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Cooking with Neelix: Drop me a Beet

by Neelix, Vegetable Morale Officer

31st December 2020

"Are there any other secrets I should know about?"

"Just my gumbo recipe, but I'm taking that to my grave."

- Benjamin and Joseph Sisko, "Image in the Sand" Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Neelix, Culinary Usurper

Have you all been enjoying our trip through the nutritional avenues of the Alpha Quadrant with me? I sure have. I'm your host, Neelix, and I can't wait to tell you all about not one, but two more cooking legends. If you've ever had the opportunity to visit Sisko's Creole Kitchen in New Orleans on Earth, you know what I'm talking about. If you visited years ago when the younger Sisko, Benjamin, was working for his father, the owner, Joseph, you might have had met both. Otherwise, you only felt like you have, as Joseph will tell you so much about his family members with utter pride that you'll think you knew them as children. I had the opportunity to set up an interview with Joseph and I certainly feel like I know Benjamin, whereabouts currently unknown as they are.

Benjamin Sisko, Master Chef

To be honest, my files are a bit of a mess on Benjamin. I wish I had more time to clean them up before this article, but I'll try to muddle through. I have a note about him and his son, Jake, having nightly dinners on the space station Benjamin commanded, whenever possible, which is, I think, very sweet. He seemed to prefer dishes that had a bit of a kick to them, which I can certainly appreciate, and didn't limit himself to cajun or creole food (I'm told by Joseph there IS a difference) but enjoyed cooking many cultural dishes, like paprikash from Hungary.

I also have a note about his relationship to the Bajoran people. Have you ever tried hasperat? Very spicy. I very much enjoyed sampling my fellow Bajoran crewmember's cultural cuisine. And despite the protests, I thought I looked rather dashing with an earring. Be that as it may, Benjamin seemed to have quite the affinity for the Bajoran people as well, causing many of them to consider him one of their own. His Chef services are the least costly to his adoptive culture, but he never seemed to forget what the people of Bajor truly needed. And in my understanding, what they needed were their orbs.

I have many anecdotes about Benjamin in my files, but the one that brought a tear to my eye was one about Benjamin trying to convince his chief medical officer to try a new experience. I too have felt the sting of a doctor refusing to open his mind to new possibilities. In Benjamin's case, the subject at hand was eating vegetables. I've cooked with vegetables from two different quadrants, from several unexplored planets, and with vastly varying taste profiles, and I can tell you that no vegetable should be ignored. Except lima beans. Useless. Just useless.

In this case, the subject at hand is beets, so I contacted my good friend Joseph Sisko to help me prepare beets in the traditional way. We traded food preparation stories for a bit and Joseph insisted on giving me a basic recipe as opposed to the tried and tested stewing method used in his restaurant and by his son, Benjamin. Although disappointed, I understand keeping family secrets, so I agreed to pass on the alternate recipe for roasting beets he suggested.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Warm oven to 400 F (200 C). Peel beets and cube. Chop leek. Mix ingredients and toss. Place on greased baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. Add nutmeg to taste.

 

Real Author's Note: Credit where credit's due, this is not my recipe. Maggie Geppert was kind enough to lend this one to the series. She says this recipe works with any hard vegetable, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, and butternut squash, so you can feel free to experiment. I tried it myself and think I enjoyed beets for the first time.

 

Next time on Cooking with Neelix: Before the main course, let's prep dessert.


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