3 Great New Tastes to Try at Home

From Birchwood Café owner Tracy Singleton

1. Celeriac & Nutmeg

Craving comfort food, yet tired of the same old mashed potatoes? This time of year, locally grown celeriac (AKA celery root) is a delightful stand-in. Don’t let the ugly, knobby exterior scare you away. Once peeled, the ivory flesh reveals a subtle celery and parsley flavor mixed with an oh-so-faint nuttiness that sweetens when cooked. Substitute celery root for half of your potatoes, mash with a little butter and cream, and finish with freshly ground nutmeg.

Tip >>> Start with quality ingredients: Chemical-free organic celery root and whole nutmeg are easy to find at local co-ops. I love local favorites Cedar Summit Farm cream and Hope Creamery butter for flavor and creaminess.

Tip >>> Cook the celery root as you would potatoes, but discard the top one-fourth of each root after peeling. It’s very woody and won’t mash well.

2. Peanut Butter & Sriracha

Sriracha is a southeast Asian condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It’s a classic Asian flavor combination when combined with peanut. Add a dash or two (depending on your heat tolerance) to your next PB&J sandwich and it’s instantly all grown up! The sweetness of grape jelly or strawberry or raspberry jam marries well with the tangy heat of sriracha and earthiness of a nut butter. If you really want to up the sophistication level, spread your sandwich with cashew butter, sriracha, and orange marmalade or date spread.

Tip >>> Sriracha is available at many co-ops and grocery stores.

Tip >>> It’s also great on eggs, steamed veggies, and in any soup!

3. Blood Orange & Blue Cheese

You’re sun starved and you’ve got a case of the midwinter salad blues. With citrus season at its juicy peak, toss blood orange segments into your spinach. Their heady aroma and beautiful flesh—ranging from orange to vermillion to deep purple—are dramatic, and their uniquely sweet acidity (think extreme orange with a hint of raspberry) balance nicely with the salty tang of blue cheese. Spice up the spinach by adding arugula, toss in some diced avocado, red onion, and toasted pine nuts, and voilà, a veritable sun-drenched vacation for your senses!

Tip >>> There are many varieties of blood oranges. We like the Moro, grown in Texas and California and available through the end of March.

Tip >>> Blood oranges also make great margaritas!

Tip >>> Our favorite local blue cheese makers are Castle Rock Dairy and Shepherd’s Way Farms.