Root to Leaf

Root to Leaf
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Oyster Stew with Sunchokes and Celery from Chef Steven Satterfield's recently published cookbook: Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through The Seasons. Photo by John Kernick.

Often when we walk the stalls of the farmers market, we are at a complete loss of what to do with all those delightful, brightly colored vegetables. They look so inviting and delicious at the market, but become instantly overwhelming once they are settled back in the home kitchen. Chef Steven Satterfield, co-owner and executive chef at renowned Atlanta-based restaurant, Miller Union, solves this modern dilemma in his recently released cookbook called, Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. The 2016 James Beard nominee wanted to show how deliciously simple cooking with seasonal vegetables can be.

He made certain to choose readily available ingredients to ensure that “the recipes would be simple enough that they would actually be tried and that people would want to try them.” Satterfield told us that “...farmers markets are open on the weekends and that’s really when you are shopping.” With this lingering winter and spring just around the corner, many of our markets have sundry, provocative, fresh produce in every shade of the rainbow simply waiting to be sampled and enjoyed.

Root to Leaf is more than a just a cookbook. It is the culmination of Satterfield’s journey of recovery from cancer and personal healing through food. During his battle with chemotherapy, Satterfield did much of his cooking from home, “as a way to kind of get me motivated to do something, anything” he says. He struggled with being on his feet for long periods of time and would often tire easily. Yet, Satterfield wanted to keep his mental state strong and intensely positive. “I turned to local produce as a way to increase my vitamin and mineral intake and strengthen my immunity... also as something to take pleasure in,” he says, reminding himself that cooking as an art should be an enjoyable experience.

He explains that the current treatment for cancer is exhausting, intense, and is “really hard on your body.” He notes that “it destroys a lot of cells in your body, so I thought: Well, I could take some vitamins or I could just go straight to the source and started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables to recover from this.” As a result, the sourcing and use of fresh ingredients became a passion for him, and the farmer’s market, a haven.

His advice to newbie chefs: “Experiment whenever you can. Taste as you go, because you can. I say that, because you can’t do that with chicken, but you can do that with vegetables. Think about shape and size and how it affects texture and flavor.”

Within the pages of his first work, Chef Satterfield’s approach toward fresh, farm-to-table inspired cuisine is clear and delicious. He enticed our senses and challenged our palette with the robust flavors of the seasonal harvests that are begging to be tried and often overlooked. Eggplant and Peanut Baba Ghanoush and Oyster Stew With Sunchokes And Celery are two of our favorites. Find Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons in the Adorno Shop.

Excerpt: Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons

Eggplant and Peanut Baba Ghanoush. Photo by John Kernick

Eggplant and Peanut Baba Ghanoush
Yields: 2 ½ cups

Ingredients:
1 medium globe eggplant
1 medium tomato
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving
1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion diced
1 garlic clove chopped
1 teaspoon of sea salt or more to taste
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
½ cup of shelled roasted peanuts
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or 1 dried hot chile, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon of fresh parsley for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon of fresh mint for garnish
Chopped, toasted peanuts for garnish

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Over an open flame, under the broiler or on a hot grill, char the outside of the eggplant and tomato evenly on all sides. Place the charred eggplant on a parchment-lined roasting pan and bake in the oven until very tender (it will collapse slightly) 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the skin off and roughly chop the cooled, charred tomato.

Remove the roasted eggplant from the oven and let cool. Peel the charred skin off the eggplant and discard. Save the eggplant flesh, including any liquid that may come off after cooking. In a wide skillet, over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic together with ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Add the chopped tomato and thyme leaves and saute a few minutes more. Set aside.

In a food processor, chop the peanuts. Add the eggplant and reserved liquid, tomato-onion mixture, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and remaining sea salt. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer to a wide serving bowl and drizzle with more olive oil. Garnish with the parsley, mint and chopped peanuts. Serve with warm pita, sliced cucumbers, goat’s milk feta or roasted tomatoes.

Oyster Stew With Sunchokes And Celery, garnished with flat-leaf parsley, celery leaf and home-made oyster crackers. Photo by John Kernick

Oyster Stew With Sunchokes And Celery
Yields: Approximately 8 Servings (Or 8 Cups)

Ingredients:
2 dozen shucked oysters with liquid
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
2 ribs celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 pound sunchokes, scrubbed clean and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley and celery leaves
Benne Seed and Country Ham Oyster Crackers

Directions:
Place a wire-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and drain the oysters, reserving the liquid. Inspect the oysters and remove any bits of shell and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, warm the milk and cream just until simmering. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter until foamy. Add the onion, celery, sunchokes, and 1 teaspoon of the salt, stirring well to coat. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well to cook the raw taste out of the flour. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cream; bring the mixture to a low simmer, stirring often to keep it from sticking. Add the oyster liquid to the Dutch oven and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Remember to taste a sunchoke to check that it’s done.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until foamy. Add the drained oysters in a single layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook just until the oysters begin to curl around the edges and the gills are exposed. Immediately transfer the oysters and any liquid to the Dutch oven and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, ladle the hot stew into each bowl and sprinkle each with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Garnish the servings with freshly ground black pepper, parsley, celery leaves and oyster crackers.

Fresh oysters on a bed of ice. Photo by John Kernick

Photo by John Kernick

Gingered Pumpkin Custards. Photo by John Kernick

Gingered Pumpkin Custards
Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

1 small baking pumpkin or other small fall squash
Butter for greasing ramekins
1 large egg
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt
¾ cup of heavy cream
½ cup of whipped cream (*Steven’s cookbook offers a delicious whipped creme fraiche recipe for a simple, homemade touch)
Nutmeg for grating

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a large knife, cut the pumpkin in half through the stem. Scoop out the seeds and fiber and discard. Place the pumpkin halves upside down in a roasting pan and pour in ¼ inch of water. Roast until the shell is easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. When the cooked pumpkin is cooled enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the shell. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Measure out 1 cup of the puree. If any puree remains, save it for another use.

Increase the oven heat to 400. Butter (4) 5 oz. ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Whisk in the poured pumpkin. Then whisk in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cloves, fresh ginger and salt. Whisk in the heavy cream.

Pour into the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking pan and set on the middle rack in the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking pan until it is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Serve with the whipped cream (or whipped sweetened creme fraiche- recipe from cookbook) and freshly grated nutmeg.

Chef Steven Satterfield. Photo by John Kernick

The cover of Steven Satterfield's debut cookbook, Root To Leaf. Photo by John Kernick

About Steven & Miller Union:
As co-owner and Executive Chef of Miller Union in Atlanta, Steven is pretty much in constant motion and never really stops. He says “I wake up and I go to bed working…”

His shared restaurant concept, Miller Union, is all about “simple, sustainable, farmstead inspired cooking…” Oh, and let's not leave out the Southern! The name comes from stockyards that existed at their location in the late 1800’s. The old cinderblock warehouse, where they are housed, was built between the 1940’s or 1950’s, after the old stockyards were burned to the ground during the 1920’s. Now, nestled peacefully inside, is the rustic, slightly industrial and very charming restaurant, Miller Union. Here, guests have the pleasure of seeing old photos of the stockyards that were there years prior, as a reminder of what was.

From the moment you walk into the restaurant you are graced with high ceilings, concrete floors, weathered wood and tall westward-facing windows that emit colorful rays and beautiful sunsets, right into the bar area. There’s a central hallway dividing the restaurant’s abundance of rooms, Steven says “the whole idea was to invite people into our home and we have several rooms to choose from…” he likes the idea of a more comfortable, intimate dining experience.”

Miller’s Union incorporates as many fresh fruits and vegetables as they can into their menu. Their seasonal menu does change frequently; however there are some trademark dishes that have similar items year-round. One popular favorite is the baked farm egg topped with a celery-infused cream that’s served over grilled bread; Steven says “it’s a really rustic dish, but people really love it…” He styles all of the food and says that for him it’s about “the way the vegetables are cut, or how they are tossed together” adding, “it’s meant to look desirable and delicious, like you want to stick your fork in it and eat it.”

When Steven is able to break away from the restaurant, where he is typically experimenting with recipes for his practice, he enjoys frequenting other nearby restaurants and occasionally getting outdoors for some healthy exercise such as cycling.

He has a “fondness for music” for old-school stuff he likes: Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead, or Radiohead and for newer choices he opts for Empire of the Sun, Tame Impala, or Crystal Castles.

A wall of old cast iron pans in the Miller Union dining hall, set a glo by the wall of bright windows. Photo by Heidi Geldhauser

The stunning high ceilings and distressed cabinets in Miller Union give the space a rustic charm. Photo by Heidi Geldhauser