I smiled at the recipe for “Black Rice and Squid Salad,” from the March/April 2012 issue of La Cucina Italiana, when it reminded me of my fantasy food party: a table full of black-and-white foods. Squid is a family favorite, and it’s too easy to prepare (there’s no waste with squid either, since you use the whole thing). And what’s this black rice? It’s chewy and milky, like oatmeal. Read on…

I doubled the amounts in this recipe, in order to serve main-course portions. I was excited to try black rice, for the first time. I used a Chinese variety of the rice, rather than the Italian crossbreed, which the recipe references. After cooking, then cooling for 20 minutes, the rice’s texture was like oatmeal’s, which was fun for a salad. Instead of merely garnishing with celery leaves, I chopped some into the salad. I added extra lime juice and another 1 tsp. salt. There’s a lot of olive-oil silkiness, here. Dave thought the salad lacked something, but I was OK with the simple dressing and the chewiness. My youngster ate it.

Before I discuss the “Pot-Roasted Celery Root with Olives and Buttermilk,” from the March 2012 issue of Bön Appetit, let me announce that I don’t give a hoot about the hype surrounding Danish chef Rene Redzepi. I’m tired by the excess of attention: the name-dropping, the publicity stunts, the rock-stardom. Enough. The combination of ingredients, here, permitted me to try cooking celery root this way -- despite any prejudice of personality I may have.

First things first: there’s no such thing as a 4oz. celery root in my world! A typical celery root is six times that size in my Food Coop. So I had to abandon the idea of pot-roasting whole roots with their stems attached. Instead, I trimmed, cleaned and chopped a single 25oz. root into cubes, then stewed for 40 minutes, until the cubes were soft. Notice the whole stick of butter here. This is always an easy way to win over the masses to your vegetables -- everyone knows this. The rosemary scent in the pot was wonderful. The coffee beans? I did toss them in, but they did nothing for my final flavor. Hah! A stunt, I say!

The thyme and rosemary and sage all melted into the buttery stew. The briny olives were a welcome match. At the end, this celery-root experiment produced the same soft and pleasant vegetable that I’ve loved before, with its smooth artichoke flavor.

Shallots (2) = .88¢
Limes (2) = .66¢
Celery Root (25 oz.) = $2.15
Rosemary (6 sprigs) = $1.04
Sage (6 sprigs) = $1.04

RECIPES: imagine black rice on your plate and imagine stewing celery root in lots of butter
salad needs an hour of prep, cooking, and cooling (but will then sit and wait for you); devote more than an hour to the celery root
chewy rice and not-too-chewy squid play nice with lime juice and olive oil; butter, rosemary, and olives wrap around soft celery root chunks

OK then! Next time, I want to try the “Chinese Pancake” idea with the “Egg Foo Yung,” from the April 2012 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below). I’ll also make the “Roasted Sunchokes with Buttery Bagna Cuda,” from the April 2012 issue of Food and Wine. See my fun and games when you come back to my site soon.

Egg Foo Yung
Cuisine at Home, April 2012
Makes 14 pancakes

4 oz. small-curd cottage cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup chopped bean sprouts
1/2 cup minced celery
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. minced scallions
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
Canola oil
Steamed asparagus spears

Mash cottage cheese in a bowl. Stir in eggs, bean sprouts, celery, Parmesan, scallions and soy sauce; season with salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle or a nonstick skillet over medium-low; brush with oil.  Scoop 2 Tbsp. batter onto griddle and cook until light brown, 2-3 minutes per side; repeat with remaining batter. Garnish pancakes with steamed asparagus; serve with soy sauce.