The things I do when Mr. Man is out of town - or - Dinner party part one, The most amazing watermelon radish salad ever

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Okay, let us first start off with the claim I just made - that this is best radish salad ever.  It really is.  I hope that you won't judge it by the pictures.  I know that my photos can't compete with the likes of some of the great food blogs out there, but I need you to trust me on this one and eat this salad.

I made this salad as part of a dinner party that I hosted for some girlfriends.  Mr. Man is out of town right now and although I always miss him terribly, I like to take advantage and do all the things I don't do when he is home.   I think everyone has a list like this. 

My list goes a little something like this:

Leave my dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. 

Not eat complete meals...just snack directly from the refrigerator. 

Crawl into bed with my computer at 7 pm.

Eat Brussels sprouts in large quantities (I did not know until just now that Brussels is capitalized and has an s on the end.  My love affair with Brussels is so new and I have so much to learn).

Turn the heat way up high. 

Watch Glee without commentary.
Eat sweet and savory foods....which is one of the inspirations of this salad.

This salad was also inspired by watermelon radishes.   They are hot pink on the inside and light green on the outside.  Such a welcome hint of color in the drab wintertime and as we all know (at least those of us who are dedicated to The Birdcage) one must have one tiny hint of color!

Anyway, this salad was a great way to start an amazing dinner party with some new and old friends back here in the Bay Area.  It was a night filled with such good company that it spilled over into the food I was making and made it taste amazing.  The next day I was filled with a warm cozy vibe from the night before and the feeling that I was starting to rebuild my community here.  I hope this salad tastes as good for you as it did for me.

Sweet and Savory Watermelon Radish Salad 
serves 6

One other note on watermelon radishes.  They are much more mild and less bitter than regular radishes.  If you are not normally a fan, give these a try and omit the regular radishes. Also, you can substitute sour cream in place of the creme fraiche if you don't have it or don't want to splurge.  In place of the pepitas you could substitute pine nuts, slivered almonds, pecans, etc. 

For the Salad:
1-2 large watermelon radishes, thinly sliced
a handful of regular radishes, thinly sliced
3 heads endives, halved, hearts removed, and sliced lengthwise
6 tsp. creme fraiche
For the Honeyed Pepitas:
1/2 cup raw pepitas
2-3 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. sea salt, the bigger the salt pieces the better
parchment paper

For the Vinaigrette:
juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup grapeseed or other light oil
sea salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste (you can use black too, but I think that this salad looks prettier with the white since it blends in)

First prepare the pepitas.  Put the pepitas in a frying pan over medium heat.  Toast them for a minute then add the honey and continue to toast them in the pan for another three or four minutes until the pepitas are golden.  Once they are done spread them out on parchment paper, sprinkle with the sea salt, and allow them to cool.

Before you plate the salads, go ahead and make the vinaigrette by mixing together all the ingredients and set aside.  

To prepare the salad, first divide the endives evenly among six plates.  Then divide the regular radishes among the plates, followed by the watermelon radishes.  Top with the honeyed pepitas and finally a dollop of the creme fraiche.  

Dress the salads just before you serve them.  The vinaigrette causes the colors from the watermelon radish to leech from them and run. 

I am the worst procrastinaor ever -or- Shaker Lemon Pie

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I have mentioned it once or twice before here on this shared mile of ours.  I am a card carrying member of the procrastinator's club.

In general, I consider myself to be a really efficient procrastinator. 

Oh, what's that you say?  You don't quite understand how procrastination can help you to be a much more productive person?

Well, let me direct you to a little essay that I once found on the internet.  You know, the place where you should believe everything that you read.

The first time I read it, I was so excited that someone had finally explained, in words, why I was somehow able to be one of the worst procrastinators ever and still maintain a good gpa at an academically difficult college.  Most people would think that a procrastinator would tank at a school that required hundreds of pages or reading, papers to write, and exams to take every week. Technically, I should have tanked.  But, somehow I always managed.  It wasn't always pretty, but it always worked out.  I never missed a deadline.

So when I read this essay, it was like I had found my own personal manifesto. 

Basically, the theory is that to be a productive procrastinator you must always have a long list of tasks to accomplish going at all times.  The key is to have seemingly important tasks at the top of the list.  Tasks that you can procrastinate while you do all the other tasks on your list.  It's genius, really. 

Anyway, you are probably starting to wonder how Shaker lemon pie plays into all this procrastination talk.  Well, I made this pie last year and have been meaning to write and post this recipe ever since.  Not last year December, mind you.  Last year, about this time, last year.


I have had it at the top of my to do list for a very long time.  I think about it all the time and it nags at me.  I have no idea why it has taken me this long to get around to posting about it, but it did.  I have gotten a lot of other things done in that time, including other blog posts.  It is hard to explain this logic myself, just go read the essay.
Anyway, this recipe is from the book Tartine.  It is from a very famous bakery in San Francisco.  A bakery I never went to in my four years in the city.  It is one of those places where the line extends for blocks while people wait for tables or to place orders to take home.  I am sure it is worth the wait, but honestly I am way too hungry and cranky in the morning to go wait in a long line for food.  So, I was really excited when they came out with their cookbook.


Every recipe in this book looks amazing. It ranges from easy recipes such as deluxe double chocolate cookies to extremely complex like their holiday buche du noel.  I have made several recipes from this book. And I have to be honest, most of them seem like they are leaving out a secret ingredient or secret step.  I made a banana date bread that was just meh, brownies that turned out terrible, twice.  And finally, this Shaker lemon pie, which I also had to make twice to get it right. 

Granted, some of this may be because I am not a professional baker, but I sort of feel like cookbooks made for at home cooks shouldn't be hard to figure out.  They should be written so that someone who is not professionally trained can figure it out.

Also, to be fair, I really liked this Shaker lemon pie, once I got it right (the first time the entirety of the filling oozed out of the tart pan and into the stove setting off multiple fire alarms.  Fun.).  I know it sounds crazy after everything I just wrote but I still love this book.  Maybe it is more of a love-hate relationship we have.  But, I still have many recipes left in this book that I want to have some baking adventures with.

To sum it up, I loved the pie.  So I am writing about it here for you.  You can make your own judgment. 

Shaker Lemon Pie
adapted from Tartine

This pie is just right for me, but its not for traditionalists and will most likely be met with mixed reviews if you serve it to a crowd.  The main offense the nay-sayers took with this pie is that it is mad up of thinly sliced lemons, peel and all.  They just couldn't seem to let that go.  Some would say it has a toothsome quality, but I really really hate that word for some reason. I hear nails on a chalkboard every time it's uttered.  Shudder. Also, if you use Meyer lemons than you don't have to let them sit for three hours the way you do with other lemons.

2 lemons, sliced as thinly as possible
2 cups sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top
4 large eggs, plus one yolk for the egg wash
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. heavy cream or water
One recipe pie crust (a good one is here)
A 10-inch tart pan or a shallow pie dish 

First slice the lemons as thin as you possibly can.  Get rid of the seeds as you come to them.  If you have a mandolin, this would be the perfect time to use.  However, I don't own one, so don't let the slicing scare you off.  Just be patient.

Place the lemon slices in a non-reactive bowl.  This is anything that is stainless steel or glass.   Add in the sugar and stir until all the lemons are covered.  Let it sit on the counter for at least three hours if you are using anything other than Meyer lemons.

Once your lemons are ready preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (its winter time, so I think you should turn it on sooner than you need to so you can warm the place up a bit) and put one of the racks on the lower third of the oven.

Then beat four eggs and the salt together and then mix them in with the lemons. Then line your pan with one pie crust round and leave about an inch of over hang and pour the mixture into the pan.

Make the egg wash by beating together the egg yolk and the heavy cream or water.  Brush the rim of the pie crust to help the top to stick on.  lay the second pie crust round over the top.

Crimp the edges of the pie crust together and ensure that there is good seal between the top and the bottom.  Brush the top with the rest of the egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. 

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place the pie on it.  Cut a few slits in the top of the pie for vents and bake it for about 40 minutes.  It will be a golden brown and the filling with be bubbling when it is done.

Allow the pie to cool completely before serving so the insides can set a bit and not run out everywhere.

Tartine also recommends that you serve this with whipped cream.  I don't think it needs it, but far be it for me to tell you not to eat whipped cream!



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