Baked Celeriac And Eggs, take two

A wintery lunch that is not dark brown and meaty.

The last time I attempted to tackle this recipe it ended in disaster.  This time I’d like to think that the end results were much better, but the pictures came out terribly in my opinion. I just can’t win with celeriac.

On with the public shaming.

IMG_1782.jpg

Two medium sized heads of celeriac were procured from my local Central Market. I don’t know what it is about that place, but I’m always smiling when I walk out the door. If you’re ever in Texas I really recommend you visit one. You’ll understand by the time you leave.

IMG_1788.jpg

The heads were scrubbed clean, peeled, and then chopped into cubes before being placed in a pot of salted water. In my previous attempt I had used way too much salt, so I made sure to not overdo it this go around. The water was then brought up to a boil, and the celeriac cooked for a little under a half hour. I knew it was finished when a sharp knife went through the flesh easily.

IMG_1797.jpg

To ensure that my mashed celeriac wasn’t watery I gave the cooked cubes a quick spin in my new salad spinner. I wish I’d have picked one of these bad boys up a while ago. They make removing excess water a snap!

IMG_1798.jpg

Last go around I shied away from using two sticks of butter because, well… two sticks of butter is a lot, but damn the calories, full speed ahead.  Two sticks of butter were mashed together with the boiled celeriac over a gentle heat until the two were fully combined.

Now at this point I was supposed to add in a handful of chopped celery leaves. I decided to fore-go them because previously they were such a pain in the rear, or more appropriately, in my throat.

IMG_1801.jpg

The mashed celeriac went into an oven proof Pyrex casserole dish and spread until an even layer had been achieved.
One of the major problems with the previous attempt was that the eggs over cooked. Mr. Henderson says in that book that the dish should be in a hot oven for roughly five minutes, but I remembered that the eggs hadn’t cooked in that time. As an experiment, when making the little indentations for the eggs I made sure they went all the way down to the Pyrex. A few knobs of butter were placed around the eggs before being placed in the oven.

IMG_1807.jpg

Much better! The eggs are properly cooked, and you can see a slight browning around the edges. Some salt and pepper for seasoning and I was done.

IMG_1809.jpg

And here’s the finished product.  The missing green celery leaves sure makes for a boring, beige hunk of food, but the flavor was just wonderful.  When broken, the egg yolk added a nice creamy texture to the buttery, dense celeriac mash.  The mash itself was sweet and very rich as you might suspect with that much incorporated butter.

Am I super thrilled with how this remake turned out?  No, not really.  I’m regretting not adding the celery leaves despite the irritation they gave me last time.  But I’m happy enough that I consider this recipe completed.

One down, forty seven to go.

Turnip Bake

This may sound like a grim dish in a grim vegetarian cafe, but it is not.  Unfortunately I have not been able to think up a more tempting name for this delicious dish yet.  It calls out to be eaten with roast lamb.

I had a great time this weekend at the annual Cupcake Smackdown helping little children fire cupcakes at zombies, watching my friend Paul down Jaffa Cakes at an amazing speed in an attempt to break the world record, and the general fun of being around a lot of great people.

IMG_1449.jpg

Growing up, my family never ate turnips.  It’s not that we had an aversion to them or anything, there was just never a good reason to pick a lowly turnip over the potato, king of root vegetables.  As a matter of fact this is only the second time I’ve ever cooked turnips, the first being for the Lamb’s Tongues, Turnips, and Bacon recipe I made a few years back.   Even then I admonished myself to use them more often.  I should probably start paying attention to my own suggestions.

Now, this is right where there should be a picture of my lovely wife peeling the turnips. Or maybe one of her thinly slicing them on a mandolin. Or heck, even a picture of me thinly slicing an onion on our other mandolin would be nice.   I can’t do show you any of those pictures because I totally forgot to take any.  So in their place, here is a video of dueling mandolins. Enjoy.

Right.

IMG_1620.jpg

In a pan over low heat I melted a bunch of butter.  More than one stick, to be vague about it.   Along with all that golden liquid fat went the thinly sliced onion, which I sweated until it was soft, sweet and clear.

IMG_1617.jpg

Meanwhile my wife rubbed roughly three tablespoons of butter onto the insides of a deep, oven-proof pan. Oh, my poor cardiovascular system!

IMG_1625.jpg

Into that pan went a layer of the sliced turnips followed by the now softened onions and a little salt and pepper.

IMG_1628.jpg

On top of that went another layer of turnip slices, more onions, and more seasoning.

IMG_1630.jpg

We kept layering the turnip and onion until both amounts were exhausted.  I poured the butter left over from sweating the onion on top.   Waste nothing!

IMG_1633.jpg

The pan went into a hot oven for an hour, covered with foil to keep the moisture in.   When the timer started dinging, I checked in on the turnip mound we had constructed only to find that it needed more time.

IMG_1651.jpg

The pan went back into the oven for an extra 15 minutes. A quick check and back in it went. We kept checking for another 45 minutes until finally the turnip bake was nice and brown as you can see above.

IMG_1657.jpg

A hearty slice of the finished product. I believe that this is a great side dish for more than just roast lamb. The slightly woody, bitter nature of the turnip is significantly diminished with the sweetness of the softened onions and all the soaked up butter, meaning that paring with pretty much any protein is simple.

Two years ago I told myself to start making more turnip dishes. This amazing recipe only serves as a reminder that when cooked right, turnips sure are delicious (though I’m sure all that butter didn’t hurt, either).

One down, forty nine to go.

Green Beans, Shallots, Garlic and Anchovies

Perfect for lamb chops.

I am happy to say that Monday updates should become much more common now that I’ve gotten myself on a schedule.  I figured it was time to really kick it into high gear and finish off these last few recipes after mentally beating myself up the last few months for my overall laziness.  Apologies to those of you out there that check in from time to time only to see the same thing on the front page every time.  I’ll be better, I promise.

IMG_1513.jpg

This recipe starts off with two heads of garlic roasting in the oven at a high temp until they were fairly soft when squeezed.  I’ve got a request for you: Roast some garlic with the skin on this weekend if you’ve never done it before.  It’s simple, the result is excellent, and you can use the soft cloves with lots of great things. 

IMG_1516.jpg

While I waited for the garlic heads to cool down, I moved over the the shallot part of this recipe.  More than a dozen of the purple little bulbs were tossed with a little olive oil before taking the garlic’s place in the hot oven.  Every so often, I checked in on the fellows to make sure they were merely roasting, and not burning.

IMG_1526.jpg

A few minutes of snap-snap-snapping and the green beans called for were topped, tailed and ready for a quick dip in some salted boiling water.

IMG_1537.jpg

As the shallots roasted and the haricots verts boiled, I moved on to a more interesting aspect of the recipe.  In a small bowl I combined the soft roasted garlic, some chopped anchovy fillets, a decent amount of capers, some chopped curly parsley, and a dusting of freshly ground black pepper.  Whew!  A splash of olive oil and red wine vineagar completed the “dressing”.
IMG_1547.jpg

Finally, it was time to remove the roasted shallots from the oven.  As you can see here and there, the little orbs had softened and browned slightly.  To finish this recipe, I combined the green beans, shallots, and “dressing” all together and tossed the amalgamation thoroughly.

IMG_1548.jpg

Here’s the final product, served with a lamb chop (of course).

What an intriguing side dish.  I rather enjoyed the sweet and powerful garlic and shallots mixed in with the green beans, but every other bite I’d get a bit of the anchovy and it would throw my taste buds for a loop.  “Where the heck did that come from?!”, they shouted at me.  You might think that the briny capers would present a similar reaction, but they were far more subtle and enjoyable than the overwhelming little fillet morsels.  When I make this again, the anchovies will be left out in an attempt at a more harmonious conclusion.

One down, fifty to go.

Mashed Parsnips

Rich, sweet, and soothing.

Okay, raise your hand if you’ve updated your blog in recent memory.

Not so fast, self.

I wish I could give you a reasonable excuse.  But I can’t.  Writing malaise and a renewed interest in exercising are the real culprits.  Thankfully good friends and fellow foodies have kept me in touch with my love of food.  A few fine folks got together over at the house of one Jack Yang.  Jack runs eatinginabox.com and has made a cameo here for our Haggis making adventure.  This time however, we went to the cutting edge of food preparation technique, sous vide.  Dubbed the “Sous Vide Summit” here are two exceptional write ups (One Two) of one of the most enjoyable and educational food related get togethers I’ve ever been to.

IMG_1490.jpg

Pale brother of the carrot, the parsnip is richer than its orange kin in vitamins and minerals.  On top of that, I’ve found that a big bag of them are pretty darn cheap, too.  Thrifty parents looking to get their children to eat more veggies, take note.

IMG_1494.jpg

A quick peel, a slice down the middle and the parsnips were ready for cooking.

IMG_1499.jpg

Into a milk filled pot they went with a little salt for seasoning.  I cranked the heat and brought the milk up to a boil.

IMG_1501.jpg

When the parsnips halves were just breaking apart with a little force, I yanked them off the heat and removed them from their milk bath.  The milk was saved just in case the mashed parsnips needed extra moisture after being mashed.

IMG_1505.jpg

Now, the recipe calls for a lot of butter.  Julia Child might even give pause if I told her how much butter I was supposed to add to the mashed parsnips.  Okay, probably not.  But let me put it like this: I compromised and used only one stick of butter.  Yeah, a whole stick is me reducing the required amount.

While the parsnips were still hot, I slowly added the butter tablespoon by tablespoon until all of it had been fully incorporated.  A dash of salt and pepper and the recipe was completed.

IMG_1510.jpg

So, let’s see here:

Rich. Oh, you better believe that’s a check.

Sweet.  The normal sweetness of the parsnip is tough to describe, because it’s such a unique flavor.  Tasty for sure, but unlike any other mashed root vegetable I’ve ever eaten, and that’s a good thing.  Check.

Soothing.  Do you find mashed potatoes to be homey and comforting?  I do, and this recipe elicits the same feelings for me.  Check here as well.

May I make a suggestion?  Next time you want some mashed potatoes, try making mashed parsnips instead.  You might just find out that you really, really liked parsnips and you never knew.  At least, that’s what happened to me.

One down, fifty one to go.

Mushy Zucchini

In the day and age of the al dente vegetable, what a joy to find a recipe that celebrates the well-cooked, buttery vegetable.

After flipping through “The Cookbook” the other day, I noticed that the vegetable section has been severely neglected.  It’s time to rectify that situation, so expect quite a few veggie posts in the upcoming weeks.

For a while, I believed (incorrectly) that the British seem to really like vegetables that have been mashed up.  It was all based upon my knowledge of a beloved fried cod side dish, mushy peas.  When I came across this recipe, it served only to back up my (incorrect) assumption.  But as I started writing this article, I went out into the great-wide Internet to find a few mushy recipes that I could share.  Slowly it began to dawn on me that in reality, mushy peas are fairly common across the pond, but the other members of the vegetable kingdom aren’t usually pulverized at all.  That means that this recipe is a bit of an anomaly.  And I do enjoy out of the ordinary foodstuffs, if you haven’t noticed.

IMG_1437.jpg

I picked up these zucchinis at the local supermarket for a decent price.  As a quick reminder, make sure you scrub them well when you cook them at home.  I thought I had done a good job getting them clean, but there was a slight pesticide flavor in the finished product.  A lesson learned there, for sure.

IMG_1454.jpg

In a pan over low heat, one whole (!) stick of butter was slowly melted.  To quote Alton Brown, “I said it was good, not good for you.”  Into the pan went a few cloves of garlic that I had finely chopped to sweat.

IMG_1464.jpg

As the garlic and butter got to know each other, I sliced each zucchini into 1/3 inch rounds.  A quick rinse once more, and the veggies were ready for the pan.

IMG_1470.jpg

Into the pan they went, and I tossed them over and over until each slice was coated with the garlic butter.  After they were all properly buttered I added salt and pepper and covered the pan.

IMG_1478.jpg

After a few minutes on the heat, the zucchini began losing their rigid structure.  Here they are after just five minutes.

IMG_1478.jpg

Ten minutes in, you can see how the middles of the slices are falling out.  Mr. Henderson mentions that when the zucchini start to break apart, they’ll start to bind the whole thing together.

IMG_1483.jpg

And here’s the final dish.  I think I probably could have kept them on the heat longer for even mushier results, but their texture was just fine by me.  This recipe is going into the old memory bank for those cooking by the seat of the pants moments that tend to crop up.  Slightly silky, perfectly mushy, drenched in butter zucchini coins that you can prepare in under 20 minutes?  Hell yes, I’ll be preparing this recipe over and over for a very long time.

One down, fifty two to go.

EDIT: Commenter E. Nassar has a similar post about mushy zucchini that just needs to be shared.  Quickly, click this link.