The best way to be a good cook is not to worry about being a perfect cook. Give up on perfection, or at least any ideas you may have that perfection is a fixed thing against which you must measure everything you do. Nothing we cook will look will look exactly the same as a picture in a magazine or taste the way our friend’s dish did. Even a familiar recipe will not offer the same result from one day to the next time we make it.
We at Tiny New York Kitchen like to experiment with flavors. Often we reach into our well-stocked pantry and use the essential flavor builders to take a dish to the next level.
Essential Flavor Builders To Keep On Hand:
Vinegars: Vinegar’s complex tang is the secret ingredient in many recipes. We shake a bit of sherry vinegar into bean soup, and add rice vinegar to coleslaw dressings. If you had to choose just one vinegar, we would recommend the mild rice vinegar, but we also keep balsamic, sherry, malt, and cider vinegars on hand.
Anchovies: A filet of anchovy blended into a marinade or dressing adds savory flavor without being too overtly fishy.
Chili Paste: We keep chili paste or bottled Sriracha for drizzling over rice and adding to meat marinades.
Red Pepper Flakes: Many dishes get better with a little kick from red pepper flakes.
Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a way to add umami flavor and a little salt to dressing and soups.
“Work With What You Got!”
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I love radishes and am always drawn to the pretty color of a pile of radishes. Most of us just slice them into a green salad and the left-over radishes die a fateful death in the fridge. Here are some non-salad ideas that will expand your radish repertoire.
Radish Sauté – It doesn’t really occur to many people that you can cook radishes (as with cucumbers). It’s so simple to sauté radishes in olive oil or butter. They are delicious and make you appreciate radishes in a while new way.
Kimchi – Sprinkle the radishes with a bit of kosher salt and a little chili paste. Toss together and then pack them into a glass jar. Place in the back of the fridge for two weeks. Excellent on top of a burger.
Butter & Sea Salt – A fine butter and a pinch of sea salt on top of a radish slice make the perfect summer bite.
Radish “Sauerkraut” – Slice 1 pound of radishes and toss with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Pack tightly into a glass jar. Weigh down with a wrapped can and place on a shelf for two weeks. Makes a great addition to a sandwich.
Shaved & Lightly Poached In A Tasty Liquid – Slivers of radish dropped in a simmering stock and/or wine for 10 seconds are a great compliment to fresh fish. They let go of their bite, but retain some of their unique crunch we all know and love.
Braised – Sauté a little onion and garlic. Add in some radish quarters and a healthy splash of red wine. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon or dash of vinegar. Excellent draped over a grilled steak or pork chop.
Pickled – Slice some 1/4 inch coins and throw them into a jar. Pour brine over them (1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar). You may want to throw in a few dried chilis if you want a bit of spice. Let sit in your fridge for a week.
Soup – Simmered for 30 minutes in a soup. The radishes will take on a sweet and velvety character.
Grated – Grate the radishes along with some freshly grated ginger and use as a condiment with any oily fish such as trout or mackerel.
Roasted – Quarter and toss with a little olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in an oven at 425º F for 20 minutes. They should be a little brown and will become sweet. Toss them with some toasted nuts. They are a great side dish at any potluck picnic.