Food isn’t just food at the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio, where executive chef liaison Jamie Simpson sees art in everything that grows, including the humble radish. Here, he reinvents the classic French breakfast of bread, butter, radishes and salt, paired with a radish salad.
Radish Butter Terrine
(10 to 12 servings)
12 ounces cherry bomb or Easter egg radishes
10 ounces unsalted European butter
1.5 teaspoons fleur de Sel (French sea salt)
Baguette for serving
Dice butter and allow to soften for about 1 hour. With a pair of scissors, remove the tap root and the leafy tops from the radishes, forming round spheres. Wash and dry the radishes. In a bowl, fold the butter into the radishes with a spatula. Wipe a 1/9th pan (2 by 6 inches)* with oil and then place plastic film flat into the pan. (The oil will cause the film to stick to the pan and allow you to easily remove air bubbles.) Place one layer of radishes and butter into the pan at a time and tap out air pockets by banging the pan on the counter. Repeat until all of the radish butter mixture is used. Smooth out the surface, cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight. When the butter is set, remove the terrine by pulling on the plastic lining. Square off the edges of the terrine, wrap and store until ready to use. With a very sharp knife or gently serrated bread knife, slice the terrine into ¼-inch slices. Serve on slices of fresh baguette. Finish with fleur de sel.
* If you don’t have a pan this size, you can roll the butter in plastic wrap, refrigerate and slice into rounds.
Shaved Radish Salad with Soft Poached Farm Egg Yolk
2 Black radishes
2 Watermelon Radishes
2 Lime Radishes
2 Purple Radishes
5 Cherry Bomb Radishes
6 Farm Egg Yolks
9 ounces Olive Oil
1 ounce Maldon salt
6 ounces Crème Fraiche
18 Radish blooms
Wash all of your radishes. Remove the top from them and carefully shave on the thinnest setting your mandolin will allow while maintaining round slices. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water while you prepare the rest of the dish. (Or you can refrigerate them in the water overnight.)
Poach egg yolks. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. While your radishes are soaking in ice water, separate six egg yolks from whites. Pour the oil into an oven-safe dish that’s large enough to hold the egg yolks in a single layer. Gently add the yolks to the oil. If they are not completely submerged, add more oil to cover them. Poach the yolks in the oven for about 40 minutes, until you have soft poached warm yolk that are very gently cooked and still runny. The fresher and smaller the eggs, the better, as the yolks remain very round. When the yolks are ready, remove them from the oven and keep in olive oil until ready to use.
Assemble and serve. Drain the radishes from the water. (Water your plants or chickens.) Dry them on a linen or tea towel. Place six shallow bowls down and spoon 1 ounce creme fraiche in each bowl. Use the back of your spoon to make a well in the creme fraiche.
Using a perforated or slotted spoon, spoon in the yolk to the center of the well in the creme fraiche. Carefully and artfully distribute the radishes high and tight over the top of the egg, creme fraiche mixture.
Pick your flower petals and evenly distribute across the top. Finish by distributing some of the olive oil evenly across the top. Add maldon salt or any coarse flaked sea salt.
Note: Soaking shaved vegetables in ice water brings new life to the vegetable. Carrots, radishes, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, etc., all benefit from a soak in ice water for an hour or two minimum. If you have a vacuum chamber, you can speed this process up to 60 seconds. The cellular walls swell with water and turn very rigid. The flavor softens for spicy and earthy vegetables and allows for much more enjoyable eating.