Out of the Salad Bowl

Radishes: red-skinned stepchild of the salad bowl. They always look so promising in the produce section, but somehow they always wind up in the bottom of the salad bowl, sliced and sad and shunned. They are delicious with sweet butter on a slice of bread, but how many radish sandwiches can a person eat?

Because of their salad-bowl-only status, we never think to cook them, but they really take well to methods like pickling, pan-frying and oven roasting. And the green tops are edible, too.

Don’t limit yourself to the scarlet globes; the daikon radish – that gigantic white carrot-shaped thing – is great, too. I love the crunch curlicues of white radish that garnish the plate at Asian restaurant (gotta get one of those veggie spiralizers!). Because they are so large, thick rounds of the daikon are perfect for braising. And we like to make pesto from the green tops (well, we like to make pesto out of just about anything).

Braised Daikon Radish
(4 servings)

1 large daikon radish (about 1 pound)
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sake or dry Sherry
2 teaspoons sugar

Scrub the radish, peel it, and slice crosswise into 1” rounds.

Place the daikon in a single layer in a high-sided sauté pan. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the radish. Add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil; lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and the radish is tender, about 30-45 minutes.

Radish Green Pesto
(about ½ Cup)

3 Cups daikon radish greens
1/3 Cup slivered almonds
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Wash the greens in cold water, swishing them around to remove any grit.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; drop in the radish greens and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.

Stuff the radish greens to a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times or until roughly chopped. Add the almonds and pulse 15-20 times until the almonds and radish greens are very finely chopped. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse a few times to combine.

With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Taste for seasonings and texture and add salt, pepper, and olive oil as desired.


Pie Friday: Tarte aux Quetsches

Too hot to eat…must wait…

Okay, there was no pie last Friday for various reasons, e.g., illness. No one wants a pie that the baker has sneezed on.

But this week’s pie more than makes up for it because it’s one of my absolute favorites. I’m a huge fan of plums, especially the last-of-the-season Italian prune plums. They are small and sweet, yellow-fleshed, with a dark purple skin that looks flour-dusted. Cooked, the plums turn a deep magenta. And the taste? Well, if you love the sweet-tart flavors of things like rhubarb or cranberry, you’re going to love this fruit. Best of all, you don’t have to peel or blanch the fruit, which streamlines things. Read more

Pie Friday: Tomato Pie

This one's a mini pie!

And now for a savory pie. The tomatoes were ripening so quickly that after making sauce and jam and roasted tomatoes, we froze a whole bunch and then looked around for other ways to use them.

This recipe is a favorite, as well as its source – the late, great writer, Laurie Colwin. She was a gifted novelist but is mostly remembered for her two collections of cooking essays, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. Her fans are legion, and I count myself among them. Colwin’s recipes are homey and humorous, with a simplicity that goes right to the heart of what home cooking really means. Read more

Apple Tart No. 1

Hold the fork.

My Friday Pie post is late this week for…reasons. The end of the week suddenly began to get very busy, and busy times call for shortcuts. And by shortcuts, I do not mean commercial refrigerated pie crusts – scrolls of plastique that smell like vinegar and feet. Pre-rolled piecrusts shrink and are pretty tough. I’d rather forgo the crust altogether and just make a fruit crisp.

Luckily there are other options – such as making your own puff pastry or buying frozen brand (still not great, but better than the Doughboy’s stuff). Puff pastry in the freezer is a pantry essential. This week, I had homemade puff in the freezer, just a scant half pound left over from a French cooking class. Once thawed, it was a snap to roll and top with a couple of thinly-sliced Granny Smiths that lolling around in the fruit bowl.   Read more

Pie of the Week: Buttermilk Coconut Custard

It’s the taste and the texture!

Still no decent peaches in the market! It’s time to let go of that dream. I had to pick a different pie this week and wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. Lucky for me it’s muskgoes time at CU (that’s when we stand in front of the open fridge muttering, “This mus’ go, that mus’ go…”). I love the challenge of using what’s on hand and this week an overabundance of buttermilk and coconut resulted in this week’s pie, Buttermilk Coconut Custard. Read more

Pie Friday: Shoo-Fly Don’t Bother Me

Last week, I made a pie from some Maine wild blueberries. It was an eleventh hour thing, thrown together while making dinner. (Actually, I was afraid the berries would suddenly begin to fuzz.) It’s been so long since I  had the time to bake anything interesting! The process was so satisfying and pleasurable that I decided to make weekly pie and share the results – on my blog.

Well, of course I’m on a sugar high! A pie every week? I’m channeling Mrs. Pattmore. However, this idea has met with a lot of enthusiasm around here, with lots of tasting volunteers. I see it as an opportunity to share some pie lore, tips, and techniques on all things crusty and delicious with you – and said tasters. Read more

Long Live Whipped Cream!

Well, I swan - real whipped cream!

We love summer fruit and ice cream desserts – but they must have a little whipped cream to be complete. Stuff in the can? It’s fun and tastes just-okay, but whipped cream is best when made fresh– and we always have heavy cream on hand around here.

Use heavy cream, not the stuff marked “whipping cream”. Heavy cream has more fat and is easier to whip. Good luck finding a brand that’s not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pastuerized cream is very difficult to whip because the high heat denatures the proteins in the cream. That’s why most recipes call for chilling the bowls and beaters and stuff, which we always forget to do.

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Coils of greeny goodness!

Along with strawberries and shad roe, fiddleheads are, to me, the first true sign that spring is finally, finally here. Fiddleheads are the tips of certain ferns before they unfurl. Their name derives from their resemblance to the coil on the top of the violin. This is a bright green, beautiful vegetable and a true seasonal food, as they are not cultivated. Rumor has it they taste similar to asparagus, but I think they taste like what green would taste like, if colors had a flavor. This should win over all the green-vegetable haters.

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Hot Cross Buns for Saints and Sinners

Hot Cross Buns

This post is a little late because I was having problems with my phone camera. And a food post without a photo is like a hurricane without a name: just a lot of hot air.

Every year I make these on Good Friday and have no idea why. When you’re raised by a tribe of humanist infidels, this day doesn’t loom large. However, I am a lover of food history and bread, so any yummy, yeasty recipe is a source of interest to my baker’s heart. Read more

Haven’t Got Time for the Pain: Harissa

A Fiery Condiment

Ever been out at an Indian restaurant with heat-lovin’ people who sneer at you for passing out in the vindaloo after one bite? Yeah, I’m that wimp. But I’ve made a recent discovery: it’s not a matter of genes or acclimation or whatever that limits me at Indian restaurants – it’s simply a desire to avoid pain. Flused face, elevated pulse, sweating, shortness of breath, tears – aren’t these the symptoms of a massive coronary? Who wants to experience that? A lot of people, for sure; it’s not that they don’t suffer as much as I do from the effects of spicy food – they just don’t care about the agony. And, as Lincoln famously noted, “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like”. That, and riding the Kingda-Ka at Six Flags – a similar masochistic pleasure. Read more