So where are the veggies? No turnips, no hearty winter greens, no beets. The only green things for sale at the Logan Square market this weekend were a few herb bundles of thyme and rosemary and some fresh cut to order sprouts. Tiny Greens has a great assortment of sprouts and micro-greens which are grown organically and hydroponically. So, sprouts is what I bought. I sampled the sunflower, which were buttery and nutty. I also tried the daikon which had some mustardy heat and the cilantro was very herbaceous and a little citrusy from the coriander seed from which it sprouted from. I asked for a mix of broccoli and China rose radish sprouts. They were a nice addition to my bowl of posole the next day.
I relayed my bit of disappointment to the lady that cut my sprouts for me. She suggested I stop on over at the Dill Pickle co-op for my turnips, since it was in the neighborhood. So, I took her up on her suggestion and got in my car heading down Milwaukee Ave, westbound to Fullerton Ave. I was looking forward to paying a visit to Dill Pickle since I discovered them on Twitter a few weeks back. A quaint little brownstone in Logan Square with very minimal signage, I spotted the Pickle and walked in to explore and hopefully shop. Coming in to the co-op the first thing I noticed were little bushels of assorted produce. Some bins filled with potatoes other with citrus. I'm thinking "oranges, hell that's not local". OK I see beets and some carrots, but um, no turnips, not a one. I asked the guy with the boxes in the back "excuse me you have any turnips or rutabagas?". He replies" sorry, nope all out". Ah dang it, what's a girl gotta do to get a turnip around here? I looked around at the bulk bins of dried fruits and cereals but sad again not to see any flours or grains. I really miss the bins at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco. I could soend the entire day filling bags with spices, loose tea and various flours like buckwheat and kamut.
I had signed up for an improv workshop at the Play Ground Theater that was set to start at noon, so I still had an hour to spare. I figured I might stop in at a little coffee shop on Halsted and just kill some time before my class started. Well, well, what do I see on Halsted a big sign for Whole Foods. I say, 'hell I'm sure I will find some turnips here". So, to Whole Foods I went along with my little duffle bag. I do what I can to stay green. Yes, of course root vegetables of all kinds. Orange, pink, yellow, purple, white and green. I picked out some parsnips, carrots, turnips and one chubby rutabaga. I know that they are all organic and seasonal, but local? Well, no they in fact are all from California. Where's the turnip truck, I want to get on and go back West. And speaking of turnip trucks why is it a bad thing if you fell off of one? The association is that one on the the turnip truck is naive and gullible and often straight off the farm. In my book that's not such a bad thing. I like turnips, there not so bad roasted with a little honey and sea salt or grated into salad. Where's the turnip's PR rep, they need a new reputation boost.
After my imrpov workshop, in which no surprise most of my scenarios involved food (a pie festival and an obsession with mayonisse to mention two), I went home to cook. On these blustery winter nights nothing is more comforting than slow cooked food with layers of deep flavors. I try to keep most of my recipes simple and approachable so that readers are excited to try them or maybe re-create them in thier own way. I always have an aresnal of spices in my pantry. I prefer to buy small ammounts of whole spices and toast and grind them myself to ensure optimal flavor. Also, by buying spices in little batches I can try new ones and play with creations in my kitchen. I peeled, I chopped, I sauteed and braised. I made a delicious Moroccan inspired winter root braise. Spices commonely used in the Moroccan kitchen include cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, safrron, cardamom and ginger. Spices are wonderful for producing and maintaining heat in the body and that's a good thing this time of year. Preserved lemons are ubiqutious to Moroccan cusine as well. I did not have lemons on hand but I did have some plump navel oranges. So that went into the pot as well. Comforted by my braised roots and satisfied to have finally found them after a long day of turnip hunting I was still California dreamin' and wondering if there was room for one more on the truck going back West.
Turnip Truck Tagine Makes 4-6 servings
1 small onion, diced 1 (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled and freshly grated
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped 2 tunips, peeled and chopped 1 small rutagaba, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth 1 cup orange segments 1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parlsey or cilantro
In a heavy bottom soup pot or Dutch oven heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter has melted. Add in the onion and ginger and cook until tender and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add all the chopped vegetables and cook for about 1 minute. Add in the paprika, cinnamon and black pepper and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the vegetable broth and salt. Cook covered for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook slightly uncovered for another 10 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender but not mushy. Once cooked, stir in orange segments and fresh herbs. Serve as a side dish with roasted chicken or lamb or serve on a bed of fluffy couscous or rice as a vegetarian dish.