A few months ago, I headed off to the SECC in Glasgow, notepad in my hand and finger on the voice recorder app on my phone, ready to act like the perfect food journalist at the Good Food Show. As I was handed over the plastic press pass that screamed I was a fully fledged journalist, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing.
All of these confident feelings slip away the moment you have your first taste of ‘professional journalism’ (i.e. not stuck behind a teeny mini Mac whilst Air TV are arsing about with swords behind you). My first opportunity came when last year’s Masterchef finalist Sara had finished a cookery demonstration featuring macarons. There was ample opportunity to stride over, thrust my battered HTC under her nose and demand her egg white- folding technique. But instead, I dithered and scurried away to hide amongst the displays.
Of course, being alone in a situation like that is a normal thing for a journalist, so my whole experience at the event was to observe, learn and improve for the next time. My confidence was boosted when a lovely company called DeviliShh happily stood and spoke about their dessert cheats product and I walked away with an armful of samples. Rooster potatoes sang the praises of their purple tatties and I chatted away, munching on an indigo coloured potato wedge. And a company with a penchant for air dried vegetable crisps proudly told me about their desire to keep their products away from supermarkets. As I sat in the journalists holding pen, scoffing a bag of said crisps and scribbling down notes, I felt like I had properly began to find my feet as a food journalist.
Afterwards, I retreated back to the arena to watch a few demonstrations in the pre-booked theatre, where the likes of Antony Worrall Thompson (who is now slightly more famous for pinching cheese from his local Tesco than his rant on a drawbridge on I’m a Celebrity about rice portioning) and Tom Kitchin created luscious dishes before the eyes of a clearly delighted audience. Kitchin has something of a soft spot for knobbly veg, and recently sang the praises of the celeriac in delicious. magazine’s ‘Knobbly Veg’ campaign. In the theatre he was no different, and he displayed the vegetable an impressive three ways topped with slices of juicy pheasant. There was no denying the dish looked amazing and I was suitably impressed by the bobbly thing that looked like an ugly turnip, and thus began my hunt to find one.
And lo, it has taken me 3 months, but the offending veg has been hunted down in my local Tesco. Taking inspiration from Mr Kitchin, I’ve roasted the celeriac and turned it into a delicious soup, adding a citrus hint with a touch of lemon to complement its creamy texture. This soup is great on its own, but taking the time to make your own parsnip crisps will be a rewarding venture. I’m sure the vegetable crisp company won’t hold a grudge against me for doing so, and maybe one day I’ll get Sara’s folding technique to perfect my macarons.
You Will Need
2-3 garlic cloves, skin on
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 white onion
2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
A handful of grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Double cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 200oc/180oc fan/Gas Mark 4. Using a large knife, carefully remove the skin of the celeriac and wash until clean. Cut into 1cm chunks and place on a baking sheet. On a chopping board using the back of a knife, crush the garlic cloves and place them whole on the baking sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil, season and roast for 50 minutes, turning regularly.
Thinly slice the parsnip using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler and lay on a baking sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, season and coat well. Add to the oven after the celeriac has been roasting for 30 minutes, turning regularly.
With 20 minutes to go, heat the remaining oil in a large stock pot. Chop the onion finely and add to the pan, slowly cooking until translucent. Once the celeriac has cooked, add to the pan and squeeze in the insides of the garlic. Cover with the stock and bring to the boil.
Once heated through, remove from the hob and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. You may need to add a little boiling water at this point to thin the soup slightly. Add the zest of the lemon, a squeeze of its juice and the parmesan and stir until incorporated. Season well and return to the hob whilst heated through.
To serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle over some double cream and add the parsnip crisps on top with a twist of black pepper.