“Seasonal cooking begins with the harvest,” says Satterfield in the introduction of ROOT TO LEAF. “And what I’ve come to learn is that there is little that changes so distinctly throughout the course of any year as the diverse world of fruits and vegetables.”
When we were in Atlanta recently we had the chance to sup at Miller Union, Steven Satterfield’s award-winning restaurant which has garnered him national attention as a chef who understands how to spotlight vegetables with a simple, elegant cooking style that honors the essence of the vegetable. Named the “Vegetable Shaman” by Sam Sifton in The New York Times, Satterfield describes his method of using the whole vegetable in the same way many butchers and chefs utilize a whole animal: root to leaf. This is not a vegetarian cookbook; it’s a cookbook about spotlighting fresh produce in the kitchen.
And if this world weren’t small enough, the stylist for Steven’s book, Thom Driver, was a former intern at Beekman 1802 Farm!
Though good with any fresh vegetable, this sharp, creamy feta dip, smoothed with a little buttermilk, is exceptional with crisp spring radishes. Much as in the combination above, salt and fat mellow any heat from the raw radishes. Cheesemaker Mary Rigdon of Decimal Place Farm has been bringing her goat’s milk feta to order to Miller Union since it opened. If you have a local farmers’ market that sells fresh cheeses, look there first for good-quality feta.
Spring Feta Spread
8 ounces goat’s milk feta, preferably in brine
¼ to ½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil for finishing
Radishes and other vegetables for dipping
In a medium bowl, crumble the feta. With a rigid whisk, smooth out the feta first, then add buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth and the con- sistency of a creamy dip. Spoon the mixture into a small serving bowl and top with flaky sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Serve with raw radishes or other crudités.