Setting the Tone : Gruyere Steeped Celery Root and Pumpernickel Rye Toasts
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how food resonates with us. What is the good? What is the beautiful? And I’ve considered it in this light, “To each his own special talent”
Being able to show and talk about yourself to others can be a struggle at times, no? As it is a quality of ours to want to share, it’s just difficult actually getting to it or typing something out, especially when you’re mostly to yourself. I’m this way, but I force myself to contribute to a cyclical pattern of sorts, as it can only benefit me in the end, gaining strength through story, and learning from mistakes along the way. Sharing oneself is a talent in and of itself. Some are amazing at it, some don’t think twice about it, some care, some don’t, and I back that. I am all for it.
Though, I think it’s fair to say that we are drawn and touched by the ones that do share, and do succeed in showing effortless personality from their own creativity.
So lately, I’ve been concentrating on how I can better portray an aspect of my personality through food. And for me it’s as simple as this, I respond to pretty things. So shallow? haha, I’ll admit that it can be, but it’s a quality that reflects what I aim for subconsciously. I just can’t help but to feel the need to garnish something and to be completely hands on —I fulfill my sense of creativity through food and I enjoy when ideas and an aesthetic can come full circle.
I feel focused as of recent, and I’m embracing the subtle decisions I’m making involving the art of building a meal for myself and the person I care about most. I feel at peace.
The catalyst —making it “pretty,” is the position I like to take, but I also keep the substance of it in perspective, it’s what makes a plate or the meal special. If you treat your favorite ingredients respectfully, while letting your identity shine through, there will always be someone smiling at the end of it. It’s the mark you left. That’s success.
This little lunch is an honest presentation of how I’m embracing my philosophy and personality through food. Here we have a velvety puree of celery root that’s been given a gruyere cheese and leek bath. It’s simply water that’s been infused with gruyere cheese and leeks, and strained so it’s not carrying weight from any of the remnants that were present, but rather the flavors that were released from them.
The puree or soup for that matter is elegant and satisfying, as it’s balanced with the different colors, shapes and flavors set across an accompanying toast.
There’s salty and smokey bursts of wild salmon caviar undercut with spiky red onion, a creaminess of avocado, crunchy coins of radish, and a hit of tang from crème fraîche, all on a toasted slice of pumpernickel rye soaked with flavors of celery root and Gruyère.
It’s one perfect bite. Isn’t it a special thing when flavors can all just get along like this?
I came across this at a little cemetery in Enfield, Connecticut last weekend.
If you can, read along. It’s the most beautiful thing.
My only true instruction if you do attempt this one, is to make it look pretty. Aim it so, that you’ve sliced the red onions and radishes wafer thin, and that you’ve given yourself a nice dose of crème fraîche and a substantial amount of avocado, very important. The flavors will only marry comfortably. Garnish your little toasts with your creativity in mind. Make it your own, and share it.
Have a great week.
yields 2 cups
3 cups water
3 oz gruyere cheese, roughy sliced
1 leek, stalk only, sliced
1 tsp salt
* 1-12′-12′- square cut out of cheesecloth and kitchen twine
Roughly slice or chop the gruyere and place onto a square cut of cheesecloth, secure it with kitchen twine, and set aside.
In a small sauce pot, over medium heat, combine the water, cheese sachet, leeks, and salt. Let the contents simmer for about 20 minutes, letting the cheese steep into water. (After simmering uncovered, the liquid should reduce down and yield about 2 cups.) Remove from heat, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve, while also pressing out the remaining liquid from the cheese sachet and leeks. Reserve broth in medium saucepan on low to serve, or refrigerate for later use. Note a thin layer of milk fat will reside on the surface of the broth from the cheese. Feel free to skim this off the top or leave it for a richer taste.
Celery Root Puree
Makes about 1 quart
1 celery root, medium to large, peeled, large diced
2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled, large diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
*2 cups gruyere broth
kosher salt, to taste
Peel celery root and potatoes, cut crosswise, and dice into 1 inch pieces. Put the root vegetables in a medium saucepan of cold salted water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until they are just tender, about 10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the cream and gruyere broth in a medium saucepan on low.
Transfer the vegetables to a food mill or tami. Pass them through, and incorporate the mash into the medium saucepan of warm gruyere broth and cream. Once completely incorporated, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve for a smoother consistency. Taste for seasonings, hold for service , or store for later use.
Rye Salad Toasts
Makes 8 toasts
1/2 loaf pumpernickel rye bread, sliced, cut into rectangles or desired shape
1-2 oz jar wild salmon roe
3-4 tb creme fraiche
1/4 red onion, quartered, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 sprigs dill
1/4 bunch watercres
Slice the bread and cut into rectangles or desired shape, (I left the crust on) and toast until crispy. Arrange on serving board or platter, place individual slices of avocado on each piece of toast with a few thinly sliced red onion gracing the top of the avocado. Spoon some salmon eggs over the toast and dollop or pipe the creme fraiche near and around the eggs. Place a few radishes over each piece. Garnish each toast with some dill, watercress, and micro herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over gruyere steeped celery root puree.