For all of us who’ve ever encountered an odd looking vegetable at our local grocery store or farmer’s market and either passed it by or brought it home and then let it sit because we didn’t know what to do with it, Diane Morgan, an award winning cookbook author and culinary instructor, has the book for us. Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes (Chronicle Books $40) is like an encyclopedia of earthly vegetables with wonderful photos and intriguing recipes. Morgan likes to create recipes containing healthy ingredients. For example, in her Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes she uses antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes and vitamin-packed kale with quinoa, a powerhouse grain perfect for those on gluten-free diets, for a super healthy and delicious meal and her Red Velvet Cupcakes which get their red hue not from food coloring but from beets.
In the two and a half years it took Morgan to write her book, she says she discovered many things including how varied and seasonal they are and how many root veggies including beets, radishes, carrots and turnips all have edible tops and are nutritious as well.
And what about the most unappreciated, at least in the U.S., edible root?
It’s a tossup between rutabagas and burdock root,” says Morgan noting that burdock is actually considered a weed in this country though it’s used commonly in Japan. “Rutabagas take on many flavors - they are delicious when braised in beer and also paired with apples for a wonderful wintertime sweet galette. On the other hand, burdock root is just amazing when paired with mussels. If you love mussels then try my recipes for Steamed Mussels with Burdock Root, Shallots, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.”
Chicken Fricassee with Parsley Roots and Chanterelle Mushrooms
1 whole chicken, preferably natural or organic free-range, 3½ to 4 pounds cut into 8 serving pieces
Kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
3 medium leeks, 1 pound white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced cross-wise into half-moons
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, folded into a bundle and tied with kitchen twine
1 large garlic clove, smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
One 750-ml bottle crisp dry white wine
½ cup homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 pounds parsley root, trimmed, peeled, and cut into pieces about 1½ inches long by ½ inch wide and thick
12 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut into large pieces or other mushrooms
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 egg yolks
½ cup crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a large plate or baking sheet and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a 12-in shallow braising pan with a tight-fitting lid, melt the ½ cup butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Cover the pan and cook the leeks until meltingly soft, about 5 minutes. Uncover and, using tongs, add the chicken, skin-side down, in a single layer. Increase the heat to medium and cook the chicken on all sides until the skin turns opaque and the flesh is no longer pink, about 10 minutes total. (You don’t want to brown the chicken; instead, you want to remove the rawness from the flesh and skin.) When the chicken is cooked on all sides, stir the flour into the fat in the pan and cook for 2 minutes longer. Tuck the parsley bundle and the garlic clove in the pan. Add the wine, stock, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan tightly and cook, adjusting the heat so the liquid barely simmers, until the chicken is partially cooked, about 30 minutes.
Using a large spoon or tongs, add the parsley root to the pan, nudging the pieces into the liquid and between the chicken pieces. Make sure they are covered with liquid and can braise evenly. Cover the pan and continue to cook until the parsley root is fork-tender and the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan bottom. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Add half of the chopped parsley, toss to combine, and sauté for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and crème fraîche. Set aside until ready to use.
When the chicken is done, use a large slotted spoon to transfer the chicken and the parsley root to a warmed serving platter that is deep enough to contain the sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm. Discard the garlic and parsley bundle. Turn the heat to high and boil the liquid in the pan until reduced to about 2 cups about 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Spoon some of the hot braising liquid into the egg yolk mixture, stir well, and then quickly stir the whole mixture into the sauce in the pan. Heat the sauce through, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Do not allow to boil.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and then spoon the sautéed mushrooms over the top. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve immediately.
Raw Beet Slaw with Fennel, Tart Apple and Parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
½ tart apple, such as Granny Smith--cored, sliced into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick pieces, then stacked and sliced into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick matchsticks
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 medium red beet--peeled, ends trimmed, sliced into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick pieces then stacked and sliced into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick matchsticks
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, orange zest, honey, salt and pepper and set aside.
Make the slaw: In a medium bowl, toss together the fennel, apple and parsley leaves. Add two-thirds of the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the beet with the remaining dressing. Add the beet to the fennel-apple mixture and toss once or twice to combine (don’t over mix; otherwise the beets will stain the fennel and apple).
Serve immediately (or refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving; let the slaw sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving).
Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 cups sifted cake/soft-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups puréed red roasted beets
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups confectioners'/icing sugar
1 tablespoon heavy (whipping)/double cream
1/2 teaspoon pure orange oil
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine the beets, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, stir in one-third of the flour mixture, and continue stirring just until the flour disappears. Do not beat or overmix. Repeat, adding the remaining flour mixture in 2 batches.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly and filling each cup almost to the top of the liner. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let the cupcakes rest in the pan, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack to cool completely, about an hour.
To make the buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter on low speed. Add the sugar, cream, orange oil, and vanilla, and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice, a little at a time, until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread a thick layer of buttercream over the tops, swirling the frosting to decorate the tops.