Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cookbook honors below-ground veggies

            I’m a root lover, a fan of beets and sweet potatoes, so you can imagine my delight when I found a cookbook specifically aimed at root vegetables. The amply titled “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes” by veteran cookbook author Diane Morgan features a host of root vegetables both common and little-known, from arrowhead to yucca — and everything in between. This gorgeous cookbook also brings up important facts about roots, such as below-ground vegetables provide more nutrition per unit of land utilized.
             Book photos are by Antonis Achilleos.
            To view a video of the cookbook, visit
Clay Pot-Caramelized Pork Belly and Arrowhead Stew
From “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes”
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 small Serrano chile, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 1/2 pound pork belly, thinly sliced across the grain, then cut into 3-inch lengths
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese nuoc mam
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
14 ounces arrowhead, ends trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 green onions, including green tops, cut into matchsticks for garnish.
            Directions: In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat and swirl to coat the pot bottom. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently until dissolved and golden brown, 3-4 minutes. (At first, the sugar will form a paste with the oil but it will eventually melt).
              Add the shallot, garlic and chile and sauté, stirring frequently, until the aromatics are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pork, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the pork is cooked through and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. (The edges of the pork will get brown first, with bits sticking to the pot bottom.) Add the water, fish sauce and pepper and bring to a boil. Nestle the arrowhead halves and the eggs in the liquid. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice until the pork and arrowhead halves are tender, about 30 minutes. (The pork should be slightly chewy but no longer rubbery and tough. Stirring helps to color the eggs on all sides.)
            Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with the green onions just before serving.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”