Archive for November 9th, 2007

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Celeriac Dauphinoise

November 9, 2007

What would you do with this?

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Mr Rice and I asked ourselves that very question when he lifted this harsh looking vegetable from our Able & Cole box last week. After double-checking that it was a celeriac, we pondered on how to make it look and taste better than it does here. Underneath it has some ancient-looking roots that look more like something from Pan’s Labyrinth than something you would be able to eat.

How will we get into it? Will we even be able to peel it? And how will we eat it? These are all questions we would have to answer ourselves, using our own ingenuity and a bit of reading. So, an hour or so later I had a plan: Celeriac Dauphinoise.

It’s normally made with potatoes, and purely with cream, but I love my cheese, and wanted to make it slightly less painful on the calories, so I have used a combination of double cream and low fat creme fraiche, with cheese added to each layer too. It was difficult to peel, and chopping the tangle of roots off the bottom felt wrong – like I was killing a Mangrove root. But needs must, so I got on with it.

The finished result is almost as far removed from the original object as it could be. It looks creamy, cheesy, appetising and manageable. But by far the best thing for me was the taste. The celeriac has an amazing combination of sweetness and sharpness, and a hint of the familiar celery taste. Whereas normal celery veers towards savoury preparations, celeriac gets sweeter when cooked, so combining it with the cream and cheese was a master stroke. The texture was also rather lovely, being a little bit al dente, but still managing to melt in the mouth. Mr Rice loved it too, so hopefully next time Abel & Cole send us one of these unfortunate looking chaps, we will be a little less afraid.

Recipe for Celeriac Dauphinoise
1 whole celeriac
200ml double cream
200ml low fat creme fraiche
200g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Peel the celeriac, starting from the top, and slice the roots away, making sure all rooty bits have gone. This might mean slicing sections off with a knift, rather than just a peelet. The outer is quite tough, so it’s best to get rid of it. Slice the celeriac into 5mm pieces.

Butter a medium sized oven-proof dish, and add a layer of celeriac slices, then a drizzle of cream and a sprinkling of cheese, then repeat with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of cheese. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used up, and finish with a thin layer of cream and cheese. You can sprinkle each layer with a pinch of salt and pepper if you’re that way inclined, but I think the flavours are strong enough.

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Cook at 190┬║C for 1 hour, until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling. If you have filled the dish quite full, make sure it’s on a baking tray to catch any overflow.

Celeriac Dauphinoise is a perfect, decadent side dish.

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┬ęKatheryn Rice 2007

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