There I was earlier tonight, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and ruing the fact that I didn’t have any Hallowe’en-themed food to write about. Then I remembered the starch I made for last night’s Sunday dinner.
Take a good look. Do you recognize that creepy, many-tentacled and — let’s face it — vaguely disturbing looking root? No? Go ahead, pick it up (it won’t hurt you) and take a whiff. Behind the first note of earthiness did you notice that faint hint of a tangy freshness? Could it be? Yes, celery! This is a celery root, and it makes an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes.
Once you’ve steeled yourself to touch the thing, just cut off the top and the ghoulish looking root end, peel the rest, give it a wash and cut into chunks. I also peel and cut a baking potato into sections, and add those to the pot. I give it all a good second wash, being a hygienic kind of gal, and then cook as I would any ordinary pot of potatoes.
Once tender, drain the water off, add a tablespoon or so of butter and give it a good mash. I add ground pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram that I rub between my palms to release the aroma, and then some milk (I used almond milk). How much? I find I need to add less liquid than when mashing only potatoes. I start with about 1/3 cup, mash and stir, and then add more milk gradually if necessary to reach the consistency that I like. There is very much an element of eye and feel to cooking; no two vegetables are exactly alike, so I don’t think it’s possible to have exact measurements, just guidelines.
Celery root mash has a delicate flavour with just a hint of tangy celeryness. It’s a bit of a surprise on the plate; easily mistaken for regular mashed potatoes at first glance, but somewhat different in colour and texture – a little more yellowish and not as smooth. The aroma as you lift the fork to your mouth tells you you’re about to taste something different. Hallowe’en, after all, is all about surprises. Go ahead, add something special to your next Sunday dinner plate!