So, Erin's been away in Palm Springs being glamorous at a film festival while I've been sleeping a lot and not posting. I had a dream that she got angry at me for taking a bite out of her winter down jacket that I thought was made out of cheesy potatoes and interpreted it as a sign that I should be contributing more regularly. My Weird Veg resolutions for 2008 include trying out recipes from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook my brother Stephen gave me for Christmas. It is such a gorgeous book. The contents are arranged in alphabetical order by vegetable, from "Amaranth Greens" to "Zucchini and Other Summer Squashes." Each vegetable section gets its own color plate of an exquisite vegetable print by Patricia Curtan, whose illustrations also adorn the daily Chez Panisse menus.
The radish seems to be Chez Panisse's unofficial veggie mascot, judging by the free-floating radish drawings that adorn the introductory pages to the book. "No meal at Chez Panisse is quite complete without radishes," Waters writes in the radish section. "In one brilliant flash of red and green, they help define where and who we are." She's not talking about a universal sense of humanity expressed in our crunchy, spicy garden friend, but is referring specifically to northern California, where radishes are abundant and in season all year long.
I picked up a bunch of French Breakfast radishes at the Noe Valley Farmers market a couple of months ago and used them to brighten up a mid-afternoon snack (top photo). I think their compactness makes their flavor sharper than larger radish varieties, which seem more watery. I laid slices of cheddar cheese on top of pumpernickel rye bread and warmed them in the toaster oven. Then I covered each toast with thin slices of radish. Waters's favorite preparation for the radish: rinse in water and serve.