Saturday, March 5, 2011

Root Vegetable Recipes

One Block West is a seasonal restaurant and so our menu changes daily in response to what we find at the market and what our growers bring us. And what we get in the winter is root vegetables, lots and lots of root vegetables. And so we have become quite skilled at incorporating them into our menu, even into desserts such as Parsnip Crème Brûlée and Almond, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Florentines. In wanting to pass along my love for root vegetables, I chose that as the topic for my first class of my new series of cooking classes. Here then are the recipes from my recent Root Vegetables class. I hope that you find them useful. If something is unclear, feel free to post a comment or send me a direct email and I will clarify it.

Céleri Rémoulade. This is my take on the French classic. Often in France, cooks grind the celery root with a Mouli, which gives a very soft and flaccid feel to the dish. I prefer to julienne the celery root which gives it a lot more texture. This salad is best prepared several hours ahead of time or even the day before to give the celery root a chance to soften. I love this slaw as a garnish for pulled pork. I love the mustardy quality of this dressing; feel free to modify to your taste.

2 pounds celery root, peeled and julienned
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Make the dressing by whisking the egg, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt together. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking, making a loose mayonnaise. Add the celery root and toss well. Adjust to taste. You could certainly add some fresh herbs to this for both color and flavor.

Parsnip Latkes. We make so many latkes at the restaurant. They make great bases on which to display other foods and more importantly, who doesn't love a good latke? Parsnips are our favorite right now, but we make latkes from almost all root vegetables including potatoes, carrots, celery root, and sweet potatoes. Hint: if you're using sweet potatoes, use a lower flame. The sugar in the potatoes wants to burn before the latke is cooked.

4 large parsnips
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons flour
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
canola oil

Peel the parsnips and grate them using the coarse side of a box grater into a large bowl. Unlike potatoes, you do not need to squeeze the water out of the parsnips. Grate the onion into the bowl. Add the parsley, flour, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and film with oil. Drop a bit of the parsnip mixture into your pan and flatten into a pancake. A heaping tablespoon yields silver dollar size latkes; three tablespoons yields a 4-inch latke. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and flip. Finish cooking and remove to paper toweling. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Eat one and congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Turnip Bacon Purée. I don't understand why people frown on turnips so much. They're sweet and they're excellent anywhere from raw to puréed. I developed this dish as a silky accompaniment to roast heirloom pork. The sweetness of the turnips and the smokiness of the slab bacon meld deliciously with pork.

4 ounces slab bacon, in small dice
1 pound small turnips, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
salt and pepper

Start cooking the diced bacon in a small sauce pan over medium flame to render some bacon grease, but do not cook the bacon through. Turn up the flame and add the turnips. Brown the turnips slightly. Then cover with water, reduce the flame to medium, and cook until the turnips are soft. Transfer to the food processor and purée. Add heavy cream if you like for richness (I did not do this in the class as I am lactose intolerant) and season to taste.

Fennel Orange Salad. I figure a lot of people have seen fennel in the grocery store and have no clue what to do with it. I wanted to show how friendly and easy this vegetable is. This salad combines oranges, fennel, roasted olives, and a touch of feta cheese.

1 large fennel bulb, julienned
2 tablespoons fennel greens, finely sliced
zest of one orange
3 seedless oranges, sectioned
1/2 cup roasted olives (recipe follows)
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste. I covered how to section citrus fruit some years ago. See this post if you are unfamiliar with how to do it.

Roasted Olives

1/2 cup mixed olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
4-5 fresh rosemary needles, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 pinch black pepper

Toss all ingredients and place on a sheet tray. Heat in a hot oven (400F) until sizzling, about 10 minutes. You can also do this on the stove top over a low flame (which is what I did in the class).

Bourbon Flambéed Sweet Potato Hash. This is a quick and fun take on hash that is wonderful with game and it sure wouldn't be bad for Thanksgiving either.

4 ounces slab bacon, diced
1 medium sweet potato, about a pound, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce bourbon
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a sauté pan over high heat and add the bacon and sweet potatoes. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking. Add the onions and cook until translucent 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the bourbon and let it burn off. Check a sweet potato for doneness. If it needs to cook a bit more, add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan to help the sweet potatoe steam. When the sweet potatoes are done, add the cranberries and pecans, mix well and season to taste.

1 comment:

  1. Love these recipes, and all of the OBW scene recaps. Thanks for this ongoing gift of inspiration.