My friend and neighbor Harriet is a very generous gardener. As well as fresh kale and cucumbers, she recently shared some of her very interesting radishes. Not the round or oval red, pink and white variety, but a bag full of Dragon’s Tail Radishes. I am totally enchanted by their unusual beauty…colors from almost black, to a dark purple and a hint of lime green and their very peppery flavor with long curly “dragon’s tails”. They are a crisp, tender edible roots, with an intense peppery bite. The larger the stem the spicier. Have you ever grown these? I have not, but Harriet says they are easy to grown from seeds, and prolific. Next year. Thanks, Harriet.
Isn’t it fun to try something new? Or to use something you eat all the time in a new way? All of the ingredients in my salad could also be just as delicious quickly stir-fried with some shrimp or tofu. I hear they are great pickled as well.
Dragon’s Tail Radishes (or any radish) chopped up and added to a bowl (is there any reason at all to turn on the stove for meals this very hot summer?) along with a few large cucumbers peeled, seeded and sliced, homegrown sweet golden cherry tomatoes cut in half (from our small garden) with a few of your favorite greens, then drizzled with the ginger-miso dressing…a complete joy to eat.
For the “there-is-no-recipe dressing” you toss into a blender 1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated or chopped ginger, 2 tablespoons white miso, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil, a splash of orange or apple juice, 1 tablespoon honey and some red pepper flakes to taste. Blend, taste, adjust, pour into a container with a lid and chill. Shake and drizzle on whatever salad you like.
This summer might be a good time to try some new things all around. Wear less clothing to stay cooler? Spend more time in the shade? Sit in a comfy cool indoor space and read, read, read a book or 10? Give and take dinner ideas that are easy, healthy and fun from your friends and neighbors? Take very early morning or late day strolls? Doze in a hammock? Take up cards or board games? What do you like to do to get outside your life-box? Do share.
If I keep at it, I will find the absolute easiest way to do everything. It is not that I am lazy, but that I do not like to fuss. I want to start a task and take it through to the end as effortlessly as possible while ending up with something special…whether it be food, or art, or gardening. I am pretty sure my personality leads me in my approach…c’est la vie. Whipping up a batch of homemade jam and the time needed to do so can be at odds with one another…full of desire to do the first without the time usually needed, my recipe for oven roasted fresh peach jam makes the process of jam making doable and satisfying in all ways.
Around 3 lbs fresh, ripe peaches, not peeled, but pitted and stems removed, chopped
The zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup raw sugar + 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit while oven pre-heats. (The peaches I used were clingstone, meaning the fruit’s flesh clings to the pit, so I cut the fruit away from the pit and then squeezed the juice around the pit into the bowl as well. More peach flavor and not waste.)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape peach mixture out onto a baking sheet pan. Spread out evenly. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until fruit has softened and juices on pan start to thicken. Ovens may vary so keep an eye on the progress.
Remove baking sheet from the oven when fruit is quite soft and then mash with a potato masher or fork until it looks like jam.
Fill two pint jars, or more jars if using smaller ones, with the warm peach jam and allow to cool to room temperature. Add a lid and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.
Note: This basic method could be used for plums, cherries, apples, and berries. It’s a great way to keep the summer in the freezer for later.
There are chocolates and there are chocolates. Not all are created equally. One of my favorites for making these easy Mendiants is a French brand, Valrhona.It is fitting to use this brand as Mendiants are a French confection. You can, of course, use any good quality, bittersweet chocolate. Mendiants are so easy to make and very beautiful in their simplicity. Studded with orange peel, pistachios, sea salt, almonds, candied ginger, coconut shreds and edible gold flakes these would make a lovely, sweet Valentines gift. Oui? Oui, oui it’s as easy-as-this.
I use a double boiler pan to melt the chocolate, but you can just place in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water if you don’t have one. Gather all your add-ins while chocolate is melting in little bowls so you can work quickly while chocolate is still warm and melted.
I drew around a small glass creating circles on a sheet of parchment paper to help me make the mendiants all about the same size. I added a dollop of melted chocolate to each circle, then spread it out with the back of a spoon and sprinkled toppings, working with one circle at a time, slightly pressing ingredients down into the still melted chocolate.
All you do is let the chocolate cool and harden. It really is as easy-as-this.
Ingredients: (you can use all or just some of these when making your own Mendiants. I varied ingredients so they were all a little different. You can also just use whatever you have on hand…pecans, walnuts, any candied fruit, etc.)
16 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup candied or dried orange peels
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1 tablespoon edible gold flakes, hearts, or any edible gold cake decorations
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes or shreds
In the top of a double boiler melt the chocolate over simmering water. Stir every so often. You can also melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water if you do not have a double boiler pan. Make sure all your pans and spoons are clean and dry with no moisture so the chocolate will not “seize”.
While chocolate is melting, gather all your add-ins…nuts, fruit, etc.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a glass about 3 inches in diameter turned upside down, draw 15 circles over the paper with a pencil. These will be your “guide” for making mendiants round and approximately the same size. It’s okay if they are not perfect.
When chocolate is totally melted, using a spoon, add a dollop to each circle. Spread out to the edges of your “circles” on the parchment creating chocolate disks about 1/4 inch thick, more or less. While chocolate disks are still soft, stud each with a variety of ingredients. Gently press ingredients down into the chocolate so they are embedded somewhat into the surface.
Leave finished mendiants on sheet of parchment to cool and harden completely. Serve immediately or store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for later.
To give as a gift put a few in a small candy bag or box. These make great easy-to-make at home edible tokens of affection.
I first made these for a magazine article I was working on a few years ago. Since I have made them a few times as they are so beautiful and delicious and are always a welcome gift.
I hope you have had a good and peaceful holiday. I hope you enjoyed doing whatever you did to celebrate. Maybe the festivities are still going on? It’s pretty quiet here at Food on Fifth this late Christmas Day afternoon. We have had our family dinner party and are going to enjoy some leftovers for dinner. Leftovers…I hate to toss food out so I am forever turning one thing into another. Such is this little recipe for turning that leftover cranberry sauce, whether homemade or store-bought, into one yummy ice cream. It’s got the sweet, the tart and the spicy in every bite.
3 ingredients. 15 minutes active time. A bit of stirring and swirling and sprinkling. It really is as easy as this.
Soften good quality store-bought ice cream. Add in whole cranberry sauce and pink peppercorns. Swirl around. Cover and refreeze. Scoop. Eat.
The creamy sweetness of the ice cream along with the tart cranberry sauce and spicy pink peppercorn bits are a pretty dreamy Holiday dessert. Maybe for that New Years Eve celebration?
Leftover Cranberry Sauce and Pink Peppercorn Cheater Ice Cream
1 quart of good quality vanilla ice cream or gelato softened to where it will swirl
1/2 cup leftover whole cranberry sauce, homemade or store-bought
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
Scrape softened ice cream into a metal loaf pan.
Top with cranberry sauce and pink peppercorns.
Using a knife, swirl the cranberry sauce and peppercorns into the softened ice cream. Smooth out the top. Cover with a plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream mixture then cover pan with aluminum foil.
Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Scoop and enjoy. Top with additional peppercorn if you like. Sweet, Tart, Spicy!
Hey there December…..Welcome. Time for cozy cooking.
A shallow baking pan, a sheet of parchment, Pears and Plums pitted, whole vanilla beans and star anise, maple syrup and balsamic reduction…that’s it…you’re done. Is it a dessert? Is it a savory side? It can easily be either one. Your choice.
I split and used the vanilla bean seeds earlier for making a custard, but I always save the split beans for other uses. There are a few teeny seeds still inside and they added just the right hint of vanilla to the roasted fruit. Real maple syrup and a balsamic reduction drizzled over the fruit making sure to fill the pitted part. Is there anything like the aroma of star anise when roasted? It’s all a rather special blend of ingredients that leave the roasted pears and plums a bit caramelized and very aromatic. This can be a desirable fruit dessert topped with a scoop of ice cream or gelato, or eaten as a side with roast pork or turkey. Add this to your winter go-to easy everyday recipes. It’s as easy-as-this.
I am enjoying how we just slipped into Fall…no whimper, no bang…hardly a notice…just an opening of the eye and here we are. Fall foods are abundant. The deep green skins of acorn squash with a brush stroke of orange here and there. Butternut squash so sweet when roasted turning to a deep rich gold. Aren’t you glad Fall is here?
This bowl of roasted squash would be great for a holiday side.
A couple of acorn squash and one butternut squash is quite enough for 4 people. Some fresh thyme scattered about and pomegranate molasses drizzled over before and after roasting gave the squash an amazing glaze with just right crisp edges. . The skin on both squash was soft enough to eat as well. The key was using smaller size squash, which are easier to cut and naturally sweeter.Are you familiar with pomegranate molasses? It is pretty easy to find these days at larger supermarkets, but more often at import markets. I purchase it in Nashville at K & S Market on Charlotte Avenue.
A good lunch is a wonderful thing. To sit down and actually savor a mid-day or late afternoon lunch when I get a chance is a pleasure. My lunches take little prep and use pantry items along with a few fresh vegetables I have on hand. It takes just a few minutes to make it happen. It’s as easy as this.
Here is one of my current favorites using lemons, kalamata olives, tuna packed in olive oil, marinated red onions and fresh oregano leaves. I serve this with a crusty baguette for sopping up all the flavorful juices.
It’s summer in Nashville, it’s hot and humid..take a break from the stove….eat cool…eat simple…enjoy.
Summer Lunch -Lemony Tuna and Kalamata Olives with a Crusty Baguette
1/4 red onion, slivered and soaked in lemon juice for 15 minutes
2 cans tuna packed in olive oil, slightly drained and leaving larger chunks of tuna
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
the peel of one lemon cut into thin strips
the juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons torn fresh oregano leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 fresh baguette
In a bowl gently toss together red onion with lemon juice, tuna chunks with oil, kalamata olives, lemon peel strips, lemon juice and oregano. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with baguette pieces for sopping up juices. A Great nutritious lunch that is as Easy As This!
I like to make cozy at-home dinners, but on the other hand, I do not like to spend hours in the kitchen on my weekends. I enjoy making soups and stews, one-pot meals that can be quickly put together using good ingredients that aren’t too fussy. I also feel I have gotten into a culinary rut…always making the same things over and over….I mixed it up a bit with this recipe.
There are many good jarred or canned simmer sauces available in most supermarkets and international markets these days. Maya Kaimal is one of the brands I’ve used. There are many flavors…Korma, Tikka Masala as well as Goan Coconut . All delicious.
While noodling around on the internet this week looking for inspiration for a “nosh of note”, I ran across a recipe for “Parmesan Cream Crackers” by Mark Bittman that was published in the New York Times cooking section a few years ago. Homemade crackers would certainly qualify as a “nosh of note” wouldn’t they? Bittman’s basic recipe has just a few ingredients and from start to finish, 25 minutes/ I had a pan of freshly baked crackers. What could be easier than that?
Encouraged I took the basic recipe and ran with it…first batch I topped with toasted sesame seeds….which thankfully you can now purchase already toasted. Would you like to know how many sesame seeds I have burned up toasting them myself? Thousands I would guess.
The simple dough needs to be rolled out thinly and cut/scored before baking. The second batch I added fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
On a roll I whipped up a few other batches using various toss-ins and toppings such as crunchy sea salt, black pepper, espresso cocoa sea salt….
….bittersweet chocolate, chopped pistachios, orange peel and crunchy raw sugar.
Two hours later sheet pans of savory aromatic crackers covered the kitchen counters, ready to accompany a cheese platter along with a few bottles of bubbly for a New Year’s Eve with good, long-time friends…it was as Easy as This.
Note: “Nosh of note” was a quote from my friend, Nancy Vienneau, within an invite to a New Years Eve gathering at her home. Check out her blog at “Good Food Matters”.
Note: You can find the original recipe for “Parmesan Cheese Crackers” by Mark Bittman here..
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cream + more as needed to make dough
For “Toss-ins and Toppings” that I used:
toasted sesame seeds
thyme leaves and pepper flakes
espresso-cocoa sea salt mixture
chopped pistachios and orange zest with black pepper
bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, raw sugar and cinnamon
any number of other ideas pop into my head…pecans, walnuts, green tea, cayenne, any herbs, cardamom, lavender and lemon zest…use what you might have, what you like, and experiment.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
To a food processor add flour, salt, Parmesan cheese and butter. Pulse to combine.
If you choose to add any “toss ins” do so now, although the original recipe is fantastic as is.
After adding “toss ins”…drizzle in cream while processor is running until a dough forms. If need be, add a wee bit more cream. Dough should be smooth and silky and not at all sticky.
Roll dough out until thin, but workable, on lightly floured surface. Add flour as needed. Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet. (You can also simply roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured parchment and then transfer to sheet pans to save a step.
Here is where the “toppings” part comes in. Sprinkle on top and gently press into surface of dough.
Using a pastry wheel or knife cut/score dough so you can break into individual crackers after baking.
Bake until golden, light browned…for about 10-13 minutes depending on your oven. Cool on wire rack. You can serve these crackers warm or at room temperature and they can be stored in air tight containers for a few days. They are great with a bowl of soup or as dippers.
recipe adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman published in the New York Times.