Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Signs of Spring: Butter Braised Radishes with Herbs

If you have never thought to cook a radish before this post is for you.  Think of all the classic flavor marriages you have come to know: bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, hamburgers and french fries.  Now let me add radishes and butter. I know that you are thinking, "oh sure, what doesn't go well with butter?" The next time you butter a warm, crusty, slice of baguette, sprinkle it with salt and add a few radish slices and you will see what I mean.  After you have done that, think of that crisp, peppery texture softened in brown butter.  Then try this recipe.  Radishes forever transformed in your mind.  I promise.

Butter Braised Radishes with Herbs

A dozen radishes scrubbed clean with their ends trimmed off
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
sea salt
1/2 a teaspoon of sugar
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup mixed chopped herbs such as chives, dill, parsley, thyme or tarragon (I used dill, chives and thyme) 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium sized, cast iron skillet, melt the butter until it becomes a light golden brown.  Add radishes whole with sugar and salt.  Sautee` over medium heat turning occasionally so they get a good amount of color on all sides. Then transfer to the oven and roast until soft. Toss your herbs with radishes in the hot skillet.  Transfer to a bowl once the herbs wilt to stop the cooking.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Table Style: Porcelain Top Cafetera

Let me share with you my birthday present.  My husband knows how to make me happy.  I have kept this little coffee pot bookmarked on my wish list for almost a year.  It just wasn't that easy to find.  I first came across it in our neighbors' home.  I am very particular about my coffee and at the same time very simple in my lifestyle. Only a like-minded and worldly couple could have had such a beautiful object that makes good, simple coffee.  "Where did you find this?" I ask them.   Their reply?  Spain.  Great...so where do I get one?  I desperately ask if, per chance, they are going back to Spain anytime soon.  

I have always been a fan of the stove top cafetera.  It was my first coffee maker of choice and is fondly remembered in my household growing up.  Memories of dinner with guests always bring to mind the picture of my father raising himself from the head of the table after the main course had been adequately devoured and announcing "Who wants coffee?  Black or brown?"  Black or brown was my fathers' delineation between what was considered Italian coffee, espresso, and American drip coffee.  As an Italian-American household we always offered both. Now he has a fancy espresso machine.  Since he takes such pride in his coffee toy, we usually skip the American coffee.  I have to admit, it has been a long time since I have heard him ask, "Black or brown?" and thinking about it takes me back. 

Back to my new gadget:  unlike the signature, silver cafetera that I am so used to, this one has a porcelain top instead of the octagonal, aluminum one.  Yes, I am a sucker for this beautiful, white, ridged form but practically speaking, I love how it goes from the stove to the table.  The minimal oxidation is nice too.  It makes for some easy cleaning.  So through some serious google research we managed to track down this item on amazon.com.  If you are interested, it is made by a company called Valira and the model is Claudia.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dinner on the Fly: Mushroom and Barley Soup

This rainy night I needed comfort food.  It is work to be an optimistic person and I openly accept the challenge.  Anything worth having can not be attained without the fair amount of effort including a sunny disposition and the unrelenting push forward into the abyss of could-bes.  But still, one day is full of possibilities and the next they pop like soap bubbles, am I right?  Brushing myself off, it isn't long before I decide to blow a new set of hopes and wishes into that little, plastic, circle wand.  Comfort food definitely helps.  I don't think my body would thank me for wallowing in greasy-cheeseburger-fries-and-a-shake self pity but maybe something just a little warm and starchy.

Mushroom and Barley Soup

At least 3 cups of 3 kinds of mushrooms like shitake, cremini and portabella chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
4 to 6cups beef broth
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 a cup chopped parsley
One sprig of thyme
1 cup barley
sea salt
black pepper
heavy cream (optional and the amount is entirely dependant on how much comfort you are needing, I will not judge you)
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large pot or dutch oven sautee` your onion and clelery in olive oil until transluscent.  Then add your barley and toss so that it is well coated.  Add chopped mushrooms, sherry and thyme then cover to steam for a minute or two so that the mushrooms reduce in size and the flavors blend.  Note that if your barley is sticking to the pot beforehand add a small amount of liquid such as broth or water to slow the cooking. The add the rest of the broth and simmer until the barley is soft.  Before serving add salt, pepper, parley and heavy cream.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Table Style: Scandinavian Design House

I went on a little window shopping walk in the area and found this great shop.  Scandinavian Design House is a tiny store off Bedford Avenue packed with stylish kitchenwares to add color and style to your favorite room in the house.  I just can't help sharing...

Pillows are made with Marimekko fabrics.
Check it out:

Scandinavian Design House
167 N 9th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211