Tapioca-choux dumplings with turnips and cheddar

Turnip & cheddar choux dumplings

As I was making these, I thought to myself, “I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world cooking these.” Not that they were hard to make, or that they didn’t taste good (they did!). It was just such a strange and winding path that led me to them. First of all, I bought some tapioca flour at the Super Tropical Food Mart. This reminded me of an intriguing recipe I’d seen in the New York Times for Brazilian cheese puffs. And my tapioca flour is called “Yuca flour.” For some reason this made me think of Japanese Takoyaki. I thought maybe they add yucca root to that. Which is an entirely different thing, of course, but the connection had been made! I like watching how-to videos about takoyaki on youTube. (In fact I like watching any short cooking videos with non-English narration. I really do.) Anyway – takoyaki always seemed like a messy-fun thing to make and eat (and say!), and I had dreamed of trying a version of my own, with a muffin tin instead of a real takoyaki pan. And I’ve always wanted to try making something with a choux batter … but with something tasty stuffed inside!! Why roasted turnips, sharp cheddar and thyme? Why? Why not, I say! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled these out of the oven, but I liked them a lot. They were soft and dense and cheesy on the inside, and nicely crispy on the outside. We ate them with leftover vegetarian haggis, cause everyone knows you’re supposed to eat turnips with haggis!

I should mention that if you don’t have tapioca flour on hand, these will work fine with regular flour – just use 1 1/2 cups. And if you’re not a turnip fan, you could substitute roasted parsnips or butternut squash, or just use cheese – any cheese you like!

Here’s Duke Ellington with Tapioca

1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T butter + 1 T for the muffin tins
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 t. thyme
2 smallish turnips – in 1/3 inch dice
1 small shallot – finely minced
1 T olive oil
salt and plenty of pepper

Combine the shallot, thyme and turnips on a small baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil. Roast at 425 for about 15 to 20 minutes, till they’re soft and starting to brown and caramelize.

Put the flour and tapioca in a bowl, add salt and bp, mix well. In a small saucepan, warm the milk, olive oil, and butter. When the butter is melted, and the milk is starting to bubble, take it off the heat and pour it into the flour/tapioca mixture. Mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well in between. Add a little milk if you need to to make a thickish, but still pourable, batter.

Put a small amount of butter in each of 9 muffin tins. Put it in the oven (at 425) till it’s melted and starting to brown.

Now there are two ways to proceed. Here’s how I did it…Fill each (hot) muffin indentation with batter almost up to the rim. Put a teaspoon of turnips in the middle. Press it into the center. Put a teaspoon of cheese on top, and press that in after. The batter will rise up all around it, and you’ll smooth this over to make a nice clean top.

Alternatively, leave room for a tablespoon or two of batter, and save about 1/2 cup of batter to the side. Fill the muffin indentations to about 1/2 an inch from the top. Put a teaspoon of turnips in the middle of each one. Put a teaspoonful of cheese on top. Put a couple tablespoonfuls of batter on top of each.

Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes to half an hour, till they’re nice and brown and puffed.

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