Radishes

Summer tamales with zucchini, radishes, & corn + tomatillo salsa.

Hot tamale!

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My first encounter with tamales had me swooning. Served up piping hot from a pit dug into the earth and covered with palm branches. I waited for those tamales anxiously, watching the heat waves flicker over the pit causing the snow-capped Andes Mountains to dance in the background over the faint linger of corn in the air. Opening up the husks revealed the steaming little package of masa flour and vegetables. I couldn't wait to dig in. Since then I have had tamales in restaurants, food carts, and at farmers market stands. Perhaps because of the memories I have tied to tamales, I always make the same mistake, a painful mistake. My poor tongue probably cowers at the site of masa because I always burn my tongue. I am too impatient and never wait long enough for the centers of the tamales to cool a bit. It's ok tamales, I still love you.

 

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Recipe (Makes about 15 tamales) 

Coconut oil - 6TB

Corn husks - 15 corn husks + a few extra in case the amount varies. 

Masa harina - 4 cups

Hot water - 2 cups + soaking water for the corn husks

Mexican oregano - 1TB dried or several TB fresh. 

Cayenne pepper - 1tsp dried

Lime - zest of 1 lime

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Zucchini - 2 coarsely chopped

Corn - 1 fresh cob, the kernels cut off

Radishes - 3 small radishes chopped + extra to garnish

Cotija cheese - generous 1/2 cup crumbled + extra to garnish

Salt - 1tsp

Salsa Verde

Tomatillos - 5 tomatillos, coarsely chopped

Jalapeno - 1 small, chopped, remove seeds or not (depending on heat preference).

Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped

Red onion - 1/4 red onion, chopped

Limes - juice of 2 limes

Cilantro - a large handfull, chopped + extra to garnish

Salt - a few pinches, to taste

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Cover the corn husks in a bowl with hot water and leave to soak while preparing the tamales. Mix the masa with oregano, cayenne, salt. and lime zest. Add in 2 cups of hot water and 4TB of coconut oil, mix until combined. Leave the masa mixture to sit while preparing the filling. Chop up all the vegetables. Heat up 2TB of coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for a minute and then toss in the zucchini, radishes, and corn. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and then crumble in the cotija. Stir until combined and then turn off the heat. 

Drain the corn husks and then start heating up your steamer so that it is ready for the tamales. Begin filling up your tamales by pressing in a scant 1/2 cup of masa in the center of your corn husks, leaving a border. Then spoon in the filling, about 1/4 - 1/3 a cup. The filling amounts will vary depending on the size of the corn husks, just do what feels right. Start rolling together the tamales curling the masa over the filing and roll the tamale into a log and then pinch and fold in the bottom and top edges. Kind of mold the tamales together with the palm of your hand to make sure it is compacted. Repeat with the rest of the corn husks and then place them all in the steamer and steam for 30 minutes. 

Place all salsa verde ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until it comes to a salsa consistency.

Unwrap tamales (make sure to let them cool a bit!) and top with salsa verde plus garnishing of cotija, slivered radishes, and cilantro - if desired. 

 

 

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Mint grilled zucchini over a radish & couscous salad

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This quote has really resonated with me lately...

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

- Mark Twain

I can't even begin to explain all the thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis, equal parts rational and irrational. Last weekend we went rafting the arkansas river and there was a moment in calm water when the guide asked everyone in the boat what they did. I responded with... "I don't know what I do yet." The whole boat responded with silence. I kind of felt like I had just been flung out of the boat. Since leaving my jobs/obligations behind in Virginia and moving to Colorado I have been applying to full-time jobs, and nothing has quite worked out yet. I do a few other creative things on the side but nothing that provides with me a solid, reliable, income. I feel like I am putting too much hope into that one, perfect, thing and maybe I am wrong in that. There is value in everything and as much as I live by exploring, dreaming, and discovering I am too stationary right now. I need to dive into something, forget any little tid bits of fault I find, and go for it. As Mark Twain advises, the only thing I'll regret is not doing it rather than the latter. 

Speaking of rafting, I did a considerable amount of cooking on the raft... and by that I mean with the two main ingredients consisting of the sun and my legs. My thighs have swelled up like plump little tomatoes. So you can picture me waddling around in my leggings and bathing in lotion despite the fact that is is summer and I want nothing to do with leggings. I only wish I had already had my sunburn remedy prepared... alas, this grilled zucchini over couscous salad will have to do. 

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Recipe (serves a crowd)

Zucchini - as many as you feel like eating (I made about 3 medium ones) cut into thin strips.

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Mint - 3TB fresh, chopped

Salt & pepper - I like to use coarse sea salt here and generous amounts of fresh cracked pepper.

Couscous - 2 cups dried couscous (I used whole wheat)

Radishes - 1 bunch, chopped into half moons

Green onions - 1 bunch, slivered

Parsley - 4TB chopped

Kalamala olives -  1/4 cup pits removed, chopped in half

Extra virgin olive oil - 4TB

Fill a medium saucepan with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Add in your couscous and turn off the heat, let it sit covered and absorb the water. It will take about 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, chop up all your other ingredients. Once the couscous is ready, pour it into a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork while adding in 2TB of olive oil. Add in your chopped radishes, green onions, kalamala olives, and parsley. Stir, then season to taste with salt and pepper - I am pretty generous with it. I also think it would be delicious to add in some almonds or walnuts here. Set the come to couscous aside to come to room temperature. 

Place your other 2TB of olive oil, 2Tb of mint (reserving 1TB) and zucchini strips in a bowl and toss. Season with just a little bit of salt and pepper (a pinch or two) but not all of it. Heat up your grill or grill pan and then lay your strips of zucchini over and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side. (If using a grill pan, squeeze over the juice of a lemon and shake for a minute before dumping out onto a platter.) Remove the zucchini onto a platter and squeeze over the lemon juice and top with more course salt, cracked pepper, and the last TB of fresh mint. If there is any oil left in the bowl from tossing the zucchini, then drizzle that over top too. Serve the zucchini over the couscous or on the side.

Explore. Dream. Discover.  

 

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Spring fava bean, quinoa, radish, avocado, & mint salad.

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I am so excited. I'm going to visit my Athens tribe. We are approaching our Denver move date fast! We leave in about 2 weeks. Sure there is a ton to do... packing things up, cleaning, finishing projects, getting things ready for the sublease... but I'd rather go see my dear friends and family who, right now, are about 9 hours away. Come Denver we'll be 22 hours away. I feel this is an adequate reason to forsake responsibility. I'm getting some time with my family too before dipping out to the Rockies but I'm assuming my Dad will use my Denver location as a great excuse to finally come out and have some river time. 

I have lots of things waiting for me in Athens this weekend. Lets see, it is twilight weekend (an international bike race that has athens busting at the seam), there are drinks in the Georgia warmth awaiting, a dear friend who is just back in from teaching in South Korea, brunch with the best, oodles of dogs at dog park time, art school exit show (featuring one of my favorites), desserts (last time we racked up a bill of somewhere around 50 bucks on dessert between 5 of us... uhh what?), a farmers market that I have missed, my best friends and all those lovely faces that I have so dearly longed for being tucked away up here in the mountains and of course no trip to athens is complete without music.

So this week I've been being extra good. Drinking smoothes, eating raw salads, and taking my herbs. This quinoa, fava bean salad is ridiculously good. It is one of those meals that you think while eating it, "I could have this every-single-day of my life and be happy." It really is one of those meals that I think I could have every single day if I actually thought I could eat the same thing every single day. 

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Recipe (serves 4 but makes great leftovers)

Quinoa - 1 cup dried

Fava beans - fresh pods, several big handfuls. (once shelled I had a scant 2 cups)

Radish - 1 bunch

Avocado - 1, sliced into small chunks

Apple - 1/2 and apple, cut into small chunks

Red onion - 1/2 an onion, finely chopped

Olives - I had 6 kalamata olives left in my fridge, I sliced the meat off the pit into slivers.

Feta - about 1/3 cup

Mint - fresh, 3-4Tb finely chopped

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Butter - 1TB

Olive oil - a drizzle

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chop everything up so it is ready to use, except your avocado, save that until the end. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under water while shaking for a minute. Then add the quinoa into a medium pot and cover by a few inches of water. Bring the quinoa up to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Get another small or medium pot out and fill it up half-way with water, this will be to blanch your fava beans. Shell the fava beans and place the beans into a bowl, discard the pods. Once the water is boiling, add in your fava beans and let it get back up to a simmer. Once it gets back up to boiling, don't let it cook longer than 1 minute. Drain the fava beans and rinse with cold water.  Here comes the tedious part. Shell the fava beans and discard the shell, underneath will be this bright, green bean. Once you are done with the quinoa and fava beans, you can put them into a large bowl together.

Heat the oven up to 350 degrees. Chop up the radishes into thin slices. Add 1/2 the radishes into the bowl with the quinoa & favas. Add the other 1/2 the radishes into a small saucepan on the stove with the 1TB butter. Heat over medium heat and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the radishes to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the apples, mint, feta, olives, onion, lemon juice, and drizzle of olive oil to the bowl of quinoa. Stir until well combined. Slice up your avocado and set it aside. Add in your roasted radishes and season with whole thing with salt and pepper, you should not need much salt. Add in your avocado last and stir, gently, until well combined. Enjoy it, I know you will. Why? Because it is just that good.

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Vegetarian ramen with homemade noodles

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I never really did the whole college ramen cuisine thing. Not because I didn't eat easy, packaged food, I did. I was just way too weight concerned (with incorrect nutritional knowledge) that I wouldn't make a habit of a whole meal out of carbs (still a good habit not to do). I missed the boat on the ramen train, admittedly, I'm a little sad about it. Recently, we took a weekend trip into DC. We went to the United States Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of the American Indian, did a lot of walking around, visiting memorials, flea market, Sigur rós show, ate at a great Indian restaurant, crêperie, and an El Salvadorian pupusaria. Although I have this image stuck in my head from a magazine about DC's 100 best restaurants. One of them being a restaurant that sold traditional Japanese ramen. Oh my stars it looked good. Ty glanced at it and responded, "I want that." Yes Ty, so do we all. 

This is my version of traditional Japanese ramen that is not so traditional. Traditional ramen varies in the type of broth, a fish broth, pork broth, soy sauce broth, or miso broth. There are some borrowed flavors from pho broth here, but also I combined the soy sauce and miso style broths into one. I also took my hand at making homemade noodles. They were very good and easy to make even though I do not have a pasta machine. Feel free to buy regular ramen noodles too!

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Recipe (Makes 4 bowls)

Veggie broth - Great time to use your own if you have, you want it tasty.

Lemon grass - two stalks, sliced

Star Anise - 3

Tofu - 1/2 brick sliced into squares

Kale - 1 bunch torn off the stem into pieces

Crimini mushrooms - 5 or 6 sliced mushrooms

Radish - 3 radishes slivered

Green onions - 2 or 3 slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves

Eggs - 2 soft boiled (5 minuets)

Sesame oil - 3TB 

Mirin - 1TB

Yellow miso - 1TB

Soy sauce - 2TB

Rice vinegar - 1TB + 1tsp

Sriracha - to top

For the Noodles

All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Egg yolk - 1

Baking soda - 1tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Water - 1/4 cup + a few TB

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Make the noodles. Mix together the flour, salt, & baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the center and egg in the egg yolk. Pour in 1/4cup of water in the well. Using your fingers mash up the egg yolk with the water and stir into a slurry, slowly incorporating the flour. Adding in another tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together but before it sticks on your hands. Knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a little extra flour. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes at least but an hour would be better. Go on with the rest of the meal. When the dough is done roll out the dough into a long rectangle as thin as you can get it. Lightly flour the rectangle and fold it in half, hotdog style. Take a very sharp knife and slice into very thin noodles, mine were about 1/8" thick. Unfold the thin noodles and lay out flat to dry for a bit. 

Heat up the veggie broth with the lemongrass and star anise and let it simmer/ low-boil for 30 minutes at least. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest. Heat up 2TB of sesame oil in a large skillet on high heat and then toss in the tofu. Toss and flip for 5 minutes or so until they turn golden. Add in 1TB of tofu and stir until combined. Dump out the tofu into a bowl and add in the last TB of oil. Add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms, cook for about five minutes until it colors a bit. Add kale (in two batches) cooking for a few minutes until wilted and all the kale can fit into the pan. Add in 1TB of mirin and stir until combined. Pour out into a bowl. Strain out the broth and place back into the pot and keep on low heat, do not let it boil at this point. Add in 1TB of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and miso. Whisk until combined. Heat up a medium salted pot of water to a low boil. Add in the noodles and the whole eggs and cook for 5 minutes after they get back up to a low boil until done. Run the eggs under cool water.

Distribute the noodles into four bowls and ladle over some broth. Top with some of the kale/mushroom mixture on one side, sliced radishes on the other, tofu cubes in the center, and then sprinkle over some scallions. Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half carefully, the yolk will still be runny. Place an egg half in each bowl and squeeze over some sriracha.

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Spring rolls with radish & ginger mushrooms + a cashew dipping sauce

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I made these spring rolls the day before the equinox for a potluck at my last herbalism class. I made them without tofu at first but we had a hankering for ones that we didn't have to share, so with my left-over rice wrappers, I made them again but this time with tofu. I thought spring rolls were the perfect thing for that potluck, calling in the new season with their bright ingredients and fresh crunch. Although, it seems spring hasn't quite made it here yet, we've had several snows since, a particularly good one Sunday night. I am really ready for spring, not just ready, I crave it to help me get my act together. The warmth to thaw everything out and provoke motivation and clarity. I think this weather is actually following in line with what I am feeling. Just as spring peeks out, my hopes get up and then the temperature drops and down flutters the snow. I feel like I am just on the edge of something and I keep dangling over the cliff, testing the plunge but then stumble back again. I know there is suppose to be balance and it is coming, I have to believe that it is coming. Something to scoop me up from the uncertainty I've been a prisoner too these past 3 months. It has made me feel worthless, the type of worthless we all feel sometimes. 

My heart is just yearning for the fun that awaits us this summer. We are going to Denver, a place I think will feel much more like home than Charlottesville has, but also all the things we will get to experience because of it. I haven't had the opportunity to explore on that side of the country. I am really yearning for the possibilites of what we will see, even if we don't get to see everything. The list is endless; salt lake city with a long soak in the great salt lake, the desert in Utah, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the redwoods, the tetons, skiing, California, the Rockies, elk, Yellowstone, mesa verde, hot springs, red rocks, sand dunes, hiking, hiking, and more hiking. I know that soon I will feel invigorated again but I just need to get over this personal wound I have right now and accept that balance will come soon. Spring will come soon, I'll take the plunge and with it comes clarity. Clarity to balance these past months and lead me on to something. Something that will begin with Denver. 

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Spring Rolls (Makes 8)

Rice wrapping papers - 8

Avocado - 1 cut into matchsticks

Fresh basil - 20-25 fresh leaves

Carrot - 2 large carrots cut into matchstick size

Radish - 4 radish cut into matchstick size

Royal trumpet mushrooms - (1 container) cut into matchsticks

(optional) Tofu - 1/2 a container - sliced into thin, long strips.

Coconut Oil - 2TB (Or olive oil)

Soy sauce - 1TB

Fresh spinach leaves

Red onion slivers

Ginger - a good nub minced. 

Cashew dipping sauce.

Cashew butter - 4TB

Sesame oil - 1TB

Soy sauce - 1.5TB

Rice vinegar - 2tsp

Lime - Juice of 1 lime

Sriracha sauce - a good squirt / to your taste

Heat up a kettle of water to boiling, at least 4 cups. Turn off the boiling water an set aside until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.

Slice up all your veggies into match sticks save the spinach/basil and mince up your ginger. Heat up the 2TB of oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the minced ginger and slivered mushrooms and tofu. Let cook about 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Pour in the 1TB of soy sauce and stir to coat. Turn off the heat and pour into a bowl.

Pour the hot water into a bowl and add in a few ice cubes to lower the temperature until it is just cool enough for you hands to handle touching it. But you want it to be as hot as you can handle. Arrange all your sliced veggies into piles along with a bowl of the tofu/mushrooms, the basil and spinach, and the stack of the rice wrappers. 

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Take one of your rice wrappers and dip into the bowl of hot water until it softens and turns clear. Take it out and lay out the wrapper on a cutting board, handeling carefully, it tears easy. Lay down three leaves of basil in the center of the wrapper and top with a few pieces of spinach. Top with some slivers of radishes on one side, red onion and carrot on the other, top the center with the gingered mushroom/tofu and slivers of avocado. Folding is tricky, do it the best way you find but here is how I did it. I folded the bottom half over the center filling while pressing and tucking under the filling with the bottom end of the wrapper. I then folded in the sides of the wrapper and grabbed the roll and rolled upwards until the top end of the wrapper is all rolled in. Repeat with the other 7. 

Make the dipping sauce. Add in the cashew butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Take the back of a fork and mash against the sides of the bowl until it all becomes incorporated. Squirt in the sriracha and juice of the lime and stir. Check the consistency and add in more sesame oil, soy sauce, or water to adjust the flavor or to thin out the sauce.

Dip and enjoy. Welcome spring. Welcome clarity.

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Butter roasted radishes & their greens + arugula and goat cheese in a farro grain bowl

spring. 

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Spring is on the tip of nature's tongue here. I am ready for it. I am just itching to break into the delicate spring produce. Yet every time I start to thaw out and accept spring another cold front knocks on my door saying, "you seriously thought that dress didn't need a coat today?" I almost stubbornly produce shop seasonally (with a few exceptions). I love breaking into a new mini era of cooking depending on the season. Fall is heavily drenched in warming spices and squash, winter is for roots and bitter greens, spring for asparagus, sugar snap peas, wild foraging, and crisp spring mixes, summer for all things tomato, fruit, eggplant and, most importantly, ice cream. This dish is a great compromise between winter and spring. The crunchy, colorful satisfaction of radish, the sweet, acidic pop of late season blood orange with the hearty grains of winter turned creamy by goat cheese. Need I say more? I know I had you at radishes cooked in butter. 

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Recipe (Serves 4) 

1 Bunch radishes with their greens

Arugula - a few handfuls (2-3) 

1 Blood orange

Farro - 1.5 cups uncooked

Goat cheese - 3-4TB

Butter - 2TB

Chervil - about 2tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

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Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place farro and 3 cups water into a small pot on low heat. Let cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, divide radishes from their greens. Cop radishes into quarters and cop radish greens into coarse chunks. Take out oven-proof skillet and melt butter on medium heat. Toss in radishes and cook for a few minutes. Add in about a tsp of chervil and season with salt/pepper (about 1/2tsp). Toss in radish greens and stir around until coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the skillet into the oven and roast about 15-20 minutes (depending on radish size) until radishes are softened and a little colored. While radishes are roasting peel blood orange with a knife following the curve of the orange. Cut out the wedges from white membrane of the blood orange and chop. Disgard orange membrane. 

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Take out radishes out of oven and toss in a handful of arugula. Stir until just wilted from the heat of the pan. Toss radish mixture with the cooked, drained farro, blood orange, and another handful of fresh arugula. Crumble in 3-4TB of goat cheese and then stir to combine, the goat cheese will melt into the dish making it creamy. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and another few pinches of chervil. Enjoy over thoughts of spring. 

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