I am getting a bit devil-may-care about recipes in these strange times. There are many ingredients I can’t put my hands on at the moment for obvious reasons, but rather than ABANDONING recipes for lack of this or that, I am getting CRAFTY. I did not have a yam, but I did have celeriac…

I believe my chums in the US call this celery root and it can be tricky to get hold of over there but in my opinion, it’s worth seeking out. I LOVE the taste of celeriac but have never actually bought one to cook with before. A long ramble follows about celeriac but if you’d like to get to the nub, Neasden (ie the recipe) scroll right down to the bottom.

Celeriac has been my kitchen companion since I managed to secure one for Cathy’s Kitchen Confidence Lockdown Lunch celeriac remoulade.

I have always been wary of celeriac, it’s such an ugly looking beast…

Even though I made loads of remoulade, I was left with rather a lot of celeriac. My normal recourse in this situation would be to make a huge Phillis Diller garbage soup with everything rolling around in my salad drawer but I have ZERO space in my freezer. So I took a leaf out of Moorland Eater’s book and remembered her great post on roasted vegetables so I chopped some celeriac and a few other veggies up and stuck them in the oven with a sprinkling of truffle oil and S&P. The results were DIVINE and I ate them all up in one go – no leftovers!

It’s getting more and more important during lockdown not to have a fridge full of leftovers due to the fact that it takes less than 60 seconds to walk from my work desk to my fridge… That’s a very dangerous situation for the waistline.

I don’t know about you, but I am doing a lot of tidying up around the place during lockdown. I’m here on my lonesome during the week but am shouting to nobody in particular on a regular basis, “I’ve been looking for that!” Recently I was delighted to find the excellent Ed Smith’s On The Side which has been AWOL for ages. I am a big fan of this book.

I made his delicious ‘Young Turk’ Celeriac with the rest of the beast and scoffed about 1/4 of it just as it was, straight from the saucepan, as there was nobody to see me. It was so deliciously buttery…

The thing about living on your own is that a whole celeriac seems to go on FOREVER so I put half of what was left in a saucepan with some chicken stock and the leftover gravy from Vincent Price’s Chicken Sweet and Hot to make soup. Once I’d whizzed that up with a blender it made 2 portions of probably one of the loveliest soups I’ve ever made.

But I STILL had some celeriac left. Would it never end?

So when I decided to use up the butternut squash that has been serving as my imaginary friend Pumpy the Pumpkin in Malik’s squash stew

and I was thinking to myself, “what could I use instead of yam?” There you have it! The last of the celeriac found its home.

I was as happy as Larry with how all of these dishes turned out. It just goes to show, there is no need to fear celeriac

it will provide! You just have to be a bit reckless.

RECIPE NOTES: Malik’s stew was good! Vegan too for those who are that way inclined. Secret ingredient? SPIKE! This isn’t available to buy in the UK- not just during the lockdown, basically ever – but I had some because I got some via the interwebs for a Jane Fonda recipe, I can’t remember which!

Malik didn’t specify the amount of water to use so I covered the beans by about an inch of water and kept topping it up as they cooked (I had soaked them for a couple of hours first). Once all the other ingredients were in, I just filled the pot up so they were all covered. I added a bit more when it looked thirsty, all of this to say – keep an eye on your stew and add water so it’s the consistency that suits you.

Crikey – the days are gone when I would have worried about the vagueness of this way of writing up recipe notes. I’ve gone FREEFORM!

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