As you know the Accidental Locavore is a fan of celery root and it was widely available this fall at my CSA. I found this recipe for Creamy Celery Root Soup on the Food Republic website and wanted to give it a shot. I stayed pretty true to their recipe, which makes a big pot of soup.
- 2 large celery roots, peeled and cut into ½”cubes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 2 large cloves, garlic, chopped
- 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 375°. Toss celery root with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl until coated, then arrange in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until completely soft, golden-brown and caramelized (this can be done ahead of time).
Heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat, then sauté the onions and garlic until translucent and just starting to color, 8-10 minutes. Add the roasted celery root, stir well to combine and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the stock and wine to the pot, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, then transfer to a blender and purée in batches (or use an immersion blender). Return soup to pot over low heat and stir in cream. Heat until soup is warmed through. Serve garnished with the toasted pine nuts and enjoy.
My verdict: Although not difficult, this seemed like a lot of work. Maybe it was just that I wasn’t thrilled with the results and found myself alone in the kitchen with a pile of large pans to wash. I ended up simmering it for about another 10-15 minutes to reduce it a little further as mine was rather thin. Still looking for more flavor I added a little cumin (maybe ½ teaspoon) to it at the end and tossed some croutons in my bowl. What’s good about this recipe is that it could be adopted for any roasted vegetable and, as I did, you can easily roast the veggies ahead of time. The next time I make this (or some version thereof), I would definitely add some garlic to the roasting pan and puree it in with the soup. Since I have an immersion blender, I skipped the cooling step and just pureed it in the soup pot (definitely not recommended if you’re using a non-stick pot). The roasted celery root, on it’s own, was really good, so remember that for a side dish!
If you were going to make boeuf bourguignon, wouldn’t you just turn to the expert and consult Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking? That’s what the Accidental Locavore thought when It was time to make a special meal for my husband.
Luckily, my copy is not a first edition (although it’s probably about 40 years old), because my poor book ended up getting really abused in the process of looking up and making the recipe. Between tossing a full glass of water all over it and then dripping stuff on it while cooking, you’d never know it was one of my favorites!
Whatever you think of Julia Child (and I’m a huge fan), it’s always fascinating to make one of the recipes from the book. They’re smart, well written, well edited and even when they start to get complicated, make sense. That may sound like me being fussy (probably true) but when you look at something like Mastering the Art and compare it to a modern best seller, like say Jerusalem, there’s just such a huge difference. Part of it is confidence. I know Julia will never let me down, but with Ottolenghi, it’s very much hit-or-miss.
Anyway, back to the boeuf. For once I was a pretty faithful recipe follower and I’m glad I was. My usual tactic with something like this would be to just dump in a bunch of mushrooms and pearl onions (and to the horror of my friend Zhu Zhu, yes, I do buy frozen onions – hate peeling the fresh ones). Julia has you cook both separately and it was definitely worth the time (and cleanup). This time, you got a real taste of mushrooms, sautéed in butter, earthy and flavorful. Same with the onions, after being browned and then braised in beef stock. Of course, beautiful grass-fed beef from our Brykill Farm share helped, as did a good bottle of Burgundy. If I get more obsessive, I’ll look into making my own egg noodles and who knows, might even start peeling pearl onions. In the meantime, for this and coq au vin, the mushrooms and onions will always get the Julia treatment!
Here’s a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. This is based on things most people have leftover, but substitute whatever you’d like. Most important, have fun!
- Turkey, shredded
- Mashed potatoes (white or sweet)
- Almost any green vegetable
- Cranberry sauce (optional)
- Gruyere, (or any firm cheese) grated
- Butter (for greasing ramekins)
Preheat the oven to 375°. With the butter, lightly grease some ramekins or small gratin pans (you could also use one large gratin pan). In a small bowl mix the turkey and gravy so the turkey is coated with the gravy, set aside. If you have some green vegetables, put a thin layer of them on the bottom of the ramekins. Add a layer of the turkey and gravy mix. If you want to use cranberry sauce, add it on top of the turkey. Top that with a layer of stuffing. Finish with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potatoes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
The Accidental Locavore thinks it’s time to stop abusing pumpkins! No, I don’t mean the ritualistic piercing of them for Halloween, but the incessant need to have pumpkin and pumpkin-spice-flavored everything. According to the New York Times, this is a $290 million business, made successful because “it’s a limited time offer”.
Good uses of pumpkins include soups, roasted pumpkin seeds, pies (although I’m not a fan) and Dorrie Greenspan’s pumpkin stuffed with everything good. The common bond here? Showcasing, and hey, actually using pumpkin.
Abuse is widespread at this time of year and generally falls into the “pumpkin flavored” and/or are you kidding categories. What started this rant was an Epicurious recipe of the day for pumpkin whoopie pies (if you didn’t know, a whoopie pie is not a pie, but a cookie). This along with Dunkin Donuts’ Frozen Pumpkin Coffee Coolatta, or any other pumpkin-flavored coffee or coffee addition is almost as bad an idea as pumpkin ales. The abuse of pumpkins even extends into otherwise peaceful endeavors-sorry, no pumpkin spice facials for me!
More unfortunate pumpkin-flavored foods include things that don’t need to be messed with (oh, excuse me, improved) like mac & cheese or how about pumpkin M&Ms? This might be an abuse of pumpkins and/or M&Ms, what do you think?
A quick search on Pinterest turns up thousands of recipes from pumpkin Rice Krispy treats to pumpkin spice puppy chow and other recipes too heinous to list. Even Food52 seems determined to join the bandwagon with pumpkin rugelach, that Thanksgivukkah staple. I’m sure that by next fall, Doritos will have a pumpkin-flavored nacho chip and Taco Bell will be using it to make their Locos Tacos.
If you haven’t run away from this blog in disgust yet, watch the video from the NY Times, and if you still want pumpkin flavored _____, remember it’s a limited time offer.