Celery Salt And Boiled Eggs

This recipe was so simple, I almost feel like I’m cheating on this update. I have an excuse though: my puppy was “fixed” this week, so I’ve been a bit too preoccupied to jump into a complicated dish.

My wife is terribly allergic to celery, so I don’t cook with it very often. Celery root actually contains more allergen than the stalk, so using it has been pretty much right out. I’m happy to finally be able to work with it though after seeing the chefs on various TV shows use it to great effect. I was thrown at first when I looked at the recipe. I had never heard of “celeriac” before. Thankfully a quick Google search informed me that over in France and the UK, celeriac is what they call celery root.

I tried to use a peeler to remove the tough outer skin, but the root was so oddly shaped I ended up just cutting most of the skin off with a knife.

Once peeled, I needed to grate the entire root finely. While I was grating, the pungent smell of celery slowly gave way to a very sweet, almost coconut-like scent. The coconut flavor also came through slightly in the final product.

Fifteen minutes later I had a tired hand and a bowl full of grated celery root. I measured out the needed amount of coarse sea salt and combined the two …

… like so. I then left the bag to sit in the fridge for two days so that the celery root and salt could “get to know each other.”

48 hours later I spread the mixture on a half sheet pan and placed it in an oven set on low to dry it out.

Many hours later I had big crusty chunks of salty celery root.

After a quick whiz in a food processor I had powdery celery salt.

I soft boiled a couple of free range eggs to finish the recipe.

Despite the simplicity of everything done in this update, there is something wonderful about making your own celery salt. Kept in an airtight container it’ll last for quite a while, and using the recipe in the book left me with a little under two cups of salt. I’ll probably still have some two years down the road, that is if I don’t stop using it every morning on soft boiled eggs. The combination of the two is just so tasty that I’ve boiled about eight eggs so far. The celery salt has not only the grassy and pungent tones usually associated with celery, but there are subtle sweet and nutty flavors in the mix as well as the obvious salty one.

One down, one hundred and twenty seven to go.

Grilled Marinated Calf’s Heart

This is a wonderfully simple, delicious dish, the heart not, as you might imagine, tough as old boots because of all the work it does, but in fact firm and meaty but giving.

As a special and quick Valentine’s Day update, I figured I should make something appropriate. What could possibly be more romantic than a heart?

I was so shocked to find half a calf’s heart at my local supermarket that I did a little dance in the meat department. I’m sure that I had more than a few people slowly back away, but considering how tough it has been finding some of these cuts of meat I’d like to think I was justified.

In the recipe, Mr. Henderson asks for one to remove any excess fat and sinew. With the heart being cut in twain by the butchers, my job was significantly easier as most of the sinew and silverskin had already been cut off.

Moments later the heart looked like slices of lean flank steak.

Into the bowl went the heart, some salt and pepper, a bunch of thyme and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar. This was covered tightly and left in the fridge overnight.

Since the slices were a bit small for my grill, I dropped them on a very hot cast iron grill skillet.

The heart plated with a salad of raw leek and vinaigrette. The meat was almost identical to flank steak in flavor and texture. It was surprisingly tender, and I could cut the squares with a butter knife.

This has been one of the easiest and most rewarding dishes from the book so far. I forgot to mention that I paid a whopping total of a dollar and twenty five cents for the heart half. If you want to cook on a budget and still eat well, look no further than a nice calf heart.

Happy Valentines day!

One down, one hundred and twenty seven to go.

Leek, Potato, And Oyster Soup

You will need a blender for the recipe, as part of the joy of the dish is the smooth velvety soup within which lurks the oyster.

Seeing that the winter months have nearly ended, I decided to jump on this recipe so I could use oysters that were still nice and fat as opposed to the anemic and watery options come the summer. I’m also that much closer to finishing a section of the book, which is a bit surprising since I was truly afraid that I would have burned out on updating this website before that could happen. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

This is the first time that I’ve ever used the entire leek–minus the root–for a dish. I was a little concerned that longer green sections might taste like the wooden-esqe core of an older leek.

My wonderful wife prepped both the onion and the potatoes for me. While I’m sure it was done out of the kindness of her heart, I suspect that hunger played a bigger driving force than she would care to admit.

The book asks for a pan big enough to take all the ingredients, but unfortunately my largest pan couldn’t hold just the leeks, onion and garlic. I was forced to move to a largish pot. I let the aforementioned vegetables soften in a melted stick of butter.

Once everything was nice and giving, the potatoes were mixed in and left to cook for a few minutes. Chicken stock was then poured into the pot and I turned the heat up to attain a gentle boil.

With the potatoes cooked completely I seasoned the soup with some grey sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Something that still confuses me is that this recipe should supposedly serve six people. After all of the blending, I was left with just under 4 liters of soup! I suppose six really hungry people might able to polish it all off and then be full for the rest of the next day.

After blending everything, I put it all back in the pot and added every last drop of oyster liquor I could coax out of the little plastic container the pre-shucked oysters were in.

With so much soup I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough of the oyster liquor to really “get” that flavor while eating. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Two oysters were placed in each bowl, and then covered with the leek and potato puree.

The dish completed. It looks pretty much like pea soup, right? At least I think it does. A few scallion slices were added as a garnish to break up the sea of green.

I feel like I’m starting to sound redundant when I talk about the flavors of the dishes. I’m afraid that “rustic” and “homey” are soon going to wear out their welcome in my vocabulary. That being said, this dish is very, very homey. The leeks and potatoes work well with each other, and the briney liquor from the oysters expresses itself in the aftertaste of every spoonful. The oysters are really just a nice little extra at the bottom of the bowl as far as I’m concerned. The soup is the clear star, and something I would really like for lunch on a cold winter day or if I was recovering from a bout of the sniffles.

One down, one hundred and twenty eight to go.