Winter’s Artichoke Celeriac

In the old days in turkey when farming was still ruled by the vagaries of weather and the seasons, celeriac was commonly known as the artichoke of winter.

Since artichokes have always occupied a special place in Turkish cuisine, cooked as a dish unto themselves and accorded pride of place on the menus of important feasts. There is no doubt that artichokes still preserve their place on traditional menus today during the artichoke season, from early spring to the first days of summer.

CELERIAC APPEARS IN AUTUMN
Known in common parlance as ‘winter’s artichoke’, celeriac appears in the markets in early autumn to replace its spring and summer counterpart. Although celeriac has forfeited a little of its respect in the marketplace in this day and age when modern agriculture is no longer ruled by the seasons and the entire range of fresh vegetables is available all year round, it continues to be the unsung hero of gastronomical delight with amateur as well as professional chefs, who have been striving to produce refined tastes since antiquity. For celeriac is the most eminently aromatic of all the root vegetables. What’s more, as an alternative to the artichoke it is one of the rare root vegetables that continues to be grown in season, unaffected by modern methods of agriculture.

Native to Europe and the temperate climates of Asia, celeriac appears both East and West but exhibits profound differences in the way it is used in the different cuisines. A member of the parsley family, celeriac, or celery, in the West is more commonly consumed in the form of stalks and leaves. Over 30 cm in length and highly aromatic, stalk celery, like other ordinary vegetables, could not be eaten without cooking when it first appeared in the West.

CELERIAC COOKED IN OLIVE OIL WITH ORANGE JUICE
Ingredients:

4 celeriacs, juice and grated rind of an orange, 1 carrot, 1 potato, 10 shallots, 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, salt, 1/2 tbsp flour, 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp sugar.

Preparation:
Peel the celeriac and cut into wedges. Let stand in water with lemon juice. Peel and dice the carrot and potato. Peel the shallots.  Saute the carrot, potato and shallots in a pot with the olive oil and flour. Add the water, orange juice and grated orange rind. Toss in the salt and sugar. When the carrots are almost tender, add the celeriac wedges, cover tightly and cook until done.

BAKED MEAT-STUFFED CELERIAC
Ingredients:
4 large celeriacs, 200 g ground meat, 1 onion, 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, 50 g rice, 1 tomato, salt, black pepper, 50 g butter, 1 lemon, 2 sheets of wax paper, 2 cups meat stock.

Preparation:
Clean and wash the celeriacs. Peel with a knife and hollow out. Let stand in water with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Combine the ground meat, finely chopped onion, tomato and parsley, washed rice, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl to prepare the stuffing.
Fill the celeriacs with the stuffing mixture. Wrap each in wax paper and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with the 50 gr butter and add water to a third of the way up. Cover and bake in a 175 C oven for 40 minutes.

FRIED CELERIAC
Ingredients:
2 celeriacs, 1 egg, 1/2 tbsp flour, 1/2 tbsp red pepper paste, 1/2 cup milk, salt, black pepper, 1/2 cup liquid oil.

Preparation:
Peel the celeriacs and cut in half, Slice into crescent shapes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. Prepare the batter by beating the eggs, flour, pepper paste, milk, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Heat the liquid oil in a skillet. Dip the celeriac slices in the batter and brown in the hot oil, then drain on paper towels. May be served with tomato sauce or yoghurt to taste.