Undergrad Gourmet

This holiday season, hundreds of thousands of students from universities across the country are pouring into trains, planes and automobiles on their way home in hopes of what may be the first home-cooked meal they’ve had in months.This longed-for meal can cause quite a bit of stress for parents and grandparents, though, as they tear out their hair out preparing for the holidays — spending six hours in the kitchen and fighting off fellow grocery shoppers is standard. Isn’t it time, then, for students to start bringing something to the table instead of sitting in a room huddled around an Xbox?A delicious twist on a familiar classic, a celery purée will certainly help that happen this year. A delectable blend of everyone’s favorite roots and tubers, this simple but tasty dish is sure to bring plenty of celebration and hopefully some relaxation for your parents.To prepare a pot large enough for roughly six servings, you’ll need:4 large potatoes1 celery root (celeriac) 1 8 oz. tub of cream cheese2 cups whole milk1/2 stick of butterSalt, pepper and nutmeg2 medium saucepans1 strong knife1 potato masher (or similar tool)    Begin by peeling the celeriac and slicing it into similarly sized small pieces — they should be no thicker than your middle finger — to ensure even cooking.  Place all the bits into a pot of warm, salted water and let them boil for approximately 30 minutes or until soft throughout.While the celeriac cooks, skin and slice the potatoes into similarly thin disks and put them in another pot of boiling, salted water. They should only take about 20 minutes to cook if cut thin enough.When both roots are fully cooked, strain them with a colander to get rid of excess water. Put both back — in a now waterless pot — and mash them using the masher or a fork. Do not use a blender! This will ruin the purée and cause it to develop a glue-like consistency.Warm the milk in the microwave and then add the cream cheese and the butter. Be very careful when adding the milk. Do it little by little to ensure that your mash does not become too liquid. If it is too dry, add more milk. If it does become too liquid-y, heat it over medium heat on the stove, stirring slowly until it is thicker.Season to taste with pepper, salt and nutmeg — yes, nutmeg — and stir until the there is an even consistency. Surprise everyone at the table this year with this delicious side and feel free to take full credit.