Celeriac is a very ugly vegetable. It looks like a turnip's country bumpkin never-had-a-date cousin. Why else would it take me nearly two years to give it a second chance in my kitchen? It's not that I disliked it the first time around and the post I wrote garnered a number of good suggestions on other things to do with it. I just...forgot. And when I saw it in the market, there was nothing exciting (bright healthy green leaves or a glossy red skin, for example) to attract my attention. But we are reaching the Dead Zone of the vegetable world (and don't even talk to me about fruit!) so last week I reconsidered the humble celeriac while I was waiting in line at my favourite vegetable stall at the organic market. And I bought a nice firm medium-sized head.
Once home, I turned (as one does) to the Internet for ideas on what to do with the knobby head. The recipes I found could be summed up as follows: 75% mashed (tried that last time and found it uninspired), 20% gratin and 5% some variation on a remoulade. It would seem that the blogosphere no more inspired than I am about this vegetable. I'd like to say that I came up with some clever idea of my own for the celeriac, but I'm still working on that. In the meantime, I decided to go with the most interesting of the gratin ideas: one with a blue cheese topping. And it was surprisingly tasty and predictably satisfying and filling. Celeriac does not have the overpowering flavour that its cousin celery has when cooked. It remains fairly subtle and a bit nutty, the perfect balance to a salty blue cheese. From start to finish it took only about 15 minutes preparation and 25 minutes in the oven, which also makes it a very useful recipe for a busy mother. Providing your little ones like blue cheese. (I'm working on that.)
Celeriac Gratin (Gratin de céleri rave au bleu dana)
I bought the Danish blue cheese for this recipe at the market too. It looked creamy and enticing and although pregnant women are not supposed to eat blue cheese my doctor tells me it's fine as long as the cheese is cooked in a dish. (I love my doctor.) I had a hankering for the forbidden cheese and this recipe was also a way to satisfy that craving. You could substitute any mild blue cheese - creamy Gorgonzola would also work very well.
1 small celeriac head (about 400 grams)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crême frîche
1 large egg
75 grams Danish blue or other mild blue cheese
pinch of salt
Butter for gratin dish
Wash peel and slice the celeriac in thin (1/2 cm) pieces. Butter a small gratin dish and layer the celeriac in the dish. Beat together the milk, cream and egg and pour over the celeriac. Crumble the cheese in small chunks and spread over the top of the dish. Bake in a hot (200c/400f) oven for 25 minutes or until a sharp knife easily runs through the tender slices of celeriac. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Note: if the top of the dish starts to brown, cover with brown paper or tin foil. Blue cheese can turn very acidic and sharp if it cooks too much and will overpower the delicate celery aroma of the dish.