celery

As the cold chill leaves the air and the skies hold the promise of balmier days we tend to pack away the slow cooker and thoughts of comfort food and start craving healthier, lighter foods such as salads. When we fancy a salad for dinner we tend to grab every item in the salad aisle and many of these items can then sadly languish in our fridges is celery.

Celery is usually sold as a whole bulb and once you’ve taken away a stick or two for your impromptu salad, there’s a lot left to play with. Whilst delicious in salads or served with dips, once cooked, celery proves an invaluable ingredient. It’s a great base vegetable for lots of dishes – once sweated until soft, its peppery taste can add a real savoury depth and makes it a great ingredient for stock.

 celery2

Buying and storing

Look for firm and tight celery with even stalks and leaves that look fresh. Make sure you wash it well and pat dry. Celery is really robust and often lasts for several weeks, although I recommend consuming it within two.

Celery and Fennel Salad

This is a great and tasty quick fix salad that is ready in minutes and will use up that left over celery that is loitering in your fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs

  • Celery stalks

  • 3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

  • 3 tsp fresh thyme leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Method

Very finely slice the fennel bulbs lengthways (a mandolin makes this easier, but watch your fingers!). Cut the celery stalks into thin matchsticks. Scatter the fennel and celery on a large plate or platter, drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Scatter any fennel fronds and celery leaves over if you have them and top with the thyme leaves.

Celery Gratin -A great Veggie Main or Side Dish

This dish is a creamy delight that really showcases celery!

Ingredients:

  • 2 celery heads, trimmed

  • 50g butter

  •  1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 100g breadcrumbs (stale)

  • 50g chopped walnut

  • 75ml white wine

  • 250ml vegetable or chicken stock

  • 100ml double cream

  • 25g grated Parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese

Method:

Cut any thick celery stalks in half, trim all of it into 1 inch lengths, then wash and drain. Melt half the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan, and then add the celery, onion and bay leaves. Season well, cover, and then cook over a medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions burning.

Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs. Melt the remaining butter in a separate pan, then toss in the crumbs and walnuts, stirring often until lightly golden and toasted. Set aside.

Heat your grill to medium.

When the celery is tender, turn the heat right up, then pour in the wine and stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds. Pour in the cream, then reduce for a final few minutes (over a moderate heat) until you have a syrupy sauce. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste before tipping into an ovenproof dish. Scatter with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan then grill for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce bubbles.

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen