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PS, I Love You: V-Day Dinner 2009


[Dig that romantic lighting in this photo!]

I have a new love, and it’s not the HH.

(“What?  Mum, you’re not getting a divorce, are you?  Because who’s going to walk us in the morning if Dad is gone??“).  Now, before I go and scare The Girls, I should specify that I’m not referring to a human object of my affection. I’m talking about a new food-related amore: celeri rémoulade.  (“Phew! Mum, you really shouldn’t scare us that way. We’re very sensitive, you know.”)

Let me backtrack a bit and explain.  Even though the HH and I do celebrate Valentine’s Day, for the past few years we’ve done so a day or two after the fact, in order to avoid the  too-crowded-too-expensive-too-mushy restaurant crowds who seem to roll out like fog off a San Francisco pier all on that one day. Last year (the first V-day to occur after I started writing this blog), I broke all previous records and assembled a multi-course, ultra-extravagant, über-romantic and oh-so-dirty dinner (no, no, no, that would have scared the dogs even more than a breakup! We’d never offend their delicate sensibilities that way. I meant “dirty” as in, “generating a lot of dirty dishes,” silly!).  I vowed that this year, we’d move to the other end of the spectrum, with a simple,  quick, yet equally delectable meal. (“Thanks, Mum.  That divorce scare was more than enough for one day.”)

I’d actually chosen the appetizer over a month ago, after reading about celeri rémoulade on Molly’s blog.  Her description was so alluring–rapturous, almost–citing the “clean, fragrant crunch of celery root, and the alchemy of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. . . . somewhat rich [with a] flavor [that’s] light, bright, even hungry-making, a perfect start to a meal,” that I knew I had to try it out. The only glitch, of course, is that traditionally, the dish contains copious amounts of both mayonnaise and yogurt (the vegan versions of which are a tad too processed for my liking). Never mind; I decided to deal with that later. 

For the main course, I considered a recipe for Tempeh Stroganoff I’d found in an old (October 2007!) issue of Vegetarian Times

[11:32 AM.  Ricki and the HH sit at the kitchen table, sipping tea and nibbling on muffins.  The Girls lie on the carpet in front of the fireplace, Chaser sprawled with her belly facing the fire, while Else lies curled in a ball.]

Ricki:  How about this tempeh stroganoff from Vegetarian Times?

HH:  No.

Ricki: But it sounds delicious! And it’s even gluten-fr–

HH: Uh-uh.  No.  Nada. No way.  Nein. [As if to remind Ricki of a forgotten promise]: No tofu.

Ricki: But it’s not tofu.  It’s tempeh. 

HH: Tempeh, tofu–same difference.  No soy products.

Ricki:  [pouting] Well, but, this is what I want for dinner!

HH: Okay, fine. I’ll make a steak and have the stroganoff as a side dish. 

Ricki: That’s why I love you, sweetheart.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

Okay, I didn’t really say that.  But I did think it.  Here’s what I did say:

Ricki: Well, in that case, I think I’ll make it with these fabulous tempeh meatless balls that I read about on Happyveganface.

HH: Still not eating it.

Me:  That’s fine, HH.  But just because you’re cooking your own steak doesn’t mean you don’t have to help me make the stroganoff.

HH:  Okay. 

Ricki:  That’s why I love you, sweetheart.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

We figured we could whip up the stroganoff in under an hour (bake the meatballs while I made the sauce; julienne the celery root while the stroganoff simmered), having time to leisurely prepare the meal ensemble while listening to some Rodrigo, exchange good-natured banter, toss cashews to The Girls and sip our favorite bargain basement champagne, sort of like we used to do in the early days of our relationship. We’d have the early part of the day to relax in our jammies, peruse the newspaper, play with The Girls, check favorite blogs, and so on.  Perfect!

After a chillaxing day (browsing the paper, taking The Girls for a trail-walk, visiting the workout club–how ya doin’, burly guy with the black knee socks?  Nice to see you again, septuagenarian couple with the matching T-shirts!  Nice day, isn’t it, bleached blonde with the flirty giggle!), we finally turned to dinner. 

Perhaps I should have planned this “easy peasy” meal just a tad more carefully.  (Of course, by the time I got round to cooking, I was semi sloshed on Segura Viudas, which may have contributed to my somewhat inefficient kitchen artistry–but still).  

First, I discovered that the cashews (the main ingredient in the homemade sour cream) required an hour’s soaking, which set our prep time back by an hour.  No problem: I’d whir together some homemade vegan mayonnaise (I used the recipe in Cozy Inside, but this one sounds just as good) and whip up the meatballs while the nuts soaked. Then, I’d quickly prep the sour cream and throw together the stroganoff while the HH grilled his steak.  We’d be done and ready to dig in by 7:00 PM at the latest.

[7:00 PM. Having forgotten about the initial chopping and sautéing involved, Ricki is still mixing ingredients for the meatballs.  Sounds of rumbling tummies can be heard in the background.]

HH:  So, um, what’s our ETA for dinner?

Ricki: Well, I’ll just pop these meatballs in the oven–I couldn’t bear to fry them–and then make the mayo and sour cream, and then I can whip up the stroganoff, and then the celeri rémoulade, oh, and then I guess we should think about dessert–

HH:  I thought this was going to be a quick and easy dinner.

Ricki [pouting]:  Well, now, I suppose it HAS been easy for YOU, hasn’t it, Mr. Lazypants?  I mean, I’VE done all the work so far, I’m standing here covered in onion juice and flour and cashew crumbs, and YOU’VE been sittng there all day reading the paper and playing with the dogs, sipping your champagne, now, haven’t you??  Well, I wouldn’t be complaining right about now if I were you, mister, you’d better watch yourself, or else—

HH:  Um, well, I’m actually happy to help.  Just tell me what to chop.  Oh, and here’s your Valentine’s Day present [brandishing chocolate].

Me:  Oh, that’s why I love you, sweetheart!  Happy Valentine’s Day! Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

Ultimately, we didn’t sit down at the table until well after 8:00 PM (have you ever julienned a celery root by hand??? Insanity, I tell you–sheer insanity).  But the results were well worth it.  The celeri rémoulade was, as Molly promised, fresh, crisp, light, and entirely irresistible.  I really did fall in love, and ate two servings before even thinking about my stroganoff.

The main course, too, offered a winning combination of succulent, filling meatless balls atop a plate of velvety, herbaceous sauce. It practically hummed its smooth melody of rich, sour cream and savory, toothsome mushrooms.

It may have been more complex than anticipated, and it may have taken six times as long as anticipated, and it may have been cobbled together from seven different recipes intended for seven other purposes. . . but this meal was remarkable all the same. 

After all, who ever said the road to true love was an easy one?

In case you’d like to reproduce the meal yourself (if you happen to have three and a half hours to spare some weekend), here’s how I assembled it.

And since celery root is available in Ontario in February, this post is my submission to Maninas’s event, Eating with the Seasons, for February. 



[More romantic lighting!  Okay, actually, it was just evening and fairly dark when I took the pic.]

 Last Year at this Time: Juicy Cuisine and Crunchy Granola

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


42 comments to PS, I Love You: V-Day Dinner 2009

  • yum!! that sounds good 🙂 i really love celaric. it has such a nice, mellow taste. the stroganoff sounds good, too. strognoff is one of my favorite meals 🙂


  • oh my, that stroganoff sounds fantastic!! and glad things were worth the work 🙂


  • I love those conversations of “when will dinner be done?” followed by big puppy eyes of hunger. 🙂


  • Whoa, that celeriac remoulade sounds oh-so refreshing! I’m not sure I have feasible access to celeriac nearby, so is there an acceptable substitute? Perhaps a tuber like raw or blanched sweet potato?


  • Oh wow, that sounds so rich and delicious.

    Btw, I never soak the cashews when I make “sour cream.” The raw nuts are so soft anyway that they really don’t need soaking time; at least in my opinion. I do whiz them in the spice grinder before blending though, since I don’t have a super-duper food processor or Vita-mix.


  • You did the celery root by hand!! I bow to your superior dedication. I’ve been eating a lot of celeriac this winter but all cooked, either puree or in soup. I have to try the remoulade with the cashew sour cream. It sounds like a wonderful combination.


  • He sounds very nice. Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂


  • Have yet to try celeriac and have peaked my interest- lovely dinner!


  • This meal sounds lovely and the preparation sounds oh too familiar – ‘what is the ETA?’ is a question I am asked too frequently when my ambition gets in the way of practicalities – it always looks so simple and quick on paper (or computer screen)!


  • Whoa! Fantastic meal Ricki!


  • i can relate to big plans for a romantic dinner going awry! Glad yours worked out in the end. We still have a nice bottle of wine waiting that we didn’t get to enjoy on V Day.


  • So lovely – you saved the meal!! 🙂


  • Mmmmmm, looks like the perfect V. Day meal. I just had to laugh when I read the story about how long it took. I’m glad it all worked out in the end!


  • Because who’s going to walk us in the morning if Dad is gone?

    You’re so cute, Ricki! Of course, that’s what the puppers would be thinking ;o)


  • Haha! I loved the romantic lighting!

    Wow, that stroganoff is seriously impressive. How delicious!


  • Ok, this was hilarious. I need to take some “marriage lessons” from you, because I don’t think I cut Monsieur Fish as much slack as you do HH. Or maybe they should just shack up and we could cook vegan meals together? Ha!


  • That all looks delicious. I can completely relate to your story about wanting to avoid all of the V-Day crowds. It’s why I’ve loved that my boyfriend and I have always eaten at home for V-Day, usually doing takeout but me cooking this year. I will have to try the celery remoulade. I love, love, love celery root and that looks like a great recipe. Perhaps I’ll have to make it as a side dish for a sandwich or something this upcoming week. Hmmmm.


  • Jes

    I love the lead-up to the recipes! We celebrated V-day on the Wednesday before, although if we’d been in town, I probably would have whipped up something fabulous like your remoulade! I’ve wanted to play with a celery root for awhile now. And stroganoff! I’ve been craving that for years! I haven’t had it since I went veg, but my mom used to whip it up on cold winter nights…oh the delicious memories! I’m glad you guys survived the prep, it does look and sound worth it!


  • I’ve actually never worked up the courage to make anything with celery root yet… But I keep hearing great things about it, and this recipe looks really tasty and simple, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.


  • i love the story, Ricki! that’s too cute! i have totally gone to make an easy peasy recipe and been like “uh oh!” because it ended up being more involved. that’s too cool that you suggested our tempeh meatless balls! **blush**

    glad you both had a deeeelicious dinner! both the celeri rémoulade and the meatball stroganoff look amazing! hooray for valentine’s day yummies, indeed!


  • Liz

    Yum, yum, yum! What a fantastic looking dinner and what an entertaining post! You officially made my mouth water — I’m glad it’s dinner time soon.

    squeeze squeeze hug hug 🙂


  • Courtney

    You are so funny–I love your conversations with HH :o)

    I *love* celery root! But, alas, I don’t have a mandolin. Is it really so delicious that I want to chop it all by hand?! You DO make it sound very tempting…



  • Well, my best friend was here for Valentine’s Day (we completely forgot it was on) and so, when we booked for a lunch for 3 at my favourite restaurant, there was a little pause on the phone…’Three?’ she asked…I’ll bet we kept ’em guessing the whole time.

    You know, I LOVE juilienning veg and care not a jot how long it takes until the ETA is asked of me and I notice I’ve been at it for an hour…


  • onlyjustwords

    Reading this blog is absolute torture for someone on a restricted diet. 🙂


  • Perfect timing always seems to fly out the door in my kitchen, too. This meal of yours sounds incredible, and so romantic. Thanks for sharing!


  • Anonymous

    Celery root is one of my favorites and this recipe sounds great. I love it roasted, too.


  • haha your conversation with the HH sounds exactly like one i would have with my boy… hahaha oh lordy.. cant convince the unveg to even try it.


  • The conversations with the HH were hilarious! “Tempeh, tofu–same difference”, that cracked me up! So did your “Mr. Lazypants” fit!

    So much work! I’m glad it was worth the effort and the wait though. It sucks when recipes go wrong after working so hard on them!

    Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug! 😛


  • that looks amazing…

    I made an amazing raw celery root salad a while back that was delicious.. now I’m craving it!


  • I too have a love affair with celery remoulade, I however am lazy and toss my celeriac through the grater on the food processor.

    Glad you had such a scrumptious (albeit somewhat late) dinner!


  • My comment is not at all related to this post, but I had to write and say “OMG the treats you dropped off are ##$#@%#%%$ amazing!”
    My colleagues at work are very used to being delighted by vegan baked goods-I see it as a key job responsibility-but they raved about everything they tried. I recieved emails about brownie heaven and ginger coconut inspired, delicious dreams.
    I took the remaining treats to my volunteer shift at the Toronto Vegetarian Resource Cente. Again, each taste was followed by loud noises of pure enjoyment. I can’t wait to see the book. I was asked over and over, when it will be available for purchase!
    I haven’t tried everything yet-I have a few things in my fridge to taste later today and tomorrow but from what I have sampled…I certainly bow down before you in gratitude for making veganism a little sweeter this week.
    Thank you!
    I will post all my photos and feedback this weekend on my blog.


  • loved the story, glad you had such a great V-day!


  • Thanks, Ricki 🙂
    Although Laura was a dear friend, sometimes we got into a little too much trouble hanging out.
    Your V Day dinner looks awesome. I spend my Valentines cooking, too, and it made for a great evening.


  • veganhomemade

    Even though it took longer than anticipated, that whole meal sounds amazing! I’m definitely saving the celeriac recipe, as I expect I might be getting one in the CSA soon and I’ve never had it before.

    I have just had to come to terms with the fact that cooking always takes me twice as long as I think it will. And I will inevitably make a huge mess. That’s just how it is.


  • What a wonderful story! I think a long, messy day in the kitchen sounds like the perfect valentine’s day to me!! 🙂 (and being covered with cashews sounds rather yummy, actually… 😉 Especially when you come up with such a gorgeous meal at the end of the evening – oh my goodness, just look at your gorgeous stroganoff! Heavenly!


  • bex

    this sounds like a conversation that happens in our house quite often.
    “What’s the ETA on dinner?” and “So what are you plans for dinner?”
    I stink at reading recipes ahead of time to anticipate longer prep and I also stink at estimating time. Makes for a hungry and therefore grumpy husband. So I throw a protein shake at him 🙂


  • The stroganoff looks so scrumptious! That smooth creamy goodness was perfect for a Vday dinner, late as it was…


  • hi,

    i came across your blog as a result of your fabulous sweet potato chocolate truffle entry on fatfreevegan and i’ve had a wonderful time reading through your posts

    also nice to see a blog from a fellow canadian!



  • Those are two beautiful dishes! Haha, I love the story, I have my own Mr Lazypants to cook for. Hey, have you heard of Tofu Shirataki noodles or tried them? I’m interested in what you think of them. You can get them at T & T supermarket at Warden and Steeles or in Chinatown downtown.


  • Oh have I ever found myself in one of these dinner situations before. Be it I underestimated the time it would take to prep and make, or like you did,not exactly reading the whole recipe through and through, thus missing a crutial step, putting you back an hour. So fustrating. The food looks great though! It reminds me I have to get over my tempeh fear and buy some.

    And I think I’m going to have to agree with you, I may have enjoyed those brownies slightly, but not by much, more than the frittata. Even so, the frittata disapeared within the second day. As for the Brownies? Four squares are still left. I think I know who the winner is in that round. 😉


  • ooh i just bought these great frozen vegan meatballs from whole foods that this would be great with!



  • […] Vegan celeri remoulade ~ Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs (Toronto, Canada) […]

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