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How to Peel a Celery Root


An unpeeled celeriac, also known as a celery root.

A recent recipe that called for celeriac, also known as celery root, prompted a question from a reader: What do you do with it?

Start by cutting off the bottom.

It’s very simple, and it’s a tasty alternative to potatoes, especially if you are looking to cut back on carbohydrates in your diet. The root has between 7 and 9 grams of carbs per cup, depending on which nutritional guide you pay attention to.

It’s also low in calories and a good source of both vitamin C and phosphorus, according to nutritiondata.self.com. Magnesium, manganese and potassium are other pluses you get from this root vegetable.

Let’s start at the supermarket, where the roots are usually stores in the produce section near other exotics. At my H-E-B, it can generally be found near the daikon, when it’s available, and the bok choy.

Peel off the sides, as you would a pineapple.

Choose one that is hard. It could be gnarled or knobby. Some stores sell them in various sizes and by the pound; others offer larger versions that given a per-root price.

You don’t need to wash it. Just set it on its side and cut the bottom off of it.

Then set the cut side down on your board and proceed to peel it with a sharp knife the way you would a pineapple until all sides are cleaned.

Then you can cut it into slices and finally into cubes. Or you can cut it into larger chunks in order to grate it. Slice into wedges and prepare it as you would steak fries. Use a mandolin and cut thin slices to be fried up as chips.

That’s about all it takes.

Then, it’s time to start cooking.

You can use celeriac in this parsley soup. Or try this recipe for celeriac gratin from Martha Stewart that bubbles up with flavor from two cheeses, cream, nutmeg and Dijon mustard in addition to the celeriac.

Martha Stewart’s Celeriac Gratin

Unsalted butter, for the dish
4 shallots, thinly sliced
3 medium bulbs celeriac
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You can cut celeriac in different ways, depending on how you're going to use it.

Butter a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish. Scatter shallots over bottom of dish. Peel celeriac and cut into 1/4-inch slices, and then julienne. Arrange evenly in gratin dish. Sprinkle thyme leaves over celeriac.

In a small bowl, whisk together cream, mustard, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Pour over celeriac, and sprinkle with cheeses. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil, and continue baking until top is brown and bubbly and cream is thickened and reduced, about 20 more minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Martha Stewart/Martha Stewart Living

 

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Cauliflower Popcorn. That’s No Typo.


Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and salt.

For those who are looking to give up or at least cut back on corn in their diet, this recipe from Bob Blumer’s “Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories and Surreal Etiquette” (Whitecap, $29.95) offers a good substitute for popcorn. The flavors are remarkably similar once you coat the cauliflower in olive oil and a good salt. (Add the mashed cauliflower to replace potatoes and you can cut back on carbohydrate levels.)

Surprised? You’re not alone. “Everywhere I go I sing its praises,” writes the star of the TV shows, “The Surreal Gourmet” and “Glutton for Punishment.” “Usually I am met with skepticism when I boast that it’s so good even kids devour it. After all, who woulda thunk that cauliflower could actually become addictive? But it’s true.”

It is true. But you need to watch the cooking time. I had a slightly smaller head of cauliflower than usual, which meant cutting back on the oil, the salt and the cooking time. Mine was ready in 45 minutes, instead of the hour that Blumer mentions. But, oh, it does taste good.

Play with the flavors. Add curry powder or black pepper, Parmesan cheese, whatever you would put on popcorn.

By the way, Blumer suggests making this dish with James Brown’s “The Popcorn” playing in the background.

Cauliflower Popcorn

Cauliflower Popcorn

1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1 popcorn container

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut out and discard cauliflower core and thick sterns. Trim remaining cauliflower into florets the size of golf balls. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, olive oil and salt. Toss thoroughly.

Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, if available, for easy cleanup). Roast for 1 hour, or until much of each floret has become golden brown. (That’s the caramelization process converting the dormant natural sugars into sweetness.) The browner the florets, the sweeter they will taste. Turn 3 or 4 times during roasting.

Use crumpled up aluminum foil or paper towels to create a false bottom in your popcorn container, fill it with cauliflower, and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “Glutton for Pleasure” by Bob Blumer

 

 

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Griffin to Go: Hawaiians Definitely Have a Sweet Tooth


Shave ice is a refreshing treat on a hot afternoon.

Is it any wonder, given the amount of sugar that grows on Maui, that the folks here have a sweet tooth? All manner of sweet breads can be found in bakeries and markets. Desserts are the starting point for many when it comes to dining out. And that great Hawaiian creation, shave ice, helps take the edge off the heat of the day.

That’s right. It’s shave ice, not “shaved ice.” The “d” is added only on the mainland. But sweet slivers of ice by any other name — raspas, anyone? — would still be a welcome, sticky treat. On my first visit to this Hawaiian island, I found a shave ice stand where the owners actually made their own syrups from locally grown fruit and sugar. It was, needless to say, the best I’ve ever had.

I haven’t been so lucky on this trip as far as finding shave ice with a handmade syrup, but I also haven’t been seeking out sweets, because of my diabetes. Still, it’s hard to avoid overdosing on carbohydrates on an island where starches, from potatoes to poi, are a mainstay of the diet, and dishes are often finished off with ripe fruit bursting with natural sugars. Dining out is a minefield of high-carb options from coconut rice and burgers with pineapple to fish cooked with fruit salsa on top.

The staffs at restaurants have been understanding of my dietary restrictions and have accommodated my requests. The women at Casanova Deli gave me olive oil and freshly cut lemon slices for a salad because the house dressing was out of bounds. The kitchen at Stella Blues served up my Maui burger without the bun and held the croutons from the accompanying Caesar. At Mama’s Fish House, the uku arrived with a double portion of sautéed eggplant, mushrooms and assorted vegetables instead of the advertised coconut rice.

French Apricot Peach pie from Komoda Store.

Diabetes in a problem here, as it is everywhere else. Thankfully, more and more restaurateurs are accommodating those needs.

Still, sweet is what most people seem to want, and that, of course, includes mai tais, piña coladas and other cocktails that arrive with umbrellas or orchids floating in them.

It’s quite understandable when faced with a FAP, the French Apricot Peach pie from T. Komoda Store and Bakery in Makawao. This internationally known Upcountry spot has everything from incredible cream puffs to glazed doughnuts, all in a weather-worn storefront that has seen plenty of foot traffic through the years. There’s not much light in the place. The display cases are colored with age. And the bakery racks are so cluttered that you can’t help but wonder which goodies are getting lost in the mix.

None of that matters once you’ve tasted what comes out of that kitchen. My friend Carol, who remembered the somewhat twisted route from our last trip six years ago (as if it were yesterday), bought a FAP, which was redolent with the aromas of freshly baked fruit and butter under that buttery crumble topping. It proved to be her breakfast treat each morning until she finished it. She showed admirable concern about my blood sugar levels, and she made it known that the pie was her property and hers alone, although she did offer me a spoonful, and it tasted better than it had any right to.

There's more to Maui than meals, even to this foodie.

My greatest temptation on this trip, however, has been the fruit. There have been pineapples so golden and ripe that the juices just run when you cut into them and just-picked guavas with their intense perfume, watermelons and Mandarin oranges, tiny plums, fingerling bananas and who knows what all else, all supposedly healthy yet so loaded with sugar that I can only eat the tiniest amount.

I’ve already written about how I marinated a pork roast in pineapple juice, but I also used pineapple when dealing with the leftovers. I shredded the meat and tossed it in a sauté pan with a little olive oil, Maui onion, red bell pepper strips, ginger and, yes, pineapple strips. It came together in minutes and, like the best leftovers, it tasted like a whole new dish.

Best of all, my blood sugar levels have been better than they have been in a month or more, though swimming twice a day in the ocean might have been a help with that.

 

 

 

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Ask a Foodie: Low-carb Salmon Ideas?


Enjoy two low-carbohydrate ways to prepare salmon fillets.

Q. The doctor just put me on a strict low-carb diet, and he told me to eat more fish. Any ideas? I like salmon.

— William G.

A. It’s easy to cut carbohydrates down in many savory dishes without losing flavor (desserts are another matter).  One place to look for low-carb ideas is cookbooks that cater to diabetics. That’s where the two salmon recipes below originated. They are from the new “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown (American Diabetes Association, $18.95). But beware: Not all of the recipes are low-carb, so read the nutritional analysis before cooking.

The two recipes were chosen from an entire chapter on salmon because they are made in two different ways. One is grilled, the other is poached. That way, you can vary your method and still keep your carb count low.

Grilled Salmon and Asparagus

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
1 pound thick salmon fillet, skinless, cut into 4 portions
2 teaspoons salt-free lemon pepper seasoning
2 pounds thin asparagus, ends broken off and placed in a bowl of water

Place olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add garlic and heat until garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 mintues. Add basil and turn heat off. Whisk in lemon juice. Set aside.

Sprinkle salmon with lemon pepper seasoning. Set aside.

Preheat grill pan for a few minutes. Drain asparagus and place on grill pan. Cover and roast asparagus for 3 minutes, shaking occasionally. Remove cover. Brush salmon with lemon garlic bath. Place ont he grill pan. cook first side until a nice crust forms. Turn and cook second side. if you want your salmon well done, the lid can be placed on the grill pan.

Place asparagus on a serving plate. Top with salmon. Drizzle with lemon garlic bath. Additional lemon garlic bath can be stored for future use.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 300 calories, 17 g fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars, 29 g protein.

From “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown

Lemony Poached Salmon with a Fennel, Onion and Olive Salad

1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 4 portions
Juice of 1 lemon
Water to cover salmon

Salad:
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel tops
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
4 cups red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 lemon, sliced for garnish

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon capers

Prepare pan for poaching. Place salmon in pan. Add lemon juice and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.

Place fennel tops, onion, olives, cucumber and lettuce in a large bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Add capers. pour half of the dressing over the salad greens. Toss. Save the rest of the dressing to use with another salad.

Place salad on plate and top with salmon. Garnish with lemon slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 230 calories, 12 g fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar, 25 protein.

From “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown

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