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Spring: radishes and scallions. April 7, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s spring, and for me and our friend Ben, spring means garden-fresh radishes and scallions (green onions)! Here at Hawk’s Haven, we love radishes, and we like ’em hot—when we bite into a radish, we want it to bite back. We also want our radishes to be crisp and crunchy, not rubbery or woody, and nothing is crisper than a freshly pulled radish.

We not only love eating radishes, we love growing them, too. They’re about the easiest crop there is, after onion sets. (See our earlier post, “In praise of onion sets,” for more about them.) Toss the seed on your garden bed, water it in, watch for weeds, and wait for radishes. End of story! Well, maybe not quite the end: You need to thin the radish seedlings when they come up so the ones you leave in the ground have enough room to make nice, fat radishes. But when you pull up the extra seedlings, you can put them (washed, please) in a salad, leaves and all, for a nice, spicy treat.

Radishes are easy to grow, and they mature quickly (some in as little as 20-30 days from sowing). Whether you plant a classic round red radish like ‘Early Scarlet Globe’, a red-and-white bicolor like ‘Sparkler’ or ‘French Breakfast’, a mix of white, pink, rose, and purple like ‘Easter Egg’, or even a yellow radish like ‘Helios’ (or all of the above!), you’ll get an abundant, foolproof crop.

One of our favorite ways to eat radishes, after the French fashion, is sliced on buttered rounds of crusty baguette with a little salt. (Admittedly, unlike the French, we prefer these as appetizers rather than for breakfast. And, while we love ‘French Breakfast Radishes’ on our baguette slices, any radishes are good.) Our friend Ben and I also love to eat radishes in their simplest form, whole, also salted, and of course we love them sliced in salads.

But you don’t have to just eat radishes whole or sliced. You can also use them to make a luscious dip or spread, a great way to put a bumper crop to good use. We were introduced to this recipe by the farmers at our local CSA, Quiet Creek Farm. Thank you, John and Aimee!

Spring Radish Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (leaves, not seeds)

1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained (optional)

1 cup finely chopped or grated radishes

salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers, on crusty bread (baguettes, rye, sourdough), with tortilla chips, and/or with veggies like carrot sticks or chips, broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, or even freshly sliced cukes for dipping. Makes about 2 cups.

Yummy as this dip is, it only scratches the surface of radish possibilities. (We’re not even going to talk about daikon radishes, with their infinite uses; maybe next post.) If you matchstick radishes, you can add them to coleslaw for delicious bite, or to an omelette, or use them in a topping for a barbecue or roast beef sandwich, or a textural addition to hot sauce for seafood, or to kick up fried rice or stir-fry or sushi. And there are endless other options.

For those who seek to reduce calories, radishes are a pretty much no-calorie but satisfying option. And, as Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reminded me, there are many, many ways to use radishes to satisfy your cravings, whatever they are. Radish-related recipes in that issue ranged from Radish and Fennel salad through Pea, Radish and Ricotta Bruschetta to Roasted Spring Radishes and Potatoes with Radish Puree and Daikon Radish Cake. They all looked yummy (though I’d have served the radish and fennel slald over greens). See for yourself at http://www.wsj.com.

Ah, radishes. Coupled with spring’s other delights, scallions, asparagus, emerging greens, what a delight! Let’s celebrate the season.

‘Til next time,

Silence

Rabid for radishes. June 1, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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4 comments

Silence Dogood here. It’s radish season, at least here in Zone 6, as I was reminded when Entangled of Tangled Branches: Cultivated (http://tangledbranches.com/) linked to our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, the other day. Our friend Ben and I live in scenic Pennsylvania, and Entangled lives in Virginia, but we share Zone 6 and her radishes are also coming in fast and furious. When that happens, it’s all about the timing—trying to wait until the radishes are big enough but not wait until they get woody or split. Ack!

Anyway, Entangled wrote a post called “Reddish Radish Relish” sharing an original recipe that looks delicious. I’d never thought of making a radish relish, but hers is in my recipe file now, along with her recipe for “Indianish Radish Relish,” which looks simply fabulous. Yum! Speaking of which, Entangled linked in her post to a number of other delicious ways to use radishes. I especially loved GiniAnn of Salt and Pepper’s recipe for Radish Pachadi, which strikes me as an especially elaborate and flavorful raita. Sounds like a great excuse to make an Indian feast this week!

Basically, GiniAnn sautees onion, chilies, ginger, radishes, and shredded radish leaves in oil with black mustardseeds and salt, tops it off with fresh cilantro leaves, lets the mixture cool, and stirs it into plain yogurt. (I’ll let you explore her wonderful blog to find exact proportions, if you need them, for yourselves; remember, the link is in the “Reddish Radish Relish” post.)

Entangled linked to my post “Revolutionary Radishes” because it has a recipe for an easy, delicious radish spread. It also reveals Thomas Jefferson’s favorite radishes (you can still buy seeds of his all-time favorite, ‘China Rose’, today) and rants a bit about the joys of radish sprouts. You can search the title in our search bar at upper right to find the recipe and read the post, or simply click on Entangled’s link.

But let’s get back to the point: Many of us are  facing a glut of radishes right now. Fortunately, they do store well in the crisper drawer of the fridge if you cut the tops off. So you slice them in salads. You top a slice of buttered baguette with them, salt them, and enjoy them as a treat. You mince them and mix them into cream cheese or yogurt cheese with chopped scallions (green onions) or chives or diced sweet onion, then spread it on bagels or baguettes or use it as a dip for crudites or chips. Maybe you get adventurous and try Entangled’s radish relishes or GiniAnn’s Radish Pachadi. Or you just salt whole radishes and pop them in your mouth.

But still, there are radishes… and radishes. And more radishes. Now what?

Well, what about a spicy-sweet radish refrigerator pickle? It works for cukes, why not radishes? To make sweet-hot refrigerator pickles with cukes, I heat 1 cup each cider vinegar and sugar, add 2 T salt, 1 T each black mustardseed, turmeric, and whole cloves, and a dash of hot sauce. Once the solution boils and the sugar dissolves, I allow it to cool to lukewarm, then pour it over alternating layers of sliced cukes and diced sweet onion in a square or rectangular plastic container. Finally, I seal the lid on the container and refrigerate it for 3 to 5 days before beginning to eat the pickles so they take up plenty of flavor. The pickles will keep for weeks, with the flavor intensifying the longer you can resist eating them.

I don’t know why it wouldn’t work for radishes, too. So I decided to Google “radish pickle” and see what I found. Many links that came up were for Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese daikon radish pickles, but sure enough, there was one for a spicy-sweet radish refrigerator pickle by Regan Buma on Chow (www.chow.com). Here it is:

            Bread-and-Butter Radishes

1 bunch (about 13) red radishes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon yellow or brown mustardseed

1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 dried bay leaf

1. Rinse radishes and trim off their leafy tops. Holding the stem end, thinly slice radishes with a mandoline or sharp knife. When you get close to the stem, stop slicing and discard the end. Place radishes in a heatproof, nonreactive bowl, and set in the refrigerator while making the brine. 

2. Combine red wine vinegar, sugar, water, salt, mustardseed, coriander seed, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.

3. Remove from heat and let pickling brine cool for about 5 minutes. Remove radishes from the refrigerator and pour brine over them. Let cool for 20 minutes; cover and refrigerate. Use to top burgers, sandwiches, or anything else that needs tarting up.

The recipe makes 1 3/4 cups. Chow used these pickled radishes to top tea sandwiches made with butter, watercress, black pepper, and the radishes; you’ll find that recipe on their site as well. According to the site, the radish pickle will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, but I suspect it would probably keep longer. I should note that commentors on the recipe said it tasted delicious but smelled awful, so be forewarned! 

Once you’ve let your radish pickle age long enough to take up all the flavors, what else could you do with it? Well, you could use it as a relish on a hoagie. You could mix some into egg, chicken, or tuna salad or devilled eggs. Or make a roast beef rollup with radish relish and sour cream or cream cheese. You could use it in a club sandwich, a turkey or chicken sandwich, or any kind of cheese sandwich, or, again, top cream cheese with it on a bagel or slice of baguette. Or be daring and tuck it into a barbecue sandwich along with or instead of coleslaw.

Naturally, you don’t have to make radish pickles to enjoy your extra radishes. You can matchstick radishes and add them to coleslaw, shredded carrot salad, or pickled beets. You can stir-fry them with onion, green onion (scallions), egg, fresh green peas, and soy sauce or Tamari and serve the stir-fry over rice. Or add them to a spring roll. Or tuck them in a grilled cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato or a BLT. Or add them to hash browns. Or use them to add texture to a shrimp cocktail or heat to tartar sauce. The options are limited only by your imagination and your taste.

See what you come up with! And, please, enjoy “Reddish Radish Relish,” “Revolutionary Radishes,” and “Radish Pachadi.” There’s a wide world of radish recipes out there!

           ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

Revolutionary radishes May 1, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, recipes.
Tags: , , ,
4 comments

Silence Dogood here. It’s spring, and spring means garden-fresh radishes at last! Here at Hawk’s Haven, we love radishes, and we like ’em hot—when we bite into a radish, we want it to bite back. We also want our radishes to be crisp and crunchy, not rubbery or woody, and nothing is crisper than a freshly pulled radish.

We not only love eating radishes, we love growing them, too. They’re about the easiest crop there is, after onion sets. (See our earlier post, “In praise of onion sets,” for more about them.) Toss the seed on your garden bed, water it in, watch for weeds, and wait for radishes. End of story! Well, maybe not quite the end: You need to thin the radish seedlings when they come up so the ones you leave in the ground have enough room to make nice, fat radishes. But when you pull up the extra seedlings, you can put them (washed, please) in a salad, leaves and all, for a nice, spicy treat.

Radishes are great veggies for kids to grow, too, because they’re easy, they mature quickly (some in as little as 20-30 days from sowing), and they’re cute and colorful. Whether you plant a classic round red radish like ‘Early Scarlet Globe’, a red-and-white bicolor like ‘Sparkler’ or ‘French Breakfast’, a mix of white, pink, rose, and purple like ‘Easter Egg’, or even a yellow radish like ‘Helios’ (or all of the above!), you’ll get an abundant, foolproof crop.

Now it’s recipe time. But first, why did I call this post “Revolutionary radishes”? Well, the Boston Tea Party may be better known, but it was preceded by the “Root Out the Redcoats” incident, when a mob of outraged Bostonians pelted some British soldiers with radishes as they emerged from Sam Adams’s pub after a night of hard drinking and low tipping.

Actually, I just made that up. I really called the post “Revolutionary radishes” because radishes were a favorite crop of Thomas Jefferson’s at his Virginia home, Monticello. In fact, you can buy seed of a radish he actually grew, ‘China Rose’ winter radish, from the shop at Monticello (www.monticello.org); it’s also available from seed companies like Baker Creek Heirloom Seed (www.RareSeeds.com), which sells seed of many other great radishes, too. The Monticello website notes: “Jefferson preferred the scarlet radish, although his garden included salmon, rose, violet and white types,” and says that he often interplanted radishes and lettuces. If you decide to grow ‘China Rose’, remember that it’s a winter radish, which means you should plant it in late summer rather than spring and harvest it in fall.

Okay, back to the recipe. I’ve already talked about one of our favorite ways to eat radishes, after the French fashion: sliced on buttered rounds of crusty baguette. (Admittedly, unlike the French, we prefer these as appetizers rather than for breakfast.) And our friend Ben and I like to eat them whole with (of course) salt. Even our golden retriever, Molly, loves the ends of the radishes (I’m sure she’d love the entire radish even more, but forget that), and the chickens enjoy the greens. Radishes are a family affair here at Hawk’s Haven!

But you don’t have to just eat radishes whole or sliced. You can also use them to make a luscious dip or spread, a great way to put a bumper crop to good use. We were introduced to this recipe by the farmers at our local CSA, Quiet Creek Farm. Thank you, John and Aimee!

                    Spring Radish Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (leaves, not seeds)

1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained (optional)

1 cup finely chopped or grated radishes

salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers, on crusty bread (baguettes, rye, sourdough), with tortilla chips, and/or with veggies like carrot sticks or chips, broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, or even freshly sliced cukes for dipping. Makes about 2 cups.

Yum!!! But there’s another way to enjoy radishes, too, and that’s as sprouts (also fun for kids—I guess radishes are just a kid-friendly food). If you can sprout alfalfa seeds, you can sprout radish seeds: soak, drain, repeat. Just make sure you buy seed that’s organically grown and intended for human consumption! God knows what some seed companies may have used to treat their garden seed, but you don’t want to eat it.

Radish sprouts add a nice bit of spice to salads and sandwiches, but there’s another reason to eat them, too: They’re powerhouses of vitamins and other nutrients. Radish sprouts have, ounce for ounce, more protein than milk, 29 times more vitamin C, and 4 times more vitamin A, as well as 10 times more calcium than a potato. They’re also packed with concentrated phytochemicals that can combat osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, even PMS! So eat your radishes, boys and girls. They’re good for you!

One of our favorite sites for all things sprout is Sproutman (www.sproutman.com). Interestingly, the variety of radish seed that he sells for sprouting is ‘China Rose’, the very same one grown by Thomas Jefferson. I guess Sproutman must just be a revolutionary at heart. 

                                   ‘Til next time,

                                                Silence