargantuan house specialty at El Tepeyac, a Los Angeles landmark restaurant (323-267-8668) at 812 N Evergreen Ave in East LA.

    Dr. Will Clower, author of The Fat Fallacy and the forthcoming The French Don't Diet Plan: 10 Simple Steps to Stay Thin for Life, discussed the connection between the sleep medication Ambien and "sleep eating," a condition where people binge-eat in their sleep.

    Chef Andrew Fielke specializes in high-class, uniquely Australian cuisine. He's developed a passion for working with the native foods of Australia and has been instrumental in educating people about them.