How to Prep & Cut Celery Root

HOW-TO PEEL & CUT CELERY ROOT

Instructions below, from left to right.

  1. Trim the top and bottom 1/4 inch off of the celery root, and place it on a flat side.
  2. Shave down and around the bulb to remove the peel. Think: peeling a pineapple!
  3. Cut celery root in half, and lay each half on the flat side.
  4. Slice each celeriac half into slices.
  5. Cut the slices into strips.
  6. Dice the strips into cubes. – Now you’re ready to cook!

 

SHISO FRESH IS CHEF JESSICA ROY OF SHISO KITCHEN IN BOSTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ‘YOUR PERSONAL CHEF’ FOR THE LOWELL SUN WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE AND MORE RECIPES WEEKLY. FOLLOW ALONG ON SOCIAL MEDIA VIA @SHISOFRESH AND @SHISOKITCHEN

Brighten up winter with Creamy Celeriac Bacon and Leek Chowder

Have you ever wandered around the produce section of the grocery store, seen some strange, often ugly looking items and wondered “what the heck is that?”? Celeriac often one of these items that people notice, and immediately skip over because of its brown, bulbous, awkward appearance.

Celeriac, AKA Celery Root, is like the cousin of celery. It’s not an actual root, but rather a tuber (a thick, underground stem, like potatoes), and tastes like a super pumped up version of celery with a teensy hint of fennel. Celeriac boasts some great health benefits as it’s loaded with Vitamin K and phosphorous which helps with cardiovascular health and bone strength. So, we’ve established that Celeriac sounds interesting and has delicious potential, but what do we do with it?

First off, peel the celeriac by trimming off the top and bottom to create stabilizing flat sides. Then, remove the peel by shaving down and around the bulb with a knife (like peeling a pineapple!). If you have a super sharp heavy duty veggie peeler, that will work as well. Now that the celery root is peeled, you can continue to prep it any way you choose. It can be used almost any way you’d prepare a potato- roasted with herbs, baked scalloped with cheese, fried into chips, but today I’ve created a creamy chowder recipe that utilizes Celeriac 2 ways. Since the bulb itself is usually pretty large, celery root produces a large yield making it perfect in this soup as part pureed thickener, and part diced chowder chunks.

Chef’s note: You will need a blender or immersion stick blender for this recipe.

Creamy Celery Root, Leek & Bacon Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. smoked bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 3 oz. brown mushrooms, cleaned & diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1, 1 lb. bulb celery root, peeled & diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1, 1/2 lb. leek, cleaned & thinly sliced – reserve 1/4 c. bright green sliced tops, for garnish
  • 2 yellow potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, more as needed for garnish
  • 4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • olive oil, as needed
  1. Place a soup pot over medium-high heat. When the pot is warm, add the bacon and cook about 5-7 minutes until the fat is rendered (melted), and edges are browned. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan, leaving the bacon fat to use as cooking oil.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the hot bacon fat, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned – about 8-10 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and set aside with the cooked bacon pieces.
  3. If the pot is dry, add 1-2 Tbs. olive oil just to coat the bottom. Add the diced celeriac, sliced leeks, smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and pinch of ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until celeriac and leeks are lightly browned and fragrant- about 5-7 minutes. Remove half of the cooked celeriac and leeks from the pot, and set aside with the cooked bacon and mushrooms.
  4. Pour 4 cups chick stock into the pot with the remaining half of the cooked celeriac and leeks, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until celeriac is fork tender. Puree with an immersion blender right in the pot, or transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth. If using a blender, pour the pureed soup back into the cooking pot.
  5. Stir in 1 cup heavy cream, and season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the cooked bacon, mushrooms, celeriac & leeks, and the diced potatoes into the pot, and bring the soup to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and fork tender.
  6. Serve chowder topped with the reserved bright green fresh sliced leek tops, and a light pinch of smoked paprika.

Optional: Sautee the reserved 1/4 c. sliced leek tops in 1 Tbs. olive oil until tender and lightly browned. Serve as garnish on top of chowder.

 

SHISO FRESH IS CHEF JESSICA ROY OF SHISO KITCHEN IN BOSTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ‘YOUR PERSONAL CHEF’ FOR THE LOWELL SUN WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE AND MORE RECIPES WEEKLY. FOLLOW ALONG ON SOCIAL MEDIA VIA @SHISOFRESH AND @SHISOKITCHEN

Warm up with zesty Chicken Fajita Soup

Every January we press the ‘reset’ button and look to healthy fresh starts, and getting organized. Such was the case this week as I was searching for inspiration to write a recipe, and so I figured I’d lean in clean out my fridge, freezer, pantry, and play my own at-home game of ‘Chopped’.  Looking to my previous real-life experiences on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen helped prepare me for the challenge (insert Rocky theme here for background ambiance) as I set a timer to really get things going.

With 30 minutes on the clock*, I took stock of potential ingredients and saw that I had in the fridge: green bell pepper, portobello mushroom caps, a jar of pickled jalapeños, some brown bananas, and a few leftover limes. From the freezer came: chicken breasts, chicken stock, and a bag of diced onions that I usually keep on hand for when I’m feeling a little lazy (tip: when you’re chopping 1 onion, you might as well just chop 3, and freeze the extra for later days). Looking to the pantry, I found garlic and some aging tortillas. The wheels turned, and immediately i said ‘no’ to the banana, for this recipe, and made a mental note to make banana bread later. The rest would be turned into Chicken Fajita Soup. (*30 minute timer was to assess the situation, prep ingredients, and get the whole thing going. The soup takes a little longer to simmer and finish.)

To get the big time flavor of a skillet of sizzling fajita accoutrements, the first step to this soup is to saute and season each of the base ingredients providing bold flavor for a rich result in each and every bite. Since you can’t really have fajitas without tortillas, I decided to turn these into seasoned baked chips or strips to top the soup. Finishing each dish with a sprinkling of pickled jalapeños sealed the deal, though I really wished I’d had some sour cream and scallions on hand to top it off for a refreshing kick. I’ll leave that choice up to you- black beans, and shredded cheese also make for great additions to this soup.

Chicken Fajita Soup with Baked Tortilla Crisps

For soup:

  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 1.5-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced to 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • vegetable or canola oil, as needed
  • 3 limes, for juice & garnish
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • smoked paprika, as needed
  • kosher salt & finely ground black pepper as needed
  • jarred sliced pickled jalapeños, for garnish
  • baked tortilla crisps (recipe below), for garnish
  1. Place the diced chicken pieces into a zip top bag, and add: juice of 1 lime, 2 Tbs. oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Press out the air, and seal the bag shut. Gently squeeze the bag, working the ingredients around until combined. Allow to rest & marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. In a large dutch oven, or heavy bottomed soup pot heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms to the pot and give a good stir to coat, and then spread in an even later across the bottom of the pot. Leave the mushrooms along and allow them to cook for 5 minutes. Give a good stir again, add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until mushrooms are browned.
  3. To the browned mushrooms, add the diced onion, garlic, bell pepper, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and pinch of black pepper. Give a good stir to incorporate all ingredients, and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat until fragrant and the edges of onion and pepper are lightly browned.
  4. Add the marinated diced chicken to the pot, and stir to coat in the mushrooms, peppers and onions. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken has just started to turn white on the outside. Season with additional pinch of salt & pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the chicken stock to the pot, covering all ingredients. Add the juice from 1 lime, and stir to ensure all ingredients are mixed and nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. If stock does not cover all of the ingredients, add 1 cup of water to cover along with a pinch of salt to season. Simmer the soup over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve a generous portion of soup along with a heaping pile of baked tortilla crisps, sprinkling of sliced pickled jalapeños, and wedge of lime.

For tortilla crisps:

  • 4,  8″ flour tortillas
  • 2 Tbs. veggie or canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • wedge of lime
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into strips about 1/4 inch wide by 2 inches long.
  2. In a mixing bowl, Toss the tortilla strips along with oil, chili powder, salt and pepper until all the strips are coated. Transfer the seasoned strips to a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until browned and crisp. Squeeze a wedge of lime juice over top of the crisps before serving.

 

SHISO FRESH IS CHEF JESSICA ROY OF SHISO KITCHEN IN BOSTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ‘YOUR PERSONAL CHEF’ FOR THE LOWELL SUN WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE AND MORE RECIPES WEEKLY. FOLLOW ALONG ON SOCIAL MEDIA VIA @SHISOFRESH AND @SHISOKITCHEN

Lemon Biscuit Cookies

For a light and flakey biscuit-meets-cookie experience, these lemony treats are a dream to sink your teeth into. The texture contrast of soft yet slightly crisp cookie with a citrusy tang, drizzled with a delicate sweet icing makes for a delicious spring treat, perfect for keeping on the counter, or as a dessert delight. Inspired by sun and outdoor afternoon iced tea, I bring you Lemon Biscuit Cookies.

Before we get to the cookies, let’s talk about baking powder. I don’t know about you, but for a long time, I had no idea what the difference between baking soda and its powder counterpart was. To break it down simply, both are leavening agents that cause dough and batter to rise, and both use carbon dioxide produced by a trigger in order to do so. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is activated by the addition of acid (think: volcano science project), and used along side brown sugar (slightly acidic!) in most recipes. The magic happens when wet ingredients are incorporated. You baking soda to cookie recipes so that you won’t get flat, cracker-like cookies. Baking powder is like your all-inclusive rising kit, and includes baking soda plus something acidic (a la cream of tartar). Add wet ingredients, and ‘poof’ you’ve got your reaction, and light fluffy flakey baked goods.

Back to the cookies. For the best flavor, use a fresh lemon and it’s peel for the zest. If you don’t have a zester you can use a veggie peeler to lightly peel off the thin yellow outer layer of skin, and then mince with a knife. I’m a big proponent of using a Silpat (silicone baking mat) for a natural nonstick surface that is reusable and really easy to rinse off. The result is evenly browned cookie bottoms that definitely won’t have you scrubbing the pan for burnt on dough. If you’re not convinced to run out to the store and buy one, you can also use parchment paper just as easily.

Lemon Biscuit Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ c. butter (1 stick), cubed & softened
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • ½ c. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ c. flour

For Icing:

  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • water as needed (about 2 tsp.)

Mix sugar and water together until icing drizzles off the back of a spoon in a slow stream.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars.

3. Add egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix to incorporate all ingredients.

4. Add baking powder & salt & mix to incorporate.

5. Add flour, and mix until a dough is formed.

6. Cover dough with plastic, and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour.

7. Portion dough into 1 inch balls, and gently flatten to form little cakes about ½ inch thick.

8. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat about 1-2 inches apart.

9. Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottoms are golden.

10 Allow to cool, and then drizzle with icing if desired.

Juicily Delicious Watermelon Salad

Watermelon is a summer staple. There’s nothing like that first bite of the magenta flesh, and letting the juice run down your chin. Sticky mess, sure. Worth it? Absolutely.  Every year at one a great friend’s family fiesta they make this juicy, savory salad honoring the season’s favorite fruit. I’ve put my twist on the recipe for an added kick. Originally, the recipe calls for cilantro, of which I am not a fan, but if you love the herb feel free roughly chop and toss in about 1/4 cup.

Ingredients

For Dressing:

  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

For Salad:

  • 1 seedless watermelon, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled & chopped
  • ¼ c. red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ c. green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. basil, chiffonade
  • ½ c. crumbled feta cheese

Method:

1. For dressing, dissolve sugar in lemon juice, and whisk together with all remaining ingredients.

2. Combine all salad ingredients into a large bowl. Toss with dressing so that all ingredients are coated.