Sunday, February 26, 2012

Celery Root Galette: a recipe to celebrate "Occupy our Food Supply" and promote food security

After I graduated from college I moved to Arizona for a volunteer year with the Presbyterian Church. Each of my housemates and I were assigned a different non-profit with which to work. As one of my housemates explained that he was to work in food security, I tried to imagine Phil more intimidating than he first appeared. I envisioned him valiantly defending a food truck from marauding bands of warlords. I wondered if he would get a navy blue jacket with yellow lettering and carry pepper spray. I did not yet understand what this term, food security meant. 

Food security, is not about assembling force. Food security is about insuring that everyone's food sources are safe. This means making sure that people know where their next meal is going to come from, and it means making sure that that meal is safe and heathy. Through his work with the Tucson Community Food Bank: Phil learned about food systems, promoted community gardens, ensured that farmers markets could accept food stamps, and educated the public and his housemates about all of these things. 

Left: My housemates and I standing in front of a coffee co-op roasting facility, pictured here with employes of Just Coffee.  Top Right: The front of Just Coffee, a great example of how fair-trade coffee can change lives.  Bottom Right: our backyard in Tucson, before Phil transformed it into vegetable garden paradise. 

Through Phil, I learned that the presence of ripe tomatoes in my supermarket in December is in fact not a miracle. I learned as well that our cheap food often comes at a very high cost. 

I now live and work in a farming community. Though the church where I am currently serving is in the middle of some of the best farmland in the county it is also in the middle of a food desert. About two years ago, the grocery store in town closed, leaving those who logically should have immediate access to fresh vegetables having to drive out of town for their lettuce. Why? Because our lettuce, our tomatoes, our apples no longer come from the local farm but from Mexico, California and China. 

The implications of this are huge: environmental, economical, cultural. Yet the implications of this are also personal effecting what you eat, how you eat and all that means (your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar cholesterol...and those numbers are staggering). Food systems don't always seem to be particularly sexy conversation but thankfully they're getting more and more press. And if you get the chance to sit down and read some about them and here is a great place to start, you might find yourself strangely enthralled. 

But so what you may ask, what am I to do...where can I begin? Well I am glad you asked! Here is my list of things that you can begin doing right now, today to Occupy our Food Supply and make the world a better, happier, healthier place:

1. Educate yourself. Read a book (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) or an article (The Way We Live Now, The Pleasures of Eating) watch a movie (Food Inc.) or listen to the radio (Driven by FlavorThe Ethics of Eating, Planting the Future).

2. Cook. The more you cook, the more you can control what you eat and how you eat it. By cooking from scratch (or closer to it), your food will be less processed which is better for you, the planet and everyone living on it.

3. Buy local. This can be hard, and most likely you can't and don't want to buy everything locally- because lets face it you like coffee, chocolate and lemons. You can however, frequent farmers markets and locally owned stores and keep an eye out for locally sourced items (i.e. milk and eggs)

4. Buy seasonal. Let's be honest, those tomatoes aren't so good in December anyway. This will also make your eating more will be less likely to get tired of eating the same thing all the time when it changes from month to month. Don't know what's seasonal, well congratulations; There's an app. for that! 

5. Take time to taste. You should enjoy your food. Taste it, think about it...don't take it for granted.

To get you started on all of this, and to celebrate Occupy our Food Source, I have decided to share with you this tasty, easy and seasonal recipe for Celery Root Galette.

Years ago, I was having dinner at a friend's parents house. We had celery root soup for dinner and a long debate ensued about celery root. Some argued that it was in fact the root of celery stalks, and some argued that its not. Well the answer is in: it comes from a variety of celery that is grown specifically for its roots...which leads me to conclude that everyone was right that evening! If you have not had celery root before, it does in fact taste like celery stalks (without the strings).

I opted here to try this galette in the Breton style, using a buckwheat crepe rather than pie crust. A Breton style galette seemed a lighter option, and something I had never made before...both considerations weighed heavily in the decision. As it turns out, the strong earthy flavor of the buckwheat works great with the celery root. I will confess though that Scott and I were wanting a little dollop of crème fraîche to top the finished galette; it just would have added that extra creaminess and hint of acidity. 

For the Filling
Serves 2

1   celery root
4   cloves garlic
4   Tbsp finally diced onion
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Using a little cooking spray, lightly brown garlic and onion. Set aside.
Peel celery root and thinly slice.

Coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, and lay down a 6 in round layer of celery root. Lightly spray with cooking spray and put down a second layer of celery root. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle about half of the garlic and onion. Top with another two layers of celery root. 
Cook until it turns crispy and golden brown on the bottom. Flip the celery root cake using a plate, cook on the other side so that both sides are golden brown. Set aside and repeat to make the second celery root cake filling. 

For the Crepe
from The Joy of Cooking

Serves 3-4

1/2 cup     buckwheat flour
1/2 cup     all-purpose flour
1 cup        milk
3/4 cup     water
3 lg           eggs
2 Tbsp      vegetable oil
1 tsp          salt

Combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the mixture. Cover and let stand one hour or refrigerate up to a day. 
Now, I don't have a fancy crepe pan, so I simply used my largest non-stick pan and I would suggest you can do the same, just be sure to use a good non-stick pan- so the batter doesn't stick. Coat the pan in a thin layer of cooking spray. My pan is big enough that I was able to use about a cup of the batter of each galette. Make sure your pan is hot before you add the batter, after you add the batter swirl the pan so that the batter thinly coats the pan. You want to make sure that the batter doesn't pool or the crepe will become to thick. And prepare yourself, the first one will probably not be a keeper.

As the crepe cooks, you will notice the crepe beginning to bubble and the edges will pull away from the pan. As this happens, go ahead and run your spatula around the edge. The crepe should eventually become lose and slide easily around the pan. Slide the crepe to the edge of the pan, and in one circular motion, flip the crepe.

The other side will cook to a lovely golden brown very quickly. As it cooks, go ahead and slide the celery  root cake into the center of the crepe. 
Use a spatula to carefully fold the edges of the crepe over the celery root cake. As you do this you might have to hold down the crepe edges for a few seconds so that it stays. 

Finally, using a plate again, flip the galette so that it sears in place. This should only take a minute. Turn your galette onto a plate, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, sour cream or greek yogurt and a handful of salad.


  1. I always enjoy trying new recipes with this wife of mine. Dinner is generally a fun adventure!

    You'll see that Weight Watchers has changed the way we cook, so we substitute low-cholesterol sprays and go butter / oil free otherwise.