Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


The Thick, The Thin & The Hearty

This week brings Shrove Tuesday, known to some as Mardi Gras and known to me as Pancake Day.

Bacon, Eggs n' Pancake

While I grew up with the thick, pillowy pancakes that appear in diners and truckstops across the nation, J. was raised on a delicate, European-style pancake... something more along the lines of a crepe.

Buckwheat Crepe with Egg & Gruyere

I must admit, the discovery that not everyone ate the same kind of pancake was a bit of a shock to me. I'd always considered a pancakes to be something like blankets, and crepes to be those delicate little wraps with fillings in them. Discrete categories, you see?

Mais non! Pancakes are objects of great variation. In the US, we just happen to like 'em fat.

In any case, there's no need to bicker — whether thinner or thicker, the pancake is a little morning gift. As Cookie Monster might say, it's "a sometimes food."

So in honor of Pancake Day this year, I offer my recipe for Sweet Potato Pancakes. In thickness, they're closer to the pillowy variety of my youth, but the addition of vegetable matter makes them sweeter, heftier and heartier.

You'll notice this recipe also provides a great way to use up leftover mashed sweet potatoes. In truth, I developed them as a post-Thanksgiving idea for leftovers, but I think they make an especially nice treat throughout the winter. Just save a little mash from dinner to use in pancakes the following morning.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Do keep in mind that they'll darken a bit more than your standard pancake. The sugar in the sweet potatoes browns quickly in the pan. I also recommend you pour smaller circles of batter than you might otherwise... smaller cakes are easier to flip.
Sweet Potato Pancakes (Makes 6 pancakes)

1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup pancake mix
Oil or butter for the griddle/skillet

For Serving: Maple syrup and/or butter

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk/buttermilk, oil and mashed sweet potato. Stir in the pancake mix until just combined.
2. If the batter seems too thick, thin with a teaspoon or so of water to attain a pourable consistency.
3. Heat a large, oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Working in batches, pour batter in 1/3 cup portions onto the hot griddle/skillet surface and cook until the edges of the pancakes bubble and brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Carefully flip and cook the reverse side until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat the process with the remaining pancake batter.
6. Move the cooked pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven until serving time. Top with butter and/or maple syrup, to taste. Serve hot.

For extra decadence, serve them with alongside a bowl of fresh whipped cream in which you've blended a hint of cinnamon and maple syrup. Mmmm. They're also good with applesauce.

Miss Ginsu

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Seven simple solutions for surplus celeriac

workers harvesting celery
Migratory laborers cutting celery, Belle Glade, FL, January 1941 via the NYPL digital gallery

Maybe you bought too much for a recipe, and now it's just sitting around the bottom of your crisper. Maybe you got one in your Christmas stocking. Maybe your favorite farmer wanted to give you a little something extra, and now you don't know what to do with it.

It doesn't matter how you got it. You're stuck with a celery root — that knobby, crispy vegetable also known as celeriac — and you don't want the poor thing to go to waste. And there's no need. Celeriac is delicious, and it plays well with others.

Herein, find 7 Easy Ways to Use Your Extra Celery Root
(In relative order of simplicity.)

1. Roasted Celeriac

Peel a celery root and slice into into evenly sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of both salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast on a sheet tray/cookie sheet in a 375°F oven, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid uneven cooking, until lightly browned and tender. Serve as a side dish on their own, or cool and toss into a green salad with your favorite vinaigrette.


2. Celery Root Mash

Peel a celery root and slice into into evenly sized pieces. Put the pieces in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Add a teaspoon of salt to the pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and when the celeriac is tender enough to crush (about 30 minutes), drain away the water. Mash the pieces with 1/2 cup of cream or whole milk. Season to taste with salt, ground black pepper and a pinch of ground
nutmeg. Serve hot.


3. Braised Celeriac

1 celery root, peeled and sliced into evenly sized pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet on medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking.

2. Add the celeriac pieces to the pan. Keep the pieces moving in the pan, coating them with the oil.

3. When the celeriac begins to brown, turn down the heat and add the stock. Cover the skillet and cook until tender.

4. Season to taste with a grind or two of pepper and a pinch of salt. Serve hot.


4. CĂ©leri Remoulade

1 celery root, peeled and grated or shredded
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp fresh tarragon or parsley, chopped (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard and cream (and herbs, if using).

2. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the celery root shreds and chill for 1/2 hour or more. Makes a tasty vegetable side, and it's delicious alongside smoked salmon for brunch.


5. Super-Easy Cream of Celeriac Soup

1 large celery root, peeled and cut into uniform pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and ground black pepper and ground nutmeg, to taste

1. Put the pieces in a medium-sized pot, cover with stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, until pieces are fork-tender (timing depends on the size of the pieces).

2. After about 5 to 8 minutes, the celeriac should show a little color. Reduce the temperature to medium-low, and add about a 1/4 cup of stock to the pan. Cover the skillet and allow the vegetables to steam until tender. If the celeriac is still too firm when the liquid is gone, add a little more stock or water to the pan.

3. Purée the celery root with the remaining stock using an immersion blender or
"stick" blender. (If you don't have an immersion blender, just cool the celery root down and purée with the stock in a standard blender or food processor.)

4. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle on ground nutmeg as a garnish.


6. Apple-Celeriac Slaw

1 celery root, peeled and shredded
1-2 tart apples, shredded
1 carrot, grated or shredded
1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, mint or tarragon (optional)

1. Blend the shredded celery root, apples, carrot (if using) and scallion in a bowl.

2. In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and parsley, if using.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the shreds and dressing. Serve immediately or chill and serve cold.


7. Celeriac-Potato Latkes

1 large celery root, peeled
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and trimmed
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large yellow onion, peeled
2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
Applesauce and/or grated horseradish (optional, for serving)

1. Place a metal rack on a sheet tray in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 200°F.

2. Coarsely grate the celery root, onions and potatoes into a bowl. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a colander, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Return the veggies to the bowl and stir in the flour, eggs, salt and pepper.

3. Heat about 1/2 inch oil in a skillet over moderately high heat until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Spoon about 1/4 cup vegetable mix into the hot skillet, using a spatula to flatten the mound into a pancake (about 1/2-inch thick).

4. Add 1 to 2 more latkes, avoiding any crowding in the pan. Fry the first side 2 to 3 minutes, before carefully flipping the latkes and continuing to fry the other side until golden, about 1 1/2 to 3 minutes more.

5. Remove cooked latkes from the oil and drain briefly over paper towels before transferring to the warming tray in the oven. Fry the rest of the veggie mix in same way. Serve with applesauce and/or grated horseradish, if desired.

Bon appetit!

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