I’m writing this to you from our balcony on a morning that welcomed us back home with temperatures in the upper 60s. It was lovely and pretty chilly. I’m a wimp. We headed south about 70 miles to spend the weekend at the beach with Danny’s mom. We kayaked, drank wine, and played a few rounds of Scrabble. I ate mussels with beurre blanc and frites that were so good, Danny will tell you I was giddy the whole time during and after dinner. We watched Hocus Pocus, ate ice cream, and spent a morning exploring a little beach town festival that attracted much less than the expected 10,000, but it was cute and quirky in the way all Florida beach towns are.
At a yard sale, we finally found a small table with matching chairs for the balcony. Just in time for the cooler mornings. And just like we pictured them, they remind us of something you’d see outside a French-inspired bistro. With mugs of coffee and cream in our hands and cozy socks on our feet, we can pretend we’re somewhere else.
It also reminded me of this September 2008 issue of Gourmet, which was all about Paris. We bookmarked a few recipes in the magazine, but the céleri-rave en purée was first on our list. Mashed potatoes, of course, are plenty good all on their own with butter and cream. But celery root adds an earthy flavor, something new and irresistible to that familiar comfort food.
We served ours alongside lentils with kielbasa, and I scooped up the bits leftover on the mixing bowl and spoon as if it were cookie dough. We subbed in parsley for the elusive chervil, and boiled the vegetables rather than steamed them. The parsley is a fantastic addition both for color and fresh taste.
As the weather continues to cool down, these mashed potatoes and celery root will make at least a few more appearances in our kitchen. And there will be more dinners out on the balcony.
mashed potatoes and celery root with parsley
Celery root adds an irresistible earthy and new flavor to familiar mashed potatoes. Feel free to use a food mill or potato ricer for a very smooth purée, but I prefer mashed potatoes with more texture.
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds celery root (celeriac)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Peel potatoes and celery root with a vegetable peeler. Cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Boil for 20 minutes in a large pot of salted water until very tender. Mash vegetables with a large fork or potato masher, leaving some discernible chunks. Stir in the heavy cream and chopped parsley. Season with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth if you’d like, though I like a chunkier mashed potato. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Store leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days.
Serves 4. Adapted from Gourmet.