Friday, January 15, 2010

Discover Celery Root

If you haven't heard of celeriac, or celery root, than you are not alone! I can tell you that it is worth knowing about, because it is a valuable complement to your winter root vegetables.

Celeriac is actually not the root of the celery you buy at the market, but a variety grown for its bulb. It has a celery flavor and looks like a large, round, more gnarled potato. It can be used many ways, including in stews, gratins, mashed or pureed.

The first time I had it was over Christmas, when my sis-in-law roasted up a medley of parsnips, fennel, carrots, onion, squash and of course celery root. This is a bit of a complicated recipe, but the flavors are amazing.

Roasted Winter Vegetables
Source: Jamie Oliver


  • Halved carrots with a bit of cumin, rosemary and olive oil
  • Quartered parsnips with thyme, honey and olive oil
  • Peeled and sliced celeriac with thyme, rosemary and olive oil
  • Chunks of squash with crushed coriander seeds, a hint of chili powder, oregano and olive oil
  • Quartered fennel with its own leafy tops and olive oil
  • Whole baby turnips with tarragon, a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil
  • Peeled and quartered red onions with sage and olive oil

All the vegetables should be cut into similar-sized pieces so that they cook at the same time, tossed separately with their suggested flavorings and season generously. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the vegetables in a large tray next to each other and cover with tin foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue roasting for another 20–30 minutes until the vegetables are golden and tender. If by any chance one is cooked before another, simply remove it from the oven and keep it warm in a serving dish.

After that, I wanted to try it out on my own, so I found this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I am not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, so this is an ideal alternative. And it was SO delicious!

Celery Root and Apple Puree
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved
Serves 4 - 6


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup large-diced fennel bulb, tops and core removed
  • 2 pounds celery root, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and (3/4-inch) diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good apple cider
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter over medium heat in a shallow pot or large saute pan. Add the fennel, celery root, potatoes, apples, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cider and tightly cover the pot. Simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft. If the vegetables begin to burn or they seem dry, add another few tablespoons of apple cider or some water.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the cream and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the mixture to a food mill or food processor. Taste for salt and pepper and return to the pot to keep warm. Serve warm.

Would love to hear your experience with celery root! Any recipes to share??

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Potpourri - not just for grandmas!

When I first told my BF that I was going to make potpourri for Christmas gifts this year, he looked at me like I had truly gone mad. I promised him that I wasn't going to start putting doilies on our furniture and reusing ice cubes, and that he would even like my potpourri because it wasn't just for grandmas. I had a general idea in my head of a wintery, spicy mix of natural items that would invoke the Christmas spirit with each whiff.

So, I started a list of things I already had in my home/yard*:
  • Cinnamon sticks: buy in bulk if possible
  • Cloves: buy in bulk if possible
  • Dried citrus slices and peels: place spiral peeled satsumas peels and thinly sliced lemon rounds on a baking sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for about an hour until completely dry but not brown. Check often!
  • Pine needles: straight from the Christmas tree!
  • Hawthorne berries: a bright red berry that stays on the trees through the winter, feeding birds, especially robins.

Next, I wanted to add a little more color and scent with some Eucalyptus leaves. You can usually find these at a florist or craft store where they sell dried flowers, but I decided to buy the living plant so I can enjoy it's pale green leaves year round.

The mixture needed some bulk. Since I was back in the city at this point, I took my search online where I found the
Atlantic Spice Company. Here I purchased some beautiful curly pods, birch pine cones and rose hips.

One tip to longer lasting potpourri is adding a complementary essential oil, so I also purchased a vial of clove oil. These can usually be found in herbal stores, natural markets or online.

Once I had all my ingredients, I combined them into a big bowl. It's not a science, so use whatever proportions (and ingredients) you like, but here is an estimation:

  • 4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup Cloves
  • 4 dried citrus slices and 10 -15 pieces of peels
  • 1/4 cup Pine needles
  • 1/8 cup Hawthorne berries
  • 3 cups Curly pods
  • 2/3 cup Rose hips
  • 3 cups birch cones
  • 1/2 cup Eucalyptus leaves
  • 10 drops Clove essential oil

This amount filled about four medium sized mesh bags. The potpourri should be stored in an airtight container for a few days to really seal in the scents.

While the BF was still a little skeptical, I love the result, and I hope that my friends and family did too!!

* and by yard, I really mean my parent's since Belltown condo living isn't very green. :)