One of my personal joys in Winter is the availability of all the wonderfully seasonal Root Vegetables
Parsnips, turnips and swedes are all lovely, but one of my absolute favourites of all is the Celariac. A Celariac is a big, ugly, hairy ball that really doesn't look very appetising, but don't be put off by it's ugly exterior, this humble veggie is a surprise package indeed!
Sweet, mild, nutty and earthy- a delicate flavour, but one that stands up well next to strong dishes like roast beef, steak or even with blue cheese. Whether raw in a traditional French remoulade, or soaked and pureed as I've done today, this undistinguished little veggie should definitely not be underestimated
I often find that Celariac are sold per item not by weight, and as the price at the start of the season hovers around $8 each, I try and find the biggest one on the stand. I was picking through the display trying to find a nice one, when right on top I spied a beauty the size of an rockmelon! I'm only 5'1, and my arms don't reach too far, so I had a dilemma. Now, I admit, I'm not too proud to look silly in in pursuit of culinary joy- don't judge me- and I was determined that baby was going to be mine.
I tried standing on tiptoes- no good. I tried jumping- no good. I then tried strategically removing lower celariacs, hoping to cause an avalanche of sorts with my prize carried to me triumphantly on the crest of the wave- nope, just a few falling on the floor that I had to pick up. Finally I spotted a storeman who was luckily much taller than I and could pluck my celariac from the peak and into my arms- Yes!
Ignoring the stares of slightly bemused shoppers, I bore my behemoth 2 kilo celariac away while dreaming about what it would become in my kitchen....mmmmmm....
Now I do apologise Dear Readers, I seem to be missing some of my usual step-by-step photos somehow, but as this dish is really just so simple I don't think it will be a problem today
Truffled Celariac Soup
lactose free Milk or Cream
Truffle- if lucky enough to have some on hand
Salt- preferably yummy truffle infused
Cut your lemon in half and squeeze into a bowl of water
Peel your celariac quickly, and pop each piece as you go into the acidulated water to stop it oxidising and going a yucky brown colour
I always prefer to steam the celariac as I find that boiling really makes it soggy and dilutes the delicate flavour. As this is to be pureed, steam until it's very tender indeed so it will break down well
See how dry this is, not soggy at all
Blend the celariac with the milk or cream to a silky smooth puree
See how gorgeous- not a lump in sight!
At this stage the puree can be used in so many wonderful ways...
Folded through mashed potatoes for a nice change, perfect under seared scallops to match the sweetness, or even a bit of crumbled blue cheese folded through would make it a great side for roast beef
Winter time is Truffle time here in Canberra, and we are lucky enough to have fresh truffles available at the markets for a few weeks- sublime! As the season is rather short lived though, and for those unable to get such goodies, there are a lot of truffle products on the market so you can get your truffley fix. One of my favourites is Truffle Salt, the flavour really permeates through so when it dissolves into the food the flavour is carried subtly through as well
Another goodie is this Truffle Oil- rich and earthy, not artificial tasting like some on the market either
Heat the puree through gently without boiling, adding just enough milk/cream to bring it to your desired consistency. Season well with the truffled salt, then drizzle generously with the truffle oil- just because you can :)
A final flourish of truffle or truffle salt on top, and TaaDaa! I know truffles are pretty special, but who would have guessed that under the ugly exterior the Celariac hid such a tasty, luxurious interior?
This dish is a great starter to a dinner party, or just serve for your own weekday lunch as I did- just because you can :)
So Dear Readers, what are your favourite root veggies, and are you willing to make of a fool of yourself for Culinary Joy?