Celeriac ‘Bread’ Sauce

This sauce is a riff on English bread sauce, which is a savory sauce that is made with milk and onion thickened with bread or breadcrumbs and butter. Celeriac is the thickener here, making this not only a sauce but a side dish as well. This can be served either warm or cold to accompany main course dishes, such as chicken or pork, or as part of a vegetarian meal. The spices and herbs listed are those used in the traditional bread sauce, though any number and combinations of spices and herbs can be used, depending on the nature of the meal. Again, other roots, such as kohlrabi, turnips, even beets, can sub for or combine with the celeriac.

1 small onion, peeled
4 cloves
2 1/2 c milk or a combination of milk and cream; or milk substitute
2 bay leaves, coarsely crumbled
1/4 t mace
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, left whole
2 T butter
3 c or so peeled, diced celeriac
salt and (white) pepper, to taste

1. Stud peeled onion with the cloves. Put into a sauce pan with the milk, crumbled bay leaves, mace, and garlic. Bring just to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.

2. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter. Add the celeriac and stir to coat with the butter. Strain the milk mixture over the celeriac (carefully!). Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the celeriac is very tender. The time will depend on the size of the pieces. if you like, you can remove the cloves from the onion, chop the onion and add to the celeriac. If the milk separates or curdles, do not despair.

3. Remove the skillet or saucepan from the heat. Transfer to a food processor or blender and purée to desired consistency. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Roasted Black Radish Mash

Or other winter radishes. Somewhat of a revelation for me. Of all the ways I’ve eaten radishes, and especially winter radishes, it had never occurred to me to roast (or boil or steam) them, then peel and mash them. This is a good side dish on its own, or go to town and roast/boil/steam them with other roots and mash them all together. I’m leaving this pretty open in terms of accompanying elements. Black radish, butter, salt, and pepper is delicious and my preferred way, but add any number of herbs (dried or fresh) and/or spices as you see fit.

3 – 4 medium (black) radishes
butter or extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut radishes in half lengthwise. Put cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the baking sheet (as you would when roasting winter squash). Roast until tender, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the roots. Alternatively, you can steam or boil the halved radishes until tender.

2. Peel radishes. Mash along with some butter or oil, salt, pepper and any herbs and/or spices you like. Ta-da!

Slow Roasted Onions

A Sicilian speciality, from the city of Siracusa, with one difference. In Siracusa, the onions are roasted whole, whereas in this recipe the onions are sliced, with their skins still on, brushed with oil and roasted until caramelized. Just great! I always have these in the fridge now and bring them out for meals. They make a terrific cooked salad or side, and are also great on burgers or in sandwiches. There is a variation to the recipe that is also delicious. It follows the main recipe. A word of advice: make sure your knife is sharp enough to cut through the onion skins. Onion skins are slippery and one can easily cut oneself (this is from personal experience).

2 – 3 onions
2 T vegetable oil, divided, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh chopped herb or 1 t dried herb
1 t red wine or white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line the baking sheet with parchment or foil (if using foil, lightly oil it).

2. Cut off the ends of the onions. Keeping the onions skin intact, slice the onions crosswise into 1/2″ slices. Lay the onion slices on the baking sheet. Put the vegetable oil in a small bowl. Brush the onion slices with half the oil.

3. Bake for an hour. Remove from oven. Gently turn slices over. Brush again with remaining oil in small bowl. Return to oven and bake for another half hour. Transfer to a shallow serving dish and allow to cool. Remove onion skins and any dried-out onion rings.

4. Combine the extra-virgin olive oil, water, garlic, herb, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spoon over onion slices and serve.

Variation:

After the first hour, when you remove the onions from the oven and flip them over, brush them lightly with some oil, then drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the slices. Crumble some dried oregano or thyme or other dried herb over them and season with salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast another half hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sushi-style Rice with Root Vegetables

Sushi rice is a type of rice that has a sticky quality when cooked, perfect for shaping into little cylinders as a base for fish or in rolls. It is also dressed with a lightly sweetened vinegar mixture. This recipe uses regular rice, either brown or white, along with the sweetened vinegar dressing. The rice is then topped with grated roots, and sesame seeds. You can also add any number of food items to this, such as cooked meat, tofu, avocado, and/or beans to make a main course dish. Good both ways.

1 c brown or white rice
salt, for cooking rice and for dressing
3 T rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or coconut water vinegar
1 T sugar or other sweetener
1 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
3 c or so (peeled) grated root vegetables: kohlrabi, turnips, carrots, winter squash, celeriac…
1 c chopped scallions, optional
2 T sesame seeds, toasted if you like
2 T soy sauce, plus extra for serving
dark or toasted sesame oil, for serving

1. Cook rice as per package instructions or by your own method.

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar, ginger, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar dissolves or other sweetener is incorporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. When rice is done, transfer to a large serving bowl. Toss the rice with a spatula or flat spoon. While you do this, sprinkle the rice with the vinegar dressing.

4. Now, you can divide the rice among serving plates and top with the grated root(s), scallions if using, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, or you can add these ingredients to the ‘sushied’ rice and then serve.

5. Drizzle individual portions with a bit of toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way) and have extra soy sauce available.

Teriyaki Beets

In this recipe, you take roasted or other ways cooked beets and/or other root vegetables and finish them in a teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki sauce is a sweetened soy sauce and rice wine (mirin) mixture that is an all-purpose marinade, basting sauce and dipping sauce. Variations abound. I’m using the one I make most often. You can use store-bought teriyaki sauce, but by making your own you can control the amount of sugar. This is relevant especially if you’re using beets, which are quite sweet when roasted. You probably won’t need to use all the sauce the recipe makes. It keeps really well in the fridge. if you don’t have mirin and are using sake or white wine, you may want the full amount of sugar.

5 or 6 medium beets
1/2 c soy sauce, or 1/4 c soy sauce and 1/4 c water, or 1/2 c Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/4 c mirin (rice wine) or sake or sweet vermouth or white wine
1 – 2 T sugar or honey or other sweetener
2 T minced garlic
2 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional
1 – 2 T butter or vegetable oil
chopped green onions, optional

1. Roast or cook beets according to your method. I wrap them in foil and roast in a 400ºF oven for about an hour. Let cool, then peel, or not. Trim ends and slice or dice.

2. Meanwhile combine remaining ingredients except the butter or oil, and green onions in a small saucepan. Simmer until slightly thickened and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the sliced beets and toss to coat. Add enough teriyaki sauce to coat the bottom of the skillet and to coat the beets. Simmer until heated through and the sauce has been absorbed by the beets and/or mostly evaporated.  Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Poutine

Poutine is Canada’s, and specifically, Québec’s, culinary gift to the world. Those enterprising Québeckers were not content to put mere ketchup on their french fries. No, they had to smother them with beef gravy and top them with cheese curds. The result–Mon Dieu! As with most culinary marvels, the variations of poutine are myriad. You can add any number of foods to the basic recipe, from bacon to lobster. My version is made with baked, or oven-fried, potato slices rather than deep fried, not as good nor as authentic, but less work and less mess. By all means make deep-fried french fries if such cooking is part of your repertoire. The subs for cheese curds are mozzarella (not fresh) and haloumi, a greek cheese that is fried before serving as it holds its shape when heated.

Oven Fries (2 versions)

Version 1:
4 medium (Russet) potatoes
1 T vegetable oil
2 1/2 t paprika
3/4 t salt
3/4 t garlic powder, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice potatoes into thin wedges. Place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet, spreading them out so they don’t touch. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until tender, turning once.

Version 2:
4 medium (Russet) potatoes
2 T or so vegetable oil
salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Puncture whole potatoes with a knife or fork. Wrap in foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until tender. Unwrap and allow to cool. Cut each potato into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden and slightly crispy, 10 – 12 minutes.

Gravy:
3 T butter or oil
3 T all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme or other dried herb (for fresh herb, use 1 T)
2 T Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce or hoisin sauce
3 c beef or chicken broth or vegetable stock (go with mushroom stock if you can)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Melt butter or heat oil in a saucepan. Add flour to pan and stir to incorporate and make a roux. Stir constantly for 4 – 6 minutes, until the flour has browned and is fragrant. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and cook until nearly evaporated, about a minute longer. Add broth or stock along with some salt and pepper (if using store-bought broth or stock, check the salt content). Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the gravy has reduced some, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use.

Assembly:

Place fries on individual serving plates. Pour gravy over and top with cheese curds.

Bon Appétit!