In the back of my neighbors garden, the forsythia bush–no leaves in sight–is all of a sudden an almost florescent green and along a hedge that separates our yards, teeny weeny tiny fuzzy buds of pussy willow are showing on branches gone deep red and waving like loose strands of hair.Â I think in Science class or Siberia, they might call this Spring; there is nothing warm about it, and every five minutes the rain turns to snow–it’s that feeling you have when you have moved from “I think I’m pregnant” to “I am pregnant.”Â Anybody else would have to have a sixth sense and be staring at you to even consider it.
Celeriac is a winter vegetable, but when you find it all alive with the roots still fresh and wiggly and the celery stalks on top tight and crisp, something about it is exactly right for a day all cold, wet, and about to explode into a whole new season.Â It fits right into my need to figure out a list of what the Dinner Confidential featured family might want consider cooking.Â After filming, we came to find out that there are two meat eaters in Trenesa’s family, but meat is not prepared in the house.Â Trenesa’s husband is from the South and mentioned that he came from a family of traditional meals and in my mind, soup hits that place.Â You could even sneak in a couple of slices of country ham to have on the side on a biscuit.
For the soup part:
Find a healthy looking celeriac.Â If you live in NYC, Fairway happens to have some doozies at the moment.
Saute 3 shallots with a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf and a sprig of parsley, slowly, in a little olive oil and butter with kosher salt and a grind of pepper.
Add peeled, cubed celeriac and 2 peeled, cubed potatoes.Â Let these stick to the bottom of the pan.Â Add homemade chicken stock and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender.Â Puree with an immersion blender.Â Add a tiny spill of heavy cream (the one or two tablespoons is so worth the smoothness.)
For the biscuits:Â 2 cups sifted all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, half teaspoon of salt, pinch of sugar.Â Sift all of these together and add 6 tablespoons of cubed, cold butter.Â Rub that in with your fingers until crumbly, but not completely even (some larger crumbs, some smaller.)Â Add enough whole milk so that the dough just comes together.Â Handle as little as possible.Â Cut with a glass and bake at 425 degrees.Â (brush the tops with a little milk or cream before going in the oven.)
For a boost of Spring, serve with a salad of baby arugula along and as many fresh herbs as you can find–tarragon, parsley, chive, thyme and basil are beautiful with a mustardy vinaigrette.Â (red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, shallot, dot of maple syrup or honey, salt, pepper, parsley and dijon.)