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Kissin’ Wears Out, Cookin’ Don’t!

I heard this one for the first time yesterday at a talk I gave at the Alameda Tuesday Club, a local Portland philanthropic and social group with a fascinating 100-year history. Judy, the woman who shared this said that it is an Amish saying and I knew I’d find use for it right away.

And I hope there’s some truth to it because I think I’m on the verge of wearing you all out with root veggies. Next week you’re going to get a break from them for sure but this week I am eager to answer some of the questions that surfaced from last week’s post. I received inquiries about what to do with parsnips and cabbage so here we go.

On the cabbage front this gratin and this soup should serve you well. I was also asked about how to make cabbage a little more kid-friendly and in my experience the below recipe for Japanese Cabbage Pancakes (Okonomiyaki) is a great way. Please report on how they go over.

Sliced parsnips, celery root and rutabaga.

Now to Parsnips, which are inherently very sweet and if fresh, very tender. Their core can get a bit woody and fibrous if they have been in storage for a long time but before you cut out the core (which is kind of a pain to do), taste a thin slice raw and you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you can keep it. Chances are you can especially if you’ve gotten them from a farmers market or CSA box.

Parsnips are wonderful additions to this veggie hash or these latkes. However, for a dish where they truly shine, try this light “cake” in which they are paired with celery root. Often gratins are heavy on the cheese and/or milk.  However, in this version, some simple broth or stock  (or veggie bouillon) provides the moisture and thyme, salt and pepper are the only seasonings and the result is light yet sweet and rich from the veggies themselves.

Parsnip and Celery Root “Cake”

It would be awfully hard to wear me out on root veggies and winter produce in general so I definitely stand by the Amish saying (at least the latter half!).

Lastly, I have a couple more spots in this Saturday’s Greens Class (a short and inexpensive class) and  have posted  a handful of new ones!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Parsnip and Celery Root Cake
–adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

You can make this as written with parsnips and celery root or substitute rutabagas or turnips for the celery root. I’m sure potatoes and sweet potatoes would be comfortable in the mix too so feel free to use it as your use-up-random-veggies dish if you need to. I made the dish pictured above with parsnips, celery root and rutabaga and it was delightful.

As I note above, parsnips can have woody and fibrous cores but if they are quite fresh they probably don’t and you don’t need to cut out the core. Taste a thin slice raw and see how it seems. I’ve found that parsnips I buy at the farmers’ market are quite tender all the way through, even the really big ones.

You want to slice your veggies very thin. A sharp knife works great if you’re comfortable and a bit practiced and the food processor is a good alternative too.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 3 small (or 2 medium!:) parsnips, scrubbed and thinly sliced.
1/2 a medium celery root, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, chopped up a bit
6 tablespoons vegetable broth or stock (I use veggie bouillon)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.
Toss the sliced onion and veggies in a large bowl with they thyme, at least a teaspoon of sea or kosher salt and plenty of pepper. You need to be generous with the salt.

Put the butter in a baking dish and place it in the oven while it’s preheating. When the butter is melted add the veggie mixture and combine well and pack the veggies down as evenly as possible. Pour the stock or bouillon over the mixture. Place a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil over the veggies and press down firmly. Bake for an hour and then remove the foil and turn your oven up to 425 (or to broil if you’re in a hurry) and cook for another five minutes or so until the top is nicely browned and the veggies are very tender.

Japanese Cabbage Pancakes (Okonomiyaki)
–adapted from 

These pancakes are fantastic. They make a light supper with a salad on the side. Don’t be put off even if you don’t love cabbage. They are quick, cheap, and I have yet to encounter any resistance to these, adults and kids alike. Traditionally they include shrimp though I always make them without and love them that way but by all means add 1/2 cup of chopped shrimp if you like.

Makes about 12-18 pancakes (depending on how big you make them).

Scant ½ cup mayo
Scant 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot chili sauce)

3-4 large eggs
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups cabbage, finely sliced
1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped (or 3 tablespoons or so diced red or yellow onion if that’s what you have)
Olive, coconut or peanut oil for pan-frying
1-2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Whisk the first set of ingredients together for your sauce. Set aside while you make the pancakes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Fold in cabbage, scallions, and shrimp. Warm a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until glistening. Spoon the batter into the skillet in whatever size you like. I make them about 4-5 inches in diameter. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Keep pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest. Scatter sesame seeds on top of pancakes and serve with dipping sauce.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. I do love to cook, but if your kissin’ has worn out you made need a refresher course! in Seattle, Valentine’s class is still open, Feb 11. What’s cooking without some lovin in it??

    January 26, 2012
    • Oh don’t worry on that front! As I note towards the end, the latter part of the phrase is mostly my mantra!:)

      January 26, 2012
  2. I’ve made the Japanese Pancakes several times now, and they still have not had a chance to get cold. I’ve varied the recipe slightly each time depending on what I had on hand. They are always delicious, and the sauce rules. Last time I made a grain-free version using coconut flour instead of AP flour, added some cauliflower as well as cabbage, then used coconut oil to fry, they were so, so yummy. Thanks as always for your inspiration!

    January 26, 2012
  3. I love your cauliflower idea Jill. Will try that next time.

    January 26, 2012
  4. Bob #

    We made a curried parsnip, apple and sweet potato soup the other night. Pretty darned good!

    January 26, 2012
  5. Mary Lane #

    We just had the cabbage pancakes for lunch, and both of us loved them. After slicing the cabbage, I chopped it finer with the food processor. Tom loved the sauce; I prefer the pancakes just plain. Thanks.

    January 28, 2012
  6. Look forward to trying the Cabbage Pancakes. I’m thinking I’ll add some grated kohlrabi – what do you think? Thanks for all you do Katherine. I hope we’ll have enough members to sign up through you this year!

    January 28, 2012
    • Hi Shari,
      I think kohlrabi would be a perfect addition. Let me know how it goes.

      January 29, 2012
  7. Maryann #

    Well…I liked the cabbage pancakes. But my kids were not sold on the idea. I’m not done with this dish though, I think if I try again I might get a better response. I made the mistake of overselling the pancakes before they tried them (“You are going to love this!!”), which is basically a deal-killer. I honestly can’t believe I haven’t learned that lesson yet! And I made the sauce a tad too spicy for them. But I thought they were delicious. Thanks for the recipe!!

    February 1, 2012
    • Thanks for the update Marynn. You know I haven’t learned that lesson either. Come to think of it it probably took my son a few tries to like these and he skips the sauce because it’s too spicy and sometimes just puts Greek yogurt on them. Hope next time they go over better!

      February 1, 2012
  8. Emily #

    Hi Katherine! These are a staple in the young Deumling house. I’ve made them a few times with gluten-free flour and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Amazing! They are especially yummy when fried in coconut oil. mmmmmmm 🙂

    March 13, 2013
    • I’m so glad you’ve adapted them so successfully Emily! We love them too and I have half a savoy leftover from my cabbage roll extravaganza the other night and might make them myself tomorrow.

      March 13, 2013
  9. Looking forward to trying the cabbage pancakes this week. One minor tip is that you don’t list the shrimp in the ingredient list but I found the recipe on and it says to include about 3/4 cup of shrimp.

    June 26, 2013
    • Thanks for your note Esther. I do mention in the headnote of my version of the recipe that they traditionally include shrimp but that I never use them and love them anyway. Hope they turn out well for you.

      June 26, 2013

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