Apparently Albertans love their turnip puff.
This is believed to have originated in the original Best of Bridge cookbook series – made with rutabaga, turnip or winter squash (or try a combination), the veggies are mashed and mixed with a bit of butter, brown sugar and egg, which makes it puff up slightly as it bakes, giving it a lighter texture. Some people assemble it ahead of time, refrigerate and bake it when they need it. I made it yesterday for the Eyeopener, and fed the leftovers to my dad, a longtime root vegetable non-enthusiast. It was a hit both times.
If you haven’t had rutabaga before, it’s a brassica vegetable also known as a yellow turnip or Swede (short for Swedish turnip) – it’s big, about the size of a coconut, and purply, making it look like a large turnip. They’re believed to be a cross between cabbage and turnip, but taste more like mellow winter squash – raw, they’re crunchy and snappy, and remind me of peppery radish. Cooked, they’re pale yellow, less starchy than potatoes, reminiscent of butternut squash with a hint of turnip.
They can boiled and mashed or pureed – they’re delicious when you cook and mash or puree them with carrots, a bit of butter and a big pinch of brown sugar, or you can roast them as cubes or fries. If the size is daunting, peel (they’re thin-skinned) and cube them and keep them in the fridge or freezer for soups, stews or curries – or just cook a handful in a skillet with butter, salt and pepper. Delicious.
And if you live in Alberta and have a sense of nostalgia for the recipes of so many of our childhoods, give the puff a try – it’s not just for Christmas anymore.