Friday, February 17, 2017

Celery Root Remoulade

Do you watched the show Chopped on the Food Network? That’s the one where four contestants are handed mystery baskets of food items and told to make something yummy in twenty minutes. The results are judged by a panel of food critics and restauranteurs. In case you’re wondering where the hook is, the ingredients can by as weird and wonderful as marshmallows, pickles, frogs legs and peanut butter—and all of them must be used in the same dish. It’s cruel fun to watch the contestant cooks panic, but I must say I get a lot of ideas there.

I hold my own Chopped challenge at home. It’s been snowing around here a lot lately (oh, look, there it goes again), and I really don’t want to go to the local store because I don’t happen to have a lemon or six eggs. So I challenge myself: what can I make using only ingredients in my fridge, freezer or pantry?

What do I have now? Frozen mussels and leftover Thanksgiving turkey. A pair of quinces. A celery root. Some parsnips. A number of spices I can’t even identify, and at least a dozen kinds of salt. All the staples, of course—sugar, flour, butter, eggs, milk. Six kinds of rice, and as many kinds of pasta. Surely there’s a dish waiting to be made somewhere in there?

This is a celery root. Ugly, isn't it?
But somebody tried really hard to make
it sound appealing

Celery root seems to be the prime candidate—you know, that gnarly thing that stays underground while that cluster of nice green stalks rises above it. However, I wanted to skip the obvious choices like puree of celery root, or celery root soup, or celery root gratin, some of which involve combining the celery root with potatoes or even apples. Trolling through Epicurious, I came upon an old recipe from Gourmet magazine that involved celery root and sea scallops. Sorry no scallops, I don’t have any scallops on hand. But I do have a nice filet of fresh (never-frozen) American-caught haddock, which is a sturdy white fish. Bingo. Swap in the haddock for the scallops, and the celeriac goes into a pungent remoulade sauce—for which I actually have all the ingredients!

Haddock with Celery Root Remoulade

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow pepper
1 Tblsp capers, drained and chopped
1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
1 Tblsp chopped shallot
1 Tblsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1-1/2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1-lb celery root (aka celeriac)

Fish filets
Olive oil for sautéeing


Chop whatever needs chopping;

Mix together the sauce ingredients and season with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made ahead and kept chilled.)

Sorry, it's still ugly

Peel the celery root (they’re lumpy critters!) and cut into matchsticks (okay, get real—I am not going to slice this thing into 1/8-inch sticks—I’ll settle for maybe 1/4-inch thickness). Add to the sauce and toss (taste for seasoning again and add salt and pepper if needed).

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the fish filet(s) until they’re cooked through. (I’ll admit, haddock seems to flake apart when you’re cooking it, so it doesn’t look very tidy.)

Serve on a plate with a mound of the remoulade alongside, and some kind of starch—I used pearl or Israeli couscous. Oops, everything on the plate seems to be white. Blame it on the snow.

As you can guess from the cover and the title, Cruel Winter takes place during a snowstorm. Don't worry--snow doesn't hang around in Ireland for very long. In this case, it's just long enough to solve an old murder. Maybe.

Coming March 14. You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And after March 14 I hope you can find it everywhere!


  1. By the way, it's still on sale at a one-third discount today, if you want to pre-order the book!

  2. A pre-order discount? Perfect!

    Isn't it funny how foods can some times color coordinate like this?

    I love this instruction:
    "Chop whatever needs chopping"

    1. I have to laugh when I read recipes that give detailed instructions for cutting things up. Mince vs. chop? Finely mince? Reduce to microscopic? And I'd like to see anyone reduce a chunk of celery root to actual matchstick size without losing a finger.

    2. Losing a finger OR losing their mind!

  3. I love your creativity, Sheila. I've been doing the same thing. Not because of snow, but because I really do need to use some things that are in the freezer. They only last so long! Seems like my mother used celery root once in a while. It's amazing that anyone uses it given it's attractiveness. BTW, I LOVE your cover. It's perfect!

    1. Some of us have been cooking for a looooong time, so it's fun to try something new. Along with the old favorites, of course!

      The cover is loosely based on the town of Glandore, across the harbor from Leap. But I've only seen snow on mountaintops.

  4. On my first trip to Europe, which included a week in Paris, we had lunch with a French guide, who sat next to me. I was trying to figure out the menu so I asked her what was something a little different for an American to try. She pointed to an item on the menu, and rolled her eyes ecstatically, saying, "This is my favorite!" So I ordered it.

    It turned out to be shredded celery root in remoulade, and it was so good I couldn't believe it. Since then it's been one of my favorite vegetables.

    I have a wonderful recipe for a chicken casserole from a French chef, a dish he made as comfort food because his own grandmother made it in France. One of the key ingredients is celery root, along with a bunch of other root vegetables. It's a family favorite, too.