the CONSCIOUS PALATE Newsletter : MAY 2010

How does it always get to be the end of the month so fast? You'd think I'd be up to speed, like all good bloggers, typing away effortlessly day in and day out. Guess I get tangled up in the tucks and folds of life... galloping along. I'm always and still learning to ride its saddle, settle down into its rhythm, gently steer it and let it travel me.
One thing I've been having loads of fun doing is photographing the season's earthly bounty when it shows up at the marketplace here in Paris and adding it to my new blog page: SEASONAL HARVEST: from the Loire Valley to Italy's Heel. It will by no way an exhaustive list ,at teast this first year around. But feel free to consult it and let the pictures inspire you to create seasonal wonders for your table. or ask me for suggestions... Every few days or week I'll add more to the list and post the entry on my blog as well as a link to it on my NEW Facebook page (please sign up on it!) and Twitter page (@ cucinaditerresa), and would love to have you follow me.

As I'm writing, the Champs-Elysées, from the Arc du Triomphe to the Rond Point, there where generally rivers of cars, flow has been magically transformed into a large tree-fruit-vegetable garden to bring attention to the plight of farmers. Quite a celebration of the earth sitting on top of hot asphalt; and it attracted the masses. Hope when they close up tonight they are going to pass all the plants, or at least take them back to their fields.

Now I often make my roast radishes recipe with my cooking class participants as something to nibble on during the classes (with a nice glass of Sauvignon from the Loire Valley - say an unfiltered Domaine de Villargeau La Belle Paresseuse 2007, Coteaux du Giennois), and always end up with a big bunch of them left over and sitting in my refrigerator. I mulled over different ways in which I might make use of them and eventually came up with this savory tart recipe. I like it quite a bit and thought I'd share it with you.

Here's a list of links on food and our relationship to it:
TED.org - Graham Hill: Why I'm a Weekend Vegetarian
Grain.org - Pastoralism an untold tale of adaptation and survival.
And from the Roots of Change newsletter:
PlanetGreen - Composting: It's easy, Awesome for the Environment, and Doesn't Have to Be Smelly
Little City Gardens
Farmland.org - Farm land and Food: Re-connected
California Farm Bureau Federation - Congress Starts to Work Early on 2012 Farm Bill
NYTimes - Farmers Cope with Round-Up Resistant Weeds
SFGate - Alice Waters Push for Local, Organic Setting National Agenda


Pie crust:

200 gr unbleached white flour (170 gr white flour, 30 gr Kamut or Farro flour)
100 gr sweet butter, room temperature
1/3 tsp unrefined sea salt
2-4 tBsp water

400 gr red-white radishes, or other young fresh radishes, weighed without tops
125 gr walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon
2 generous handfuls flat parsley, coarsely chopped
1 smaller handful fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground WHITE pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
50 - 60 ml quality Balsamic vinegar

— Sift flour with salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the softened butter cut into small pieces. With your hands rub the flour and butter together until the mixture turns crumbly. Add the water and stir lightly with a fork to mix until beginning to hold together (add more water if needed). Gather up into a ball, wrap in waxed paper or food wrap and set aside in a cool place for 1 - 2 hours.
— Wash and dry the radishes. Cut off the tops, and if fresh and tender, set aside.
— Just before rolling out the dough, preheat the oven to 200 ˚C (400 ˚F)
— Place the walnuts, lemon zest, chopped parsley and mint, and a pinch of unrefined sea salt in a chopper. Add 5 – 6 tBsp of water and blend until somewhat smooth. If needed add a bit more water: the mixture should be nicely moist but far from runny. Set aside.
— On a lightly floured surface, lightly knead the dough with the heel of your hand. Shape it again into a ball, flatten and roll out into a circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Line a 25-cm (10-inch) pie or tart dish. Crimp the edges if needed. Set aside.
— Using a mandolin, slice the radishes quite thin. Toss them in a bowl with a pinch of unrefined sea salt, a few twists of freshly ground white pepper, and enough extra-virgin olive oil to generously coat. Set aside.
— Cover the bottom of the pie dish with the walnut mixture. Arrange the radishes on top in an even layer. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are golden and the top radishes turning crisp. Remove and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
— In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium-heat, reduce the Balsamic vinegar by two-thirds, or until syrupy (when small airy bubbles begin to cover the surface).

To serve: Drizzle a bit of the reduced balsamic vinegar around each slice and dip each bite of the tart into it. — You can also make a little herb salad to accompany the tart: if there were any nice tender radish leaves, combine them a couple handfuls of flat parsley, a handful of fresh dill and/or chervil, and season with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of unrefined sea salt and a couple twists of the pepper grinder.

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