I know you are saying to yourself, "What the heck is that?" because that is what MY question was! Actually, what I said was...
Me: "What would you like me to do with this? And what IS it?"
Lady Chef smiled and said, "Celeriac."
Lady Chef: "Celeriac. It's a root vegetable similar to celery."
She was so excited to show me about it and tell me that "you are going to be so ahead of your class" knowing about this. I actually felt like I was on an episode of Chopped for a minute, working with a mystery ingredient! Anyway, she told me how to cut the celeriac and had me taste one of the leaves. Blech! It tasted aweful and I spit it out. The weird part is, my mouth felt like I tasted a piece of celery! So, you don't actually use the greens, but the root itself. It almost has a potato consistancy to it, but takes slighty longer to cook. But, let me tell you the best part about it...the wonderful aroma that came from chopping up the root! Wow! It is so refreshing and addicting, I kept picking it up and smelling it while I was chopping it up.
I found a recipe for celeriac mash on epicurious.com that I would love to try with this "new found" veggie. You can also serve it raw and grate it, and add it to a salad or make into a slaw.
Another one of my new favorite ingredients are beets. Most people see them only as "pickled" on a Greek salad, but you need to open your mind when it comes to the way things are prepped and served. My first experience with a roasted beet was at my friend Liz's house. She made us a snack of sliced beets and cheese. YUM! They were fantastic! I asked her how she cooked them and what she added. Nothing! "You mean beets actually taste great alone?" YES, they do! No seasoning, additives, just roast your beets, slice, and eat!
We use beets at the restaurant, including pink beets, which are pink with thin white stripes when sliced. Not only do roasted beets taste yummy, they are great for plate presentation!
Onto desserts for the night.... we had a dessert called Figs on Fire. That was pretty fun because it is served with my favorite ice cream, Red Fire by Vosges. Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon + dark chocolate ice cream=YUMMY GOODNESS!! I even had a few bites of it after lunch today....
Ok, back to figs. I found an interesting fig recipe in an Italian cookbook that my Aunt Coco has. Once I get back from vacation, I am going to borrow her book and try some of these quick, easy recipes, including the figs. In the mean time, I found a wonderful recipe for Figs and Toasted Almond Brie that I would love to try. I think this would make a great appetizer for a dinner party that would stand out in a crowd.
It's all about opening your mind and your palette to discover new tastes and combinations. My lesson learned this week is this: Do not let one ingredient stand out in your dish. All the ingredients should complement each other, and not overpower each other.
Here's to yet another successful week at the restaurant..... See you when I get back from Tunisia!!