Since a trip to France is in my near future, it’s time to dust off the grammar books, pull out the flashcards and begin listening to Michael Thomas’ “Speak French” CD’s. He may be touted as “the language teacher to the world” but, truthfully, I find him very irritating. Still, I listen and repeat, over and over again.
The highlight of my summer schedule, to reward myself for daily disciplined study, is French film night. Once a week I order a film and settle in.
Although I always block the English subtitles, after twenty minutes I usually fold and turn “English” on (but try not to peek). Tonight I’m watching “L’Affaire Farewell”, an espionage thriller set at the height of the cold war (1981). It’s based on a true story involving a KGB official and a French engineer. Sounds good, don’t you think?
To set the mood, I picked up a roasted chicken from my butcher, bought a baguette and prepared Céleri Rémoulade, a classic French starter/salad and #3 of my summer salad recipes. Americans sometimes compare this dish to coleslaw. Although celery root is considered a winter vegetable, I found these handsome devils at my local farmers market last week-end.
This was quite simple to put together, was a perfect compliment to the chicken, and would be just as delicious with a steak or the like. I’ve tasted Céleri Rémoulade so many times when in France and am happy to now know how to make it myself.
Adapted from Ida Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook, Celery Root Rémoulade, p. 94.
2 pounds celery root
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar (or, white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons capers
5 cornichons, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Wash the celeriac (also called celery root) well. Using a sharp knife, peel off all the celeriac’s brown outer portions. Cut the celery root into thin matchsticks with a mandoline, or grate them in a food processor fitted with the coarsest grating blade. I applied pressure to the pieces as I fed the chunks through the feeder. Place the celery root in a large bowl, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and mix gently. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, the 2 mustards, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, the vinegar, the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper.
Add enough dressing to lightly moisten the salad and to your taste. Stir in the capers and cornichons. Save the extra sauce to add, if needed, just before serving when you also add the chopped parsley. Serve cold or at room temperature.