Sunday, February 21, 2016

Celery Root Mousse with Mortadella

Celery root is a popular vegetable in Poland, so I have known it since my childhood. In Poland, it is mostly used to prepare soups and a vegetable salad with mayonnaise. Celery root is also quite popular in French cuisine. For instance, I ate a celery root gratin and a marinated celery root as a salad. Recently, I also found some recipes with celery root in the Italian cooking magazines.

During my recent trip to Italy, in one of the restaurants I visited, I saw a celery mousse being served. It looked very interesting and elegant so I tried to recreate it at home. Celery root has much more flavor than celery stalks and it takes a somewhat sophisticated taste to appreciate it. In this particular dish it tastes very pure and almost bland, but it complements the dish very well as it contrasts the taste of a flavorful mortadella. A small bowl of mousse served with bread of can make a great dinner started or Sunday lunch.

Celery Root Mousse with Mortadella
(Makes 4-6 servings)

1 medium celery root peeled and cut into smaller cubes,
2 small shallots,
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 cup light cream,
salt and pepper,
4 slices very thin cut imported Italian mortadella,
2 tbsp slivered Pistachios.

1. Heat the oil in a frying pot, add chopped shallots, and fry until transparent.
2. Add pieces of celery, cover with water, and cook for about 20 minutes, until celery becomes soft.
3. When the celery is already soft and water almost evaporates, add cream, salt and pepper, and let it all simmer for about 2 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat, cool down slightly and purée with a hand blender.
5. Divide mousse among small glass serving bowls and cool to room temperature.
6. Cut mortadella slices in half, then into strips and top the mousse.

Sprinkle with pistachios and serve with bread.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chocolate Cream

This chocolate dessert is so impossibly simple and wonderfully delicious at the same time that it can be served to finish any elegant dinner. I make it very often for my kids who love everything chocolate. Good chocolate is all you need to make it. And it can be the chocolate you favor.

It can be made with bitter chocolate or, as I like it, milk chocolate, or combination of different pieces that I usually find in my pantry hidden and forgotten. I used recently leftovers of Swiss and Belgian chocolates and it turned out to be sublime. Obviously, you can eat those pieces hard but I think eating molten chocolate with a spoon is even more indulging.

I serve this dessert in very small glass cups that my friend recycle for me after desserts she buys, but small vodka or liqueur glasses would work as well. I sprinkle it with salt to bring out the taste of chocolate.

Chocolate Cream
(Makes 6-8)

8 oz good quality chocolate (about 2 tablets) broken into smaller pieces,
1 cup light cream,
3 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature,
3 tbsp grated chocolate to decorate,
Fleur de sel or Himalayan pink salt.

1. Pour the light cream and 1/4 cup of water in a small pot and, on a low heat, bring it to the boiling point.
2. Add the chocolate and stir until chocolate melts completely. Take it off the heat and add butter. Stir again until a smooth cream forms.

3. Divide the cream among small glass cups and let chill for 4 hours.
4. Serve decorated with grated chocolate and sprinkled with a tiny amount of salt.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

This is a very easy cake. It is good by so un-fancy that it can go with your morning coffee. It seems perfect for this season as beautiful oranges are on display in most food stores. There is nothing complicated or unusual about this cake other than that it is made with olive oil rather than butter. And I would like to believe that this also makes it healthier. The olive oil also gives it an almost savory flavor, contrasting with its sweetness. And it is even better on the next day when it catches some extra moisture.

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

4 large oranges, preferably organic or as many as needed to squeeze out 1 and 1/2 cup juice,
4 large eggs,
1 and 1/2 cup extra olive oil, very mild in flavor,
2 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar,
3 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour,
1 tsp salt,
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder,
orange zest from two oranges
icing sugar for dusting.

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a large bundt cake form.
2. Break the eggs into a bowl of a standing mixer and beat for about a minute, until well combined.
3. Add sugar and beat for about 3 minutes, until well combined and pales.
4. In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder.
5. Add a third of the flour mix alternating with 1/2 cup oil, beating after each addition, until both ingredients are all used.
6. Grate the orange juice from two oranges and squeeze 1 and 1/2 cup juice.

7. Pour in the orange juice, add the zest, and beat gain to combine.

8. Transfer to a baking form and bake for about an hour until dark gold and the top is well set.
9. Serve dusted with icing sugar.