Radishes, butter, sea salt. It’s an absolutely winning combination, as I’ve said before. I’ve been wandering about France for the last few weeks where this is pretty much a staple in home kitchens, chic wine bars, casual bistros and occasionally fancy restaurants. For good reason – it’s delicious. You take a fat radish, preferably the long slender French ones we call “breakfast radishes” in the States, smear some softened good butter onto one side, top with a pinch of sea salt and take a bite. The pungent crunchy radish, the creamy rich butter and hit of salt is unbelievably good. I’ve eaten them no less than 5 times in the last 2 weeks and took great delight in introducing my American friends to them.
As easy and simple as this is, maybe you want something even simpler. Maybe the act of smearing butter on a radish, time and again, is just too much effort. We’re in the middle of a heatwave in France and that’s how I’m thinking at the moment. So that’s where radish butter comes in. Same idea but the three key components are blended into a spread for crackers, bread or whatever delicious surface you may come across. I like to take a slice of good crusty bread, top it with a smear of radish butter, a thin pile of good ham topped with some crunchy peppery arugula. The French would call this a tartine, a type of open-faced sandwich. I call it lunch.
I found this recipe, if you can even call it that, on the Splendid Table website via the ever talented Lee Brothers via their Nashville friend Mindy Merrell. Regardless, I thought it genius because while I love a radish and butter sandwich, once you start adding additional elements (i.e., ham and arugula) things start to slide off wily nily. I hate that. But a radish butter mostly solves that dilemma as it combines some of those slippery components. Plus it’s really easy to bring to a picnic, which is a bonus at this time of year. Happy July 4th my fellow Americans!
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: COMPLETELY STRESS FREE. The biggest pain in the butt factor would be washing the food processor. Which, if you have no dishwasher like me, is something to consider. In that case, use a grater. Anyway, it takes less than 5 minutes to come together and then you can go lie down under the fan again. Which is also something to consider.
Six years ago: Cajun Ginger Cookies
Five years ago: Big American Flag Cake – perfect for July 4th!
Four years ago: Sweet & Spicy Beer Mustard, Strawberry Shortcake
Three years ago: Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles, Spanish Sunday Lunch – Patatas Aioli
Two years ago: Hush Puppies, BBQ Baked Beans
Last year: Guinness Crème Anglaise
RADISH BUTTER – from The Splendid Table
½ pound round red radishes or long breakfast radishes, trimmed, at room temperature
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, completely softened
½ teaspoon Maldon or other flaky salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
slices of good crusty bread
thin slices of ham, such as Black Forest
- For the radish butter: Put the radishes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the radish is chopped into very fine dice, 4-5 three-second pulses.
- Transfer the contents to a double thickness of paper towels and wring out the excess liquid. The paper towel will very likely tear. Carry on.
- Transfer to a bowl and add 4 Tablespoons of the softened butter, the salt and pepper. It’s very important that the butter is soft or this simply will not come together.
- With a rubber spatula, cream the radish and butter together, adding more butter 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together in a smooth, pliable mass.
- Transfer the mixture to a ramekin or bowl, garnish with a sprinkle of flaky salt if you like. Serve immediately. (The butter will keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days but make sure you bring it to room temperature, about 15 minutes, to soften before serving.)
- For the tartine: Spread each slice of bread generously with radish butter.
- Top with a thin pile of ham and a few arugula leaves. Maybe garnish with a pinch of flaky salt. Eat immediately. You’re welcome.