Edible gifts, The Basics

Celery salt

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Flavoured salts are a good way of adding subtle flavours when cooking, particularly if you don’t have any of the fresh ingredient for a dish. They also look better as a condiment than boring plain salt. If you are lucky enough to get a bunch of fresh celery with plenty of leaves then save the nice darker green outer leaves and after rinsing and removing any excess water, in a salad spinner, spread them out on a baking tray and put them in the oven at about 120 degrees C / 250 F for about 10-15 mins until they dehydrate. You can turn off the oven and leave them in there to ensure that they are completely dried out. They will be dry and crisp and you can either crush them in your hands or chop them up roughly with some scissors. Then place them in a mortar and add sea salt, enough to fill a smallish jar, and pound them together. Put the salt in a sealed jar and keep in a dry place. This also makes a nice gift for a foodie friend.

 

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Thai Food, Veggie sides

Stir-fried celery

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Yesterday at a local organic farmers’ market they were selling beautiful bunches of celery an I couldn’t resist buying some. Normally in Thailand we can only find tiny bunches of Chinese celery so it was irresistible. Celery is something my family are very fond of and as well as eating raw celery in the past, my grandparents had it fresh and crunchy just dipped in a bit of salt, I can remember having braised celery sometimes, although I wasn’t that fond of it cooked this way as it lost it’s crunch. Today I wanted to let the celery take centre stage in a cooked dish but I also wanted it to keep it’s crunch so I decided to stir fry it and resisted adding too much else to it. This is probably more Chinese than Thai in it’s style, whatever it’s great if you like celery!

Start by cutting the base of the bunch of celery and then wash the stalks and leaves. Remove the leaves, keeping all the fresh green ones. My bunch had lots of leaves so I kept half of them for making celery salt. Then chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces. Heat up about 2 tbps. of sesame oil, or other vegetable oil, in a wok. While the oil is heating finely slice two large cloves of garlic. Fry a couple of dried chillies and the garlic in the oil, these will flavor the oil, The chilles will cook very quickly so as soon as the puff up and start to change colour, brown, remove them and keep frying the garlic for a minute of so, turning occasionally, until golden brown and then remove these too.

Put the chopped celery stalks, not the leaves, into the wok and stir-fry for about a minute. Then add a couple of tbps. of water and about 1/2 – 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce and continue frying. The celery will let out some liquid too and will steam / fry and this will bring out it’s colour and stop it burning. Fry for a few minutes until it looks just cooked through, the colour will change as it cooks so check that it’s cooked almost through and most of the liquid has evaporated. This will take 4-5 mins. depending on the heat of your wok etc. Then add the leaves, 2 tsp. sesame seeds, I used a mix of black and white, a tbsp. of veggie (mushroom) oyster sauce and some white ground pepper. The oyster sauce can be left out if you don’t have it but it makes the dish nice and glossy and thickens the sauce up.  Stir-fry so the leave wilt and everything if coated in the sauce. Then add the garlic back in and break the chillies into the wok and give it a last stir. Serve with rice and any other dishes you like, I had it with a Massaman curry. Enjoy!

 

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