Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Butter Radishes

While we endure the typical extremes in weather here in Michigan – hot one day, cold the next – the calendar tells us that it is undoubtedly springtime. This also marks the beginning of the growing season. For me, the sight of bright yellow forsythias and deep purple lilacs is the indication that the throws of winter are safely behind us (although I’ve been fooled once or twice) and we can get back to the business of enjoying the outdoors.

This also means that gradually the wonderful fruits and vegetables grown in our great state will begin to make their way to the markets. Among the early arrivals are radishes. These bright red globes grow to full maturity in just a few weeks, so the first harvest is often available in late spring. Not everyone is a radish fan, but even for those who are, there is usually a limit on how many can be eaten in one sitting. Typically reserved for tossing in salads or eaten raw with salt or on a veggie tray, the sharp bite of the radish can give pause. 

One way to mellow out the sharpness or “hotness” of radishes and serve them in a whole new manner is to sauté them with butter and serve them warm. Cooking radishes not only changes the flavor, it also softens the texture and lightens the color. And don’t forget the radish greens! They are not only edible, they have great flavor. They can be eaten raw, but I like to sauté them along with the radishes and serve together. Because radishes grow in the ground, just make sure that everything is very well washed.

Here’s to the start of a great season of eating and enjoying!

Butter Radishes

2 bunches radishes
3 TBSP butter
1 ¼ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 TBSP butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Give the radishes and greens a good washing and rinsing. Trim off the greens and set aside. Trim the stem and root ends off radishes. Cut radishes in half lengthwise, or cut into quarters if they are very large. 

In a large skillet, melt 3 TBSP butter over medium-high heat. Add cut up radishes, salt and pepper. Toss radishes to coat all with butter. You will notice the red skins will begin to turn a pale pink color, and the radishes will begin releasing a lot of their liquid. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated – about 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove radishes from skillet and set aside. Return skillet to stove and add one tablespoon of butter. Once melted, add minced garlic and stir just for about 20 seconds – garlic will become very fragrant. Add radish greens and toss in skillet with butter and garlic. Cook until wilted and tender – about 4 to 5 minutes. Add greens to cooked radishes and serve immediately.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mock Spinach Pie Casserole

For those people familiar with the popular Greek dish “spanakopita,” this variation provides a lot of the same flavor without the complicated process of the traditional recipe. This is a creation of Ralph, and so he is in front of the camera this time explaining how it all comes together. I think because he is an artist, Ralph has a way of deconstructing dishes and reimagining them in very creative ways! This recipe is no exception, and it really does deliver on great flavor.

Here, torn pieces of pita bread are used to make the “crust” for the casserole. You will note that he uses the edges of the pita bread to form the edges around the baking pan. A CoF viewer made this recipe and shared that he used a lavash to make the crust – another wonderful alternative! 

The filling has all the good stuff that we look for in a spinach pie, including dried mint, which really adds a wonderful flavor component to the dish. It all mixes together in one bowl and bakes in less than an hour. This casserole makes a great vegetarian option and is also a hit at potlucks!

Mock Spinach Pie Casserole

3-6 pita breads (depending on size, can be white or whole wheat)
6 eggs
1 TBSP milk
1 cup finely chopped onion
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 TBSP salt
¼ cup flour
½ cup dried spearmint
2 TBSP butter, melted
12-16oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
1 cup cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or non-stick spray. Tear pita bread into pieces that are 3-4 inches long. Use the edge of the pitas to line the edge of the baking dish (see video). You want to completely cover the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the pita. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until eggs are a little foamy. To this mixture, add the onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, flour, mint and melted butter. Mix to combine.

Add spinach, feta and cottage cheese. Carefully blend (fold) together all the ingredients until well combined and the cheese are distributed throughout. Pour mixture over pita bread in baking dish and spread so it is even over the top. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Remove baking dish from oven and let cool a few minutes before cutting. Can be served as a main course, or also is a great side with beef or lamb. Enjoy!