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Friday: Spring Radish Salsa

Spring Radish Salsa

I’m so excited to share this dish with you! A salsa based on radishes is light and elegant and oh so right for spring. Save the tomatoes and peppers for summer and make this salsa now. It’s a cheerful salsa inspired by the flavors of Mexico and the islands. Impress your friends this Memorial day with Spring Radish Salsa. They will like it. A lot.

This recipe brings together ingredients with bold flavors and bright colors. I use french breakfast radishes because they look so elegant. Cilantro brings a refreshing herbal note. The lime zest is fragrant and almost floral while the juice brings acidity to the dish. Jalapeño adds an extra kick while the Haitian mango balances the salsa with it’s creamy sweetness. This is the first time I’ve cooked with Haitian mangoes and I have fallen head over heels for them! The skin of the Haitian mango is green and yellow, while the flesh is golden just like other mangoes. I was overwhelmed by the exotic, tropical flavor of the Haitian mango- amazing! The flesh is pithier and stringy compared to other mangoes, but it’s good in a raw, jungle fruit sort of way. If you haven’t tried a Haitian mango, it’s time to try something new.  Plus, your dollars are going to Haiti, where they are trying to rebuild their economy.

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Storyboard: Radish

Radish StoryBoard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

We’ve Been Taking You For Granted, Radish

The name “radish” comes from the Latin word for root, it’s actually part of the mustard family. Given the radish’s spicy flavor, it’s easy to see the family resemblance. Radishes are a cool season vegetable. In the hot temperatures and long sunny days of summer they become pithy and aggressively spicy. Though radishes can be found in markets year-round, their peak season is early spring and late fall. I think we take radishes for granted because mediocre specimens are found so easily throughout the year. We forget the joy of this early season vegetable harvested when it’s too cold for other vegetables and fruits. In the cool, wet days of early spring, pulling a bright red radish from the soil is enough to make me giddy. It feels like finding gold.

I encourage you to grow your own, or at least get them from a local farmer. Radishes are a great confidence builder for beginning gardeners. They grow quickly, maturing in about 4 weeks, and tolerate frost well. Enjoy the radishes with butter and make a salad or soup from the green tops.

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Cook in the Moment: Radishes & Peas

 

Bonjour radish! Meet Monsieur pea- you two look great together!

My recipe for ‘Spring Radish & Pea Salad’ was inspired by vibrant color and the delicious combination of spicy and sweet. Peppery radishes and sweet peas are a celebration of spring when plated together. Crème fraîche binds the salad and balances the crisp vegetables with creamy tanginess. Lemon zest adds color and lemony aroma without acidity. Finish the salad with a sprinkling of dill, the happy go lucky spring herb. Though the recipe below serves 2 people generously, you can easily increase the ingredients to serve more people. The crème fraîche dressing is meant to lightly coat the vegetables, so don’t overdo it when increasing the recipe quantities.

 

Spring Radish & Pea Salad

 

1 small shallot

a splash of white wine vinegar

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Radish

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use radishes in your spring pantry:

 

1.  Just as they are

It’s a bit painful to suggest anything more than enjoying radishes just as they are. A bowl of radishes on the table with best quality butter and sea salt is simply perfect. In his book, The Whole Beast Nose to Tail Eating, Fergus Henderson suggests enjoying the radishes with butter and serving the radish greens on the side dressed in Dijon vinaigrette.

2.  Salad

The internet is full of recipes for radish salads, but all you need to think about is ingredients that would best compliment the spicy flavor and crisp texture of radishes. Rich, creamy avocado, citrus, and fresh herbs like chive, cilantro, or mint combine beautifully with radishes.

3.  Potato Salad

I came across a recipe in the Blackberry Farm cookbook for potato salad with creamy green goddess dressing and radishes. Spinach, tarragon, and basil contribute color and bright, herbal flavor to the dish. Soft boiled potatoes are a nice foil to the raw crunchy radish.

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Ingredient of the Week: Radish

Ingredient Of The Week : Radish (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I must say I’m sorry. I know the “pantry” generally refers to a place for storing ingredients that are not fresh but dry or preserved and will keep for awhile. Here at LaDomestique, I choose to take a more liberal approach to the pantry. It’s just that I am feeling intense passion for my radishes right now and I need to share it with you. Is that ok? I hope so.

You see, we had a full week of rain in Colorado (very unusual).  When I visited my garden yesterday the radishes were ready to harvest. I just can’t believe how lovely these little darlings are. Just seven weeks ago I planted the tiny, ambiguous radish seeds in my community garden plot. “Will these little seeds grow?” I thought. It’s hard to believe such a minute speck could grow into a radish. Gardening is like being a child again, observing the power of nature with hope and wonder. It’s a reminder that as adults we are not masters of the universe. Growing vegetables is faith and hope and waiting. Yesterday, as I gently pulled my radishes from the soil I felt giddy- the radishes are here!  Those little seeds really grew! I felt the pride and joy of a new mother, “Isn’t it beautiful? My little radish. You are the cutest most wonderful radish that ever lived! You will grow up and do great things, radish!” Ok, I’m totally losing control here.

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Friday: Pairing Cheese & Drinks, Colorado style

Today at LaDomestique, I’ve got a couple of cheese and drink pairings for you. In the spirit of a week spent on Colorado goat cheese, I stayed local and chose beer and wine made in Colorado. I hope this encourages you to go out and discover pairings to go with your favorite cheeses. Despite what others may say, there are no rules to perfect pairings. One of my great passions is the magic that happens when I discover a beautiful food and wine (or beer) pairing. A Chef I worked with once said, “A good pairing is when you can’t tell where the food ends and the wine begins”. A few suggestions to help you on your journey:

  • What grows together goes together
    Food and drink produced in the same area share the same terroir, or sense of place. The Loire Valley in France is home to crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc wines that pair beautifully with the local goat cheese. Look for opportunities to pair ingredients in your local area.
  • Balance
    Being well balanced is a revered quality in food and wine. No one component is overwhelming and all flavors can be appreciated by the palate. Kind of like people- it’s generally easier to be friends with someone who is well balanced. In the world of flavor creaminess is balanced by acidity, saltiness is balanced by sweetness, etc. Seek balance in your cheese and wine pairings.
  • Opposites Attract
    This is similar to balance. If the cheese is pungent, try a fortified, sweet wine. A rich, buttery cheese can pair well with a crisp, acidic white.
  • Samesies
    You can seek out a complimentary pairing where there is harmony between the cheese and wine. The  lemony flavor of chèvre is enhanced by an acidic white wine. Each ingredient gets along well. Today I paired a strong, pungent cheese with a full bodied, intensely hoppy beer. It works.

That’s all you need to know to go forth and start pairing. Try new things and develop your palate. Bon appetit!

 

Mojo India Pale Ale with Haystack Mountain Red Cloud

The Cheese

Haystack Mountain Red Cloud

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Storyboard: Colorado Goat Cheese

Colorado Goat Cheese Storyboard (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com
Special thanks to Alfalfa’s Market for allowing La Domestique to shoot photos of their cheese department.

 

The Soul of Colorado Goat Cheese

According to The Cheese Lover’s Companion, “The soul of every cheese is the milk used to make it”. Think about that for a second. What a great analogy, the idea of cheese having a soul! It all starts with milk, and the manipulation of the cheese maker (salting, molding, ripening, etc.) is just packaging. What affects the flavor of the milk to start with? Certainly the species and breed of animal produce milk with unique flavors. The milk produced by goats is lower in fat and supposedly easier to digest that other milks. The texture can be soft and creamy or semi-hard like Haystack Mountain Sunlight. Goat’s milk yields cheeses with acidity, resulting in a tangy flavor.

Then comes terroir and season. Terroir is a sense of place. It’s a reflection of where the animal lives and what native plants it eats, the air it breathes and the weather it endures. What kind of terroir do we have in Colorado? It’s a rugged and mountainous landscape with crisp, cool air and 300 days of sunshine a year. Peaches, plums, cherries, and apples grow in our orchards. Chives and thyme grow wild and lemony sorrel flourishes in our dry climate. At Avalanche Cheese Company, Wendy Mitchell’s goats graze on clover, alfalfa, oats, and peas in the fields (according to Edible Aspen).

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Cook in the moment: Goat Cheese & the Sandwich

Today I want to introduce you to a sandwich. This is not just any sandwich- it’s elegant and has some serious flavor. I’m going to rock your lunch today, gourmet style.

It started with ‘Truffled Honey & Lemon Chevre Spread’ made by Avalanche Cheese Company. This cheese changed my world a little bit. Kudos to Wendy Mitchell for her thoughtful touch when it comes to cheese-making. ‘Truffled Honey & Lemon Chevre Spread’ truly has just a hint of white truffle, enough to leave you wanting more. The lemony tang combined with subtle honey flavor is perfectly balanced. There is something special about Wendy’s cheese. It’s the first time I’ve tasted a Colorado cheese that has worldly sophistication. I believe her cheeses are special because Wendy understands the art of being subtle. It’s all very Euro, isn’t it?

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Colorado Goat Cheese

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use Colorado goat cheese in your spring pantry:

 

1.  Scrambled Eggs

My most favorite way to enjoy chèvre is crumbled into soft scrambled eggs just before they finish cooking. Spring herbs such as dill or chives are a welcome addition. The creamy, tangy goat cheese is really nice with farm fresh eggs. A goat cheese omelette would be lovely as well.

2.  Salad

Chèvre in salad is nothing new, but I have to tell you something magical happens when you combine goat cheese, golden beets, and toasted hazelnuts. The flavors harmonize perfectly: tangy cheese, earthy sweet beets, and the nuts are just plain nutty.  So good with a mixture of green and purple spring lettuces. Dijon vinaigrette is the way to go here.

3.  Tartine

I must admit that until today, I did not know a “tartine” is French for an open faced sandwich. I came across a recipe for “Strawberry Tartine” in Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Around My french Table. Dorie spreads goat cheese on a baguette, places strawberries on top with fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This might be my new favorite thing!

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Ingredient of the Week: Colorado Goat Cheese

Ingredient Of The Week : Colorado Goat Cheese (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com

I can think of no cheese I crave more during spring time than fresh goat cheese. The soft creamy texture and lemony tart flavor of chèvre begs to be paired with fresh herbs and crisp salad greens. Pastas with bright green peas and asparagus benefit from a sprinkling of crumbly goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. The creamy texture of chèvre lends itself to an easy but addictive dip for the vegetable crudites platter. Goat cheese is simple and fresh, just like a crisp spring morning in the garden.

Chèvre is only the beginning. Goat cheese can also be made into a pasteurized blue cheese; a firm, pungent washed rind cheese; or an elegant, soft and oozy bloomy rind cheese. Aged goat cheese becomes dry and firm with a more developed, complex flavor than fresh chèvre.

Join me this week at LaDomestique, as I explore Colorado goat cheese in its many forms. The craggy mountains and dry foothills of Colorado are well suited to raising low maintenance goats. According to The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan, “The French call a goat a poor man’s cow because it needs no more than roadside herbage to survive”. Despite their reputation as a walking garbage disposal, goats produce milk that can be made into cheeses with an exceptional bright and clean flavor. Goat cheese can be grassy, herbaceous, and earthy. Trying different goat cheeses reveals a world of tastes and textures.

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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