Chef of the award-winning Atlanta restaurant Miller Union, Steven Satterfield — dubbed the “Vegetable Shaman” by the New York Times’ Sam Sifton — has enchanted diners with his vegetable dishes, capturing the essence of fresh produce through a simple, elegant cooking style. Like his contemporaries April Bloomfield and Fergus Henderson, who use the whole animal from nose to tail in their dishes, Satterfield believes in making the most out of the edible parts of the plant, from root to leaf. Satterfield embodies an authentic approach to farmstead-inspired cooking, incorporating seasonal fresh produce into everyday cuisine. His trademark is simple food and in his creative hands he continually updates the region’s legendary dishes—easy yet sublime fare that can be made in the home kitchen.
Root to Leaf is not a vegetarian cookbook, it’s a cookbook that celebrates the world of fresh produce. Everyone, from the omnivore to the vegan, will find something here. Organized by seasons, and with a decidedly Southern flair, Satterfield’s collection of mouthwatering recipes make the most of available produce from local markets, foraging, and the home garden. A must-have for the home cook, this beautifully designed cookbook, with its stunning color photographs, elevates the bounty of the fruit and vegetable kingdom as never before.Steven Satterfield appears with Root to Leaf at Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco on Saturday, August 15 from 3 to 4 p.m.
Excerpted from Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons by Steven Satterfield, photographs by John Kernick (Harper Wave, copyright © 2015). You can purchase Root to Leaf at your local bookshop or through our affiliate links with IndieBound or Amazon.
Of all the stone fruits, the peach is the most prevalent in Georgia. When the first local peaches start appearing in farmers’ markets, it’s a cause for celebration. My local community market has a “peach jam festival” in July, with a cobbler contest and lots of peach-themed fun. Georgia earned its designation “Peach State” shortly after Raphael Moses, from Columbus, Georgia, began shipping peaches outside the state in Champagne baskets in the 1850s. The peach is thought to have originated in China and then passed through Persia to Europe before Spanish explorers brought it to America in the sixteenth century. By the mid-1700s the Cherokee were cultivating them, and in the 1920s production reached an all-time high of eight million bushels.
Most peaches are in one of two categories: clingstone, in which the fruit is attached to the pit; and freestone, in which the fruit separates easily from the pit. Clingstones are soft-textured and tend to be sweeter and juicier than freestones, the preferred fruit for canning and preserving. Freestones tend to be larger, firmer, and less juicy.
Peaches are available in the hottest months of the year. Buy organic, unsprayed peaches if possible, as the commercial crops are heavily sprayed against pests. If peaches are bruised on the outside, simply cut away the bruised areas and salvage the rest. The center of the pit is considered poisonous.
Underripe peaches can be cooked or pickled—whole or sliced. But if you want to ripen them, store them in a single layer at room temperature, stem side down, until ripened. To speed the ripening, wrap them in a paper bag and check once a day. The gases that build up can make them ripen quickly. When you are prepping ripe peaches, they will quickly turn brown from exposure to air. You can slow down this process by acidulating them—that is, by coating them with an acidic solution. I prefer lemon juice or lightly flavored white wine vinegar, mixed with water, as either is light enough to still let the flavor of the peach shine through.
Like all members of the genus Prunus, plums are considered drupes, which have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. Dried plums are called prunes. Mature plum fruit often has a dusty-white coating that gives it a glaucous appearance. This is known as “wax bloom.” The most common plums are the prune types, purplish-blue ovals with meaty flesh. Plum-apricot hybrids, known as pluots, are generally sweeter than plums and more complex in aroma. There are also the minor plums, which include the English damson, a clingstone prized for preserves; and the sloe, an astringent fruit that is steeped in gin to make sloe gin.
Plums are classified into six general categories—Japanese, American, damson, ornamental, wild, and European/garden—whose size, shape, and colors vary. Although usually round, plums can also be oval or heart-shaped. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, green, yellow, or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green, pink, and orange. Plums are best enjoyed firm-ripe and not soft. Plums that are not yet ripe can be left at room temperature, but they ripen quickly and should be transferred to the refrigerator when fully ripe. Avoid buying plums that are excessively hard, as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture profile. Plums soften and become more aromatic as they ripen.
WHISKEYED PEACH SHORTCAKES
8 to 12 servings
Firm peach slices will hold their shape even when they are doused in sugar and whiskey and put to a flame. They’re delicious on their own, over ice cream, or in this case with sweetened crème fraîche spooned over homemade shortcakes. If you plan to make your own crème fraîche, you’ll need to start it a day or two in advance.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 firm-ripe (slightly hard) peaches, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup whiskey or bourbon
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split, or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Whipped Sweetened Crème Fraîche (see recipe)
- 1 recipe Shortcakes (see recipe)
Make the whiskeyed peaches: In a large skillet over high heat, melt the butter until foamy. Add the peaches, lemon juice, whiskey, sugar, salt, and vanilla and sauté, stirring to prevent burning, until the peaches are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their initial firmness. Remove from the heat and let cool. (You should have about 3 cups.) Make the sweetened crème fraîche.
To assemble: Split the shortcakes in half and place the bottoms, cut side up, on each plate. Spoon a large dollop of the sweetened crème fraîche onto each half, then layer a scant 1/3 cup peach mixture and some of the syrup onto each half. Layer with more sweetened crème fraîche and then set the other halves on top.
8 to 12 shortcakes
- 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¾ cup half-and-half, plus more as needed
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked together to make an egg wash
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar
Heat the oven to 475°F. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and work the mixture between your thumbs and fingers to stretch the butter into flat pieces. Leave a few larger chunks of cold butter in the flour mixture. Start by adding ¾ cup half- and-half, and stir it into the flour mixture with a large spoon. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more half-and-half until it holds together. Do not overmix.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead—just two to three turns—and form into a ball. Pat the dough ball down to create a flat surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1 inch thick. With the tines of a fork dipped in dry flour, pierce the dough about every inch, making sure to pierce through to the bottom of the dough, to create holes for steam to escape. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the surface of the rolled-out dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle the turbinado sugar across the top evenly. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the shortcakes with a deliberate vertical push and then gently remove from the cutter. Place shortcakes side by side on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with edges touching. Use scraps of dough to fill in any large gaps between shortcakes; this helps the cakes hold their shape.
Bake until the cakes are golden brown and spring back when lightly touched, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
WHIPPED SWEETENED CRÈME FRAÎCHE
About 2 cups
- ¼ cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup Crème Fraîche (see recipe)
Whisk the heavy cream and sugar to combine. Add the crème fraîche and whisk rapidly until it tightens up to whipped cream consistency with soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture gets overwhipped, fold in a little more cream to thin it out.
Crème fraîche is easy. Don’t be afraid to leave this dairy mixture out at room temperature overnight. The buttermilk cultures the cream with good bacteria until it thickens and that’s all there is to it.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Combine the cream and buttermilk in a shallow container that holds the liquid at a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight. Refrigerate when thickened.
Variation: When we made this dessert for the photo shoot, recipe tester Deborah Geering layered the extra shortcake halves, peaches and their juices, and whipped crème fraîche in a casserole dish like a summer pudding.
The joy of this simple dessert is that it is even better at room temperature, so you can make it in advance with ease. Be sure to pull it from the oven when the egg mixture is just set, so that the luscious cooked plum texture can meld perfectly with the batter. Think of it as a thick fruit pancake cooked effortlessly in the oven while you do other things.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 to 8 medium plums
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar
Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a cast-iron skillet and set aside. Trim the plums into wedges that are ¼ inch wide on the skin side of the cut. Toss the plums with 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, and arrange them evenly in the skillet and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the batter into the skillet, and place on the center rack in the oven. Bake just until set, about 1 hour. When cooled, remove from the skillet and slice into wedges. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.Steven Satterfield is the executive chef and co-owner of Miller Union in Atlanta, Georgia. He serves on the board of Slow Food Atlanta, started the Atlanta local network of Chefs Collaborative, and is an active member of Georgia Organics and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Satterfield was also nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s “People’s Best New Chef,” following Miller Union’s placement on the “Best New Restaurants in America” lists from Bon Appétit and Esquire, as well as Atlanta magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year” in 2010. The James Beard Foundation first recognized Miller Union as a semifinalist for the national award of best new restaurant in 2010. Satterfield has been chosen as a finalist for Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2013, 2014 and 2015.