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Celeriac mashed potatoes

Simply Food

January 17, 2012
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

This week is my birthday week. I will be forty-one on Saturday. We never celebrate just one day. We always celebrate the whole week. We also get to choose which day we want to start the festivities.

My week started Wednesday with a trip to my absolute favorite sushi restaurant, Sen of Japan. In a way, I am irritated with this place because the chefs there have ruined sushi for me at any other restaurant. Their sushi is so delicious that no other place can even come close. Each and every piece of fish is presented beautifully and elegantly. Every plate is a work of art. Then, each bite fills my mouth with such powerful flavors (they have different sauces and herbs to complement each piece) that I don't even want to swallow. I savor every second. I never want to share and I never want the meal to end.

Usually, I won't let the kids tell the server that it is my birthday because I don't like to make a spectacle of myself. This time, I saw another lady receive a beautiful ball of ice cream with a lovely candle and there was no singing, banging on drums, hat wearing, picture taking, or staring involved. Therefore, I acquiesced to my children's request and allowed them to let the server know my little secret. This was the best vanilla ice cream I have ever eaten, hands down. What a way to begin my birthday week.

Article Photos

Celeriac root, ready to be peeled and chopped.

Thursady, we invited a few of my dearest friends over for dinner. Claud made the most spectacular meal. Earlier, we went to the market. We already knew we were making salmon for the vegetarians and pork for the meat eaters. I chose to make some roasted cauliflower and Claud decided on celeriac mashed potatoes. We also picked up a variety of mushrooms to make gravy for the pork. Oh, and to make things even more delicious, I picked up some arugula and truffle oil to make our favorite salad. This is the world's easiest salad. All you do is toss a little sea salt and truffle oil with arugula and you are done.

Claud ended up cooking everything. Well, I threw together the arugula salad and the cauliflower. Oh, Daphne made the salmon in foil. I love it when Claud cooks. I learn something new every time. He is the person who taught me about celeriac mashed potatoes and I am so happy he did. Celeriac has a very interesting and intricate outer layer. It is pretty fascinating to really look at closely. It's like cork or wood with wiry hairs. Once you cut off the outer layer and get to the ivory flesh, it resembles a peeled potato.

Celeriac was originally grown in northern Europe and the Mediterranean and is in the family of carrots, parsley, parsnips and (of course) celery. It is a root vegetable and you will find it in the markets all winter long. There are only about 30 calories in one half cup of celeriac and it is an excellent source of fiber. Some people say its flavor resembles a blend of celery and parsley. It's great to use in soups and stews. Claud and I prefer it as an addition to mashed potatoes. It adds such a wonderful flavor.

Once Claud finished boiling the celeriac and potatoes, he was ready to add the remaining ingredients that make mashed potatoes so fabulous. First, he asked me for some butter. I handed him the Earth Balance butter substitute. He gave me a weird look and used it. Then, he wanted milk. I put the soy milk into a glass. He didn't seem to notice. Next, he wanted cream. I told him we only had sour cream and put some tofutti sour cream substitute into a bowl. I didn't say anything and neither did he. I don't think he realized. He may have. He has been really good about letting me cut the fat out of our diet. He won't cut out the meat. That's fine. Everyone has his or her limits. When the celeriac mashed potatoes were blended and the appropriate seasonings were added, everything was ready to plate.

I have to say, Claud's pork looked beautiful. He is so good at making food look pretty. I opted for the salmon. Once everyone got what they wanted, we all sat at the table and ate quietly for a long while, except for the occasional, "mmmmmm." The dinner was so good. What a way to spend day two of my birthday.

How can day three be any better? Well, I have happy hour planned with a couple of girl friends. Then, Claud is meeting us at the Minus 5 ice bar in the Monte Carlo. We get to wear big furry jackets and drink vodka from glasses made of ice. The bar and seats are ice too.

If you like my fan page on, I will post pictures of the whole weekend. Dinner isn't planned yet, but I am sure it will be something incredible. It has to be. I'm on a roll. Did I mention we are staying at a hotel all weekend without kids? Not that I don't love my kids, but, you know. Happy birthday to me!



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