Tag Archives: Radish

Picnic at Northwest District Park

Picnic Food

Rami and I stayed close to home for this weekend’s picnic, at Northwest District Park in the Shoal Creek neighborhood of Austin. This park is one of my favorites in the city, and it’s the perfect place for families to hang out on Memorial Day Weekend.

Northwest District Park Sign

Northwest District Park has lots of picnic tables, a pool, a pond, basketball courts, and a large playground. It’s a huge park, with two entrances: one on the east side of the park at 7000 Ardath Street, and another on the west side of the park at Shoal Creek Blvd. between Dover and Pinecrest Blvd. The park has many grassy lawns and paved walking areas shaded by tall trees.

One of the best things about picnicking at Northwest District Park is its abundance of picnic areas. Like many of Austin’s parks, Northwest has three large, reservable picnic areas with many tables. However, it also has several more secluded picnic tables tucked around the park.


We chose this one to set up our picnic since it was situated in the shade of a pecan tree and overlooked the playground.

Our menu for this picnic was our favorite yet.

  • Mint sun-tea from Zhi Tea: fill a large mason jar with water and add two teaspoons of tea for each six ounces of water. (I used a large tea filter like this to hold the loose tea.)
  • Peanutty Carrot Tea Sandwiches: these are a wonderful alternative to plain PB&J. We skipped the raisins and used Confituras marmalade in the recipe. Yum!
  • Corn Radish Salad with Jalapeno Dressing An awesome spicy salad that uses radishes! I’m going to play with this recipe again for next week’s picnic since we enjoyed it so much.
  • Strawberries and Blackberries: sadly, local strawberries are gone for the season, but the blackberries from Wheeler Farm were super sweet!
  • Summer squash bread with beet-pecan sandwich spread.
I loved the corn radish salad and the blackberries. Rami’s favorite thing was the peanutty-carrot sandwich spread and the iced tea. And see the mint leaves garnishing the berries?? I grew those in a flower-pot outside my house! 😀

One thing that’s not coming across in these pictures is the ridiculous number of bugs swarming around us and our food. I got 13 mosquito bites while I was plating the food and taking this picture!

Because of all the bugs, Rami and I ate in record time and hightailed it outta the park. We spotted an egret at the pond as we left, just before the sun set.

Rustic Radish Tart

The best thing about springtime in Texas is the long, sunny evening, when the temperature hovers in the mid-70s, the breeze rustles the live oaks, and our whole yard is bathed in golden light. (Well, the asphalt parking lot outside our apartment is bathed in golden light.) I love cooking at this time of year because it’s easy to put a meal on the table before sunset. It’s also cool enough to run the oven without making the house sweaty.

For all these reasons and more, Texas spring is the perfect time of year to make this rustic radish tart.  It’s easy and quick to toss together on a weeknight, and it travels well on a cheeseboard for a picnic in the yard.

The inspiration for this tart came from the vibrant radishes in season now from several local farms; these pink beauties came from West Austin Roots, just two miles from the capitol building. The radishes are the star of the show here, and tangy goat cheese, sweet onions, thinly-sliced apples, and a sweet thread of honey over top of the tart balance out their spice.

If you need to have dinner on the table quickly, I recommend making the pie crust for this recipe ahead of time on the weekend or, if you must, use store-bought. For tonight’s meal, I was able to roll out my pie crust, slice the onions, radishes and apples, and assemble the tarts while the oven was preheating. I got nice clean edges on my tart crust by trimming the dough into a circle with a pizza cutter after I rolled it flat.

Rustic Radish Tart (makes one, 9-inch tart)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very cold shortening or butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

4 oz. goat cheese
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to garnish
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
6 pink beauty radishes, tops and stringy roots removed, sliced very thin
1/2 granny smith apple, cored and sliced very thin
1/2 yellow onion, sliced very thin
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt

Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten

Prepare pie crust: Put flour, salt and butter into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until mixture is crumbly and blended. (The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of green peas, completely coated in flour.)  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, continuing to blend dough, until its consistency is even. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. The dough will keep in the fridge up to 48 hours, and in the freezer for about a month.

To make the tart: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the goat cheese, olive oil and one tablespoon of fresh ground pepper. Slice onion, radishes and apple.

After the pie crust dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface until it’s about 11-inches across. Transfer the rolled dough to the prepared cookie sheet. Spread goat cheese mixture on the pie crust to within an inch or two of the edge.  Top cheese with sliced onions, radishes and apples, then fold the edges of the crust over the toppings to create the tart shape. Sprinkle the tart with salt and fresh ground pepper. Drizzle honey over the fruits and veggies and brush crust with egg wash before baking for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and shiny.

If you want to have a parking lot picnic like we did tonight, keep the tart on the parchment paper after cooking for easy transport.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Radish Tartine

I got a whole loaf of  bulgar wheat bread from my mom for Christmas this year.  She usually makes it for family dinners, and I was more than a little excited to see a whole loaf of the stuff in my stocking yesterday.  Mom’s wheat bread is simultaneously tender and hearty with just enough sweetness to help you lose track of how much you’re eating around the family table.  Yesterday during a particularly passionate discussion about deer meat, I caught myself nibbling on bread slice number three of the meal, slathered with farm fresh apple butter. Of course, I was way too full for a second helping of salad.  “Three slices!” I wondered, “How does this happen every year??”  The answer is that the nostalgia brought on by bulgar wheat bread tends to distract me from the detritus of adulthood, like counting calories or bothering with vegetables.

Still.  I have an entire loaf of this wheat bread in my grown-up pantry, and I need to find a way to use it that doesn’t involve me slurping up a whole jar of apple butter.

Enter radish tartines. These simple-to-make, open faced sandwiches are just the thing to awaken my palate from its nostalgic torpor. A thick slice of wheat toast buttresses a creamy-tart layer of cheese along with spicy radish slices from My Father’s Farm.  A pop of red wine vinegar, crunchy sea salt and cracked pepper top the whole thing.

I’ve sampled two versions of this sandwich so far, each slightly different because of the variety of radishes that came in our Local Box this week; I received a Spanish black radish, two watermelon radishes, and two French breakfast radishes in our bunch from My Father’s Farm.  Although I used the beautiful and mild-mannered watermelon radish in my pictures of the sandwich– who could resist those radiant reds and greens around Christmastime?– the Spanish black radishes’ assertive, peppery crunch made it my favorite tartine topper of the three varieties.

Even though you won’t have a loaf of mom’s bulgar wheat bread in your pantry, I hope that you enjoy the simple pleasure of crunchy radishes, rich cream cheese, tart vinegar, and nutty whole wheat with your own version of this easy sandwich.

Radish Tartine (serves 1)
1 thick slice of good quality whole wheat bread
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 teaspoons sour cream
1-2 radishes, any variety, sliced very thin (about 12 slices)
fresh ground pepper
red wine vinegar & olive oil

Preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Brush one side of the slice of bread with olive oil and toast bread oil-side-down on a preheated grill pan or skillet.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cream cheese and sour cream until well combined.  Place toasted bread cooked-side-up on a plate and spread cheese mixture over the top. Cover cheese with a layer of radish slices, then top with salt and pepper.  Drizzle sandwich with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar to finish.  Serve immediately.

Click here for the printable version of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery, and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Daikon Radish Dip

The first time I saw daikon radishes at the farmer’s market I thought they were giant parsnips.  I snapped up several, amazed at how inexpensive they were. What a surprise when I got home and realized I had purchased four radishes the size of my forearms!

Daikon radish is a versatile, inexpensive, low-calorie ingredient that is popular in Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and other Asian cuisines.  It can also be substituted for plain red radishes in almost any dish. One of the most popular among daikon preparations is pickled, either in kimchi or refrigerator pickles:

There are also several great recipes for warm radishes out there.  When cooked, Daikon loses its crunch and forward flavor and softens into a mild complement for other ingredients.

My favorite recipe for daikon radish is this creamy radish dip.  Although it’s a significant step up over packaged ranch, this  spicy white dip is about as accessible as the giant root gets. It makes for a wonderful introduction to daikon radish for kids or picky eaters.  Plus, if you’re scrambling for an easy, last-minute potluck offering, this is your recipe!  It has just four ingredients, and takes minutes to put together. If you don’t have daikon on hand, a bunch of red or black radishes work well in this recipe, too.  Just know that the resulting dip will be pink or gray, according to the color of the radish skin.

Daikon Radish Dip (yields about 1.5 cups)
1 large daikon radish
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves peeled garlic
8 ounce package cream cheese

Peel garlic, and combine with cream cheese and salt in a food processor. Wash and dry the radish. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin plus any root hairs.  Cut a five-inch section of the radish, discarding the top and end of the vegetable.  Chop that section into inch-long pieces and add those to the food processor bowl.  Pulse in the food processor until dip has a creamy texture with no big pieces of radish.  For best results, chill finished dip in the fridge overnight.  This firms up the texture of the dip and keeps it from getting watery.  Serve with crudite or use as a sandwich spread with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Cookbook: Quiches, Kugels and Couscous

A few weeks ago I got a copy of Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, the latest in a series of wonderful cookbooks by Joan Nathan that explore Jewish culture and cuisine around the world.  Joan is coming to Austin soon to discuss Quiche, Kugels and Couscous at a brunch hosted by the Dell Jewish Community Center on November 14th as part of their Austin Jewish Book Fair. (More details here.)

As the title suggests, Quiche… describes the evolution of Jewish home cooking in France.  It includes a huge selection of recipes that each call for unprocessed, seasonal ingredients, and the narrative portions are a pleasure to read.  There are some color photographs in the book, but no tablescapes or over-the-top styling in the way.  I am gradually working my way through the book, starting with the easiest recipes first and moving towards more complex entries as I become more familiar with them. (I’ve read the book cover to cover twice, and now I’m on lap three.)

My favorite dish so far is a simple lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing.  I love this recipe because it utilizes ingredients that are always in my pantry or crisper, and because it makes radishes taste wonderful. (This is quite a feat, in my opinion.)  I’ve made this several times and, although the book tells me to whisk the ingredients together in a salad bowl, I prefer to use a blender so that my arms don’t get so tired.

Lettuce with Classic Vinaigrette (serves 4)
from Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan, published by Knopf, 2010.

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar or honey
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Leaves of 1 head of lettuce
2-4 radishes, sliced as thin as possible

Wash lettuce and dry gently with a salad spinner or kitchen towel.  Slice radishes. Set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients in a blender.  Pulse until oil is emulsified and garlic and shallots are minced completely.  Pour dressing into a bowl and gently place the lettuce leaves on top. Toss the salad, and garnish with sliced radishes to taste.

If you’re considering attending the brunch with Joan Nathan in Austin, I recommend reading Lisa is Cooking’s recent interview with Joan and Alice Water’s insightful review of the book on Amazon.com.  You can also get a sample of Joan’s writing style and some recipes from the book in this great article she wrote for Tablet Magazine. Bon appetit!

*My copy of this cookbook was supplied free of charge by Knopf Publishing.