A couple of months ago we had a nice splurge at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. One of our more exciting acquisitions was a copy of Greg Malouf’s Turquoise, a gorgeous production that immediately made me want to go to Turkey (not something that had ever happened to me before). Despite its beauty, I had completely failed to make anything out of it until this week, when I was suddenly feeling adventurous.
We decided to try two new side dishes during the week: a salad of grated celery root, peppers and mint, and a dish of baked mushrooms and chiles in a paprika sauce. I thought they both sounded interesting, and used vegetables that are at least somewhat in season.
We got our first celery root (also called celeriac) of the season at Dunbar Gardens last week! Possibly the ugliest and least edible looking vegetable around, but it has a beautiful, delicate celery flavor. I love what it does for chicken soup, especially matzoh ball soup.
I didn’t have matzoh growing up – I don’t think I even saw it until I went to a seder in California when I was 21 (yes, I was the youngest person there – I got to read the questions!) So I don’t have many preconceived notions of what matzoh ball soup should be like – I know it’s traditionally just carrots, chicken stock and matzoh balls, but I like my soup to have a little more oomph. So I generally put chicken meat in, and usually celery root for flavor and peas or spinach for color. For the balls, I just follow the recipe on the box – matzoh meal, eggs, oil, seltzer and salt, mix with a fork, leave in the fridge for an hour while you get the soup going. No big secret family recipe. Unless my family wants to give me one, of course…
Note about cutting up celery root: it’s so knobbly and hairy that it doesn’t pay to be overly careful. I just whack the edges off so it becomes a sort of cube, then dice from there. Continue reading