Food & Drink

There’s a payoff for patience

Orange and radish salad with olive dressing.
Orange and radish salad with olive dressing. For the Washington Post

Cooking in winter demands patience to soften sturdy roots into smooth mashes, patience to allow vinegar to penetrate and pickle and preserve.

The required patience is also why I love being in my kitchen this time of year: I get to really cook. Whereas in summer I can just slice a tomato and sprinkle it with salt, maybe throw a fresh ear of corn in some hot water and call it a day, winter kitchens demand more. And responding to this demand means rolling up our sleeves and being resourceful and creative. We get to turn hearty ingredients into comforting meals, get to fog our kitchen windows with steam from our pots and get to gather the people we love around our tables.

The four ingredients that inspire these recipes are celery root, turnips, mustard greens and citrus. Each ingredient lends itself to a variety of dishes, all made memorable by combining them with flavorful accents.

Celery root

I love celery root (also known as celeriac) because it has such a distinctive flavor, not unlike a parsnip, and it can be enjoyed in so many different ways. But its gnarly look makes it a little intimidating. Remember: The roots come in such a variety of sizes, so it’s best to use the scale at the grocery store to make sure you are purchasing according to your needs and chosen recipe. Use a sharp knife to peel away the brown, craggy outside, and then go in any direction you want.

Enjoy the root raw: Slice it into thin matchsticks and dress with a creamy dressing for the traditional French salad known as remoulade. I offer a version with a creamy anchovy dressing because the Caesar-like flavor complements the root so well. Or simmer pieces of celery root with sauteed onions and puree with vegetable broth and creamy coconut milk for a smooth, vegan soup. You could spice the onions with turmeric and ground coriander seed for extra flavor and color. When it’s very cold outside, though, my favorite way to enjoy celery root is to slice it thin and layer it with grated cheese and garlicky cream and bake the layers to form a decadent gratin that could be a meal on its own alongside a salad and a bottle of wine.

Turnips

This is another reliable root worth keeping in your repertoire. With a sweet but also sometimes bitter flavor, these roots too often turn up (sorry) eaters’ noses because their flavor is typically boiled away and not embraced. To celebrate them, try skipping cooking altogether and just quick-pickling pieces in a caraway-heavy brine. These pickles are such a bright and crunchy delight and offer a nice counterpoint to something rich like corned beef and cabbage or any braised meat. Also try serving them in (or next to) your favorite sandwich. They’re equally at home with pastrami as with falafel. To turn the pickles a beautiful shade of pink, add a few pieces of raw beet to the pickling liquid.

Turnips come in many shapes and sizes. The small Japanese ones are particularly delicate and are especially lovely when steamed and then tossed with a mixture of one part miso paste and two parts butter. Serve with broiled fish and some rice. And if you’re fortunate enough to find fresh turnips at your farmers market or grocery store with their sturdy greens still attached, know you’re lucky. Turnip greens can be prepared like collards, kale or any other cooking green. I say keep them with their roots and make a turnip version of the Irish mash known as colcannon (which folds cabbage into potatoes) and mash the turnips with their greens. A little butter and cream go a long way.

Mustard greens

They’re one of the most flavorful vegetables available all winter. I like to blanch them before I continue cooking them in other ways, taming their bite and also making the large bunches more manageable. Sauteed with minced garlic, cumin seeds and mustard seeds, the greens get a double dose of mustard. Note that you could add a quart of chicken or vegetable broth to these and a can of cooked chickpeas and enjoy a beautiful soup. Or skip the spices and top the garlicky greens with ricotta and mozzarella and broil to achieve the appeal of white pizza.

You can also blitz the blanched greens with pecans and garlic and then enough olive oil to turn the mixture into a pesto to top whole baked sweet potatoes that you’ve split down the middle. Or spoon it on top of eggs, spread thickly on toast, or swirl into a pot of polenta or cooked pasta.

From satsumas to pomelos, citrus fruits brighten up every winter fruit bowl and don’t need to be limited to snacking. Try squeezing the vivid juice from a blood orange and mixing it with bourbon, Campari and vermouth for a Boulevardier-inspired cocktail (which is Negroni-inspired, which is to say that everything is inspired by something). Or think of citrus via a savory lens and combine slices of ripe, sweet orange with spicy, crunchy radishes, chopped olives and a simple dressing of vinegar and olive oil. A thinly sliced red onion soaked in vinegar wouldn’t be unwelcome here.

Or lean into the sweetness of citrus and combine fresh juice (and some zest if you’d like, too) with sugar to make a simple syrup that your pour over a warm pound cake that you’ve poked a bunch of holes into. Let the syrup soak all the way through the cake while it cools and enjoy with a cup of hot tea or a bitter espresso.

Turshen is a writer, recipe developer and author of the best-selling “Small Victories” and the more recent “Feed the Resistance” (Chronicle Books, 2017). She and her family live in Upstate New York.

Celery root, chive and cheddar gratin

4 to 6 servings

Rich with cream and cheddar, this gratin uses celery root (celeriac) instead of the traditional potato.

Recipes from cookbook author and recipe developer Julia Turshen.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

One 1 1/2-pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices

1 cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1/4 cup minced fresh chives (may substitute celery leaves or chopped fresh parsley)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use the butter to grease an 8-inch-square baking dish.

Whisk together the heavy cream, garlic, salt (to taste), pepper and nutmeg in a bowl.

Arrange a third of the celery root slices in an even layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with a third of the cheese, a third of the chives and then evenly pour in a third of the cream mixture. Repeat the process two more times.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake (middle rack) for 45 minutes, or until the celery root is starting to get tender (test it with the tip of a paring knife).

Uncover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the celery root is completely tender and the sauce is bubbling at the edges.

Serve hot.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 260 calories, 7 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Creamy celery root soup

4 to 6 servings (makes about 6 cups)

The flavor of celery root shines through in this ultrasmooth, rich-tasting, dairy-free soup.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt

One 1-pound celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 cups no-salt added vegetable broth or water

One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (full- or low-fat)

Unsweetened, toasted coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)

Combine the oil and onion in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook gently until soft and translucent; do not let the onion brown. Add the garlic and season generously with salt.

Stir in the celery root, the broth or water, the coconut milk and a teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, until the celery root is very soft.

Puree using an immersion (stick) blender or regular blender until smooth. (If using the latter, remove the center knob of the lid and place a paper towel over the opening, to let steam escape and avoid splash-ups.) Taste and add more salt, as needed.

Serve warm, topped with the toasted coconut flakes, if desired.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6, using broth and low-fat coconut milk): 110 calories, 1 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

Celery root remoulade with anchovy dressing

4 to 6 servings (makes about 1 cup)

Try this tangy, crunchy classic side instead of potatoes the next time you serve a simple roast chicken.

4 anchovy fillets

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup crème fraîche (may substitute sour cream or mayonnaise)

Freshly ground black pepper

One 1-pound celery root, peeled and cut into matchsticks

Finely chopped parsley or celery leaves

Use a fork to mash the anchovies into a paste in a mixing bowl. Add the vinegar, mustard and a pinch of salt, whisking to incorporate. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil and then whisk in the crème fraîche, to form a thickened dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper. The yield is about 1 cup.

Add the celery root and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with parsley or fresh celery leaves and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 150 calories, 2 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

Quick-pickled turnips with caraway

6 to 8 servings (makes 4 cups)

This brine can be used for any crunchy vegetable (carrots, fennel, etc.), but the combination of turnips and caraway is particularly lovely. Add a peeled, sliced beet to the mixture, if you’d like your turnips colored pink.

In testing, we made the sticks long, but you can cut them to any length.

MAKE AHEAD: The turnips need to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 1 week.

1 cup water

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon caraway seed

1 pound turnips (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick sticks

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and caraway seed in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then turn off the heat.

Place the turnips in a heatproof quart jar, then pour in the hot vinegar mixture; adjust the turnips to make sure they are completely submerged. Cool to room temperature, then seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

Steamed turnips with miso and butter

4 servings

This is a slightly more refined, flavorful version of an old standby - turnips mashed with butter.

The recipe calls for small Japanese turnips because they don’t need peeling. But if you can’t find them, peel regular turnips and then cut them into bite-size pieces.

1 pound small Japanese turnips, greens trimmed (see headnote)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons white miso

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the turnips in a steamer basket set over a pot with several inches of bubbling water (medium heat). Cover and steam until tender, 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the butter and miso in a mixing bowl.

Add the steamed turnips to the bowl while they’re hot and toss well to coat; the hot vegetables will help the butter melt. Season lightly with pepper and serve right away.

Nutrition | Per serving: 120 calories, 2 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

Turnip colcannon

6 servings (makes about 5 cups)

This makes a nice, low-carb change from potatoes. Instead of the traditional cabbage or kale, the greens from the turnips are used.

The greens are sometimes sold separately, so look for them if they are not attached to the turnips.

One large bunch turnips with greens attached (about 4 turnips; see headnote)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

Separate the turnips from their greens. Rinse the greens well, then coarsely chop them. Peel the turnips, then coarsely chop them.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt. Add the turnips and cook (uncovered) for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are soft. Add the greens to the pot; cook for about 3 minutes; by this time the turnips should be quite soft and the greens should be bright green and tender.

Drain the turnips and greens in a colander and then return to the empty pot (off the heat). Add the butter and heavy cream, then use a potato masher to crush everything together. Season lightly with salt and serve hot.

Nutrition | Per serving: 130 calories, 2 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

Mustard greens with cumin and mustard seed

4 servings

Mustard-on-mustard, these greens combine the sharp bite of mustard greens with the pop of mustard seeds. Serve with steamed rice and fried or poached eggs for a lovely vegetarian meal.

Black mustard seed is commonly available at Indian markets.

Kosher salt

1 pound mustard greens (rinsed, tough stems discarded), coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons neutrally flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon black mustard seed (see headnote)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the greens and cook for 1 minute, just until bright green and tender. Drain the greens in a colander and let cool to room temperature (or rinse with cool water to speed things along). Squeeze the greens with your hands to remove excess water.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat. Add the garlic, cumin seed and mustard seed; cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, until they’re sizzling and fragrant.

Add the blanched and chopped greens, stirring to incorporate. Sprinkle the greens with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the greens are hot and infused with the fragrant oil. Taste and season the greens with more salt, as needed, and then serve right away.

Nutrition | Per serving: 130 calories, 4 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

White pizza-style mustard greens

4 servings

“Pizza-style” means melty cheeses on top, garlicky greens in the middle and no crust underneath.

Kosher salt

1 pound mustard greens (rinsed, tough stems discarded), coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Ricotta cheese

Handful coarsely grated mozzarella cheese

Crushed red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the greens and cook for 1 minute, just until bright green and tender. Drain the greens in a colander and let cool to room temperature (or rinse with cool water to speed things along). Squeeze the greens with your hands to remove excess water.

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiling element; preheat the broiler.

Combine the oil and garlic in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Once they are heated through, add the greens and stir to coat and warm through.

Top the softened, garlicky greens with a few dollops of ricotta cheese and the mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) just before serving straight from the skillet.

Nutrition | Per serving: 160 calories, 8 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Mustard greens and pecan pesto

8 servings (makes about 2 cups)

This simple condiment comes together quickly and goes great with roasted sweet potatoes, eggs, toast, polenta or pasta.

Toasting the nuts enhances their aroma and natural sweetness.

MAKE AHEAD: The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, with a thin slick of oil on the surface (to keep the pesto from discoloring).

Kosher salt

1 pound mustard greens, washed, tough stems discarded, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted (see headnote and NOTE)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the greens and cook for 1 minute, just until bright green and tender. Drain the greens in a colander and let cool to room temperature (or rinse with cool water to speed things along). Squeeze the greens with your hands to remove excess water.

Place in a food processor with the pecans and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped, then add the oil and a teaspoon of the salt; pulse until thoroughly incorporated.

NOTE: Toast the pecan halves in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool completely before using.

Nutrition | Per 1/4-cup serving: 180 calories, 2 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

Blood orange and bourbon boulevardier

1 serving

Basically a negroni made with whiskey instead of gin, a boulevardier is just as simple to make because it uses equal parts of each liquid component.

With a splash of blood orange juice and bourbon, it makes for the perfect winter drink.

1 ounce fresh blood orange juice

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce bourbon

1 ounce sweet vermouth

A few dashes Angostura bitters

Ice

Stir together the orange juice, Campari, bourbon, vermouth and bitters in a mixing glass.

Fill a highball glass to the top with ice, and then pour in the orange juice mixture. Serve right away.

Nutrition | Per serving: 200 calories, 0 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

Orange and radish salad with olive dressing

4 servings

This bright, salty-sweet salad makes a nice side dish for brunch, and it pairs nicely with grilled fish.

3 navel or Cara Cara oranges

Kosher salt

Handful red radishes, cut into thin rounds (1 cup)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Large handful pitted green or black olives, chopped (generous 3/4 cup)

Peel the oranges and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Arrange in an even layer on a platter and sprinkle lightly with salt. Arrange the radishes atop the oranges.

Whisk together the vinegar and oil and a pinch or two of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well incorporated. Spoon it over the salad, then scatter the olives (to taste) on top.

Any citrus tea cake

8 to 12 servings (makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf)

Up the ante of any plain pound cake (even store-bought, we won’t tell; just make sure to warm it up) with this quick simple syrup.

MAKE AHEAD: For best quality, the syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

One 9-by-5-inch loaf yellow pound cake (see headnote)

1/2 cup sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated zest (optional) and 1/4 cup fresh juice from citrus such as lemon, grapefruit, orange and/or lime

Make your favorite pound cake in a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. While it’s baking, combine the sugar and citrus juice in a small saucepan, along with some finely grated zest (to taste) from whichever fruit you juiced, if desired. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and then stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the syrup steep.

While the pound cake is still warm and in its pan, use a skewer to poke holes all over the top, and then evenly drizzle the syrup over the cake. Cool completely before taking it out of its pan, slicing and serving.

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis

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