And a parsnip in a pear confit

There´s too much cheffy nonsense going on these days. Its all Roscoff onions this and caramelised hispy cabbage that, with miso glaze, kibbled shallots under a cloche of pine smoke. Whats wrong with just plain sage and onion stuffing or, as traditionalists would call it, Paxo ? Come Christmas what do we want as a side to this year´s choice of bird? The parsnip is underrated I say. We don't give it much attention for most part of the year, due to its seasonality, and then we're in mid-winter and when there's not a lot else going on and we are tired of autumnal produce, up springs the parsnip. It's a stand-in for potatoes. They all tell you it's perfect roasted. Its not, believe me. Its a complete b****d. The appeal is it´s fragrant and slightly peppery taste, still mild and almost creamy, but when you come to the cooking it starts behaving badly. Add honey to glaze it and it burns, mash it and it needs a lot else to bring it alive, but add spice to the equation and deep fry it now you are talking. We also know pears are b******s. I decided to bring the two together and make a men /vegetables behaving badly sort of scenario which would be the perfect side dish for the roast duck we have planned for Christmas day. I give you a parsnip pakora .I love adding these little spins on traditional favourites, so like me don’t be afraid to experiment! Just to make life a bit more complicated I thought I would bring sage and onion to the equation which would give it the hint of traditional stuffing. Ha ha I I had another trick up my sleeve, a sage and onion flavouring would be created by adding a teaspoon of of the aforementioned Paxo to the pakora mix, along with the usual curry spices. The herby, nutty, rich scent will fill your kitchen and make everyone drop what they’re doing to investigate.
Parsnip and Paxo pakoras
100g grated parsnip
1 small grated carrot

1 medium onion
1 small stick celery finely chopped
2 chillies, finely minced

1 level tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp fresh coriander,chopped
1 tsp cumin, crushed coarsely
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sage and onion paxo mix

1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp garam /chickpea flour
2 tbsp rice flour

salt to taste
Sunflower to deep fry
Two tbsp water

Grate the parsnip,carrot  coarsely. Peel and very finely slice the onion as thinly as you can.Mix the three together.Finely slice a red and a green chilli.Toss the chilli and vegetables together with the chilli powder,coriander, cumin,thyme,sage,turmeric, paxo and lemon juice.
Sift the flours with the salt.
Heat the oil in saucepan deep enough to hold oil for deep frying or a deep fat fryer.
Mix the 2 flours slowly into the  beetroot and onions and rub it with your fingers,until the mix is firm and sticky.Add the water and mix for a further 1~2 minutes.Check for salt, it is likely you will need to add some at this point.
Keep a strainer ready over a bowl for draining the bhajias when ready.
With your already messy fingers put small dollops of the batter into the oil to fry.
Do not put too many in the oil together when frying or else you will have soggy bhajias.
Each bhajia should be no bigger than a small fritter,approximately 2.5cm.
Do not keep the oil too hot.Let the vegetables fry for 3 or 4 minutes until they are crisp. 
The fritter should fry slowly so that it gets crisp and golden.If the oil is too hot the bhajias will fry too fast and remain raw and gooey inside.If you then try to refry,they will burn,remain soggy and taste bitter.
On the other hand, if you want to serve them later,you can half fry and remove them.Fry when you are ready in hot oil this time.If the oil is not hot when refrying,the bhajias will absorb too much oil.
Serve the bhajias with the pear confit on the side. 

For the confit of spiced pears
4 large pears
400 g caster sugar
1 piece of lemon peel
1 tonka bean
Peel and cut the pears into small cubes. 

Place in a large bowl, cover with the sugar, add the vanilla bean and leave to rest overnight. 
Transfer to a saucepan, add the lemon peel and bring to a boil over low heat, skimming occasionally. Turn down the heat and continue cooking, skimming regularly, for 35 minutes. (Place a drop of the preserve on a cold plate, if it is cooked, you will be able to draw a line through it with a teaspoon.
Remove the vanilla bean and spoon the confit into pots. 


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