Thursday, 24 February 2011

Celeriac and Halzelnut Soup

Celeriac. Must be THE ugliest vegetable I've ever seen. Just look at its knobbly and twisted surface; it's no wonder most people avoid it. But peel away (actually more like cut. it's got really thick skin) the outer layers, and you have a beautiful cream-coloured inside,that gives off a sweet nutty smell and flavour, a bit celery-like but much milder and without the fibrous texture.

Anyway, I picked this thing up because I like to get the odd vegetables at the Farmers' Markets. There's not much fun in getting something you can see in the supermarkets anyway, is there? When I don't know what to do with a new root vegetable, there are 2 fail-safe ways I usually turn to: roasting, or turning it into soup.

Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup
serves 2-4
1 medium celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and diced
small handful of hazelnuts, soaked overnight and skin-off
2 cups vegetable stock
about 1/3 cup whole milk (raw)
sea salt and black pepper to taste (about 1/2-1 tsp)
1 tbsp evoo + 1 tbsp butter

To serve
fresh parsley
couple of hazelnuts, lightly toasted

1. Over medium heat, sweat the onions in the evoo and butter, till translucent
2. Add the celeriac, potato and hazelnuts, and saute for 5 min more.
3. Add the vegetable stock and seasoning, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes (depends how big you chopped the vegetables), or till they're all soft.
4. Remove from heat, and blend, adding in the milk till you get a smooth creamy consistency.
5. Meanwhile, lightly toast a couple of hazelnuts (skinless) over medium high heat in a dry pan.
6. Check soup to adjust the seasoning if necessary, before serving with the toasted hazelnuts and parsley for some freshness!

Garnish with the lightly toasted hazelnuts. (to both add crunch and to hint to the person drinking the soup that there's a secret ingredient inside!)

This soup is really velvety and smooth, with that mild, sweet nuttiness coming from both the celeriac and the hazelnuts. I just love that pretty cream colour too. Funny how a while ago I just said it's the ugliest vegetable ever.

By the way, I saw spinach at the Farmers' Market! Could it be...... spring is coming!

This is part of Weekend Herb Blogging.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Would you rather have worms or chemicals on your vegetables?

Just a random question. Which brings me back to a random day at the start of winter, when I came back home happily from a new farmers' market, with very very cheap organic kale. Suspicious? No, really, these exist, and you support your local farmer at the same time.

This bag of kale had hidden surprises.

So, once I got home I happily announced my prized find, opened it, to discover--worms! And not just one, but I saw at least five. Everyone who knows me know I have a phobia of such creepy crawlies-- spiders, worms, ants even, and butterflies are just caterpillars in disguise. I scream, hide under the blanket and come close to tears. So, imagine my horror! Good thing for me, my lovely flatmate bravely came to my rescue and washed these creatures off the kale in the sink, then tossed the "drowned" worms into the bin.

Then we both happily went out, each on her own business. I came home first, and started chopping vegetables for dinner, and then turned round to toss the odds and ends into the bin-- and saw a fat green monster right at the bin. ?! They didn't drown?! At a loss, I just turned back to my vegetables, praying that monster stays put till my flatmate returns. 5 min later, I turned round to check--phew still there-- then almost screamed when I saw a fat black one the size of of my finger on the floor. I did the bravest thing I could do without coming too close to it-- I threw a box over it. There. At least it's caged up. And I went back to my vegetables (I know I'm weird, but the worm was also directly blocking my way out of the kitchen. And chopping vegetables is calming.) 5 min later, I turned round to check again, and saw the wretched creature outside the box, crawling all over it actually. That was it. I hopped past it (yes.), found the insecticide and sprayed the 2 worms so much that another little one I didn't notice near the bin also curled up and died. (I didn't breathe until I opened the windows.) My flatmate came home and was very proud of me.

And that was it. The day I overcame my fear.

And despite still shuddering when I just think about that day (not exaggerating), I'm glad I know my vegetables weren't smothered in that same scary chemical I used to kill those worms.