May 30, 2015 Cucumber, Radish and Turnip Salad


Cucumbers and radishes will never co-exist in our garden. Radishes need the cooler temperatures of spring while cucumbers didn’t make an appearance in our garden last year until August. This salad, loosely adapted from one in Bon Appetit, also utilizes another spring offering, sweet mild Hakurei turnips. Hakurei turnips are harvested at about the same size as a radish. They are pure white and their flavor lends nicely to salads.

In this salad, small chunks of cucumber, radish and turnip are combined with toasted almond slivers and tossed with a vinaigrette.

I made a vinaigrette accented with spring’s most etherial and delicate herb, chervil.  A cousin to parsley, it’s leaves look like delicate lacy ferns. Our chervil was originally planted in the garden but a new larger healthy patch has seeded itself in the back of the house, nowhere close to it’s orginal location. It is a plant that also prefers cooler temperatures and partial shade. The flavor is subtle, mildly anise with just a touch of parsley. Because of it’s delicate nature, it’s rare that you would find chervil in any market, farmers or otherwise. However it is easy to grow and fortunately often seeds itself.

Toasted almonds lend a nice crunch to this dish. Rather than the oven you could alternately toast these in a dry skillet on the stove top. Whatever choice you make, watch nuts carefully, one minute they’re a pale tan, the next they are too dark. Toss the nuts occasionally, and as soon as they turn uniformly golden in color, remove from the baking sheet because they will continue to cook and darken in the pan.

I cut all the vegetables into small uniform chunks, slicing all of them would make for a different texture and would make an interesting salad as well. I like a touch of sweetness in most of my vinaigrettes, I used honey from a new vendor at my local farmers market in Wrightstown. Truly Pure and Natural carries a whole line of natural products, including local honey. They have an entire line of delicious flavored honeys, everything from lavender, to coffee to one they call “hottie honey”. I availed myself to quite a few “tastings” and came home with a three pack.  I added just a touch of the hibiscus honey to my vinaigrette. I’m sure I will be back for more!

As with many salads, this one needs to be assembled right before serving.  If you don’t have chervil, flat leaved parsley can substitute.

This large patch of chervil surprised us at the back of the house.
This large patch of chervil surprised us at the back of the house.
We use both the turnip greens and the sweet  Hakurei turnips.
We use both the turnip greens and the sweet Hakurei turnips.
The first cucumber flowers didn't appear until later in the season last year.
The first cucumber flowers didn’t appear until later in the season last year.


Cucumber, Radish and Turnip Salad

Makes four servings


  • 1/2c slivered almonds
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4c raspberry champagne vinegar or your vinegar of choice
  • 1t honey (I used Hibiscus infused honey)
  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil (more to taste)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1c English hothouse cucumber chunks, peeled, seeded and cut into ½inch chunks
  • 1c radishes, trimmed and cut into ½inch chunks
  • 1c Hakurei turnips, trimmed and cut into ½inch chunks
  • 1c chervil leaves and more for garnishing the salad


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes; let cool.
  2. Whisk onion, vinegar, honey and olive oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add cucumbers, radishes and turnips, chervil and almonds; toss to coat.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



May 27, 2015 Radish Raita

DSC_2740aRaita is a yogurt based condiment or salad, Originating in India, it is served as a cooling counterpoint to spicy stews and curries. It is most commonly made with cucumbers, but I have seen recipes with beets, tomatoes, carrots and even pumpkins! In this recipe from Bon Appetit, crispy and slightly spicy radishes are combined with yogurt, herbs, red onion and a serrano chili.

Joe has already put in three separate plantings of radishes and with temperatures anticipated to reach 90 this week, it’s time to pick them before they get very hot and go to seed. Like all root crops, wash radishes well from any dirt that clings to them. This year we started saving the radish tops and use them in our cooked greens. I grated the radishes on a box grater, leave a little of the stem on to spare your fingers from hitting the sharp edge. Alternately you could use a food processor with the shredding disc in place. The recipe calls for a combination of mint and cilantro or just whatever one you prefer. This is good news for cilantro haters.

Joe isn’t the biggest fan of mint, most of the mint we grow gets fairly intense and can often overwhelm the other flavors in a dish.  He has given the thumbs up to Vietnamese mint, at least that’s what Well Sweep Herb Farm calls it. It’s botanical name is mentha x gracilis, but when I looked that up it gave the common name of ginger mint, another mint in our garden and one that certainly looks different than the Vietnamese. The mild flavor works well in this recipe.

This recipe comes together very quickly.I used standard garden radishes, daikon radishes would make this spicier. If you want to make this just a little bit ahead of the time you are going to use it, combine all the ingredients except the grated radishes.  They should be added at the last minute because if the radishes sit too long in the dish they will make it watery.  I served the radish raita as a topping for salmon. I am sure it work well with other types of fish, or even as a dip for vegetables.

The radishes are literally popping out of the ground.
The radishes are literally popping out of the ground.



Grated radishes remind me of chopped candy canes!
Grated radishes remind me of chopped candy canes!
Ginger mint or menthe gentilis
Vietnamese mint or mentha gracilis


Radish Raita

Makes 1½ cups


  • 1c plain whole milk or low fat Greek yogurt
  • ½c chopped mint and/or cilantro
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2T finely chopped red onion
  • 1T fresh lime juice
  • 1c coarsely grated red radishes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Mix together yogurt, mint, chile, onion and lime juice. Gently fold in radishes, season to taste with salt and pepper.


May 17, 2015 Shaved Asparagus Salad with Aged Gouda and Hazelnuts


Long before the term “Farm to Table” entered our vocabulary, chef, cookbook author and food and wine educator, John Ash authored the cookbook, From the Earth to the Table. His restaurant, John Ash and Company in the wine country of Santa Rosa, California, was one of the first to focus on local seasonal ingredients in his dishes. We have had the pleasure of dining in Mr. Ash’s restaurant on several occasions when visiting Sonoma County. It was for this reason I knew his recipe for Shaved Asparagus Salad with Aged Gouda and Hazelnuts in Fine Cooking magazine would be one worth trying.

Asparagus celebrates the arrival of spring and is one of the first local offerings of produce at our farmers market. The season is fleeting so I try to use it as often as possible.  When you bring asparagus home it’s important to store it properly. I store it the same way I store fresh herbs. Stand the stalks upright in a wide mouth glass or jar with an inch or two of water in it. Be sure that all the cut ends are in the water. Cover loosely with a  clear plastic gallon storage bag. The green in this salad is arugula and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The temperatures here this past week have been far from spring like. The heat made it feel like it was mid July rather than May. That meant it was time to pick the arugula while it is still in it’s prime. Days of warmer temperatures make arugula’s peppery flavor even hotter and causes the plant to bolt or go to seed.

Begin the recipe by making a simple vinaigrette. Rice vinegar, lemon juice, honey, extra virgin olive oil  and shallot complement and allow the flavors of the salad to shine through. The only change to the original recipe I made here was to use a plain rice vinegar rather than a seasoned one. Seasoned rice vinegar contains sugar, corn syrup, salt and MSG. I knew the honey would bring enough sweetness to the dressing, and I prefer not to add the extra salt and MSG.

Remove the tips from the asparagus and set aside. The original recipe calls for thick asparagus but the vendor I buy asparagus from at the farmers market already has them bundled; purple, green, thick, thin, all in the same bunch. I found that medium stems are just as easy to peel as long as they are firm. A vegetable peeler does double duty in this recipe, use it to shave the asparagus stalks and the Gouda. Discard the first shaving of the asparagus, that will contain the more fibrous outer skin. The inner stalk is crisp and tender and is delicious raw. Marinade the tips and the shaved stalks for 15 minutes, long enough to blend the flavors and soften the asparagus a little.

How aged should your Gouda be for this salad? The complex caramel flavor of a five year Gouda is best on it’s own as a wine and cheese pairing. The Gouda at Wegmans that is aged for three months has a buttery flavor with a tangy finish and is just right for this recipe.  You may want to pop the Gouda in the freezer for about 10 minutes for easier shaving. The cheese will quickly come up to temperature.  The rich toasty flavor of hazelnuts is an excellent contrast to the Gouda.  If you are not a fan of hazelnuts, walnuts or pine nuts would be a good substitute.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Aged Gouda and Hazelnuts

Serves 6


For the vinaigrette

  • 3T rice vinegar
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1T fragrant honey such as wild flower or orange blossom
  • 1T finely chopped shallot
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Our first crop of arugula this season.


For the asparagus

  • 3/4 lb. medium to thick asparagus
  • 3c baby arugula
  • ½c toasted and chopped hazelnuts
  • 2½oz. thinly shaved aged Gouda


  1. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk all the ingredients together, cover. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.
  2. Make the salad. Remove the tips of the asparagus and put them in a large bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a stalk, discarding the first shaving. If shaving the first side becomes awkward, turn stalk over and repeat. Add shavings to the tips. Repeat with the remaining stalks.
  3. Toss the asparagus with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and let sit 10 to 5 minutes, this helps the asparagus to soften a bit and blends the flavors.
  4. Add the arugula and hazelnuts and toss, adding more dressing as needed to lightly coat the arugula. Arrange on plates and top with the shaved cheese. Serve immediately.


May 10, 2015 Raincoast Crisps with Raisins and Rosemary

DSC_2581aThere’s a cracker I love that I have to buy whenever I stop in at Whole Foods, Raincoast Crisps. Created by Parisian trained chef Lesley Stowe, she started her own cooking school and catering company in Canada’s raincoast, Vancouver, over 25 years ago. The crisps originated from a bran bread that she served in her catering business with smoked salmon. Always looking for new and original ideas, on one occasion she sliced the bread and dried it out. It was met with approval from her kitchen staff so she decided to “pump it up” with additional ingredients.  That was the beginning of the Raincoast Crisp.

The crisps are toasty and nutty, loaded with ingredients like pumpkin seeds, raisins, and pecans.  They are delicious to nibble on their own or maybe just a spread of soft cheese or your favorite preserve. One never tastes like enough and it’s easy to justify munching a box full because they are so good.  So what’s the problem? At 7.99 and up per 6 ounce box they are a pricey indulgence. So some intrepid bloggers came along and cracked the code and a rather similar recipe is available to any one who is able to whip up a quick bread.

The DIY recipe is very simple to make. Stir together the ingredients and bake in mini loaf pans. Alternately you could bake them in two square cake pans for longer skinny slices. Be sure to thoroughly cool the loaves after baking before proceeding to slice. You could give them a short stay in the freezer to firm them up or just wait till the next day to proceed with the recipe.

The next step is to slice the crackers as thinly as possible. Most of recipes I read said that it makes about 8 dozen crackers. That meant I needed to make 24 slices from each of the 4 loaves. I came fairly close, or maybe that had something to do with slices I had to “test” before baking! I used my thin blade serrated Cutco knife to make the thinnest and most even slices. I experimented with a food slicer which was ok, it’s important to maintain even pressure to keep the slices neat.

Bake the slices like super thin biscotti until they are crisp and golden. Now that I know the proportions of the recipe I am looking forward to customizing it.  Different flours,  dried fruits, spices and nuts, the possibilities are endless.  I served mine with a delicious soft goat cheese from Giggling Goat Dairy, a new vendor at my local farmers market in Wrightstown. The goat dairy is located in Dublin Pa and they make and sell fresh French-style goat cheese known as chèvre, a traditional style Feta as well as spreads and dips. I’m certain I will be frequenting their stand quite often this summer.

Raincoast Crisps with Raisins and Rosemary

Makes about 8 dozen


  • 2 c flour
  • 2t baking soda
  • 1t sea salt
  • 2c buttermilk
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • 1/4c honey or maple syrup
  • 1c raisins
  • 1/2c lightly chopped pecans
  • 1/2c roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4c sesame seeds
  • 1/4c flax seeds
  • 1T chopped fresh rosemary


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir to combine. Add the raisins, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds. flax seed and rosemary and stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour the batter into 4 mini loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating halfway during baking time. The loaves should be golden and springy to the touch. Remove loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
  4. Allow the loaves to cool completely, then freeze for about an hour. This will allow you to slice the loaves as thinly as possible. I used a serrated edge knife for the neatest cut.
  5. Place the slices on baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake the slices at 300°F for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes until crisp. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Slices on a parchment lined sheet ready for their second bake.
Delicious on their own or with a spread of goat cheese, this is the fresh garlic peppercorn from Giggling Goat Dairy.
Delicious on their own or with a spread of goat cheese, this is the fresh garlic peppercorn from Giggling Goat Dairy.



May 4, 2015 Claytonia Salad


Claytonia is not a small nation tucked away in the Alps, nor is it the latest addition to the periodic table of elements. Claytonia perfoliata, it’s full name, is a cold hardy salad green that grows wild up and down the west coast of the United States.  The plant grows up from thin, succulent stems. The leaves are delicate and small, shaped almost like a spade. Eventually tiny white flowers will grow out from the center of the leaf. The entire plant is edible from stem to flower with a texture reminiscent of spinach with a very mild flavor that is slightly sweet when first picked.

During the California gold rush, miners learned about claytonia from local Indians. It became an important part of their diet because it was plentiful and it’s vitamin C content helped to ward off scurvy, hence it’s other name, miner’s lettuce. It was because of it’s nutritional value, British settlers brought claytonia from America to Europe, and later to settlements in Australia and Cuba.

Joe first learned about claytonia from his readings in the books of his gardening hero, Eliot Coleman. Joe planted claytonia in the greenhouse and under a cold frame late last fall.  This time the plantings were successful but when the cold weather came on with a vengeance, the plants stopped growing. Since the plants can survive the freeze/thaw cycle, they were the first to start growing in the spring. Claytonia is supposedly an easy self-seeder but if not, Joe will plant it earlier in the fall to give it a better head start for winter salads.

I like to use it alone in a salad or with other similar greens with a delicate texture.  In this salad I paired the claytonia with other spring vegetables, carrots, beets and radishes. Since it bruises easily, I prefer to toss the greens first with the vinaigrette, then layer the other ingredients on top. The sweet tartness of apricot vinaigrette pairs nicely with the greens.

Claytonia or miner's lettuce thriving in the spring garden.
Claytonia or miner’s lettuce thriving in the spring garden.


Claytonia Salad

Serves two, the salad components are all approximations


  • Enough claytonia to fill the bowl of your choice
  • Shredded carrots
  • Finely julienned raw beets
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Apricot vinaigrette (recipe follows)  or the vinaigrette of your choice


  1. In a large bowl lightly dressing the claytonia with the vinaigrette. With tongs transfer the greens to salad plates. Top the dressed greens with the carrots, beets, radishes and walnuts. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Apricot Vinaigrette


  • ¼c apricot balsamic vinegar
  • 1t honey
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼t Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 to ½c extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a small bowl whisk all ingredients together. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.