Cooking watery or fibrous root vegetables like celery roots, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, and beets with a little white rice before pureeing them insures they will be exceptionally creamy and have a very pure flavor. The apples enhance and sweeten the vegetables.

4 servings, makes about 2 1/2 cups

    • 1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 3 cups low-fat (2%) or whole milk
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • Fresh ground black pepper
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons white rice
    • 2 small Macintosh apples, (about 8 ounces total) peeled, cored and quartered or
    • 1 small ripe pear, peeled, quartered and cored
    • 1 to tablespoons butter and/or crème fraiche or heavy cream or to taste

Place the celery root in a medium saucepan, add the milk, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a grinding or two of pepper, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Stir in the rice, lower the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the apples and simmer for 10 minutes longer until the celery root is very tender. (The milk will curdle, but the curds will be incorporated when the celery root is pureed.) Drain the mixture in a colander set over a bowl; save the cooking liquid.

In a food processor, puree the celery root mixture 1 or 2 minutes, until perfectly smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of cooking liquid if necessary. (Save the remaining flavorful liquid for soup; it can be frozen.) Process for several minutes, scraping down the sides several times, until you have a fine puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the butter and process to blend.