When asked to contribute to Burt Wolf”s pot-luck dinner, my boyfriend, a relatively new cook and homemaker, offered to make the Celery-Root and Apple Puree he mastered from The Improvisational Cook. “Don’t forget the double-boiler so you can heat it up at Burt’s” I said.
He sounded perplexed. “How do you think I should transport the puree?”
“Well, you need to make sure it won’t spill in the car…maybe just put the puree in plastic containers with tight lids and then dump it into the double boiler when you get there.”
That evening he arrived with the whole double boiler assembled, with the puree inside, and the lid battened down with duct tape. All he had to do was remove the duct tape, add water to the bottom pot, and put it on a burner to start warming the puree. “I couldn’t find any plastic containers” he explained. His improvisation proved a great, novel solution with less steps than my big idea.
In improvising, the deal is: Whatever works!
Note: good second-hand double boilers in stainless steel or glass can be found on Ebay, cheap.
Recipe: Celery Root and Apple Puree
Cooking watery or fibrous root vegetables like celery roots, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, and beets with a little white rice before pureeing them insures they will be exceptionally creamy and have a very pure flavor. The apples enhance and sweeten the vegetables.
4 Servings, about 2 1/2 cups
1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups low-fat (2%) or whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons white rice
2 small Macintosh apples, (about 8 ounces total) peeled, cored and quartered or
1 small ripe pear, peeled, quartered and cored
1 to 2 tablespoons butter and/or crème fraiche or heavy cream or to taste
Place the celery root in a medium saucepan, add the milk, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a grinding or two of pepper, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Stir in the rice, lower the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the apples and simmer for 10 minutes longer until the celery root is very tender. (The milk will curdle, but the curds will be incorporated when the celery root is pureed.) Drain the mixture in a colander set over a bowl; save the cooking liquid.
In a food processor, puree the celery root mixture 1 or 2 minutes, until perfectly smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of cooking liquid if necessary. (Save the remaining flavorful liquid for soup; it can be frozen.) Process for several minutes, scraping down the sides several times, until you have a fine puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the butter and process to blend.
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