The First Mess »

Masthead header

roasted celery root + apple cider redux

I’m typically more into the salt-of-the-earth joys in life, but sometimes I like making something that feels really celebratory or just kind of…you know, cool. We have gorgeous, hardy celery root (celeriac) in the garden still. It’s thriving in the cool, damp temperatures. Digging one out is a dirty and slightly trying affair, but so worth it. I find it’s a really underrated vegetable. Lovely texture, beautiful clean flavour, creamy and light colour. It’s wonderful. Have you tried it? It’s a bit rough at first sight, but once you get past that tough exterior, it’s all lovey dovey, mushy feelings from there.

Celery and apples are delicious together so I knew that celery root and apple cider would be pretty good buds too. Making a reduction sounds fairly advanced, but it’s usually easy. Just throw some flavours and liquids into a pot, bring it to a boil and simmer the mixture down until it thickens a bit. So simple! If you want to make this more of a side dish kind of thing, you can chop the celery root up smaller and toss it with the reduction when it comes out of the oven. Put a little sprinkle of herb on top and you’ve got a fine little side attraction for whatever you’re serving up (possibly Thanksgiving fare?).

I know that plating it in the way I’ve shown is suggesting a sort of meat-replacement thing. Maybe you’re wondering where the protein is, if the meal is complete or satisfying and on and on. Here’s a little insight on my daily eating habits: quite often, I just feel like a plate of vegetables. As long as I’ve been vegetarian/vegan, I have loved to eat this way. If I see a variety of colours/textures and whole foods on my plate throughout the day, I know my nutrient intake is up to snuff. I don’t fret if my protein or vitamin B12 etc etc intake seems off. I eat unprocessed and colourful foods. That’s it. So easy and feel-good. No nutrition labels to read? No problem.

roasted celery root with apple cider reduction
serves: 2
notes: If you want to make this a side dish, look for a slightly larger celery root, dice it into cubes, roast it and toss it in the reduction before serving. It should take about 15 minutes to cook at the smaller size.

celery root:
1 small to medium celery root, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed and lightly chopped
1 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper

2 cups apple cider
1 sprig of thyme
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp natural sugar
2-3 black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Start the reduction: Place all reduction ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and keep at a lively simmer until reduced by two thirds. I ended up with a bit more than a 1/4 cup. Stir occasionally. Strain the mixture, pour it back into the saucepan and place it on a low burner to keep warm.

Roast the celery root: toss the slices of celery root with the oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Flip the slices at the half way point for even browning. Remove celery root from the oven when golden brown and tender.

Serve celery root with warm reduction on top. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley or other fresh herb of your choice (chives would be nice too).

You might also like…

roasted tofu and kale with pine nuts + delicious surprises

Inspiration and big change is always floating around in the back of the mind, in the atmosphere, everywhere really. LikeView full post »

festive brussels sprouts + pomegranate seeds

There’s something about pomegranates and their tiny fuschia, jewel-like seeds that is so undeniably festive. TheyView full post »

warm brussels sprouts toss + it’s fall

Can we talk about the weather for a second? How about those cool days and even cooler nights? It’s perfect, rightView full post »

pin it subscribe tweet this post share on facebook email to a friend
Kelsey (Happyolks)13/11/2011 - 4:26 pm

LOVE celery root. LOVE the boots. WANT your garden. Badly.

purabi naha14/11/2011 - 9:41 am

Loved the pictures. What a brilliant idea! I am bookmarking your recipe.

Kirsten15/11/2011 - 2:18 am

Made this tonight with the celery root from my last CSA delivery (sniff!). I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe and especially the thyme/peppercorn flavors in the reduction. This is the first decent recipe I’ve found for this veggie. It’s a keeper for me!

Sara15/11/2011 - 11:04 am

Thanks for this–I mostly make soups out of celery root but I am looking to branch out.

Elizabeth18/11/2011 - 12:44 pm

You gorgeous pics of digging up your own celery root are making me so jealous! I too love this humble root, and find the smell to be nearly intoxicating. Never thought to pair with an apple cider reduction–your unique take is a great recipe to have up my sleeve as the cold weather sets in.

Carroll @VanillaLemonade20/11/2011 - 10:11 pm

LOVE this!!! Celery root is tricky and this is a perfect way to utilize it! Yum!

Basic Vegetarian27/12/2011 - 1:07 pm

Very interesting way to prepare celery root and beautiful photographs.

chocolate salty tart + candy bars

I’m not one for candy and chocolate bars usually, but I will admit that the mood strikes here and there. We just had Hallowe’en so I was feeling a bit nostalgic and remembering the pillow cases of treats from my youth. After sorting the bars, bags and packages out the next morning, I would start laying into my preferred varieties. Mum would tuck a couple of items into my lunch bag and it was great. Happy days to be sure. I was always way more excited about the saltier snack options though. Huge smiles when a wonderful, saint of a human being dropped a tiny bag of savory potato, pretzel or cheesy snacks into the trick or treat bag. Take 5 candy bars came into my 8-year-old world and everything changed. Chocolate and salt collided and I fell in love.

To elaborate: pretzels, peanuts, chocolate and caramel. Together. Whoa. So! To rekindle that most sincere of loves, I made a slightly more sophisticated and admittedly fussy version in a tart pan. I wouldn’t say it’s a totally guiltless and healthy version of my cherished bar, but it’s fairly wholesome by comparison. It has a lovely crust of graham crumbs and crushed up pretzels, date and peanut butter-based caramel and an incredibly luscious avocado chocolate mousse. We used to make these avocado chocolate terrines at a restaurant I worked at. It was so elegant looking and loaded with Jack Daniels. So delicious. So I took that basic idea, loosened it up to a mousse-y/pudding consistency and it worked out perfectly.

I know I just posted a dessert recipe a little while ago and maybe you overdid it on Hallowe’en night already, but it had been quite a while to be frank. So I thought something totally over the top would make up for everything. That’s just my style sometimes. But mostly I just wanted a chocolate salty thing to eat up without making the trek to the USA for a Take 5. Just sayin’.

chocolate salty tart with peanut butter caramel & pretzel crust
mousse adapted from here
serves: makes one 10 inch tart
special equipment: a food processor
notes: Be ginger when you’re spreading the caramel on the crust. It picks up the crumbs so easily. A palette knife is incredibly helpful.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup pretzel crumbs (a heaped handful blitzed in the food processor until fine)
3 tbsp natural sugar
2 tbsp spelt flour
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 cup pitted dates (as soft as you can get)
3 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
pinch of salt

chocolate mousse:
2 medium, ripe avocadoes, pitted and peeled
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used raw cacao for the deep, almost bitter chocolate taste)
1 tsp arrowroot
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 heaped cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir all of the ingredients together except the coconut oil to combine. Add the oil and mix until clumps begin to form. Press firmly into a 10 inch tart pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is firm. Set aside.

For the caramel: Place dates in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until dates are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain dates, saving the cooking water.

Place dates and remaining ingredients into food processor and pulse until a puree forms. Add date cooking water if necessary. Scrape caramel into baked and cooled tart shell and spread evenly.

For the mousse: Place everything except the melted chocolate into the food processor. Now’s the time to add some booze if you’re feeling up to it. Turn the processor onto high and puree until mixture is very smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and add melted chocolate. Turn to high again until thoroughly combined and smooth. Scrape mousse into tart shell on top of the caramel. Chill the tart for at least 1/2 an hour before serving. Garnish with chopped pretzels or a sprinkle of salt if you like.

You might also like…

salted coconut caramel brownies + hi mom ❤

I come from a long line of tough brauds, no question. The inclination to cook, do more physical work, stay constantlyView full post »

olive oil cake with rosemary, dark chocolate + roasted hazelnuts

This is a rather… grown-up sort of cake. The flavours are very interesting and complex. They play off of eachView full post »

chocolate pecan pie + saying yes

Totally last minute Thanksgiving dessert post! Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve featured quite a few chocolateView full post »

pin it subscribe tweet this post share on facebook email to a friend
Michelle05/11/2011 - 9:45 am

holy delicious!

amy05/11/2011 - 11:17 am


(disturbing though, i think i was 18 or 19 when take 5 was launched as an unnamed chocolate bar. yipes, you baby!)

Laura05/11/2011 - 11:33 am

Maybe you tried it when it was released in Canada under the sneaky “Max 5″ label. Now discontinued :(

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen05/11/2011 - 7:26 pm

Can’t remember passing a day without thinking chocolate and peanut butter. This is just mouth-watering.

Gaby06/11/2011 - 8:20 am

ohh.. I want this tart! :)

Kris06/11/2011 - 10:23 pm

this looks wonderful – pretzels and chocolate and caramel, Oh My!

Joan06/11/2011 - 11:07 pm

Yum, gotta try this!

The Americaine07/11/2011 - 5:35 pm

I’m digging the pretzel crust. But then again I have an unhealthy relationship with salt.

Jeffie07/11/2011 - 7:11 pm

beautiful presentation and it looks DELICIOUS :)

Vegan Bakerista08/11/2011 - 12:03 pm

What an awesome idea! I love how its vegan too. What a great idea for using dates in the caramel. I bet it creates a nice smooth, caramel-y taste. Thanks for the inspiration!

Priscilla12/11/2011 - 11:49 am

Oh my goodness, this looks amazing!

Do you think this can be frozen for a few days? I have a potluck coming up and would love to make this about a week before on the weekend so I have time to make it right!

Laura12/11/2011 - 11:58 am

I think everything should taste fine. I’m just worried about the crust getting soggy as the whole thing defrosts. You could definitely freeze the crust ahead of time and maybe make the fillings the day of? I promise they don’t take very long! Good luck :)

Priscilla12/11/2011 - 9:57 pm

Thank you! I’ll give that a shot and let you know how it goes!

olive oil cake with rosemary, dark chocolate + roasted hazelnuts

This is a rather… grown-up sort of cake. The flavours are very interesting and complex. They play off of each other surprisingly well. It’s a nice match with some really good, hot coffee on a dreary fall day (guess what the weather is like right now, just guess). I find olive oil cakes are usually filed under the love or hate column for most people. No in-between or “meh” reactions. I’m obviously a fan of the fruity and unique taste and paired it up with some roasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate and rosemary. If I was gonna go there with the whole olive oil thing, I wanted to go all the way.

The cake turned out so tender and buttery. I used all whole grain spelt flour with a good amount of almond meal to make things interesting. I find that it adds really nice textural elements to cakes and cookies, like super crunchy edges and biscuit-y qualities. So good. Once you get a bite of that crisp and nutty edge with a little nugget of roasted hazelnut and a creamy dab of dark chocolate… oh boy. You can make almond meal at home too! If you have a food processor, blender or coffee grinder, you’re all set. Just be careful to not let ‘er rip too long. Hello accidental almond butter! That wouldn’t be so bad…

I didn’t use a terribly expensive oil for this since I needed a whole cup of it. I imagine the more delicately nuanced varieties might lose some of their subtlety once mixed into a batter with sugar, flours, chocolate, rosemary etc and baked for 45 minutes. Reach for the in-store brand and all will be well.

olive oil cake with rosemary, dark chocolate & hazelnuts
adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
serves: makes 1 nine inch cake
notes: All spelt flour would work just fine if you don’t have almond meal. You can leave the rosemary out too if you aren’t feeling super adventurous :)

dry mix:
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup natural sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
3/4 tsp fine sea salt

wet mix:
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (or dairy milk, whatever you like)

100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, peeled and chopped roughly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Place a circle of parchment onto the bottom of the pan and grease that as well.

Sift the spelt flour into a large bowl. Dump any remaining bits of grain in the sifter into the bowl. Add the almond meal, sugar, baking powder, rosemary and sea salt. Whisk to combine.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, olive oil and milk together thoroughly. Pour the wet mix into dry mix in the large bowl. Carefully stir and fold mixture together with a spatula until just combined. Fold in chocolate and hazelnuts.

Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth out the top. Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out of the center part clean. Allow to cool thoroughly before removing from the pan and serving.

You might also like…

banana zucchini bread + whole grain flour

Another breakfast treat! Clearly I’m living the good life. I’ve been getting into autumnal baking modeView full post »

raw chocolate cherry mousse cake + birthdays

It was my birthday this past weekend! We ran to the city for a couple of days and had a really wonderful time. A cozyView full post »

chocolate + chai macaroons with chia seeds

I’m really, really happy I made these. A little while ago, I watched this charming little video and knew that IView full post »

pin it subscribe tweet this post share on facebook email to a friend
Amanda26/10/2011 - 7:43 pm

I am definitely in the LOVE column when it comes to olive oil cake. This one just shot to the top of my must make list!

catharine31/10/2011 - 5:23 am

your blog is amazing….I too love olive oil cake and will have to find some time to give this one a try! On a side note. Your food photography is exquisite!!!

Kelsey (Happyolks)03/11/2011 - 10:12 am

I love olive oil in baking. It gives cake that needed sophistication and nuance I think. Love it. Going home to visit my parents for the weekend, I’d love to make this for them.

Vegan Bakerista08/11/2011 - 12:11 pm

yum! i;m going to try and make this today. i’ll let you know how it goes! i love the idea of chocolate, hazelnuts and rosemary. three of my favorite flavors!

Vegan Bakerista08/11/2011 - 12:14 pm

p.s. I added you to my blogroll!

Laura08/11/2011 - 6:32 pm

Well thanks! Hope you enjoy the cake :)

I made this last night—absolutely heavenly! I accidentally baked mine for too long, so a note to others to be very watchful if you have a fussy oven like I do, but even being a bit crisp, it was still rich and delicious. And you’ll have a new reader; one of the friends I had over to share it with is a big food blogee, and she was very excited to discover I had a new go-to blog. : )

Laura12/11/2011 - 12:02 pm

Raechel, so glad you made it and enjoyed it! I actually really love slightly over-baked treats with almond meal. So crunchy and awesome. Go-to blog! That’s too cool :)

Millie03/12/2013 - 3:05 pm

Just found your blog and everything looks amazing! :) do you mind checking mine out please?

Meggie22/01/2014 - 1:23 pm

I’m super late to this party, but I just made this cake and really loved it! The flavors are definitely interesting, and for someone with an insatiable sweet tooth, this cake gave me my 3pm chocolate craving but kept me from eating the entire thing with its slight hint (or maybe strong suggestion?) of savory elements. Mine ended up very moist and delicious and notably crumbly-I tried to cut it and serve to family but it ended up in a bowl surrounded by forks, and no one complained. Thank you for this recipe!

Jane01/03/2014 - 3:37 am

I just made these as little mini cupcakes and subbed the hazelnuts for almonds (as we have a hazelnut allergy in our family)… they are just about the most delicious little morsels I’ve ever tasted. Thank you so very much for your beautiful photographs and recipes, they’re brilliant.