|What a difference a side dish makes.|
On Sunday we had lunch chez des amis.
- Entrée: Salade de carottes râpées (simple, simply delicious)
- Plat:Pheasant (I know. . . and, being in France this was supposed to be a Big Deal) with a purée de céleri-rave — back to this in a second.
- A plateau de fromages: Brie, chevre and a tomme de Savoie.
- Dessert: A tarte rhubarbe et framboise.
- Café in the salon with dark chocolate on offer.
Et voilà, your “typical” Sunday lunch en famille and/or among friends. Normally, chicken would be the meat of choice, certainly not pheasant.
|Purée de céleri-rave.|
Perhaps the best part of the meal was the purée de céleri-rave, which I plan to make for Drea and Will — maybe Ella will try it — when I’m in Chicago. I’m assuming I will be able to find celeriac relatively easily.
In the past I’ve mentioned one of my favorite emporiums in France — my French girlfriends as well as my American, Australian and English pals agree — Picard, the frozen food franchise filled will awe inspiring basics as well as deliciously intricate (and gorgeous, presentation is important) offerings. There among hundreds of delights one can find a section featuring purées of every imaginable sort, celery root among them. I’ve bought and served many of Picard’s pureed vegetables: haricots verts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery root, and peas for example.
|A manual presse-purée.|
In what would be construed as a “typical” conversation at table we were discussing “easy” versus “much, much more delicious” but more hands-on intensive food preparation. Everyone decided the latter was what makes Sunday lunches special. And, as our hostess said, “I find making something simple from scratch restful; it’s a zen-like moment for me.”
In this case she was referring to her celery root purée. It was exceptional, so rich in flavour and interesting in texture, as in not pureed into a baby food liquid. I thought I would share her recipe with you. It’s so simple that it’s almost a stretch to call it a recipe.
Here’s what she told me:
Peel a large celeriac, cut into chunks. Place pieces into a pan and cover with a liquid consisting of one- half milk and one-half water. Boil until the celery root is soft, but not mush.
At the same time boil one medium-sized potato until it too is soft.
Drain celery and the potato, “press” with an old-fashioned manual presse-purée. I doubt there is a French cuisine without some version of one of these and the kitchen stores are full of different models.
She cautioned to not add more than one potato so as not to dilute the rich, strong flavour of the celery.
|Everything is better with butter. . .|
Liberally add butter and milk to the taste and consistence that you desire. Salt and white pepper.
I had three helpings as did everyone at table. It was absolutely divine. I’m thinking what a splendid, unexpected side dish purée de celeri rave would make during the holidays.
|A more modern version of the presse-purée.|
I plan on giving Drea and Will a presse–purée for Christmas. How exciting is that?