The Fat Radish
When I read a cookbook specializing in “seasonal, local cuisine”, I confess it brings out the contrarian in me. Asparagus in the spring and lamb stew in the winter is easy. Rhubarb in the dead of winter – now that would be interesting. I think of the line delivered brilliantly by Meryl Streep as evil editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada – “Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.” So I was pleasantly surprised by The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, a cookbook by the owners and chef at the Fat Radish located on New York’s Lower East Side.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. The Lower East Side is home to many talented chefs. The Fat Radish which opened in 2010 , was described as “uncomplicated, slightly British, vegetable-focused cooking”. It was a hit when it opened. But not all talented chefs can put together a good cookbook. The collaboration with cookbook writer Julia Turshen resulted in recipes that are both interesting and approachable for the home cook.
This book stood out from the pack. There are meat dishes, such as Roast Beef and Crispy Potatoes with Yorkshire Pudding, and Colorado Lamb and Root Vegetable Stew. I would order Trout with Citrus and Chamomile Dressing in a restaurant. But vegetables are the real star here, with comfort food such as Sweet Pea Pot Pie (spring) and Celery Root Pot Pie (winter) or a savoury Beet and Swiss Chard Crumble. Charred Snap Peas with Mint Salt and Chili Oil would be a fresh and crunchy accompaniment for drinks.
I made Kabocha Soup, a creamy and rich squash soup made with broth and coconut milk and served with toasted pumpkin seeds. Kabocha squash, a winter variety, was new to me. I added hot pepper, fresh lemon juice and agave nectar and it was a real winner. The soup was served with Greens on Toast with Roasted Garlic Butter, an easy and fast vegetarian side dish that I would make again. The lemon and parsley combined with the roasted garlic butter had big flavour, and the greens were fast and easy to cook.
I also tried Fregola with Pine Nuts, Charred Peppers and Lemon Dressing. Fregola is a chewy Italian pasta similar to Israeli couscous, and it stood up to the vegetables. As explained by the authors, the vegetables can be changed to suit the season. A bright and colourful dish with strong lemon flavour. Note that by “strong lemon flavour” I am not exaggerating – depending on your palate you may want to taste after adding half the lemon.
Recommended? A fresh take on modern British cuisine as adapted for the hipster New York (and Toronto) palate. Great recipes, easy to use and modify as it suits you.