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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Archive for the month “June, 2015”

Celery For Breakfast?

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

No, not what you are thinking, although a lovely stalk of celery is a pretty Bloody Mary garnish, a traditional brunch treat which myMEGusta has not had in ages (being more of a Mimosa kind of girl).

Celeriac Pancake!

Celeriac Pancake!

We are remembering a trip to Vienna, and a delicious al fresco breakfast at Meieri am Stadtpark, the modestly priced appendage of the ** Steirereck am Stadtpark.  An outdoor table in the park setting was perfect for watching locals pass by on a cool July morning.  The dish was a celeriac pancake, garnished with slices of fresh radishes, edible flowers, and crème fraiche, exquisite and delicious.

Most Americans think of celery as the traditional stalk we enjoy crisp and raw, munched as a healthy snack (we dispute the notion that it has negative calories), chopped in a tuna salad or matched with peanut butter and raisins in the notorious Ants on a Log.

Celeriac, Grown for the Bulbous Root

Celeriac, Grown for the Bulbous Root

But, celery root, also known as celeriac, is much more popular in Europe, ubiquitous raw in zesty celeris remoulade, and served cooked as an important ingredient in dishes like those pancakes, pureed with mashed potatoes or in soup.

Celeris Remoulade

Celeris Remoulade

Peeling Celeriac

Peeling Celeriac

 

A recent treat was at Petrossian in New York, where a celeriac puree and celeriac chips accompanied striped bass and spinach, an excellent combination.

Celeriac Puerr and Chipe with Striped Pass and Spinach

Celeriac Puree and Chips with Striped Pass and Spinach

Readers who frequent Asian markets are familiar with Chinese celery, also known as kahn choy or chan choy.

Chinese Celery

Chinese Celery

Bearing a strong resemblance to stalk celery, this type is stringier and has a more pronounced flavor, which is why it is almost always chopped and cooked, or at least blanched.  When you see “celery” as an ingredient in authentic Asian cooking, it’s referring to this vegetable, although stalk celery can be substituted.

DIY Celery Growing

DIY Celery Growing

And, did you know that you can grow a new celery plant by immersing the base of the stalk in water, and letting it root? A more useful tip is that you can freshen limp stalks by putting them in a glass of cold water, even in the refrigerator, so that they can absorb the liquid and quickly crisp up.

Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log

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Sweet Talk About Caramel

Caramel!

Caramel!

What’s not to like about it?

In its essence, caramel is nothing more than cooked sugar, delicious cooked sugar. When you “ brown” meats, or sear scallops, you are seeing caramelization, the same process and the same tasty result.

Caramel has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. It has always been an ice cream sundae staple, but caramel  ice cream became a real hit when Haagen Daz introduced it to court the Latino population, not anticipating that it would become wildly successful throughout all market segments.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Available anywhere sugar is found, caramel is particularly important in the cuisines of Latin America, particularly in Argentina, where it is used from morning until night, from being drizzled on toast to being an important ingredient at dessert time.

Dulce de Leche, as it is known in Spanish, is caramel sauce, made simply by slow cooking sweetened condensed milk. It’s easy to make at home, but so unnecessary when plenty of excellent jars are available at the supermarket.  http://www.eaglebrand.com/recipes/homemade-caramel-sauce-4002

Home made caramel

Home Made Caramel

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel

The favorite in myMEGusta’s pantry is Smuckers Salted Caramel. They acquired the brand from Borden when that company was broken up several years ago. (The Elmer’s Glue went elsewhere.)

Another kind of caramel sauce, found in Latino markets for the most part, is cajeta, caramel sauce made of goats milk (not so easy to DIY).

A great use of caramelized sugar is in the Spanish/Latino flan, virtually identical to the French Creme Caramel.

Flan

Flan

Creme Caramel Renversee

Creme Caramel Renversee

Classically made, these desserts start with caramelized sugar (not sauce) which is poured into the bottom of a cooking dish, which is then filled with egg custard and baked, later inverted.

It is amusing that the manufacturers of caramel sauce (Nestle) and the sweetened condensed milks promote recipes that use their sauces in lieu of the simply caramelized sugar. And Kraft flogs recipes for flan that include their cream cheese brand.  We are sure that these are tasty dishes, but they’re just not very authentic.

dulce de leche magnoliaIf you want a super easy, gluten free dessert for guests, or to bring to a party (and assemble in minutes once you get there), myMEGusta suggests simply cutting up some bananas, drizzling with caramel sauce, and sprinkling on toasted coconut (one or more layers, depending on quantity).

Bananas, Caramel, Toasted Coconut

Bananas, Caramel, Toasted Coconut

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