New potatoes: These freshly dug Yukon Gold potatoes are so new that their skins have barely formed. New potatoes do not store for a long period and will be best used within a couple of weeks. Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dark place that is away from onions. Yukon Golds are an all purpose potato with a medium starch content so they will respond well to roasting, mashing, or steaming. Their paper thin skins need only be scrubbed lightly before using.
Radishes store best if the green tops are removed. If the greens look good, they can used as a cooking green that makes a nice addition to stir fries. Store radish greens and radishes separately in plastic bags in the refrigerator. While radishes make a piquant appetizer, they can also be cooked with good results. Braising and sautéing mellows their bite, making them great additions to stir fries. For a decadent but simple appetizer, cut radishes in half, sprinkle with salt, and put a very thin slice of butter on each half. Let stand for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before enjoying the perfect combination of crunchy radish and creamy butter.
Horseradish: This yellowish-brown root belongs to the same family as turnip, cabbage, and cauliflower. The pungent odor and hot taste of horseradish is related to a substance called sinigrin that creates a volatile oil containing sulphur. The release of these properties only happens when the root is either cut or bruised. Grating horseradish will make your eyes water and nose tingle so if you are sensitive, wear ski goggles while grating.
Horseradish is popular in many cuisines and is usually served as a condiment for meat, fish, or eggs. The entire root is not useable; you will want to peel the root and discard any woody core. The grated root can be eaten raw but is usually toned down with some dairy product or mixed in to a sauce. One root is usually more than enough for a recipe, so preservation is important since once horseradish is cut or grated and the flavor has developed, it quickly deteriorates. Pickling horseradish or storing it with vinegar are two ways to preserve the pungency. For more delicious ideas on incorporating this spicy root into your meal, check out www.saveur.com and search ‘horseradish’.
Buttercrunch head lettuce will have crisp mild tasting leaves that make a nice addition to a salad or the leaves can be used for lettuce wraps. Lettuce will keep best if stored in a plastic bag in vegetable crisper. Tear off leaves at the base of the head as you need them. For a wedge salad, stand lettuce head upright and cut in half through the core at the base. Quarter each half, making sure each wedge has a bit of the core to hold the wedge together.
Buttermilk Horseradish Dressing (makes about 1 cup)
This recipe, from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, makes a nice dip for fresh vegetables or french fries. It also goes well with potatoes and meat.
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
Fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Combine the buttermilk, yogurt, and horseradish is a bowl. Mince the garlic with ¼ teaspoon of salt until a thick paste; add parsley and mince to bruise the herbs (this can be done in a mortar and pestle or by hand). Add this to the buttermilk mixture with lemon juice to taste.
Wedge Salad with Buttered Croutons and Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette (Serves 4)
Adapted from Mustards by Cindy Pawlcyn, this is a simple but satisfying salad that demands a knife and fork. If you prefer, cut the lettuce before and toss with dressing before serving.
1 head butterhead lettuce
3-4 slices good quality white or wheat bread
2 tablespoons butter
Chives, thinly sliced into rounds
Cut stem end of lettuce head so it is flat and clean. Remove outer leaves and save for another salad. Cut heads lengthwise into quarters, rinse and dry, and then wrap is a clean, damp kitchen towel and refrigerate until needed.
Make vinaigrette. Set aside
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice bread into small cubes. Melt the butter, pour it over the cubes and toss well. Bake in oven until they are crisp and golden. Croutons can also be fried in butter on the stove top, stirring occasionally to keep them from burning.
Set wedge of lettuce on plate, ladle dressing over each, scatter croutons on top, and finish with plenty of freshly ground pepper and chives.
Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette
2-3 ounces of your favorite bleu cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Combine the cheese, oil, and sour cream in a blender or food processor and blend until fairly smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and adjust vinegar is necessary.