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Time to celebrate celery

Paula McIntyre


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Grilled rump steak, celery and Young Buck salad

Grilled rump steak, celery and Young Buck salad

Blackcurrant and lemon meringue roulade

Blackcurrant and lemon meringue roulade

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Grilled rump steak, celery and Young Buck salad

Celery is a vegetable we take for granted but rarely celebrate.

It forms a vital part of a French mirepoix and Italian sofrito – the mixture of vegetables that are slowly cooked in butter or oil as a base flavour for soups, stocks and sauces. In American Cajun cooking its one of a triumvirate of vegetables that makes up their essential “holy trinity” of flavour, along with bell pepper and onion. A Bloody Mary cocktail just wouldn’t be the same without a big stick of celery in the middle.

Rather than hide celery it should take centre stage. When I was at college we cooked classic braised celery which was tasty and delicious and something we should rediscover. Slice four stalks of celery and fry in butter with an onion. Add a few sprigs of thyme and a glass of white wine. Cook to reduce the wine by half and then add 250ml vegetable stock. Cover with foil and cook in a 180oC oven for about half an hour or until soft. Place back on the cooker and cook until the juices are syrupy. Add some parsley and serve with roasts or grilled meats. To take to another level add a swirl of cream, sprinkle over some cheese and crumbs and bake until golden and bubbling.

For the recipe this week celery forms part of a salad with Young Buck blue cheese. Celery and blue cheese are perfect partners. Young Buck is crafted by Mike Thompson in Newtownards and is Northern Ireland’s only raw milk cheese. Here the salad is served with some grilled steak for a simple but tasty summer salad.

Blackcurrants are in season now for a limited time. Most of these zingy little berries from Britain and Ireland go towards the production of Ribena, so grab them when you can. For the recipe this week they’re folded into whipped cream with some lemon curd to fill a meringue roulade. Zippy blackcurrants and the tang of lemon curd in a cream in the middle of a billowy, soft meringue – the best of a summer dessert.

Blackcurrant and lemon meringue roulade

What you’ll need

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5 egg whites

Pinch cream of tartar

190g castor sugar

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Set oven to 150oC. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment and edges of the tray.

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, then the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla. Whisk to stiff peaks. Spread onto the parchment lined tray and bake until light golden – about 30 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes then place a piece of parchment over it and flip the meringue. Remove the pan and let cool before peeling off the parchment paper.

For the blackcurrant and lemon curd cream

350ml double cream

1 tablespoon castor sugar

100g blackcurrants

2 tablespoons lemon curd

Mix the sugar and blackcurrants together.

Whip the cream and fold in the blackcurrants. Swirl in the lemon curd.

Spoon onto the middle of the meringue and roll up.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Grilled rump steak, celery and Young Buck salad

What you’ll need

4 x 175g rump steaks

Sea salt

1 tablespoon oil

25g butter

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Method

Brush the steak with the oil and season with sea salt.

Heat a pan until smoking hot and add the steak. Cook for 2 minutes on each side – more if you want it better done. Add the butter and baste the steaks. Turn off the heat, season with pepper and rest for 10 minutes.

For the celery and Young Buck salad

4 sticks celery from inside of stalk

Few celery leaves

150ml sour cream

75g olive oil or local rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced

125g Young Buck or other blue cheese

Cut each celery stalk into 4 pieces and cut each piece into thin strips. Place in a bowl. Whisk the sour cream, mustard, oil and vinegar together and season to taste. Mix in 100g of the cheese. Mix into the celery well with the shallots.

Slice the steak and serve with the celery salad. Spoon any juices over the steak. Finely grate the remaining cheese over the top.

Paula McIntyre: Gooseberry drool – sweet and savoury recipes


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