In “The Farmer’s Market Cookbook,” Chef Richard Ruben offers simple, elegant recipes that celebrate the gifts of nature’s cycle from spring to autumn.
Cover Courtesy Lyons Press
Autumn recipes make filling and delicious dishes due to the season’s nutritious and hardy offerings. From venison sausage to rye berries, Brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes, autumn presents colorful food that brings together family and friends. These autumn recipes are excerpted from The Farmer’s Market Cookbook (Lyons Press, 2000), a cookbook that allows you to cook and eat seasonally using fresh ingredients from a farm stand, community co-op or your own garden.
You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook.
There is no longer a sense of seasonal foods in this world. Meats come to grocers shrink-wrapped, vegetables arrive frozen from multinational manufacturers, and fruits are flown in from far-off countries. This disenfranchises us from nature’s cycle and timing. As a chef, I am totally dependent on the earth and the cornucopia it offers; I have found that cooking is always simpler and more visually vibrant when I choose foods at the peak of their season and flavor.
Cooking seasonally means developing a keen eye and sensitive nose as you traverse the aisles of nature’s store. The trimmings of each season are color-coded—spring’s plate is drenched with verdant green leaves, tender stalks, and gentle herbs; summer is resplendent with myriad reds, oranges, and yellows creating texture and bold, redolent assaults; autumn’s quieting is rich with umber root vegetables and a second hurrah of green leaves. This rainbow presentation is an initial starting point for setting a menu.
The green market not only thrills my senses, it connects me to the community in which I live. There seems to be a phenomenon at the market where smiles overtake stern glares and people greet each other with kindly hellos. To become a regular at a market is to hold a membership in a fraternity—an ancient association where knowledge and experience are exchanged as nourishment changes hands.
The Farmer’s Market Cookbook pays homage to nature and the palate that it offers for our cooking and sharing pleasure. Divided into three parts—Spring, Summer, and Autumn—the book will guide you through the ripening seasons and the many food options available to you. The recipes are meant as a road map, which allows you to navigate your own local markets—be it a green market, grocer’s produce aisle, or your own backyard garden—and give you a sense of comfort when making a choice. In my view, options are the key to cooking. You must feel empowered to make substitutions according to what is available to you.
I go to the markets yearly, and inevitably a new heirloom variety has been re-introduced or a farmer is trying a new crop, and now my choices have more than doubled. Of course, I believe in trying everything new at least once.
Without question, the best way to learn about the seasonal availability of food is to walk through the market, speak to growers, take notes, and most important: Be in the moment in the market!
Venison Sausage Stew Recipe
Yields 12 servings
Burdock and salsify are two root vegetables that are sorely underused in this country. They have a sweet woodsy taste and are at their best if harvested after the first cold snap of the season (ugh, snow can’t be far behind). Burdock can grow up to 3 feet in length, whereas salsify is a less intimidating 9 to 12 inches. I use these vegetables interchangeably depending on availability. However, I can usually find burdock in Japanese markets (they called it gobo).
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large onion—diced
1 to 2 habanero chili peppers—seeded and diced
2 large carrots—diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound quince—peeled, cored, and quartered
1 pound new potatoes (golf-ball size)
1/2 pound celery root—peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 pound burdock root—peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup savory leaves—chopped
1/4 cup thyme leaves—chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves—chopped
2 cups tomato juice
1 1/2 pounds venison sausage
1 cup red wine
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a 4-quart heavily lined casserole dish, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly until it darkens to a light brown. This is a roux, which will help thicken the stew and add flavor. This will take about 10 minutes, though you must remember to keep the butter mixture moving in order not to burn it. Add the onion, habanero pepper, carrots, and quince. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, celery root, burdock root, and half the amount of herbs. Pour in the tomato juice, scrape the bottom of the pot, and allow the ingredients to slowly come to a boil over a medium-low heat.
In a separate 10-inch sauté pan, cook the sausage over a high heat to firm up and crisp on the outside. Remove the sausage from the sauté pan, reserving on absorbent paper towels, and pour the red wine into the pan to deglaze—to pick up all the wonderful “brown bits” adhering to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the red wine by half, which will take about 3 to 5 minutes, and then pour it into the stew. Cut the sausage into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the stew. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let the stew simmer for 45 minutes. Add the remaining herbs, salt and pepper, and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve Venison Sausage Stew steaming hot with Fennel Salad .
If game is not your thing, you can easily substitute any full-flavor sausage in this recipe, such as Cajun andouille, lamb, or duck sausage.
Braised Sweet Potato in Apple Cider Recipe
Yields 4 to 6 servings
This recipe is so easy. I set it up in a porcelain baking dish that can go from oven to table. I have altered the recipe a bit by removing the salt and pepper and sprinkling some brown sugar over the top prior to baking, creating a sweeter version. Both send me over the top.
2 pounds sweet potatoes—peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
12 ounces apple cider
1/8 cup mint leaves—chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
In an 8 x 8 baking dish, shingle the sweet potatoes in a single layer. Add the apple cider, sprinkle with the mint leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Serve Braised Sweet Potato hot or at room temperature.
Rye Berry Salad Recipe
Yields 8 to 12 servings
This is an unusual salad in so far as rye berries are not a commonly used grain, and yet they have a great nutty taste and good chewy texture. I tend to find freshly dried rye berries in the green market locally, but you can easily find them in most health-food stores. Jerusalem artichokes are not related to the artichoke at all; rather, they are cousin to the sunflower. The crisp, mild tuber is usually irregular and knobby in shape. I confess I search for the most uniform-shaped ones, since they are easier to peel and give me the least amount of waste. They are quite edible raw. However, try them boiled, added into stews, or sautéed.
1 pound rye berries
6 cups water
1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes
1/4 pound mixed sprouts (chick pea, lentil, and sweet pea)
1/2 pound baby spinach—washed and dried
1 small red onion—diced
1/8 cup savory—leaves only, chopped
1/8 cup thyme—leaves only, chopped
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Bring the rye berries and water to a boil over high heat in a 4-quart saucepan. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender to the bite. Peel and dice the Jerusalem artichokes into 1/4-inch rounds, and mix with the sprouts, spinach, onion, savory, thyme, vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. When the rye berries are cooked, drain any excess water through a colander, and then toss the hot rye berries with the vegetable mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool before serving. This Rye Berry Salad is great the next day, served cold.
Curried Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Yields 6 servings
I have enjoyed Brussels sprouts since I was a little kid, when I would peel each leaf from the vegetable and slowly consume them. Finding Brussels on the branch is so exciting to me. I’m never sure if I want to pick off the vegetable or land the stalk in a vase as a floral display, so I usually buy two. The stalk itself is edible (like broccoli stalks). You just have to peel away the fibrous outer layer to expose the more tender inner flesh. Cut the stalks into the same size as the sprouts and add them to the mix. Of course, if the ones on branch are not available, use ones that have already been plucked for you.
1 branch of Brussels sprouts (about 2 inches in length with well-developed sprouts)—yields approximately 3 cups
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
4 ounces unsalted butter—at room temperature
2 tablespoons curry powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remove the Brussels sprouts from the branch, discard any damaged external leaves, and, using a paring knife, place a light “X” on the bottom end of each sprout. Place the sprouts in an 8-inch highsided pan, in a single layer, more or less. Add the stock and water, and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Combine the butter and curry together to make an amalgamated mass. Then add this into the sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 10 minutes to reduce the remaining liquid to glaze the brussels sprouts. Serve Curried Brussels Sprouts hot.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from The Farmer’s Market Cookbook by Richard Ruben, published by Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2000. Buy this book from our store: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook.