Apple, Celery & Celeriac Puree

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Since this will be pureed, there is no need to dice or chop finely. Big chunks are just fine, so long as they can cook evenly and will fit in blender or Magic Bullet.

Heat 3 TBSP of butter (or olive oil for vegan option) at medium low (4 on a 10 point electric dial) in a large stock pot. Add 2 yellow onions and a bunch of celery, all chopped. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have sweat and are translucent.

While that’s cooking, chop up 4 large or 6 small apples. I used some Galas and a Pink Lady. Eating apples, not cooking apples because we are not adding any sugar. Crush and peel 3 cloves of garlic. Add the apples and garlic to the stock pot. Add tsp of thyme. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on a let cook about five minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chunk the celeriac. Add to the crock pot with 1 quart of vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper.  Bring heat up to medium. When everything is tender, remove from heat and let cool.

After it’s cooled down, puree with an immersion blender, blender or Magic Bullet. Serve hot with a bit of chopped parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds and, if you’re feeling ambitious, some thinly sliced pear grilled on a hot burner. I accidentally spilled enough pumpkins seeds to two servings in this picture. They were delicious, though.

The soup is a smooth, mildly tart puree with a delicious, rich flavor. There’s a nice bit of bitter heartiness from the celery that is lightened and balanced by the apples, the onions adding some bright notes and of course, celeriac is always delicious.

This makes about 8 servings, but it also tastes better as leftovers. In fact, it’s so much better the next day that I didn’t eat it the day I made it but let it wait overnight. Unlike most celeriac purees, I don’t add any cream so it will keep several days and can also be frozen.

 

 

Grilled Pear Sandwich

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  • 1 pear, sliced and grilled
  • small handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread
  • cream cheese

 

I went to Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank project, at Impact NW on Friday morning. it takes place the fourth Friday of the month and Harvest Share programs are more likely to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This month there were sacks of potatoes, onions and pears. I think my sack of Bosc pears is about 10 pounds. They aren’t quite ripe, but you know pears, once they ripen, your window of perfection is short.

I thought cooking the pears would be a good option for using them while I wait for them to ripen, so I experimented with grilling the pears for a sandwich. I heated my cast iron griddle on medium heat, put no oil or butter on it, leaving it completely dry. I sliced the pears and let them heat. They were softening, but I wanted a caramelized pear, so I turned up one of the electric burners on the stove up to high. I turned on the  fan and opened the door and windows. When the pears were nearly done on the griddle, I laid them directly on the hot burner for a few seconds to give them the charred look and caramelized flavor I wanted. Just a few second, because you don’t wan them to catch fire. My fire alarm still went off for a bit, so it’s a good thing I didn’t make these when I woke up at 6 a.m.

I set them back on the griddle to stay warm while i toasted two slices of multigrain bread (also from Food Bank) and chopped a handful of cilantro. I spread the bread with cream cheese, laid the cilantro on top and then added the pear slices.

This makes one serving. It was delicious, the cream cheese and cilantro complement the sweetness of the pears beautifully. I can’t think of anything to make it more delicious except maybe chèvre or crème fraîche instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese fits my budget better, though.

 

Asparagus, Fennel & Grapefruit Salad

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I made this delicious salad, riffing off a delicious sounding salad in the Italian Diabetes Cookbook by Amy Riolo. Her recipe served six and include oranges to which I am allergic. I miss oranges terribly as they were one of my favorite fruits and I loved citrus-based cleansers. I guess I must have already eaten my lifetime allotment of oranges because all of sudden about 10 years ago, I became terribly allergic to them. So for me, I often substitute grapefruit which oddly enough I can still eat. It’s not the same, it is not nearly so sweet, but it’s in the ballpark. And sometimes, I think it is probably even more delicious precisely because it is less sweet.

The thing to remember about cooking is that it’s like jazz while baking is like classical music. When you cook, you can extemporize. Don’t have an ingredient, use something else. Use your instincts and your taste buds. Her recipe also called for fresh parsley and I did not have any. I used the fennel fronds instead just for the color. Parsley would have been a good addition and I will make this again with parsley, but it still made a delicious salad. In fact, that I can mess around with the original recipe here and there is proof, in my opinion, of the soundness of the foundation recipe. Good recipes can tolerate a lot of fiddling.

  • 3 asparagus spears, lightly boiled or heated on low for a few minutes in microwave, until tender
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced and chopped fennel
  • 1/2 grapefruit supremed (cut segments out)
  • 4 black olives, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of fennel fronds

Mix together in a bowl, squeeze the juice out of the leftover grapefruit, add 2 tsps of olive oil, a splash of rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

This was light, flavorful and satisfying. The olives were a surprisingly good addition, adding a satisfying bit of fattiness to the very light meal. I have loved green olives and grapefruit in salads. I thought black olives would be too mild, but they are a surprisingly good match. Asparagus is mild, which makes it a great foundation for strong flavors like fennel and grapefruit. Crunchy, light, flavorful, what more can I ask?