When a recipe refers to neutral oil as an ingredient, it most often takes sunflower seed or grapeseed oils as examples. Until recently, I preferred using a perfectly neutral grapeseed oil for making my green herb oils, because it never interfered at all with the herb’s original flavor. A few weeks ago a friend of mine gave me a bottle of her very special grapeseed oil, which already blew my mind just after screwing off the plug when I smelled its scent. It has a very strong (and addictive) nutty scent (somewhat similar to walnut) mixed with an aged red wine perfume. The flavor of this grapeseed oil is extremely rich and combines (similarly to its scent) the aromas of red wine, grapes and nuts. Due to its quite unique flavor, I used it as an unusual “spice” in the appetizer below, featuring ingredients from the current autumn season.
Instead of using butter, I added grapeseed oil to the celery root cream. In fact, the grapeseed oil was so intense, I used only a spoonful of it and added a somewhat buttery canola oil to the puree as well. Though celery root and grapes are a great pairing already on their own, the red wine aroma of the grapeseed oil further enhanced the connection and created a kind of bond between the two main ingredients. I caramelized the grapes shortly in a hot pan and deglazed it with some dry vermouth. I purposely used grapes with seeds, because they added some crispness to the appetizer. Unfortunately, chewing a few grapeseeds usually create a kind of “dry” mouthfeel. To mask this unpleasant dryness, I fried some cooked and dried quinoa until golden brown. Quinoa, which has been prepared this way, has the exact same crispy texture as grapeseeds (so the guests actually won’t even notice the seeds in the grapes), but without the dry mouthfeel. At last I sprinkled the small glasses with some walnut oil, so that each bite would have a different kind of nutty flavor in the background.
- 250 g celery root
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp flavorful grapeseed oil
- 2-3 tbs canola oil
- 2 drops chili oil
- 2 tbsp quinoa
- handful small red and white grapes
- 25 ml dry vermouth (e.g. Noilly Prat)
- 50 ml walnut oil
- green part of 1 scallion
- oil for frying