Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ravishing Radishes!

Planting a garden allows you to have beautiful fresh produce right at your fingertips, but sometimes you end up with more than you know what to do with such as the ranks of radishes that recently tried to take over my little garden plot. After I stopped the vegetable bullying I found myself with more radishes than I could eat in a month's worth of salads. So I went looking for other ways to fix the ravishing radish.

I settled on four distinctly different preparations. I also found that the radish seems to be a love hate food and most people have a very strong opinion whether good or bad. For those that love the radish, embrace this experience and welcome the new ways to enjoy this delightful root veg. For those who are not fans of the rolly poly radish I challenge you to give it another go, you just might be surprised.

Raw Radishes

Let's start with the most basic way to eat a radish, raw in a salad. This is adapted from a recipe found at

Radish, Olive and Orange Salad

Ingredients (serves 2-4 as a small side)

2 oranges
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 bunch (about 8) radishes, trimmed and sliced thin
Some (about 12) oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped


Cut peel and white pith from 2 oranges with a sharp knife. Segment the oranges. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, honey, cinnamon, and cayenne until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Add orange slices, radishes, and olives and gently toss. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

I served this as is but I think in the future it would be better served with a salad of arugula. In a pinch baby spinach or tender salad greens would also be great. Also I would use a tad more cayenne and less cinnamon but that is personal preference.

Roasted Radishes

I had a good long think on how to cook a radish before I tripped across the idea of roasting them. Looking back it seems like a natural conclusion since I love roasted turnips and they're all in the same family, but it just never occurred to me before. I had a salad recipe that incorporated some great Mediterranean flavors and after tweaking it a bit I came up with this delightful twist on a radish salad that would compliment any number of Mediterranean main dishes.

Green Pea and Roasted Radish Salad

Ingredients (Serves 3-6)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp dill seeds
3 cups fresh shelled peas or 1 pound frozen peas
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 tsp allspice
1 small bunch of fresh mint finely chopped or 1tsp dried mint
salt and pepper to taste


Place halved radishes in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and add cumin, dill, allspice, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until tender. If using fresh peas, cook in pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain well. If using frozen peas, defrost in cool running water and rinse well. You can cook them if you choose I do not.) Transfer to large bowl. Add radishes, feta, and mint; toss. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve.

The freshness of the mint is a wonderful accompaniment to the peas and will help balance the earthy sweetness brought out by roasting the radishes. Now onto something completely different.

Braised Radishes

I had never considered braising a radish or any other vegetable for that matter but this recipe is a keeper. It's a recipe from Rachel ray and I made it as directed with the exception of using beef stock instead of chicken stock. The result was a delicious rich sauce and tender sweet radishes that would be perfect served in Yorkshire puddings alongside a juicy beef roast.

Sweet and Savory Braised Radishes

Ingredients (Serves 2-4)

2 bunches radishes, (about 1 pound) trimmed of tops and roots
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
2 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper


Place radishes in a skillet with stock, butter bits, shallots, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Uncover the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook radishes 10 to 15 minutes and if the stock has not cooked away, remove radishes (when tender) and cook until thickened.

This was such a delightful surprise and I could not get enough. At first I thought it would surely need more flavor but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was just perfect as is. This next dish I already knew would be wonderful before I tried it but I had no idea how easy it was to make.

Sauteed Radishes

If you've ever been to a Bulgogi house and ordered the Bulgogi, you have probably tried the variety of small side dishes that come with the meal. These range from exotic roots to kimchee and yes the humble radish. Usually made with a daikon, or white radish this Korean side dish is so simple yet eminently satisfying.

Sauteed Radish Side Dish (Serves 2-4 as a small side)


1 Bunch of radishes,
salt to taste
garlic to taste or about 1 tbsp. minced (2-3 cloves)
sesame oil (a drizzle)
vegetable oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan to keep the radishes from sticking)


Grate radish into thin strips. Heat up a pan and the vegetable oil then add the radish strips, salt and minced garlic, and sauté it for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and close the lid and lower the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add a few drops of sesame oil and mix it gently. Transfer it to a serving dish and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

I hope you have as much fun exploring the radish as I did and don't be afraid to put your own twist on this tasty treat from the garden!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fragrant Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken

While living in England I got into the habit of making a Sunday roast which was quite often roast chicken. I've tried many variations but one of my favorite remains lemon garlic chicken, it's like a little ray of sunshine on your tounge.

STOP! Step away from the spice cupboard! I didn't say over salted, goes stale while your back is turned, premixed lemon garlic season salts. Real lemons and garlic are essential for this satisfying roast chicken dinner that will have your family and friends begging for more.


· 1 (3- to 4-pound) roasting chicken, necks and giblets removed and discarded, rinsed and patted dry
· 2 lemons, 1 ½ sliced, ½ quartered
· 4-5 cloves of garlic smashed
· 2 Tbsp Uncle Roy's Moffat Meadow flower petal salt or Fragrant Herb Mix or Herbs de Provence
· 4 Potatoes peeled and cubed
· 2 carrots cleaned and diced
· 2-3 stalks of celery
· Salt and Pepper to taste
· Butter or Olive Oil

Ok lets talk about the seasonings. What you're looking for here is a fragrant mix that will be brightened by the juice of the lemons and grounded by the earthiness of the garlic. I used 2 Tbsp "Uncle Roy's Moffat Meadows Flower Herb and Seed Seasoning Salt" which I bought from a village shop when we lived in England. You can order this online but for most people it won't be worth the trouble. I've listed the ingredients below and roughly it's 1 unit of measure of each. The only exceptions being the Rosemary, Sage and Nori (seaweed)which can be overpowering in too great a quantity. I may have underestimated how much you will want of these three but you can always add more where if you start with too much there is no going back. I suggest you make more than is called for here and store it in an empty (well cleaned) spice jar for future use. It's great on fish, potatoes, salads, pasta and all kinds of other stuff. You can include sea salt (the store bought variety includes it) but I prefer to have control of how much salt I use so when I run out I will remake it without the salt.

Fragrant Herb Mix
· 1tsp tarragon
· 1tsp thyme
· ½ tsp sage
· 1tsp dill
· 1 tsp chives
· 1/8 sheet Nori (dried seaweed) finely diced
· 1 tsp each dried marigold, rose and lavender petals (make sure they are food grade)
· 1tsp each poppy sesame, dill and celery seeds

Now if you don't have all that on hand or don't want to go to the trouble just get a nice jar of Herb's de Provence and you'll get a similar flavour.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken on rack set in large roasting pan. Starting at each cavity end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen, being careful not to tear skin. Arrange lemon slices under skin to cover breast meat.

Season the cavity with salt and pepper and 1/2 tbsp of herb mix, stuff with quartered lemons, garlic, and some celery. (I usually use the leafy tops as this will be discarded)

Flip the chicken's wings back and tuck under the body. Rub butter or oil over the skin of the chicken, then rub with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Fragrant Herb Mix, salt and pepper. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Add vegetables to the roasting pan with some chicken stock.

Roast chicken, basting occasionally with pan juices, until skins are crisp golden-brown and juices run clear when thighs are pierced, about 55 to 60 minutes. (Instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should register 170°F.) Remove from oven, then remove lemons, and garlic from cavity and discard. Reserve pan drippings. Transfer chicken to carving board and tent with foil to keep warm.

While the chicken is resting I make some Couscous to serve with this by adding 1cup of hot chicken stock (or 1/2 cup pan juices and 1/2 cup hot water) to 1 cup of couscous. Stir well and cover to rest for 5 minutes.

Carve chicken and serve over a bed of couscous with roasted potatoes celery and carrots. Use pan drippings to make a gravy if desired or simply spoon over chicken and vegetables. You can also eat the lemons rinds and all and you will find that while still tangy they are very tender and can be quite enjoyable.


This recipe is also easily adaptable for use in a crock pot with just a few adjustments. In fact the pictured bird was cooked in the slow cooker and came out beautiful tender and juicy. I prepared the bird as described above except I did not use any butter or oil on the skin prior to putting it in the slow cooker. Arrange your vegetables on the bottom of your cooker, add about 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (1 small can), arrange your bird on top and set your heat. I left this bird in on low for six hours. (Darn having to work on your day off!!!) When the bird is cooked through (or you get home from work) transfer the bird to a roasting pan, brush with some butter or oil and stick it in a 450 degree oven until the skin is golden and crispy. In the meantime remove the vegetables to a serving dish and pour the cooking juices in a saucepan. Allow it to cool enough for the fat to separate. Skim off most of the fat. The rest of these juices can be reserved for serving as is, made into a gravy or used to baste the chicken until the skin is done. I often take some of the fat and add it to the bottom of the roasting pan and once it is hot I add the potatoes and stir them around to get that lovely caramelized crispy outside for a perfect roast potato.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red White and Blue Shortcake

One of my best summer memories is picking berries with my grandparents and my grandmother making strawberry shortcake. For the Fourth of July I decided to revisit this old fashioned favorite and dress it up a little for the holiday. So here is a simple shortcake recipe perfect for any summer fruit!


2 cups flour
1 tbsp and 1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar (I use just a smidge more)
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs separated
½ cup milk
Dash of nutmeg

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg and salt, cut in cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolks and milk and mix well. This should make a soft dough. Place the dough between two pieces of cling wrap and roll out into a ¼ to ½ inch thickness and cut with a pastry cutter or cookie cutter. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks and brush the tops of the shortcakes then sprinkle the cakes with sugar and bake for 8-10 minutes in a 450 degree oven. If the butter starts becoming too soft in the dough wrap it in cling wrap and place it in the fridge for a few minutes so it can firm up. Don’t over handle the dough or it will become tough. Allow the shortcakes to completely cool before serving.


Sliced Strawberries ½ quart
Blueberries ½ pint

In separate bowls sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar over the fruit. I gently squash some of the blueberries to release some juice. Then mix well and allow to sit for at least an hour. You can do this with any summer fruit.

Whipped cream:

I make my own by adding 1/4-1/2cup of sugar to heavy whipping cream and add some vanilla to make it a bit more luxurious.(You can buy it already made if you would rather.)

To serve:

Place 1 shortcake or 1 cut in half on a plate add some whipped cream and berries some more whipped cream and the other half of the shortcake or a second shortcake.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pizza with Pizazz

My husband and I love to make our own pizza and a fun summer twist to your everyday homemade pizza is grilled pizza. Yep you heard right GRILLED! It’s so simple yet elegant, it makes a great meal to prepare when you have friends coming over. You can prepare whatever toppings you like but I find a Margherita pizza suites me best for grilling.

I cheat a little on my crust because I like the boxed Jiffy Pizza Crust mix. I do doctor it a bit however.

(makes 4 small or 2 large personal pizzas)

2 Jiffy Pizza Crust mixes
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tsp Garlic powder
1 Tsp Onion powder
1 Tbsp Parsley

Before adding water to mix add all spices and mix well. Knead the dough briefly to bring it all together then set aside in an oiled bowl to rise. (following box directions) After initial rise, knead briefly then separate into two to four pieces. Gently stretch each piece into a circle and lay on a cookie sheet dusted with corn meal. Place rounds on a hot grill for 2-5 minutes per side or until almost fully baked. (It should be firm enough to flip gently with a spatula) Remove from the heat.


1-2 Tomatoes Sliced
6 Cloves Garlic diced
1 Buffalo Mozzarella sliced
7-8 large basil leaves cut into ribbons
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a small pan sauté the garlic in the olive oil over low heat. You want to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor. I usually crush the garlic before dicing it to release more of the juices.

Topping the pizza

Brush the crust with the garlic Olive oil (I also like to add the now crispy bits of diced garlic to mine) lay on some ribbons of basil and slices of tomato. I lightly sprinkle some salt and pepper over the tomatoes and then top with the cheese. Return to the grill for an additional 2 minutes (with the lid closed)or until cheese is hot and melted.

Feel free to branch out and be adventurous. This is a great medium for trying new things and just perfect for a summer garden party with friends. It’s simple, inexpensive, everyone gets their own personal pizza plus the novelty will keep everyone entertained.