Parsnips in the Desert, Are You Codding Me?

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New England has just endured a top 5 blizzard. I shoveled snow all day. Lots of it. I understand now how Demi Moore feels……….muscles and aches in places you did not even know existed. I have got to ask her over for dinner some evening. With the sun gone down, the nighttime temperature will dip also. Right now, it is 15 degrees and all that snow is hardening up. After my efforts, I want some thing to eat from a long way away from here. I want spice, I want heat and I want fish. And I want simple.

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I chose cod. And I split that piece into two manageable 4-ounce pieces. I want to cook that fish quickly plus I am exposing a greater surface area of the fish to more marinade. That means more flavor, quicker. The marinade for the fish is based on the Moroccan marinade called Chermoula. This is a marinade which is easily adapted to the home kitchen. I used olive oil as the base and into which I put cumin, coriander, curry powder, ginger, garlic, lemon zest, saffron, paprika and chili powder. I used parsley as I had no fresh coriander. I transferred the marinated fish onto a root vegetable tagine of garden carrots, garden beans, potatoes and parsnips. The tagine was tomato based and seasoned with, again, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and chili powder. In addition, I also seasoned the tagine with bay leaf, oregano, black pepper and a cinnamon stick. Set the marinated fish on the tagine and place it in the oven to cook for a few minutes. I like mine less soupy so the photo looks dry. But don’t be deceived.

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I grew up eating parsnips as a kid, usually in the winter in some form of stew. What did I know……I knew I liked their flavor. It still amazes me, and I understand the reason, that something like a parsnip could blend into other accents of flavors. I suppose I grew up a long way from tagines and curries. But what delight to find that a parsnip could do what a carrot does. It introduces a measure of sweetness to combine with the spices. I guess I could never have imagined a white root vegetable from the bog wanting to travel and get some sunshine and heat on vacation. New twists on old favorites.

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Fregola……..also known as Sardinian cous-cous. As per the Arab influence, I like to add saffron to the pasta water during cooking.

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This plate of food satisfied on so many levels. The fish and potato combo that I love, the double starching with potato and pasta, that I was able to include items from my kitchen garden that I saved. The tomatoes were from my garden.It was also the combination of spices and seasonings that lent an air, a desert wind meeting the ocean, to lift the fish and vegetables. And I won’t forget how a parsnip made my day.
*the expression….”are you codding me?’ is popular in Ireland. More often than not, it refers to disbelief as in…………”are you serious” or “are you having me on” or “are you kidding me”. Also, something might be described as being a “cod”…..a hoax, a joke, a lie, something unbelievable. Or, you might do something for “the cod of it”………like a prank, something to amuse yourself or others. Thanks for reading. Hello, Indonesia. Hello, Canada.

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