Pickled Radishes and Easter Lunch

When the local radishes hit the market stands in Paris, you know that spring is finally (gastronomically) here. Next come the fresh bulbs of green garlic, the asparagus, and eventually, the fresh peas.

Radishes - pink and red

Radishes – pink and red

With a couple of good friends (Frances and Marie,) I started a sort of “cooking club,” or an excuse to get together and cook elaborate meals. Frances has donned us the “Grape Leaf Club,” since our first mission together was to make a large quantity of stuffed grape leaves. The name has stuck, and to celebrate spring, we decided to make an Easter meal a couple weekends ago.

In charge of the starter, I concocted a dish similar to something Marie and I had created together last winter. A green pea purée serves as a base for smoked herring, pickled radishes, and dill. Final touch: a dollop of horseradish crème fraîche, and a bit of lemon juice.

Pea purée with smoked herring and pickled radishes

Pea purée with smoked herring and pickled radishes

Marie tackled the main dish: a pâté de Pacques or Easter paté, meat paté adorned with hard-boiled eggs and baked in a puff pastry shell.

Paté de Pacques: a masterpiece

Paté de Pacques: a masterpiece

Frances, the baker, designed our dessert. Maple-sugar flavoured meringes (with a dash of salt,) served with passionfruit cream, lime zest, and orange wedges.

Springtime merinque with passionfruit and orange

Springtime merinque with passionfruit and orange

For my dish, I did some research on pickled radishes and finally used a method I found on a site called Garden Therapy. My version, modified a bit, is here below.

Pickled Radishes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch thinly sliced radishes (red and round or pink and long)
  • 8 whole black peppercorns lightly broken with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed open with the side of your knife
  • Equal parts water and vinegar – enough to fill your jar (I used white cooking vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Method:

Neatly stack the radishes, garlic, and peppercorns in a clean jar.

Heat all other ingredients in a saucepan until dissolved (but not boiling.) Pour the warm liquid over the radishes and allow to cool.

Radishes, pickling

Radishes, pickling

Once cool, cover and keep in the refrigerator. The radishes will be ready after spending one night in the fridge, and keep up to 3-4 weeks. They are great on salads, sandwiches, or served as a happy hour snack.

Note that the white parts of the radishes (and the liquid) will take on the pink color of the skin.

The one-egg wonder: Lavender Orange Blossom Cake

A quiet Saturday afternoon in my apartment. A lull between birthday parties, between seasons. Springtime is coming, or it’s here – the raspberry plants are growing. The jasmine has buds and will bloom any second now. The mosquitoes are back, bit by bit.

Springtime looms

Springtime looms

When you cook a lot, you feel this pressure to always bring something homemade and fabulous. Showing up with just wine is better than bringing a store-bought cake. And when there’s a party, well, it’s just another excuse to test recipes on people.

The lone egg

The lone egg

There was only one egg left in the pantry, and the supermarket (half a block away) was too much of a bother. I decided to let the pantry inspire me, to come up with something unexpected. With springtime imminent, I thought of the bright flavors of the orange blossom water hiding in the back of the garde-manger, of the lavender flowers I bought years ago to make a delicious cocktail, of the violette liquer in the liquor cabinet.

Lavender flowers, orang blossom water

Lavender flowers, orang blossom water

The internet revealed a plethora of options, and I used this one to loosely base my experiment: One Egg Lemon Pound Cake. Most friends thought it was delicious, but one with a particularly keen palate asked me discreetly: “Are you sure this is fully cooked?” “It only has one egg,” I smiled, glad that somebody was there to keep me in check. The verdict: delicious, but a bit dense. Try for yourself!

Lavender flowers

Lavender flowers

Lavender Orange Blossom Cake

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