Roasted Radishes

Roasted Radishes

What ways do you think of when I say: Radishes! Sliced into salads? Radish roses to decorate a meat or cheese platter, or a turkey or ham? How about a sandwich? OK, all of the above. But have you ever thought about roasting them?

Probably not, but that’s no reason why you shouldn’t! As a matter of fact, you should!

You roast most other root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, – and squashes, to bring out the sweetness and give them a nice color. You can do the same thing with radishes, and since sometimes radishes can have a bit of a bite to them, roasting them will soften that bite by bringing out its natural sweetness.

In addition, radishes are one healthy veggie! It is high in vitamin C and packs a load of anti-oxidants, as well as being a high fiber vegetable. That’s a lot for a little guy (or gal). Radishes come in a rainbow of colors; just be sure to leave them on the stem until you are ready to use them (they stay fresher longer that way), and wash them well when you are going to use them.

If you want to try a radish sandwich (if you’ve never had one), scrub the radish well, slice it thinly, butter a thin slice of sourdough bread and slightly overlap the layer of the radish slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (if you want) and add some finely chopped parsley or chives if desired. Radish sandwiches are often served as part of a traditional English Tea.

Roasted Radishes

  • 2 bunches fresh radishes, washed, dried, stems removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a sheet tray in the oven to get it smoking hot.

In a bowl, toss radishes in oil (just a little bit), salt, pepper, and thyme. When tray is hot, toss the radishes on the tray (they will sizzle) and put the tray back in the oven.

Every 3-4 minutes or so, stir the tray so the radishes in the corners move to the middle, and vice versa. Total cooking time should be 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the radishes.

When ready, they’ll be blistered and pink with just a little bite left to the texture.

Serve as a side dish with a drizzle of fresh olive oil, or fold into a salad.

Serves 4-6.

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We’ve talked in the past about how each culture has its own version of stews and the basic similarities – and differences – between them based on their cultures and the areas in which they lived. This, of course, affected what foodstuff were available to them.

Other ‘casseroles’ as we refer to them, are the same. My paternal grandmother made something we called “a dish”. It was very similar to the ‘cholent’ that was made by many Eastern European – especially Jewish – women made every week. Her ‘dish’ had potatoes in it while the cholent usually did not. It had beans, chicken, onion, some garlic and carrots. And it was Wonderful! Yes, Wonderful with a capital W! My mother never made it – so it was one of those special things I had at Grandma Bossel’s that I couldn’t get anywhere else! And no, I’ve never tried to duplicate it. Maybe someday, if my Aunt Pauline (of Pauline’s Marinated Salmon fame) will help!

Anyway, I digress, as usual! One of the most famous ‘casseroles’ of all was one of the French peasant and it was called Cassoulet and it too had chicken and onion and garlic and beans and of course (being French), various herbs. It was made in a special pot which was more narrow at the bottom, had sloping sides (as in the photo) to a wide top.

The recipe I am giving you for a hearty Cassoulet is an easy one and is perfect for a cold winter meal – or a windy evening one.

Bon Appetit! Or as my Grandmother would say: Ess Ess (eat…eat!)

Hearty Cassoulet

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 lb. smoked turkey sausage, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz. each)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes until onion softens. Add in chicken, sausage and garlic and stir; let cook about another 5 minutes or until both chicken and sausage have browned, stirring occasionally.

Stir in beans, water, tomato paste, thyme and black pepper. Be sure everything is mixed well. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

Serves 6


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A Valentine Treat — Dipped Strawberries


Most people love strawberries – and strawberries dipped in chocolate are a double treat! So fun to eat and to see; so elegant, too (often with a glass of champagne), the thought just says “Be My Valentine!” over and over again!

But as I’ve said before, to get the best result you must start with the best ingredients. So, talk to your produce person at your fave market for the sweetest strawberries (our locals ones aren’t in yet and the cold weather may have delayed the crop we usually get this time of year). Next, get the very best chocolate you can find … at least 72% cocoa for the base. If you want to use ‘white chocolate’ (which is a misnomer), don’t be lulled into the stuff that’s mostly sugar … get a good grade of cocoa butter. Otherwise the sugar will have a cloying taste which will upset the balance of sweetness, chocolate and strawberry flavor.

And as regular readers of this blog know, I prefer to give you recipes before the event (not on the day of, if I can help it), so for this one you have a couple of days to make it before the Big Day!

Making these jogged my memory, too. When I first started at F&E, my boss (who had owned a candy store previously) asked me if I knew how to temper chocolate. I looked at him and said “Of course I do.” And he kept looking at me. Finally, I said … “What?” He then told me to tell him how to do it. With just a hint of sarcasm, I told him. He laughed and said, “OK, you DO know how.” Now, temper this chocolate and we’ll make some pretty dipped strawberries!” We did and had a line of customers watching us…tasting them, and of course, buying the ingredients!

So today’s ‘recipe’ will tell you how to temper chocolate. The importance of doing this is to give chocolate its velvety smoothness, nice ‘crack’  as the shell breaks, and shine. There are some people (and companies) that add shine by adding a little food-grade wax and it does work. But tempering, while more time consuming, is better (in my never humble opinions). And, it shows more love in the finished product!

chocolate strawberry with chopped nuts

How to Temper Chocolate

Unwrap chocolate and chop it into small pieces. Savethe crumbs. Place small pieces and crumbs in a microwave safe bowl.

Set time (depending on amount of chocolate you want to temper) for about 1 minute at 50-75% power. When finished, remove from microwave and stir well. If it has not all melted, return and continue at 15 to 20 second intervals until ALMOST all has melted. Remove and continue to stir until it is completely melted. Set aside and allow to sit until chocolate reaches room temperature. Repeat microwaving for 30 to 45 second at 50 to 75% of power until well heated and smooth but not hot. Do NOT let it boil.

Set aside again and let it return to room temperature.

Heating and cooling twice is usually enough – but I like to do it a third time.

This can be done on the stove top, but you must watch it VERY carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Originally when I was taught, we did it over a double boiler to insure that the chocolate didn’t burn; but if any steam gets into the chocolate, it will ‘seize’ up and become unusable for dipping. (It can sometimes be saved by adding ghee or clarified butter, but only for frostings, fudge, etc.)

If possible, get the long stemmed strawberries. They are easier to dip – and look prettier (and are easier to eat, too). Wash them and gently pat them completely dry.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with waxed paper, foil or parchment paper (do not use spray). Holding the long stem (or insert a toothpick into the top leaf just deep enough to hold it, dip the strawberry into the tempered chocolate as deeply as you want it coated. Let the excess drip back into the bowl. Set the strawberry on the prepared cookie sheet and continue until all are dipped. Place in the refrigerator to set.

If you are planning to decorate them simply (white chocolate swirls, or milk chocolate <don’t forget to temper them also>, chopped nuts, etc.) you can do this before setting them on the sheet. If you plan to do something fancy (tuxedo, double or triple dips, etc.), let them set up complete, then do your next layer(s) the same way. Decorate, then let them set up before adding another layer.

chocolate strawberries-all sports

Keep in mind that these can be done for other holidays as well. Use a thin layer of tinted frosting for Halloween; red and green Christmas lights, sports equipment. We’ll touch on these later in the year.

Meanwhile, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember that you are all MY VALENTINES!

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Happy New Year!

Golden 2015 Happy New Year Greeting Card With Sparking Spot Ligh

Happy New Year – 2015

As another year of cooking and chatting comes to an end, thank you for continuing to follow Cooking With Char.

I am going to take a well deserved vacation from the computer, but not from my kitchen. I will return with many new recipes and unique ideas for you to try.

Please continue to send in your comments, questions and suggestions as to what recipes you’d like to see. Or, what cooking techniques are of interest. So many things are happening; new cooking magazines, new cooking shows, stores carrying more and more products that used to be available only to the professional chef are now available locally.

So we at Cooking With Char wish you a happy, healthy and joyous 2015.

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MNF – Lemon Rose Champagne Cocktail

_Lemon-Rose Champagne-Cocktail

For this New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d give you something a little bit different! How about a Lemon Rose Champagne Cocktail? Doesn’t that sound intriguing? It certainly did to me and when I tried it, I found I couldn’t drink “just one” and so I had another! So pretty and yet so simple to make; takes only 5 minutes!

You can make your own Vanilla Vodka (that takes about 10 days) but there are so many good flavored vodkas around these days, that it really doesn’t make much sense to make your own unless you are going to need a whole lot of one flavor.

This recipe makes 4 – 6 servings of 4-1/2 cups each but I suggest you have extra on hand as I’m sure your guests will want more than one, just as I did!

Lemon Rose Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 12 oz. container of frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla (or plain) vodka
  • 1 750 ml bottle rose champagne, chilled
  • Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

In a pitcher, combine the lemonade and vodka. Slowly stir in the champagne. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with mint sprigs, and serve.

Serves 4 – 6


Tip from the Toque: To make your own Vanilla flavor vodka, place 3 whole vanilla beans in a 750 ml bottle of plain vodka. Place the bottle in a dark, cool place for about 10 days to allow the vanilla to infuse the vodka. Open the bottle occasionally during the infusion time to allow it to breath, then reclose. Discard the vanilla beans.

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MNF – Kourabiedes – Greek Cookies

Kourabiedes -

Way back in 1992 (in my youth!!) my service club in Santa Monica decided to publish a cookbook as a fundraiser. Now, from the date, you can see it was loooooong before the plethora of cooking shows and channels on TV and the multitudes of cooking magazines (though there were a few of each). We were sure we could make a lot of money by gathering recipes from our members and families and friends, and putting them in a book. Easy, right? WRONG!!!

Our committee quickly realized that many submissions were variations of the same basic recipe; some were not from family or friends but had been cut out of magazines or newspapers….some had missing ingredients…some had missing directions…some had…well, you get the picture. Anyway, we went through them and picked out the ones that to us, sounded good. Then we had different members make them and taste test them with their own families. Those that survived that process were again reviewed for simplicity, originality and what we thought might be interesting. We even included some recipes we had received from sister clubs in other countries (and some of those were really interesting!).

This one, however, was given us by a member who had made it for years and we had all been the grateful recipients of it for holiday parties when she brought a huge tray of them. Many of us had tasted this Greek cookie but hers was just a bit different and for the cookbook, she gave us the recipe with her secret ingredient.

Now, as it’s still “MNF”, I’m giving this one to you because her secret ingredient that made these kourabiedes unique was: bourbon!

So make them, eat them during the game and for the holidays, and enjoy. Dunk them in coffee or tea = not in beer!

Kourabiedes – Greek Cookies

  • 1 lb. unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 jigger bourbon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 – 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • Powder sugar for coating

In large mixing bowl, cream butter until light, then add egg yolk, vanilla and bourbon. Work in flour and powdered sugar as you would for a piecrust but not as heavy. You won’t use all the flour. You want the dough to be crumbs as you would for a piecrust before you gather it into a ball. Mix in the nuts until evenly combined. Cut into 4 portions.

Preheat oven to 325. You can leave the cookie sheets plain (ungreased) or use parchment paper. Set aside.

Taking 1 portion at a time, pat out dough to about 3/4″ and cut with round cutter. Set rounds on cookie sheet. Bake until light brown, then remove and immediately put hot cookies into bowl with powdered sugar to coat them; place on wire rack to cool. When completely cool, roll them in powdered sugar again so they have a thick, white coat.

You can make balls instead of flat cookies. She always made flat ones.

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Merry Christmas!

merry christmas 2014

Christmas Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Mom and Dad were rushing
The candles to douse.
The presents were
Labeled and under the tree
Santa’s cookies & milk
Were where they should be.
The grownups were tired
From all they had done
But smiled at each other
They’d really had fun.
So Cooking With Char
Put away pots and pans
Got ready for next year
With all kinds of new plans.

With apologies to Clement Moore … and with best wishes for a Joyous and Tasty Holiday from all of us at Cooking With Char!

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