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I have been writing this food column for almost four and a half years now, and recently a friend of mine asked me how I came up with all my ideas to write about each week. I told him I had this long checklist made up of possible food articles and I just checked them off week after week. I probably had enough for 10 years! “Really?” he said.
Seriously, I really don’t have a clue what I’ll be writing about each week. I do get a great deal of suggestions from readers and friends. A couple weeks ago, someone asked me if I had any good soup recipes. I nodded and said, “Sure. Check the paper in a couple weeks.”
Last week's column was about soups. Occasionally, I’ll get on a roll and write three or four columns at a time. This does take the pressure off of coming up with something by the paper’s Friday deadline.
I do remember one time when a friend asked if I could write a column about celery. I said no problem. Luckily, I had many celery recipes, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Recently, I’ve been eating a lot of celery lately and thought maybe it was time to write “more” about celery and include some archived recipes of mine.
Did you know?
Celery belongs to the same family as parsley, caraway, anise, fennel and carrots.
The ancient Greeks awarded winners of sports events with celery and it was often carried by marathon runners.
Supposedly, it takes more calories to eat and digest celery than there is in celery.
The use of celery as a garnish for a Bloody Mary originated in a bar at Chicago’s Ambassador East Hotel in the 1960s.
After ordering a Bloody Mary that arrived without a swizzle stick, a hotel guest grabbed a rib of celery from the bar’s relish tray and used it as a stirrer. The hotel’s maitre d’ noticed the trick and the rest is history.
Baked Celery Parmesan
4 cups diced celery
2-1/2 Tbsps. butter
2-1/2 Tbsps. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup water in which celery was cooked
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the celery in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Prepare the cream sauce by stirring the breadcrumbs into the melted butter. Place 1/4 cupful of the buttered crumbs into the bottom of a baking dish and sprinkle half of the celery over them. Place another 1/4 cupful of the crumbs over the celery, and then sprinkle 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. Add the remainder of the celery and pour the reserved water over this.
Finally, add the remaining cheese and buttered crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until well heated through and the crumbs are browned. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.
Braised Celery with Swiss Cheese and Almonds
1-1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
4 cups celery cut in 2 x 1/4 strips, or thinly sliced.
3 slices processed Swiss cheese, cut into halves diagonally.
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
Preheat broiler. In a large skillet, bring water and red pepper to a boil. Add celery. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until celery is crisp-tender, about five minutes; drain. Arrange celery in a shallow, 2-quart casserole or ovenproof platter. Top with cheese; sprinkle with almonds. Broil three to four inches from heat, just until cheese melts and almonds are golden, about one or two minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Braised Celery in
Wine and Garlic
10 sticks celery
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim and cut celery stalks into small pieces and place in an ovenproof dish. Add stock and season with wine, salt and pepper and crushed garlic. Cover with tin foil and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until soft. Makes 4 servings.
Old-Fashioned Celery Soup
2 heads of celery
2-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2-1/2 cups milk
1 medium onion
2 Tbsps. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the leaves from the celery, wash thoroughly and cut into small pieces. Peel and chop the onion. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, add the onion and celery, and toss over medium/low heat for 5 minutes, but do not allow to brown.
Add the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer gently until the celery is quite soft. At this time, if you choose, you can use a hand blender or add soup to a counter-blender for a few seconds, and return to the saucepan.
After blending, add the milk. Cook additional 5 minutes or until hot. Serve with croutons. Makes 4 servings.
Celery and Sage
1 Tbsp. corn oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground sage
4 cups breadcrumbs
1 small can mushrooms, drained (optional)
Saute onion in oil until translucent. Add celery, water, pepper, and sage. Cover and cook until celery is tender; add breadcrumbs. Mix well, adding more broth or water as desired. Spoon into an ovenproof baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
2-1/2 cups celery cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 25)
3 Tbsps. coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 tsp. salt
Cut a thin slice from the bottom of celery pieces to prevent tipping; set aside. In a blender or food processor, process apricots until finely chopped; remove one tablespoon for garnish. Add ricotta cheese, sugar, orange peel and salt to apricots; blend until cheese is smooth. Fill celery pieces with the cheese mixture.
Cover and refrigerate up to three hours before serving. Sprinkle with reserved chopped apricots just before serving. Makes 25 appetizers.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.