21 August 2012

peppery, buttery simplicity

I was cleaning out the fridge tonight and noticed that I had a big bundle of beautiful radishes that were in danger of going bad.  I hate to see good food go to waste and I wasn't about to just sit and eat a bunch of radishes at 9:30 in the evening, so I headed to the internerd to see what magic it could show me.  Being that I am a librarian, I like to think that I'm pretty good at searching for things but, despite my best efforts, a wide variety of radish recipes is not so easy to come by... especially when you're working with pretty bare cupboards, a very tight budget, and late-night laziness (don't judge me for thinking 9:30PM is late, I'm getting old!)  Of course there were beautiful, colorful summer salads with peas and Boston lettuce an bleu cheese.  There were hot and cold pasta salads with radish tops and seafood and parmesan.  And you mustn't forget the myriad recipes for pickled radishes; so many pickled radishes!  But it was too late for a meal and even if I were to save it for tomorrow, it would require a pricey trip to the grocery store and if I'm going to start pickling (which, heaven knows, I'd love to try,) I'd rather do it with good, old-fashioned cukes.  So what to do, what to do?

Among my search results were a lot of sandwich ideas.  Nearly all of them listed butter and salt among the ingredients to mix up with the pretty pink radishes.  Most of them simply said 'lightly toast brown bread, spread with butter, top with thinly sliced radishes and sprinkle with salt.'  That's it?!  I was dumbstruck by the simple beauty of this apparently widespread variety of tea sandwich.  And I was intrigued by the combination of peppery radish, creamy butter and salty salt.  But it seemed to me that those final three steps of the recipe could be narrowed down to one simple spread of a knife if the butter, salt and radishes were already combined.  Yes, I'm a genius!  So I broke out the food processor, pulsed the heck out of those radishes, creamed them with the butter and added some very course sea salt.  The pops of magenta in the creamy yellow of the butter look really lovely and, even more importantly, the burst of flavor in my mouth was so balanced and beautiful.  I can't wait to try this out as a sandwich spread - I'm imagining hearty pumpernickle bread, thinly sliced rare roast beef, and maybe some crisp English cucumbers.  Mmm now that's a tea sandwich I could get down with!  Maybe my next project will be to bake some bread, who knows?  No matter, I'll let you know what I end up doing with the mix so stay tuned!

radish butter
a big bundle of radishes (I used 7 pretty large radishes)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
about 1 tbsp very course sea salt
1. Rinse radishes and cut into pretty small bits.  Toss them into the food processor and pulsate until they've gotten teeny tiny but not mushy.  Wrap in a few layers of paper towel and wring them out really well to get rid of all the excess moisture.
2. In a medium sized bowl, cream the radishes with the butter (cut up in tablespoons) until well mixed and there are no large chunks of butter.  You want it all to be one beautiful, creamy spreadable blend.  Stir in the salt.
3. Scoop into an airtight container (I used my good old-fashioned mason jar) and refrigerate.  I'm guessing this will stay good for awhile but I'll let you know the specifics as I figure them out.  I may also end up freezing some because a whole stick of butter and that many radishes made more than I think I was expecting.

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