Monday, November 24, 2014

In Preparation

We are starting to prepare for my favorite holiday. A holiday that is based upon two of my passions: seasonal bounty and sharing a meal. There is no dogma that sets the rules or exclusion of participation – it is the holiday for all.

It is also the original farm to table dinner. We all know the story of gratitude; the pilgrims setting a table of thanks, and no matter how romanticized this version maybe, its essence is eternal. For me this means community where is always room to set another place setting for any last minute stray.

The table and traditions reflects that of the New England farm: cranberries, flinty corn pumpkin and that bird. Pecan pie had to be brought by the relatives in the southeast and greens bean casserole from guests coming in from the west coast (or, an editor from Ladies Home Journal sometime in the late 50’s). When I was living in Australia and yearned to celebrate a very American holiday, during their spring, I had to recognize that cranberries, pumpkin and corn would not be found. The spicy mango chutney complimented the roasted bird and the side dishes that screamed spring satisfied all that gathered. I became less concerned about the trimmings of the table, and more engrossed with the faces expressing pleasure due to the meal consumed and the chairs filled by loved ones.  The true nature of the table should reflect the seasonal bounty found. Spiced by our individuality. Living in recognition that our diversity, and simultaneously, similarities makes this a great day to be shared.

Celery Root and Apple Slaw with Blue Cheese Dressing - yields approx. 8 servings
1 medium red onion
½-cup apple cider vinegar
2 pounds celery root
2 apples
¼-cup chopped chives
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼-pound blue cheese - crumbled
¼-cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Slice the onion in half through its root base – by cutting the onion in this way you prevent it from falling apart -- all the leaves of the onion attach at the root end.  Trim off the stem and peel away its outer layer. Slice the onion into a very thin julienne, which will actually be a half moon shape. Toss the onions with vinegar in a work bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, peel the celery root by cutting off the root and stem portions to create a flat, stable surface.  Using a pairing or chef knife peel the skin from the celery root. Given the thickness of the vegetable’s skin I find it much easier to use a knife than a vegetable peeler. Slice the celery root into ¼-inch thick panels, and then cut those panels into -inch wide julienne strips. Place in with the onions and toss. Core the apples and slice into -inch thick julienne strips and toss with the onion mixture along with the chives, mustard, blue cheese, oil, salt and pepper.

Serve this salad cold or, I like to warm it before serving.


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