It seems like I have been absent for an eternity. I have missed this. I have missed my creativity, my time in the kitchen, my inspiration, my failures and successes, but I think most of all, I have missed my readers and friends.
This was not a scheduled absence; far from it. I was aggressively forced into this by my body. It decided that slowly and surely, it would take away all my mobility and leave me frustrated, angry and resentful in bed…for two whole weeks.
I am not going to dwell on it any longer. It has taken too much of my precious time and thought for the past few weeks. I rather just tell you that I am feeling better and no longer tethered to the confines of my bed. I am moving slow but moving, and in time, will be back to my zippy self.
It’s been hard to just sit (or in my case, lie) by the sidelines and watch as the arrival of spring heralds the opening of farmers markets and farm stands and the appearance of gorgeous local produce. The spring weather has also been enthralling, lighting up the Colorado skies with the most amazing thunder and lightning shows and spectacular arrays of clouds.
The birds are overly chatty (waking me up every morning before the crack of dawn) and wildlife in general, is in full force. Bunnies are sun bathing and foxes are scurrying around hoping to catch the sunbathing bunnies. Few weeks ago, a shoulder (side of a road) was taped off, nearby to our house, because the trees had birds nesting there. They happened be owls and very soon, little owlets appeared. I so wanted to get out there and photograph them but since I couldn’t move, that opportunity passed.
Being pretty much immobile meant no cooking and baking, and that was real torture, especially as I knew that the short season for certain vegetables was slipping away. I rested for a couple of days after receiving 2 shots from my doctor and then the first thing I did was go out for coffee! It felt so good to be out! The second thing I did was visit my farm stand.
Apart from the mascarpone cheese and lemon, everything came from the farm. Super fresh produce and it’s fantastic. I am easing myself back into the kitchen and taking advantage of the local produce to make quick, easy meals. Here is one.
These gorgeous tartines are not dinner in themselves but definitely a great side, snack or lunch. We had them alongside grilled steaks and sautéed broccoli rabe.
A tartine is simply an open faced sandwich which usually has a lavish spread smeared on it and a variety of toppings. In my case, I really wanted to pickle some breakfast radishes that are so abundant right now. The lavish spread here ended up being a creamy lemon mascarpone, bright with the addition of lemon zest, chives and chive blossoms (only because they are so pretty) They were fabulous; light and filling at the same time. I picked a lovely, earthy, wholesome pumpkin levain as my base; wonderfully chewy and heavily studded with pumpkin seeds. The tartines were finished off with a handful of delicate mizuna greens; also from the farm.
This is not a recipe as such but just a blueprint to an endless combination of spreads and toppings. Though, this one is excellent if I do say so myself. I am thinking roasted grapes, fresh heirloom tomatoes, avocado hummus, creamy goat cheese……..
- 2 bunches (20) breakfast radishes or other radishes
- 1 cup/235ml organic white vinegar
- ¾ cup/175ml water
- 6-8 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8oz container mascarpone cheese
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons chives, chopped finely
- chive blossoms, optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- A good quality, artisanal whole wheat or sourdough loaf
- mizuna/spinach/arugula for topping
- Slice the radishes diagonally into thin slices.
- In a medium glass bowl, mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt together.
- Start with the 6 tablespoons of sugar and if you'd like it a bit sweeter, add the extra 2.
- Drop in the sliced radishes and leave to pickle for about an hour.
- Use right away or refrigerate and keep for 5 days (they will most likely lose their colouring)
- In a bowl, tip out the mascarpone cheese and mix to smoothen.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and the chives.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust.
- The amount of seasonings is up to you,
- Some like more lemon zest and chives, start with 1 teaspoon and increase.
- I added about 1½ teaspoon of each since I don't like lemon zest to over power.
- To assemble, cut the bread at a diagonal and smear liberally with the lemon mascarpone spread.
- Arrange as many picked radishes as you want on top and add a healthy handful of greens on top.
- I used mizuna from the farm, a fresh, mild tasting green from Japan.
- It tastes very similar to arugala but with less bite.
- If using chive blossoms, scatter some over the top.
It feels so good to be back. I have missed talking incessantly. Thank you to everyone who sent me virtual hugs and best wishes, I appreciate them more than you know.
Wishing you all, happy eating!