Getting to the root of my resolutions

QUICKREAD

CELERY ROOT POTATO SOUP

8 cups chicken broth or stock

4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 garlic cloves, peeled smashed

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks

1 ½ lbs celery root, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and white pepper

For the oil

¼ good extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

8 fresh thyme sprigs

 

Place the chicken broth, 4 thyme sprigs and 3 garlic cloves in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add in the potatoes and celery root. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove the thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth and creamy. Add in the cream and season soup with salt and white pepper to taste.

While the soup is simmering, place the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add sliced garlic and 8 thyme sprigs to oil and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute until garlic is golden and crisp. Remove oil from heat and set aside.

Serve soup with a generous drizzle of garlic thyme oil. A dollop of crème fraiche would be a nice garnish as well.

 

CELERY ROOT PUREE

2 cups whole milk

2 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 tsp kosher salt

1 ½ lbs celery root, trimmed, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes

1 (10 oz) russet potato, peeled cut into half-inch cubes

1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced

3 Tbs butter

Kosher salt and white pepper

Place the milk, stock, bay leaf, salt, celery root, potato and garlic in a large sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover about 30 minutes or until celery root and potato are very tender. Remove 2 cups of the liquid reserving it for possible use. Remove the bay leaf and place the celery root/potato mixture into a food processor. Puree until very smooth adding in additional cooking liquid if needed. Add in butter and season with salt and white pepper if desired. 

Serves 6 as a side

 

Adapted from My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz



Christmas and New Year’s were just as wonderful as expected, possibly even better. It was a special season for me as my whole family was together in one state under one roof celebrating the holidays, playing in the kitchen, conversing over many delightful meals and enjoying each other’s bad humor. As wild and crazy as it was, I survived and I am now trying to ease in to the New Year. I know 2017 is going to be an adventurous year. I am already predicting a roller coaster of a ride — but one that I would not turn down. 

The New Year sparks new beginnings. It’s no surprise that lifestyle changes are prominent in the month of January, as many people believe this is a great place to start something new. To the contrary, I don’t feel this way until about mid-year when I think, “Oh, I really should have started this in January.”

I am not sure who conceived the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but I am firm in stating that I hate them. I don’t like the word hate, and I don’t encourage its use, however, this is how strongly I oppose resolutions — almost as much as I oppose diets. This may be due to my fear of failure. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect way to set myself up for failure.

Happy New Year, how about I set some unattainable goals?

OK, maybe they are attainable, just not by me. 

This New Year’s Eve, after a delicious meal and a fun night with the family at a live performance at the college, I sat down around 11:30 p.m. with a crisp glass of bubbly and a pen in hand. I wrote out five resolutions on a note pad and told myself to be strong. We toasted the New Year, went to bed and by day three, I had broken three of my five resolutions, hence why I hate them. My husband says I am still batting .400, which is excellent. I just love his encouragement.

Without going into further detail, as many would guess, my resolutions were health- and food-related. I would say this is true for most Americans at the beginning of a new year. However, food is my love language. I struggle limiting it in any way. No one trusts a skinny chef, right?

Diet is a four-letter word to me, and to be honest, it was not on my resolution list. What I do need to annually remind myself of, however, is to cook and eat clean, balanced meals. Our hectic lives encourage fast, last-minute meals that tend to be loaded with calories, carbohydrates and/or fat. A few weeks of fast-paced meals and I begin to feel bogged down and the effects are even more noticeable in our children.

So, it may be perceived as a resolution to some, but for me my goal this year is slowing down. Slowing down will get me back on track to my favorite style of cooking and eating better and sharing my passion with my family, friends and readers.

After the final holiday weekend was over, we put all of the decorations away and I began to get back into the kitchen with a fresh mind. Feeling the chill of winter, I made a trip to the store to buy some root vegetables, looking for comfort, warmth and nutrition. It had been a while, but I immediately grabbed celery root. I bought three of them and upon my arrival home the kids said, “Ew, what?”

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is an ugly, knobby, bulbous root vegetable. Its flavor is quite debatable and varies with freshness and size. I think its flavor is rather unique; I find it refreshing, yet comforting. Some describe its taste as similar to celery, parsnip, potato or a mellow carrot. You be the judge, but best of all it is low in carbohydrates, low in starch and packed with vitamins and minerals.

Celery root is a remarkable vegetable as it can be stored in a refrigerator for months and can be eaten raw or cooked using just about any cooking method. Raw celery root is a crisp treat grated or shaved into salads, pairing well with apples, lemons, mustards and vinegars. When cooked, the sweetness of the root is really pronounced. Celery root holds up well to roasting, steaming, braising, mashing or pureeing and is an excellent addition to soups and stews. Generally speaking, after peeled and chopped, it cooks in 20-30 minutes. The leaves of the stems can also be used chopped finely as a garnish. 

When shopping for celery root, don’t judge. Yes, it’s a gnarly, unevenly shaped round ball of dirt and hair, but what lies beneath will impress. Be sure to select a root that is firm and heavy for its size and has crisp, green stems. Store wrapped in the refrigerator, and if storing for longer than a few days, remove the green stems and store them separately. Before using, wash well, removing all dirt. Cut the ends off and peel with a peeler or, if needed, a paring knife, being sure to remove all the brown skin and hairy roots. The flesh of the interior root will oxidize, so be sure to have a plan for its use once it has been chopped. 

Over the next few days, celery root found its way into our meals and surprisingly received an overall respectable rating with the kids, husband and the in-laws.  It’s difficult to disguise such a funny looking vegetable, so I had to come clean. I served celery root puree along with barbecued tri-tip with sautéed cabbage, leeks and salt pork — the kids’ favorite. Then on to my favorite, celery root potato soup: silky, savory and clean. I had two bowls at dinner and one for breakfast. Hence I am now batting .200! 

Now let’s get cooking!

Suzanne Hanzl is a personal chef, culinary instructor and owner of Tourné Cooking School, tournecooking.com. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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