Spring Radishes with Chive Butter

The weather this past Saturday was spectacular, but was I in the flower garden doing the weeding I should have done last fall? Of course not! We took a quick jaunt to the lake for the first time this year to rest and read in the late afternoon. Nevermind the state parks aren’t open yet and it was a bit breezy, a quick walk was all I needed to warm up. But the walk got me thinking of summer, picnics, and what I was going to pack in that basket!

A few nights ago, my favorite local bakery (I’ve written about them here), mentioned they were serving French bread with radishes and chive butter. It sounded delicious, and since I had all four ingredients in the house, I decided to add it to the dinner I was making that night.

I love all alliums of all sorts, but I’m especially fond of chives. I love them snipped into some scrambled eggs with some creamy cheese added or with mashed potatoes. The chive bed is the first to pop up in the spring in my little herb garden and I’m always looking for ways to use them; I hate to think of those gorgeous green wisps being wasted on the wildlife that frequents the backyard!

So for this recipe, no measurement is needed. First off, take some fresh radishes and slice them paper-thin with a paring knife. Next, take a small bowl and add some softened  butter, unsalted or salted, whichever is handy and warm, and add some snipped chives, however much you want, a little or a lot. Spread the butter on a slice of warm French bread. Top with the sliced radishes. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could add some baby arugula or watercress and make a sandwich. And if you’re feeling extremely ambitious, I couldn’t help but think if you had a slice of homemade French bread right out of the oven that it would bring you one step closer to heaven!

This would be perfect to add to your picnic basket this summer as it doesn’t take up a lot of room, is relatively easy to pack, and you can eat it with your fingers. And like I do with my summer herbs and fresh garlic (see here), you can make a big serving, wrap tablespoon dollops in plastic wrap, and freeze for later use!

With a Spring in My Step

I have been remiss in welcoming my new readers from the past few weeks! I am so happy you have decided to join me on this adventure in food and beyond! I hope you find some recipes you will enjoy. Welcome one and all!

I have begun to think Mother Nature isn’t aware that we turned the calendar to April ten days ago. While it has been sunny, the temperatures have languished in the 40s if not 30s; bringing confidence to take off the snow tires, but not warm enough to let go of the winter coat. It’s that in-between weather that drives me crazy; one never knows what to wear for the day when it’s cool in the morning, but warm mid-day.

So with what I believe will be spring any moment, I’ve been creating dishes that are light and airy for this time of year. I’ve become a new devotee of radishes lately; I like to put them in my salads for a bit of crunch and peppery flavor. Plus, they are dirt cheap (.79 cents for a small bag). Twice in a week  radishes recently were mentioned and I decided to create a mixture of the two dishes. My inspiration came from cookbook author Deborah Madison, who talked about the ruby-red roots recently on the radio show, “The Splendid Table,” and the April issue of Cooking Light magazine.

This is so super simple, I don’t need to give you a step-by-step recipe! Just take some radishes and cut them paper-thin (about a cup or more) and place in a large mixing bowl. I’m not one for kitchen gadgets, but in this instance, a mandolin would be a saving grace. Add a few greens; I spied some gorgeous looking watercress that I had to have, it was the perfect combination. But spring greens, baby arugula, or pea shoots would be delicious. A few squirts of lemon juice, a small drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done. I really wanted to add some fresh chives from the herb garden, but right now they are tiny shoots, but I think they would add great flavor. I served this alongside salmon and quinoa for a healthy supper.

I have a feeling I’m going to be buying radishes and making this dish for many weeks to come. It’s healthy, low calorie, quick, and delicious! And I’m thinking of other options to add to this; some stale French bread to sop up the lemon juice and oil, even some leftover chicken or fish. I guess the possibilities are endless. Now, if it will just warm up!

Dining With “The Tiger”

I thought this would be fun to share this morning!

The other evening I had my monthly book club. This month we read John Vaillant’s The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (well, actually, I only made it to page 60). We decided the theme for dinner would be food related to the tiger and his menacing trek in Russia, near the China border. The main dish was a delicious, just-right spicy rice noodle and pork stir fry that I’m still dreaming about, made by my friend Deb, and my assignment was appetizers. Instead of the location, I opted for the colors of the cat: orange, black, white, and red (for the obvious). After much consideration, this is what I made.

Orange Crudités with Black Olive Tapenade
This is basically the olive vinaigrette I make in this recipe. In a blender or with a mortar and pestle (I chose the latter, but that’s only because my beloved Oster is no longer with us, and I don’t like his replacement. A mortar and pestle make it more “rustic”; in other words, more chunky than if you used a blender.). Take about half a cup of black Kalamata olives, a couple of garlic cloves, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, a little bit of roasted red peppers. Blend or grind all the ingredients together until it forms a somewhat thin paste. Place in a small bowl and surround it with the tiger’s orange stripes—orange pepper slices and baby carrots!

Smoked Salmon with Fresh Radishes
On a serving platter, add thinly sliced radishes and top them with a tiny piece of smoked salmon. In a small bowl, take some low-fat sour cream and snipped chives, about 2 tablespoons or so, and mix. Add a dime-size dollop of the sour cream mixture atop each radish. If you’re feeling really artistic, arranged chive spears on each hors d’oeuvre!

Have you ever had a themed dinner? What did you make?