What vegetable activates your gag reflex?
I know you have one. We all have one. (Unless of course, you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a gag reflex. In which case…food blogging? Really? Don’t you think there are bigger and better things you could be doing with this “talent” of yours?)
For me, it’s celery.
And no people. Get your minds out of the gutter. It is not because of any inappropriate usage of the ever so phallic-ly shaped stalk. And really, if it were would I even be telling you about it. Here. On a food blog.
(Sadly. Probably yes. Don’t judge me.)
Seriously, though. I hate the stuff. It’s stringy and stalky and has this overpowering taste that makes me feel like it’s trying to take over the world or at least my palate.
And it makes my skin crawl. There. I said it. It. Makes. My. Skin. Crawl.
(I’m sorry to all you celery farmers out there. But you are ruining my life.)
Which explains why I cannot say a single good thing about these whipped root vegetables.
You see. These have celeriac in them. A.K.A. celery root. And somehow, somewhere, I got it into my head that celery root doesn’t actually taste like celery. I read it somewhere. Or someone mentioned it once. Or I’m delusional. One of the three.
So I thought, eh, what the hell. I’ll try it.
Oh how wrong I was.
From the moment I peeled that ugly, dirt encrusted vegetable (top left in the picture above). And that god-awful smell permeated my kitchen. Which was enough to send the gag reflex atwitter, might I add. I should have known.
But no. I decided to forge ahead. Be the bigger person. Try not to judge a vegetable by its odor.
And all that got me was a big pile of mashed vegetables that I can barely even look at. Such a shame. Because I can tell that beneath that offending, obtrusive flavor. Is sheer deliciousness.
Next time. I’m using a sweet potato instead. Hellz yeah.
I’m always one to look on the bright side, though. And so, yeah. Maybe the root vegetable thing didn’t quite work out. It happens.
But the veal. Oh, the veal. It is fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth-but-not-in-your-hand good. It is lemony and caper-y and you will squeal the entire day while it is cooking in your kitchen and you can smell it’s heady scent from your bedroom. It will comfort you while you are in the middle of watching “The Back-Up Plan”, an amazingly terrible chick flick with Jennifer Lopez that will essentially be the story of my life someday, and thinking that no one will ever love you enough to want to raise the children that you were artificially inseminated with just mere days before you met them.
Really, you smell this and you feel like you are being encased in a warm hug. And then you taste it. And it’s like love. Really. Do it.
Braised Veal Shanks with Gremolata
Serves 6, adapted from Symon’s Live to Cook
3/4 cup brine-cured green olives (I used garlic-stuffed green olives)
6 2-inch thick veal shank pieces (osso buco)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour, for dredging
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium-large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 salt-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and chopped
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1. Preheat the oven to 275. Or if you oven only goes as low as 300…preheat to 300.
2. Lightly crush the olives with the side of a large knife and discard the pits. Finely chop a third of them and set aside.
3. Pat the veal shanks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge each shank in flour and shake off the excess. In a heavy saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Brown both sides of the shanks in batches, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the shanks to a roasting pan.
4. Wipe out the saute pan. Spray with cooking spray. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the olives, lemon zest, capers, rosemary and stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over the shanks and cover the roasting pan tightly with foil. Braise the shanks in the oven for 4-6 hours or until the meat is very tender. I went with 4 hours. If desired, let the shanks cool before covering and refrigerating for up to 2 days. Discard the fat from the top before reheating.
5. To make the gremolata, combine the parsley, zest, and garlic in a small bowl.
6. Transfer the shanks with a slotted spoon to another roasting pan or deep oven-proof platter and keep warm, covered, in the oven. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a 1 quart glass measuring cup and reserve the solids, discarding the rosemary. Let the liquid stand until the fat rises to the top. Skim and discard the fat. Add the reserved solids to teh liquid, heat through, and pour over the shanks. Serve sprinkled with the gremolata.
Whipped Root Vegetables
Serves 4, adapted from Symon’s Live to Cook
1/2 lb potatoes (about 1 large russet)
1/2 lb parsnips (about 2 medium)
1/2 lb celery root (about 1 medium) OR 1/2 lb sweet potato
1/4 lb turnips (about 2 medium)
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1. Peel the potatoes, parsnips, celery root, and turnips. Cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Combine in a large pot and cover with cold water and 1 tbsp of the salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently until the veggies are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
2. Strain the veggies well and return to the pot. Let the pot sit for 5 minutes over low heat to cook off any excess liquid. Whip the veggies using a hand mixer or run through a food mill. Add the remaining tbsp salt. Whip in the butter and then, if not smooth enough, add some milk.
This is my submission to Symon Sundays, which is hosted over at Veggie By Season!