Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celeriac Attack!

I emerge from a week of deadline-induced hysteria to bring you this brief attack of celeriac. With the recent drain on my brain, this image seemed appropriate. I have been operating under conditions of limited time and unlimited panic of late, and Weird Veg again presented itself as my most fruitful form of procrastination (I trust you will pardon the seemingly incongruous adjective, but I take recourse to the fact that fruits are actually subsets of vegetables, as established in the lemon cucumber post).

Hanging from the sure grip of my roommate Rachel is a celeriac, also known in less exciting terms as celery root. She brought home this strange thing one day, looking for all the world like an explorer bearing a shrunken head she had plucked from the misty regions of the great beyond, but it had, in fact, come from S.F. Ferry Plaza farmers' market.

She put the root to work in a recipe for Celeriac and Mascarpone Purée culled from her cookbook that I've recently become quite taken with, Cooking Outside the Box: Easy, Seasonal, Organic: the Abel & Cole Cookbook which sounds a little generic until you realize that the box is a winking reference to the boxes of organic produce delivered to the homes of happy Londonite vegetable eaters by Abel & Cole, one of Britain's best-known CSA companies. Keith Abel, the main brain behind this book, loves root vegetables, as evidenced by his numerous impassioned endorsements of not just celeriac, but also swedes (the Brit term for turnips, and sometimes rutabagas, remember?). One of his recipes is called "Swedeaphobia Cure," which involves mashing swedes/neeps/turnips with cream, honey, ginger and nutmeg. He calls celeriac "another one of those great British vegetables that people avoid because they don't know quite what to do with it." There are a lot of great vegetable ideas in this book, which is helpfully divided by season, and has some really gorgeous matte color photos of produce and finished dishes.

Here is the adapted recipe. I didn't get to try the final product, but Rachel reports that it was quite delicious, like potatoes but with a fresh dollop of celery taste.

Celeriac and Mascarpone Purée

1 celeriac, rough outer skin removed and diced into 1 in. cubes
2 garlic cloves, peeled
A knob of butter (yes a knob--part of this book's charm)
1/2 mug of mascarpone cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place diced celeriac and garlic cloves in a pot of salted water (to cover them) and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the celeriac is fork-tender. Drain, pop those guys back into the pot ("pop" is Abel, "those guys" is me) and move it around over low heat for a minute or so to remove some moisture. Then mash it all in the pot (or put it in a blender) to make a smoothish paste before folding through the butter and mascarpone. Season and serve.

Mm, this is making my brain hungry.


sanbei said...

ha we got this in our last csa box and it's still in our refrigerator. my roommate and i glanced at the celeriac then each other and decided that because of things like this, we should cancel the box and choose our own vegetables :)

kale daikon said...

Yes, I think csa's are a great option for busy people, but I personally prefer to choose my own veggies and be able to talk to farmers' market people for ideas on what to do with them. But now you *have* to make this puree and report back! When in doubt over what to do with a root vegetable, just treat it like a potato - mash, roast, soup it, however.