Céleri Rémoulade

This simple French winter salad makes a wonderful first course for a dinner party; at lunchtime you might serve it as a side with a sandwich jambon on a crusty baguette. If you forget to buy the crème fraîche or want to do without, just add an extra 1/4 cup of mayo. Be sure to let the céleri rémoulade sit for an hour or two -- or overnight in the fridge -- to let the flavors meld. 

The exact herbs you use aren't important, as long as you be sure to include a good amount of chopped parsley. Ditto the optional chopped cornichons and capers -- use them or don't use them (tweaking the amounts if you like) according to your own taste.


Serves 6 to 8.

Ingredients

1/2 cup homemade (preferable, recipe below) or store-bought mayonnaise

4 tablespoons crème fraîche

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs including Italian parsley (any combination of parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil, or just parsley)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped cornichons (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped capers, drained first (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large celery root (about 1 pound)

Instructions

For the sauce:

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, Dijon mustard, herbs, vinegar and cornichons and capers (if using). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. (Note: The sauce can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the fridge.) 

Putting it together:

Use a small, sharp paring knife to peel the celery root, then cut it into 1/8-inch slices using a mandolin or sharp chef's knife. Then make stacks of the slices and use a knife to cut them into 1/8-inch julienne. 

Place the julienne celery root in a large mixing bowl, and add enough of the rémoulade sauce to moisten it nicely, stirring to combine. Taste it, and add more sauce or salt and/or pepper as needed. Cover it and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight, before serving.

Homemade mayonnaise

Makes about one cup. Be sure to have all your ingredients at room temperature. The whole key to making mayo is forming a stable emulsion -- the marriage of the egg yolks and oil -- first. To do this, you need to add the oil very, very slowly in the beginning -- no more quickly than about a tablespoon at a time. Once a thick emulsion has been established -- when it starts to look like mayo -- you can add the oil a little more quickly. But as a many-time victim of broken mayos, I like to continue adding it slowly. If it does break on you, don't fret: You can fix it. See the mayo recipe in the recipe file to learn how.

Ingredients

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

pinch of finely ground white pepper (optional)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice

1 cup canola oil

Instructions

Place the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and one teaspoon of the vinegar or lemon juice in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer, whisk them together on low speed until they're smooth.

Start adding the oil, while continuously beating the mixture on medium speed -- adding no more than a tablespoon at a time. Wait for the the oil to completely combine with the yolk mixture each time time before adding the next tablespoon.

Once the mixture is thick and mayonnaise-like, you can add the oil a little more quickly. Continue until all of the oil is incorporated. Beat in the second teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, taste the mayo and add more salt if needed.