How is it that the parsnip, so carrot-like -- though sweeter, spicier, and creamier -- has been left to languish like a wallflower while its orange-complected sister gads about in cakes with cream cheese frosting?
I decided last night, when the store was slow because everyone was out trick-or-treating, that I must find a partner for the poor neglected parsnip, and throw a debutante ball in a realm where the crisp carrot really can't compete: pie!
I halved six parsnips this morning and roasted them in a buttered dish with a little water till they were quite tender. I nibbled off their tails, which were pleasantly crispy, and threw about half the tops in the blender with some good rich milk. I tried to add as little liquid as possible, to see how concentrated I could get the parsnippy flavor without the blender protesting, and wound up with 2.5 cups of parsnip puree, 1 cup of which was milk. I put a spoonful of puree in two cups and added a tablespoon of honey to one, and a tablespoon of maple syrup to the other. I had already ruled out molasses because I wanted to preserve the ivory-cream color. It was good with honey, but maple syrup really understood the parsnip's clean earthy-woodsy bite. Honey, on the other hand, just couldn't parse parsnips' nip.
So to the blenderful of puree I added 3/4 c. maple syrup, two eggs, 1/4 c. sour cream, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves. I blended it well, then let it sit while I made a 9" sweet shortbread crust to put it in. I baked the pie at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then reduced it to 350 until the custard had risen significantly around the edges but not so much in the middle.
Oh, damn it, I forgot to add vanilla! Perhaps I should top the pie with vanilla whipped cream. In any case, it's cooling now and I shall let you know how parsnips behave when they're all dolled up.