I finally figured out what Boulud is going on about when he keeps saying things like "1 stalk celery, peeled." Until now I thought he was just being overly picky but while making the delicious Angel Hair Pasta And Vegetable Ribbons, it became clear to me what was going on. This was the first French recipe I made for this blog and certainly the first recipe that ever called for celery peeling. The first time I made it I was so confused by the directions that I didn't put it together.
Doing it a second time was much simpler and still just as tasty. But this time I wasn't thrown off by the vegetable ribbons, I'm actually quite obsessed with them now and ribbon vegetables whenever possible much to the fella's amusement. The mystery of the peeled celery came to me when I had the celery round side down on the cutting board and was shaving the ribbons off the side facing up. As the perfect long thin ribbons came off all that was left was the tough stringy darker green part on the cutting board that refused to be ribboned. The ribbons were tasty and crunchy but the left over bit was tough and tasteless. It totally makes sense to keep that part out of the final product.
All this time I had no idea the hidden depths of celery. This discovery isn't going to change my life or anything but it was pretty nifty to figure out. It made me understand Boulud and French cooking better, all the picky instructions aren't there to make life difficult for the average cook but they are all little ways to make the dish turn out more perfect. Getting rid of the tough celery "peel" did make the veggies ribbons that much better.
Hopefully with this revelation I can stop having really urgent dreams about the need to make the perfect veal stock to keep the world from ending. It's been four nights in a row now and its starting to get creepy. Cooking, it's taking over my brain.