Celery has a wonderful crunchy texture and a refreshing taste.
Celery was developed by Italian gardeners in the 17th century from the wild celery of the European salt marshes, a plant known as Smallage. Celery is a herbaceous biennial plant of the carrot, parsley and caraway family.
While most people associate celery with its prized stalks, the leaves, roots and seeds can also be used as a food and seasoning as well as a natural medicinal remedy. Raw celery has long been a popular ingredient in salads and goes particularly well with cheese and biscuits. The famous Waldorf salad is essentially celery and apples in equal parts.
The tougher outer stalks and leaves can also be a tasty addition to soups, stews and casseroles. Celery is also delicious braised or used in stir fries.
Celery should be washed and trimmed before use.- Rinse it well in clear, cold water, separating the stalks slightly as you rinse. Cut off the base and very tips of each stalk. To revive celery that’s gone a bit 'limp,' trim a small amount off the root end and stand the sticks in lukewarm water for half an hour or so. Celery leaves, which are full of flavour, can be used like a herb in salads or as a garnish.
Whole celery seeds can be added to bread dough or when making cheese biscuits, and both then can be served with soups and savoury dishes. A few seeds can be sprinkled over steamed carrots, grilled tomatoes or salads. They complement egg and fish dishes very well. Celery seeds have a fairly strong, and sometimes bitter, flavour. So use with discretion.
To make a 'pick-me-up' sprinkle some celery seeds into a glass of tomato juice, chilled with lots of crushed ice.
Tuck into these little delicious Celery & Onion Pies. Or make some Celery & Potato Soup.
CELERY & ONION PIES
These little savoury pies are irresistible.
~ Makes 12
PASTRY (pie dough)
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
25g butter, cut into small pieces
25g mature( sharp) cheese, grated
3-4 tbsp water
125g celery, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp plain flour
pinch cayenne pepper
To make the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the celery, onion and garlic and fry gently for around 5 minutes or until softened. Reduce the heat and stir in the flour, then the milk. Bring back to a simmer and heat gently until the mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Season with salt and the cayenne pepper, and leave to cool.
To make the Pastry, sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers. Stir the cheese into mixture, along with cold water, and mix to form a dough.
Roll out three quarters of the dough on to a lightly floured surface. Using a 6 cm biscuit cutter, cut out 12 rounds. Line a patty tin with the rounds. Divide the filling between the pastry cases. Roll out the remaining dough, using a 5 cm cutter, cut out 12 circles. Place the circles on top of the pie filling and seal well. Make a slit in each pie top and chill for 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven 220C/ 425F/ GAS MARK-7, for 15- 20 minutes. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out.~ Serve warm.