Friday, April 22, 2011

Celery Root Remoulade and some random questions...

Ever since I first dug a celery root out of the ground my fascination with it has grown.

It was 1997 and I was volunteering on a 1 acre organic farm and my friend and I were told, "See that row of plants that looks like celery, go dig them up, preserving the root." I was dumbfounded. Celery root or Celeriac was a totally new vegetable for me, and having been vegetarian for more than 6 years at that point, I thought I had met most of them. Hairy and knobby, looking somewhat like a shrunken head, it certainly is not the most appealing vegetable. But slice off its hairy nubby exterior and you are rewarded with an earthy, green scent that is subtle and strangely alluring.

The classic French preparation is with a homemade mayonnaise tossed with matchstick-thin slices. A touch of salt, pepper and parsley and it is one of those simple but addictive salads. Be careful not to over sauce it or it will get droopy.

On a completely different note, I want to thank Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook for including me in her *8 Questions for 8 ~. Such fun!  Here are my answers and see below for the *8 Questions for 8 that I have tagged.

1) Do you have a signature recipe which you regularly prepare for special occasions or holidays, or one that your family or friends are always clamoring for you to serve?

It depends on the group of friends or my family. When I lived in D.C. my guacamole was assumed to be present at all potlucks and festive occasions (regardless of whether others brought something; it was a lovely honor!) For my family, it is the fresh pasta that gets the most requests and which I most enjoy preparing for them.

2) What particular blogging talent (cooking, baking, writing, photography) would you like to improve as your blog matures?

Photography is definitely the area in which I most need improvement, and while I eschew the overly stylized photos, I do want to make the pics more interesting and appealing.

3) Who are your biggest blog supporters? Are they your family and friends, or other bloggers?

My biggest supporters are other bloggers and their support means so much to me since they understand this unique world of the blogsphere!

4) What one recipe, ingredient, or technique are you challenged by, but are determined to master?

Breadstuffs of any sort are among my favorite foods and I would love to master the art of making crackers. So far my forays have been mediocre.

5) What is your favorite way to enjoy learning about anything culinary: TV, magazines, online, cookbooks, classes, family and friends? Be as specific or general as you like.
I love reading blogs for inspiration, particularly of cuisines unfamiliar to me. TV shows can be fun as well, but I am very picky about who I like to watch - do not like too many fireworks, want homestyle cooking, whether it be French with Jacques Pepin or Italian with Lydia Bastianich. I used to love reading cook books but have fallen out of that habit and want to reacquire it for the pleasure of turning pages.

6) What ingredients are the cornerstones of your kitchen, the ones which you must have on hand at all times?

No exceptions, these are always in my kitchen, to the extent that I replace them before they run out: Parmesan cheese, flat leaf parsley, garlic, vinegars of all sorts, excellent raw soy sauce, a couple of olive oils (cooking, dressing salads).

7) How many minutes/hours a day do you spend in your kitchen?

Anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours (the leisurely days of the weekend see me cooking several items in tandem, leading to 3-5 hours of enjoyment in the kitchen.)

8) Is your kitchen driven by dietary/health concerns or anything-goes indulgences? Or do you struggle trying to balance the two?

I rarely worry about calories or fat in what I prepare, but that is primarily because I love vinegar and salads and have a virtually non-existent sweet tooth. So when a salad dressing recipe calls for creme fraiche and buttermilk whipped into a homemade mayonnaise, I don't bat an eyelash. But do not think that this leads to a very svelte waistline! I eat in moderation but enjoy food more than being super thin. Having eaten a Pesca-tarian (Meat-free except for fish and seafood) diet for 15 years until 2007, my current meat consumption is very low - I eat what many people refer to as the "Mediterranean" diet/pyramid. As a result, my diet is varied but well grounded in fresh produce and grains (although my grain of choice is rye bread, which could be more varied!)

And now here are 8 questions I am asking of 8 bloggers - no obligation to respond, just a friendly, curious inquiry.

Eve of The Garden of Eating
Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Ruth of Once Upon a Feast
Theresa of Food Hunter's Guide
Pam of Sidewalk Shoes
Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny
Claudia of Honey From Rock
Faith of An Edible Mosaic

1) Why did you start a food blog?

2) What do you most enjoy about doing a food blog?

3) Do you view blogging as a hobby, a future (or current) form of income or something else?

4) Do you have food/cooking pet peeves? Be specific.

5) What are your favorite ingredients and why?

6) Do you love shopping for food items as much as you enjoy cooking?

7) Are you a gardener (or forager!) in addition to being a cook? If so, what do you grow or forage?

8) Where do you get your cooking inspiration?

And now for the recipe of the post!

Celery Root Remoulade inspired by Wrightfood
serves 2-3

1 large celery root, outer peel trimmed off, cut in 1/16 inch matchsticks (slice root in quarters, placing flattest surface on board and cut in thinnest slices possible; stack and cut in matchsticks)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, safflower, grapeseed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
black pepper

In bowl whisk egg yolk, mustard and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Using tablespoon, whisk olive oil into mixture drop by drop, literally. I place the bowl on a loosely wadded dish towel and whisk with my right hand (if you're right-handed) and drop olive with my left hand. The trick to making  homemade mayonnaise is the slow adding of oil to create an emulsion; too much too fast and you may as well toss it out and start over! Add 1/4 cup of neutral oil in the same manner and add second tablespoon of lemon juice a bit at a time to taste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Toss celery root with parsley and add 1 tablespoon of dressing at a time to celery root to keep the dressing on the light side. You will probably have leftover dressing or you can double the celery root and parsley. Serve immediately or allow to chill.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Spaetzle at Smitten Kitchen
Rumpledethumps at Garden of Eating
Crustless Coconut Pie at Stacey Snacks

1 comment:

The Food Hunter said...

Thanks for including me in your 8 questions for 8 people.

I recently tried celery root for the first time and I really like it.