Saturday, August 14, 2010


I was so hot last Saturday, all I wanted was ice cold water and watermelon. I had to be hot because I almost always drink room temperature water.  I'd been out and about in the heat and in a hot kitchen for four hours.

Anyhoo, I know flavored waters are all the rage.  I have to say that my favorite is what I call spa water.  I remember people were baffled by the flavor combination in 2001.  I had some at a hotel last week and I was reminded of how refreshing it was.

Start here:

Slice the lemon and lime in half.  Slice the cucumber.  I used about half of that.  You're probably supposed to remove the seeds, but I grew up eating the skin and the seeds.  I'm way too lazy to remove either as an adult.  Pick the mint and basil (yep, basil) leaves and slightly bruise them with your fingers.  Layer everything into a pitcher with ice.

Oops. That photo is a little dark.  Add your water and give it a stir.

Of course at the hotel, everything was suspended so beautifully in the lemonade jar ... . This will do for just me.  Let this sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Afterward, take out all of the solids or the water will turn bitter.  Save them and use them for garnish.  Wonderfully refreshing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


That's the only word I know in French.  But, it did give you a clue about the post, right? I finally made it back into the kitchen -- this time with a French flair.

This was precipitated by the volunteer work I did yesterday.  I hung out at a community kitchen, preparing meals for the homeless.  The good folks from the Evanston Farmer's Market came by with produce to donate.  There was corn, greens (collard, mustard and turnip), yellow string beans, endive, parsley, basil, radishes and mirlitons.  It was the last two that got me excited.  I didn't know what I was going to do with the mirlitons, but I knew my adopted home status in New Orleans would be revoked  if I didn't bring them with me.  The radishes were a no-brainer - Ina Garten's radishes with butter and salt recipe. It's funny how a recipe can stay with you for years, even if you've never made it.

Let's start with the appetizer.  (I'll do the mirlitons in a future post.) At some point during my childhood, I declared that radishes tasted like fire.  I've pretty much avoided them ever since.  Well, I eat a lot of things now that I didn't when I was little, so why continue to be afraid of the radish (especially when I could get free ones)?

I have to admit that I felt very fancy and sophisticated once this was plated.  It's really easy.  Wash the radishes, leave the tops on, but trim the roots.  The tops are very gritty, so wash them well.  Arrange them on a plate.

Get some French bread, slice it on the bias and lightly toast it.

Now here comes the best part:  compound butter.  I don't have any pics, but the recipe link has video from the show.  I used unsalted butter, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh parsley, dried dill, lemon juice and grated garlic and onion.  Let the butter get soft and mash it up with the other ingredients.

Now, I am not a big fan of butter.  I'd much rather have olive oil.  My aunt says this is because I use unsalted butter.  Honey, I almost fell out after I tasted this butter!  It was so good.  See?

Slather the butter (if you haven't eaten it all) on your bread.  Arrange artfully on a plate (to the best of your ability).  Add some sea salt to the plate as well.

When I started to eat this, I did my usual thing -- I tried to eat the radish and bread separately.  Yep. Radishes still taste like fire.  Ina G. said people fed this to their children. Why??!!  Then, I did something I rarely do, I took a bite of radish and then a bite of the bread and ate them together.  Oh my damn!  The French are geniuses!  The salt was a waste (please know that expensive Fleur de sel will be put to another use), but the butter took away that irritating burn from the radish. I like spicy food, but raw radishes ain't me.

However, with the butter, I am a proud member of the clean plate club!

 Tools of the trade: