Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Celeriac Salad

Another misunderstood vegetable, unless you're French of course and have grown up eating it as celeriac remoulade - a light and tangy salad of shoestrings of celeriac dressed with a mayonaise-mustard sauce. Actually, a traditional remoulade is an offshoot of the ingredients that it takes to make an aoli or mayonaise, with boiled egg yolk added to thicken the texture and often combined with lemon juice, mustard and something to cream it up, like mayo or in a nod to modernity, creme fraiche or even yogurt which could be enriched with a few tablespoons of heavy cream for improved taste and texture without too much extra calories. Celeriac is great mashed, especially when combined with potatoes to help 'cream' up the texture, or with other root veggies in combination. It's flavor is most definitely celery-like as opposed to fennel which always surprises with it's clean crunch and flavor.

Courtesy of vegetable man Meir Todress, we had celeriac last week and it was a real cause for celebration along with the gorgeous kale!!! and fresh bulbs of garlic that arrived in our box. We cooked and enjoyed these late winter early spring offerings - kale in soup and sauteed with other veggies (I'll write about kale shortly).

Ira and I admired the celeriac and while I considered the various options, he decided that a salad was the best option and the most obvious choice. He proceeded to start julienning. If someone wants to julienne veggies, you don't argue, you make the dressing. I like blanching the veggies before dressing them but Ira wanted it raw.

Before you shy away from julienning - and everyone should own a good mandoline (we need a better one as it just doesn't julienne well). We tried upgrading to the Oxo one which was $75 and discovered that it just wasn't worth it. So, it's clear that it's a $150 investment for a European one or bust. Then again, there's always the knife.

Celeriac Remoulade a la Beth and Ira
1. Pare and Slice the celeriac as thinly as possible. You'll feel like you're cutting away a lot of the veggie as it's a fairly gnarly looking root veg but persevere, there will still be veg left for the salad.
2. Optional: Bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch for about 2 minutes, just taking the 'rawness' out of the veg. Given that it's julienned you don't need to do anymore than that.
3. Whisk together mustard, mayonaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper, apple juice/water/honey (according to taste and how loose or thick you want the dressing). Dress the salad.
4. Finely mince fresh parsley (dill could be nice as well) and add in some capers (you can use their liquid as your acid instead of lemon juice or in combo if you wish). Mix. Let it sit for a bit before eating and enjoy.

Some variations that seemed respectable.
http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/000990celery_root_salad.php. With shredded apple/
http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2006/05/one-for-the-ladies/. Using creme fraiche.
http://www.greenchronicle.com/valentines_recipes/celeriac_salad_recipe.htm - the egg yolk method.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/11069. Nice looking option, no apple.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cabbage Again

Another head of cabbage around. Ira reported that while I was away (in the US), that he made Sweet and Sour cabbage. I checked out a few recipes and noted the essentials - butter, vinegar and sweetener of some sort.

My vegetables came today and they looked beautiful. I assessed the scene quickly and decided that plain cabbage didn't attract me but a few veggies added to the mix did.

1 large head of cabbage, sliced thinly and cut into small pieces
3-4 carrots, sliced thinly
2 onions, sliced
(garlic could be a fine addition)
winter squash or pumpkin, peeled and chopped - I used about 1.5 lbs
3 peppers - red and yellow, chopped
balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar) - 1/4 cup
apple juice - about 1/3-1/2 cup
lemon juice - 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
butter/olive oil
organic cane sugar - has a light brown look and flavor - 2-3 tbsp
(Sliced apples are another great addition - put them in before the cabbage so you can saute them a bit).

Warm the pan. Melt a knob of butter and add in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then add the carrot and squash and saute, stirring for 1-2 min and then cover for 5. Add the pepper - stir, saute 1-2 min. Then, the cabbage which will fill up the pan and you'll doubt that it will be the right size but it will settle down. Cover and let it cook down, 10 minutes. Add the apple juice and vinegar and cover for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar, stir and cover for another 5. When things seem tender, uncover and let the juices cook down a bit.

Serve on rice or hearty, whole wheat or buckwheat noodles.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


We had a run on cabbage. Ordered a big head a week ago and then ended up with another big head. What to do? Coleslaw is long a favorite at our house as well as cabbage soups but I wasn't in the mood to do stuffed cabbage, which I actually prefer to do with mangold greens (or collards in the US) - more digestible and easier to work with.

Our standard coleslaw has a vinegar based dressing, with a bit of fresh cilantro, scallions and jalapeno pepper to snazz it up and give it zip not generally known to the standard, heavier mayonaise coleslaws, which quite frankly hold no appeal to me. I want a salad with a fresh appeal, that will age nicely in the fridge, softening over the week as the acids continue to do their work making it continually appealing to eat when you peruse the shelves.

Plus, aging coleslaw is great with tuna for a quick and zesty tuna salad. Just chop the slaw down a bit and mix with tuna and add a squeeze of lemon and perhaps another drizzle of oil and it's light and refreshing and again, not weighed down by mayo.

1 medium head of white cabbage, shredded. (If you're not one to shred, then slice the cabbage in half, through the stem edge (meaning top to bottom), slice thinly and then slice across to get small enough pieces).
1 small head of purple cabbage, shredded (not critical but the colors are nice).
1 lb/.5 kilo of carrots shredded or julienned or thinly sliced.
3-4 scallions, sliced, with the green
1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped
1/2 bunch of parsley chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers or some equivalent fresh, hot pepper, seeded and chopped (use the seeds if you want it spicier).

Combine the vegetables. Whisk the lemon juice with the salt and pepper and cumin. Add in the oil, vinegar, apple juice, maple syrup and adjust the flavors to taste.
Let it sit at least 1 hour before serving, if you can.

Olive or Grapeseed oil - 1/4-1/3 of a cup.
Lemon juice - 1/8 of a cup
Splash of apple cider or rice vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Cumin - 1/2 -1 tsp according to taste
Salt and Pepper
Apple juice - 1/8 of a cup (give or take)
Dash of maple syrup (really gives it a great taste but honey could work as well or leave it out)

Cabbage Note:
If you really hate raw cabbage, you could dump the cabbage and carrots into a colander and pour boiling water over them to just reduce the 'rawness' of the salad to start. As well, you could salt the cabbage and put a weight on top (meaning stick a plate on the cabbage and a couple of cans of beans) for about 30 minutes and then rinse your cabbage and continue with the dressing. You can also make it raw and it will develop nicely on it's own over time.

If I still have cabbage left over, we can talk about soup later in the week.