A fancy appetizer starring cucumber, pear, and pickled green apple

First submission to /r/recipes here! I created this very experimental appetizer for a dinner party and it turned out to be a hit. It's ambitious – there's more than a few components, but none of them are super difficult and IMO it's a great dish to impress. You can omit or substitute the puree and citrus oil easily to make things easier.

Here's a photo.

Ingredients

For 4 servings.

  • 1 cucumber

  • 1 Anjou pear

  • Dill fronds, for garnish

  • Finishing salt such as Maldon

  • Freshly-ground white or black pepper

For the pickled green apple:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple

  • 1 cup water

  • 3/4 cup champagne vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the celeriac puree:

  • 1 celery root

  • 1/2 white onion

  • 1 1/4 cup water

  • 1 cup milk

For the cucumber broth:

  • 1 cucumber

  • 1 tsp lime juice

  • Cilantro for 2 tsp minced

For the citrus oil:

  • 1 satsuma orange

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions

  1. Dice the pear into small dice, and set aside.

  2. Prepare the cucumber ribbons: Remove the skin from the cucumber with a vegetable peeler. Then make ribbons by running the peeler down the length of the cucumber, stopping when you get to the inner seeds. Transfer the ribbons to a plate, season with a pinch of salt, and set aside.

  3. Prepare the pickled green apple: Core and dice the apple into small dice. Prepare the pickling liquid by bringing the water, champagne vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, then pour over the apple chunks and refrigerate at least 1 hour or ideally overnight.

  4. Prepare the celeriac puree: peel the hard outer layer of the celery root and dice into 1-inch cubes. Dice the onion into very rough quarters. Place both in a small pot on medium heat, add the water and milk, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the celery root is tender. Keep an eye on the milk to make sure it doesn't boil over.

  5. When the celery root is tender, transfer contents of the pot to a blender and blend very thoroughly until smooth. Optionally strain for even smoother puree, then transfer to a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until needed.

  6. Prepare the citrus oil: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the satsuma, carefully avoiding the pith, and finely mince it for maximum zest yield. Simmer the zest with the oil on low heat in a small pot for 10-15 minutes, then strain and transfer to a small squeeze bottle; set aside.

  7. Prepare the cucumber broth: Peel the cucumber, then cut it in half and use a spoon to remove and discard the inner seeds. Dice the cucumber, mince the cilantro leaves, and transfer to a blender with the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Blend thoroughly until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.

  8. To plate: Roll 3-4 cucumber ribbons into coils and arrange in a small bowl. Add pieces of the pear and the pickled green apple around the coils (this is much easier with tweezers). Pipe a few dots of celeriac puree around the bowl and in between the chunks. Add a few spoonfuls of the cucumber broth, then finish the broth with a few beads of the citrus oil. Garnish with a small pinch of the finishing salt, the freshly-ground pepper and a few sprigs of dill. Serve immediately.

Obligatory link to the recipe on my food blog at the end!

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