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Monthly Archives: April 2014


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This is what celery root looks like.


It’s not pretty. Oh sure, the tops look like celery, all green and fluffy, but it’s the root here we’re talking about, and it looks like… a root. All twisted and gnarled and hairy and sometimes a bit dirty.

I had bought celery root a few times in the past to make celeri remoulade – a sort of celery cole slaw, if you will – and I liked it, but not enough to put celery root on regular rotation. For one thing, it’s a bitch to peel. For another, one goes a long way. And it isn’t cheap.

Then my husband saw Jeff Mauro, The Sandwich King, make celery root into something called “Mom’s Mashed Potatoes a la King.”  He decided he wanted to make this for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. It went over so big that he was requested to make it again last year.

To me, a la king means creamed chicken, so the name had to go. Also, Mauro said this serves four. Four?  There were eight of us at Thanksgiving and there was plenty to go around with leftovers. I guess it depends on what else you’re serving, and how polite you are. None of us would ever be accused of holding back on portion size. This makes a lot.

Anyway, this is delicious. It isn’t low-fat as written, but I’ll get to that. This goes great with a roast turkey, but don’t limit it to holidays – any time you want mashed potatoes, try this. It has a subtle celery taste that’s quite appealing.


Potato and Celery Root Mash

  • 4 pounds Idaho russet potatoes (about 5 large potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter, 1 softened and 1 melted, plus more for greasing
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup half-and-half, warmed
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced chives

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a big honkin’ baking dish (at least 9X13).

Put the diced potatoes and celery root in large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender. Drain.

Beat together the cream cheese and half the butter. Then add the potatoes & celery root along with the half-and-half. Keep mixing (an electric mixer is useful here). Add salt to taste plus horseradish, garlic powder, and pepper.

Scrape the potatoes into the pan, pour the additional butter over, and bake about 45 minutes until browned and bubbling. Sprinkle the chives over.

Note: you don’t have to peel the potatoes at all; just scrub them. And substitute green onions for chives.

This can be baked ahead, wrapped in towels, and kept warm for at least an hour.

Now, about all that fat:

  • Cut the butter down, way down. Two sticks? One is more than enough. Or if you really have to have all that fat, use 1/2 cup olive oil in place on one stick of butter. That’ll cut down on cholesterol. It’ll still be good.
  • Use 1% or skim milk in place of half-and-half. Or try defatted chicken broth.
  • Use nonfat cream cheese.


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Today we visited friends and brought a pie. We almost always bring a pie to them.  When my husband talked to Mr. V yesterday, Mr. V hinted that he would like a pie with bright Easter colors.

When I think of Easter colors, I think of pastels – pink, baby blue, spring green, pale yellow – and speckled candy-covered eggs. I considered a Pink Squirrel pie but that would have involved going out and finding a bottle of white crème de Noyaux.  The local BevMo doesn’t have it and I didn’t feel up to making dozens of calls to see if any liquor store carried it. Grasshopper Pie would involve a bottle of green crème de menthe, which I would probably never use again.

What I settled on was an old-fashioned buttermilk pie topped with colorful fresh fruit.  Buttermilk pie definitely originated long, long ago when buttermilk was produced from the butter-making process, and also as a way to use milk that had soured due to lack of refrigeration. When I was a tyke – dear knows that was in the previous century – this was the kind of dessert that was brought to funerals, church dinners, potlucks, and suchlike farm country social functions.

It’s easy to make and looks beautiful. I found the basic recipe on Epicurious. I have tweaked it a little but it is still simple and delicious.

One note: use good-quality buttermilk. I personally don’t like to drink it, but my husband does, and he says it’s worth paying extra for a good brand. I used Clover-Stornetta, but Berkeley Farms or Producers would be good, as would an organic brand. YMMV.



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup/ 4 tablespoons)  butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • one unbaked 9″ pie shell


  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugar and flour and stir to eliminate any lumps. Add the egg yolks and beat to dissolve sugar and flour. Then add melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, zest and juice, salt, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth.

Pour filling into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 15 to 25 minutes until filling is set. Remove pie to a rack and let cool at room temperature.

For strawberry topping, hull strawberries and slice in half lengthwise. Arrange on top of cooled filling in an attractive pattern. Warm apricot jam until spreadable, and brush or spoon over the berries.


  • Any fresh, soft fruit can be substituted for strawberries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, sliced peaches, sliced bananas, etc.
  • Add 1 cup blueberries or raspberries to filling before baking.
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