Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The intimidation of new foods


I have been afraid to cook certain foods.  I can’t tell you what they all are because I don’t know all of them yet and am discovering them as I go.  Celery root and butternut squash were intimidating once…until Sunday night.  Why is it that the unknown is scary and intimidating and fear can take a hold of your life?  And I’m not just talking about cooking; but trying something new every once in a while can be healthy and a great change of pace…like...

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having fun with your fruit Smile.  Thanks to my mother-in-law, she got me this cute vegetable peeler!

Two days ago I finished listening my first “foodie” book.  Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs was an incredible first read in this type of genre.  Augusta “Gus” Simpson is a famous TV chef with two grown daughters.  She finds out her show “Cooking with Gusto” is going to be cancelled on the Cooking Channel and she finds ways, desperately, to keep her show.  Much to her dismay, she ends up hosting a cooking show with Carmen, “Miss Spain”  turned chef who appears to be in it for herself and makes sure everyone else know it.  The book is a bit slow and the characters are confusing at first but it has good drama; however, this type of genre now intrigues me to delve into “foodie world” just a little bit more.

It all happened by accident a couple of weeks ago when I was perusing through the audio books at the library and the title caught my eye.  Who doesn’t like comfort food, whatever it may be?  Once I read the brief introductory, I knew I had to listen to this.   Since December of last year, I’ve gotten hooked on audio-books.  First came Eat, Pray, Love, then The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  And since I finished Comfort Food this week, I’ve felt like something’s missing.  The audio-book is like my travel buddy.  I listen to it on my commute to work and it even makes me laugh.  OK, I admit, I may sound a little cuckoo.  But I enjoy being entertained on my beautiful drive through Napa Valley, at least for an hour a day.

My friend Tanya sent me a note last week to say that she had celery root.  Boy was I glad!  For the longest time, I’d been excited to try out something new.  I’d found a recipe I’d wanted to try in case she had extra celery root she didn’t know what she wanted to do with.  So on Wednesday I went to her house for our weekly workout and not only did she kindly give me the celery root (as promised Smile ), she also donated a butternut squash!  Not having ever dealt with either, I was curious to find what recipes I could make with these ingredients.  Out of curiosity, I decided to Google both at the same time; and lo and behold, I found the recipe below that fancied my inquisitive mind.

Looking through the recipe I was a bit crushed (no pun intended) to find that I didn’t have sage.  Oh boy.  Luckily, cooking means you can make anything and everything your own, whether you have a spice or not.  I found this amazing website called The Cook's Thesaurus that provides substitutes for spices.  What a lifesaver!

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Don’t mind me, I may be a bit naïve about this,
but celery root smells like…get this…celery.

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Beautiful butternut squash

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Butternut squash seeds which I mean to do something with
and then realized I had thrown them away

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Celery root and Butternut Squash just out of the oven!

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Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

(adapted)

Ingredients
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6 cups)
1 celery root, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash and celery root with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. In a single layer spread on a baking sheet, or two. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 25 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté onions, red pepper flakes and rosemary until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock and roasted vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and puree thoroughly in a food processor or blender. Add additional salt if necessary.   Return to the pot to reheat, and serve.

Latin Cook’s Notes:
I found that I didn’t need to add any extra salt or pepper after roasting the veggies in the oven.  The chicken stock had plenty of sodium to add to this soup.  I found it easier to blend ONLY the vegetables in the blender and add a little bit of the liquid from the soup as opposed to blending EVERYTHING together with a hand blender or food processor.  It made the soup less mushier and smooth enough to swallow.  It wasn’t thin like a broth or thick like a stew; it was smooth-soup goodness.  Oh yeah, minor detail - I also added 2 tablespoons of butter and stirred it into the soup until it completely melted.  Practically anything is better with butter, in moderation, right?

1 comment:

ragazzambulante said...

how funny, we're both on a soup kick on our blogs! yours sounds amazing, if it were possible to get either of those things down here I'd try it, but something tells me celery root isn't something the Ecuadorians cook with very often, haha.

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