Tag Archives: Celeriac

In my veg box this week – celeriac, fennel, swede

19 Nov

I’ve chosen the three most weird and wonderful items to talk about this week. I imagine all three of them will divide opinion, some people love strong flavours, some find them freaky. I love a bit of variety, so I’m thrilled to see all three of them.

Celeriac
It’s almost impossible to describe celeriac without sounding nuts. The best I can come up with is a turnip infused with celery, but that still doesn’t quite cut it. There’s no way to know whether you’d like it or not without trying it, so give it a go! I’d highly recommend making a celeriac and potato gratin. Peel and very finely slice some celeriac and potato, then par-boil them for just a couple of minutes. Drain and return to the pan with some finely chopped garlic and plenty of salt and pepper and toss it all up to mix. Tip the whole lot into a greased casserole dish and drizzle over plenty of non-dairy cream. Bake at 200˚C for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.

Fennel
Another one that’s difficult to describe. I suppose I’d say that the texture is similar to chunky white cabbage but with a little more crunch, and the flavour is unmistakeably aniseed, but much fresher and zingier. You can eat it raw, sliced finely and tossed with herby vinaigrette. It also roasts and steams really well, or cook it in a stew with tinned tomatoes and tonnes of garlic.

Swede
I hated swede for such a long time when I was younger, I can’t even remember why now because over the years I’ve had a complete about-turn. It’s perfect paired with carrots, the sweetness of the carrots counterbalances the bitterness of the swede, and they bring out the best in each other’s flavours. Mashed together they make a perfect bed for some veggie sausages and a bit of onion gravy… Yum!

Also received this week: tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, apples, oranges, plums, bananas.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

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In my veg box this week – winter purslane, celeriac, red cabbage

19 Feb

I’ve not managed to write about my veg boxes for the past couple of weeks. As much as I’ve wanted to, the last few weeks have been a little bit repetitive so I’ve not had anything new to write about. As we head into the hungry gap (the part of early spring when almost nothing is in season) I might have less interesting vegetables to write about. I’m really excited and impatient for it to be summer, when every week’s delivery is diverse and exciting and colourful!

This week we have:

Winter purslane:
Sometimes this is labelled winter purslane, other times they call it claytonia, but as far as I can tell they’re both the same thing. Whatever you call it, it’s a soft and mild small-leafed salad green. At this time of year, after months of living off root vegetables and cabbage, I find it so exciting to start getting salad.

Celeriac:
I love celeriac so much, it’s always a joy to get one. It can be a bit of a pain to prepare, you need a really good vegetable peeler (I’d recommend a ceramic peeler rather than metal) or failing that a really sharp paring knife. It’s worth it though, it’s warm, spicy, earthy, and totally unique. You can use it to make some pretty damn fine soup (like my celeriac and cider soup). I also particularly enjoy making alternative chips or wedges, by roasting it with curry powder, or chilli flakes, or just a bit of salt and pepper. Gorgeous!

Red cabbage:
OK, this wasn’t actually in my veg box, it is a home-grown gift from my mum (who you might notice commenting on my posts as tuthersue). Mum has a lovely, well-kept allotment, and grows tonnes of fruit and vegetables, so whenever I see my parents I always get a bag of home-grown vegetables. My brother lives much closer to home and occasionally gets home from work to find a surprise marrow on his doorstep. Anyway… red cabbage. I’ve got two favourite recipes for red cabbage, and while they have similar ingredients they’re completely different. The traditional way of cooking it is to braise it for an hour with a cup of vegetable stock, a knob of margarine, three-quarters of a cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon of sugar. To get a more intense flavour, or if you’re in a hurry, you should try Valentine Warner’s recipe for (in his words) red cabbage done properly. He’s got a really entertaining way with words, it’s worth reading his recipes even if you’re not planning to make them.

Also received this week: two different kinds of oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, two cute squashes that will almost certainly end up being stuffed and baked, cauliflower.

Celeriac and cider soup

3 Nov

Celeriac is one of my favourite vegetables, so much so that when I got one in my veg box recently I felt like I’d won the lottery. If you’ve never tried it before I’d urge you to do so. You might have heard it being described as tasting like celery, and it sort of does, in an abstract sort of way. If you don’t like celery don’t let it put you off. It has the sweet, spicy flavour of celery, but it is warm and starchy rather crunchy and green. Or, as one of my former housemates once drunkenly told me, it’s like sex in root vegetable form.

Celeriac is rather knobbly and dirty, and might look a bit daunting to peel, but as long as you have a decent quality vegetable peeler and a sharp paring knife it won’t take too long.

This recipe is loosely based on one from James Martin, a TV chef who likes to add a ton of butter and cream to everything he makes (the recipe is here if you’re interested). My soup is less greasy but just as creamy and delicious. I’ve swapped the wine for cider (a) because I’m a cider fiend, and (b) because the fruitiness really compliments the spiciness and makes the soup warmer and more comforting. If you can, use a good quality local cider, rather than a slosh out of a can of stuff that contains more high-fructose corn syrup than actual apples.

Recipe (serves four)

  • a tablespoon or so of oil
  • a large onion, peeled and chopped
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • a medium celeriac (about 500-700g peeled weight), peeled, and chopped into approx. 1.5cm cubes
  • 100ml cider
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 100ml milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Fry the onions with the lid on, for about five minutes. Add the garlic and celeriac and fry for about five more minutes, still covered.

Add the cider and hot stock, then simmer without boiling (again, with the lid on) for about 15 minutes, until the celeriac is tender. Add the milk, and blend until smooth. Reheat, and check for seasoning.

Serve hot with a nice bit of toast. Perfect on a cold autumn day.

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