Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Radish Cream Cheese Spread for Spring

Are you a part of the radish fan club or do you not care for them because of their peppery and at times, sharp taste? If you already like radishes I don't need to convince you, but if you are on the fence about this vegetable or even hate the way it tastes (gasp) here are a few facts that might sway your mind. The little red root vegetable is actually good for you! Yes, I know, I know, all vegetables are good for you, but these little guys are full of vitamin C, have cancer fighting properties and are low in calories to name a few. See, I thought this might peek your interest. 

My husband loves radishes as much as I do, however my kids are staunch radish opponents. When I try adding them to our salads, they always end up picking theirs out. They really don't know what they are missing out on ;-) One of my favorite ways to enjoy radishes growing up was adding thin slices of them on top of a piece of buttered rye bread, with just a tiny sprinkle of salt. Super simple, but so tasty. In fact, I get fairly nostalgic thinking about the beautiful red radishes from my mom's garden along with that wonderful baked bread that German bakeries are well known for.

While radishes are available year round these days, I tend to think they are synonymous with spring. This easy to make radish cream cheese spread is the perfect appetizer or light lunch for the season. Cream cheese paired with plain yogurt, radishes, chives, lemon zest and lemon juice give this spread a light taste and make it irresistible. Add a dollop of the spread on top of a piece of seeded bread and sprinkle with some beautiful micro greens for added color. Arrange them on a platter and you now have the most perfect appetizer to serve for a spring luncheon or your Easter celebration. Oh, and for the record, everyone in my family enjoyed this radish cream cheese spread. Yes, even my radish haters!

Radish Cream Cheese Spread
~makes about 1 1/2 cups~
(Print this Recipe)

1 bunch radishes, washed and finely cubed (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (can use 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/4 cup plain (2%) yogurt 
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Micro Greens
Sliced Bread

Place your washed and cubed radishes in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes to draw out excess moisture.

In a medium bowl whisk together cream cheese, yogurt, chives, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain salted radishes well and fold into the prepared cream cheese mixture. Place mixture in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before assembling.

When ready to serve place a dollop of the radish cream cheese on your bread slices. Top with micro greens and serve.

Notes: Drawing the moisture out of the radishes before adding them to the cream cheese is an important step that will prevent your spread from getting to watery after it sits.

You can also serve this radish spread as a dip. In this case place the dip in a bowl and serve with bread, crackers and assorted vegetables, like carrots, bell peppers, and celery.

For a change of pace, use the spread as a tasty bagel topping.

The spread will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Recipe inspired by:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Make it Homemade: Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

We happen to live in a state where the weather is nice almost year round, which is perfect since we are big on back yard grilling. One item that is a must have for a good barbecue is a tasty BBQ sauce. The shear amount of sauces for sale at the grocery store can be overwhelming and even within each brand you can find smoky, sweet, spicy, mild, home-style and the list goes on and on. Store bought sauces are great in a pinch, but we wanted a condiment that had all of the above components combined into one tasty sauce. 

To achieve what we were looking for in a great sauce, we started to make our own saucy condiments from scratch. After a bit of experimenting, we have found a couple of fantastic recipes that we have added our own touches to that have replaced any grocery store sauce you can find on the shelf. Is it more time consuming to make your own barbecue sauce then opening a store bought bottle? You bet, but you can't beat the rich and complex flavor profile of a homemade sauce along with being able to control the ingredients that go into it.

Today I'm sharing our Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce that we have been making over and over the past few years. We love serving it with pulled pork or using it as a  glaze on smoked ribs, but it is also tasty served with chicken or on a good burger. This flavorful topping has everything in it that we were looking for in a great BBQ sauce: sweetness, a hint of spiciness, a little smoke, a bit of tartness and most of all, lots of flavor.  Give it a try for yourself and see how easy and tasty this sauce can be on all of your grilled favorites and kick your grocery store sauces to the curb.

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce 
~makes 2 (16oz.) jars~

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons tomato paste
One 12-ounce can Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons ancho or New Mexican chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the onion and jalapeno pepper in the butter until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the flavors have blended. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken, 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper if desired.

Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes or until it is warm but no longer “boiling” hot. Puree with an immersion or traditional blender—this will make the sauce thicker. Let cool. Fill into cleaned jars. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes: The BBQ sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Slightly adapted from: Saveur 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)

When I was little, I wasn't a big fan of any salad that contained green lettuce leaves. I thought it tasted like grass and was better used as food for rabbits. I ate it, but many times it was very begrudgingly and only the smallest amount my mom would let me get away with. However, there was always one salad I didn't need convincing for and that was my mom's Gurkensalat (cucumber salad). I could happily eat a big bowl in one sitting without complaint.

Gurkensalat is as quintessential in Germany as Bratwurst, Sauerkraut or Schnitzel. Most families have a recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation with a few slight variations depending on the region in Germany. My love for this salad has only grown stronger over the years and I'm happy that my family loves it equally as well. In fact, this is one of my most requested recipes from friends who have tried it at our home. I've always told them "it's a little of this and a little of that", so I guess many of them will be happy that I've finally added it to my blog with a "real" recipe.

Cucumbers are mild and pretty neutral tasting, plus they are very refreshing, especially on a warm day. Making this salad doesn't require a lot of time, but there are a few key points to remember. I peel my cucumber and use a mandolin to get thin, even slices. Salting the cucumbers prior to adding the salad dressing helps remove some of the moisture and prevents the salad from being to watery. Fresh dill will really bring out the freshness in this salad, but in a pinch I've used dried dill before and it will work just fine, but in this case fresh is best. Last, but not least, while I use extra virgin olive oil for every other salad dressing or vinaigrette I make, for this salad I prefer a very neutral tasting oil like grapeseed oil which is a great healthy alternative.

This salad tastes best if it can "hang out" for about an hour before serving. It helps all the flavors meld together and makes it even more tasty. Gurkensalat is a great side dish for any grilled meat, but one of my favorite ways to eat it is the way my mom and grandma served it quite frequently, alongside some freshly made Käsespätzle (Cheese Spaetzle). I really hope you will give this recipe a try and that it becomes a family favorite of yours as well.

German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)
~makes 4 servings~
(Print this recipe)

1 English Cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, finely chopped

Peel and slice cucumber and place in a strainer over a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, mix with the cucumbers and let sit for about 20 minutes to drain.

Meanwhile to make the dressing whisk oil, white vinegar, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Whisk in sour cream, onions, dill and chives.

In a bowl add your drained cucumber and your prepared dressing. Combine and let sit for about 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Notes: My mom taught me to peel the cucumber from the "flower to the stem" (top to bottom), this way if you have a bitter cucumber end you don't drag the bitterness across the entire cucumber.

Always taste both ends of your cucumber before using, there is nothing worse than a bitter cucumber ruining your salad.

I use a mix of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar for this salad. Over the years I have found that this mix comes pretty closely to the unique taste German vinegar has.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Family Recipe


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