101 in 1001 {II}: 038 cook with 12 ingredients I’ve never used before [ongoing]

07: dahlia tuber. joe and i were nosing around a vegetable stall at the union square greenmarket a few weekends ago when one of the younger farmers turned to us. "those are dahlia tubers," he said, gesturing to a bin of homely potato-ish things at my hip. they're totally edible." i quizzed him: best raw or cooked? (raw.) how much would i need? (not much). what did they taste like? (floral, which...i guess i should have seen coming.) were they expensive? (no.) did they keep well? (sure, you can slice pieces from a single tuber all winter.) sold! i plucked a fist-sized fellow from the bin and brought it home, where it languished in the crisper until last friday. then, in one of my Ill-Advised Late-Night Baking Fits, i made this.

dahlia bread

dahlia bread (adapted from plantlady2's gardenweb post)

- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c grated dahlia tuber
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon

preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a medium bowl, beat two eggs until light and foamy, then discard a quarter of egg mixture. add oil, sugar, dahlia, and vanilla, then mix until combined (don't go crazy, but you want a homogeneous mixture). combine and jumble up dry ingredients in a second bowl, then add to first bowl and stir together only until blended. pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for approximately one hour, or until surface is golden brown and fairly firm (i started checking at 50 minutes and took my loaf out at around 55, as i recall).

joe had already gone to bed by the time the bread was out of the oven and cool enough to eat, but our friend jacob (in town from iowa and perpetrator, as it happens, of some of my all-time favorite dahlia arrangements at his wedding last october) was brave enough to try a piece - and liked it! i did as well, actually: it was crumbly and fragrant, and the little silvers of dahlia added a mysterious note of spiciness (it was, in fact, quite floral) that paired well with the cinnamon. the original recipe called for baking soda, which we left behind in our hell's kitchen refrigerator and hadn't yet replaced, so i subbed in additional baking powder without cutting down any of the other ingredients; i think the lower pH of the resulting batter was rather nice. pounce on dahlia tubers if you see them, internets! you'll intrigue house guests and feel like a faerie queene at the breakfast table.


Hannah Mae said...

Ohhhh no - I have never seen a dahlia root at the market, but my eating-flowers obsession will not let me rest until I have tried this! Watch for my face in the Plant Police blotter, busted for digging up the dahlias in Golden Gate Park....

lauren said...

do you kids have hibiscus tacos in the SF yet? i had those for dinner on friday (at first i thought they were full of meat - they were sort of stewed and tangy and, well, i don't remember what meat actually tastes like these days). tasty!

Hannah Mae said...

Hibiscus tacos! No! How is it that NYC is suddenly leapfrogging over SF in Mexican food? The worst quesadilla I've ever had was in NYC in 1998, and now you've got hibiscus tacos? Leave us *some*thing!

(The internet has never even heard of a hibiscus taco. Where did you get such a thing?)

lauren said...

oh, we still mostly suck, never you worry; i think new york last saw a good burrito when i froze one from gordo's and brought it over on a plane for my friend in greenpoint.

the mysterious tacos came from los feliz, a place on the lower east side that also did us the courtesy of selling big old glugs of mezcal for $7 (their website is unhelpful, though). i couldn't find hibiscus tacos via the google, either - i think it's because they're usually called "tacos de flor de jamaica" (which is what they were called at this place). my spanish stinks, so i'm of no use with the tijuana-based recipes - but they went something like this. now, to find the dried flowers...

Hannah Mae said...

Oh, what a relief! So glad we can still feel superior about the burritos, at least. And I am sitting right next to a bag of dried hibiscus which I got in the bulk section of a Mexican grocery on 24th. If you can't find em in NYC (I think they're used in Jamaican cooking too - hence the Spanish name - but in Jamaica they're called sorrel, not to be confused with green sorrel), I will gladly send you some!