Buttered Radishes

These dipped radishes make for a wonderful starter or snack!

Ingredients:
Baby radishes, green tops intact
1 pound butter, at room temperature
2½ tablespoons fleur de sel

Method:
1. Gently wash the radishes in ice water, removing any dirt from the greens. Dry them well.

2. Temper the butter by placing it over moderate heat.* Once tempered, season the butter with the fleur de sel.

3. Dip the bottom half of the radishes into the tempered butter. Dip a second time and gently shake to remove any excess butter from the bottom. Place the butter-coated radish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Chill the radishes in the refrigerator until the butter is set.

*To temper butter, it’s easiest to use a double boiler, placing the butter over a pot of boiling water instead of directly heating the butter. Let the butter melt and heat up, then whisk occasionally until it thickens and stabilizes. It’s fully tempered when it has the consistency of melted chocolate.

Eggplant Caponata

This traditional Tuscan relish is lovely on toasted crostini.

Ingredients:
1 sweet onion, minced
1 eggplant, chopped into ½-inch chunks
2 sweet grilling peppers, seeded and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 celery stalks, thinly-sliced
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves, torn

Method:
1. Add chopped onion in a skillet with the olive oil, and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chopped celery stalk, peppers and eggplant and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes until vegetables are tender.

2. Add golden raisins, chopped oregano and about ½ cup water. Bring mixture to a simmer, and allow water to evaporate, cooking about 8-10 minutes

3. Add cherry tomatoes and cider vinegar and capers; cook for about 5 minutes, until mixture is uniform and tomatoes are beginning to burst. Season with salt and pepper and top with torn basil.

Pickled Peppers

These addictive peppers are wonderful incorporated into a grilled cheese sandwich to serve alongside this week’s soup.

Ingredients:
4 cups assorted peppers (such as orange Italian, red Carmen and sweet Bull’s Horn grilling peppers)
1½ cups distilled white vinegar
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons coriander seeds

Method:
1. Stem peppers and, leaving seeds, cut into ¼-inch rings, then pack in a clean 1 quart jar.

2. Bring vinegar, all remaining ingredients, and 1½ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour hot brine over peppers; seal jar. Let cool, then refrigerate. Serve within 1 month.

Roasted Ratatouille Toasts

A delightful spin on the classic stew, this time slathered on toasted bread as a starter!

Ingredients:
1 heirloom tomato, roughly chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, some sliced in half, others left whole
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 zucchini or summer squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 sweet pepper, such as Bull’s Horn, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
⅓ cup olive oil
2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 loaf rustic bread, sliced into ½-inch-thick slices
8 ounces crème fraîche
½ cup basil, thinly sliced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large roasting pan, toss the tomatoes, eggplant, squash or zucchini, pepper, onion and garlic with red pepper flakes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned and the tomatoes have released their juices. Stir the vegetables halfway through cooking.

2. Remove the vegetables from the oven and increase the temperatures to a broil. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Place them on the upper rack of the oven and toast until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.

3. Divide the crème fraîche among the toasts and top with a generous portion of the ratatouille. Garnish with the basil and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

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