This past weekend, I hosted a couple from Virginia for a short visit to the Big Apple. When I asked them what they’d like to see/explore/do/take in on their brief trip up here, he replied, “What do New Yorkers typically do on Saturdays?” I said that sometimes we head to the Greenmarket to pick up seasonal produce, before correcting myself and responding, “Actually, the first thing we do is to check the MTA website to see what subway trains are running, and then we figure out what we’re going to do that day.” With so many subway lines under construction or repair alerts these days, the latter statement is much closer to the truth.
The intermittent subway disruptions plus my kitchen work schedule have made Wednesday my usual day to visit the market at Union Square. Now that we are past the bleakest of the winter months and charging full speed ahead into summertime’s seasonal bounty, more colorful and vibrant products are appearing each week. A couple of weeks ago, I designed a few small plate items for the menu, taking advantage of some of them. These gorgeous Onion Chives were just begging to be purchased. What to do with them, I wondered?
A pile of red finger nail polish-colored radishes had caught my eye when I’d been roaming around the market earlier. Knowing that we had a bunch of bread that needed to be used for crostini sitting in the walk-in refrigerator at the restaurant, this dish started to form in my head. It is a spin on a French-style snack or breakfast of radishes dipped in sea salt and then served with a luxurious slash of rich, cultured butter on a fresh baguette. For our menu, I figured that mixing up the onion chives with Ronnybrook Farm‘s (also a vendor at the market) unsalted butter then topping that with the radishes and a few pea shoots would make a nice version of that treat. These small bites got a big thumbs up from the staff who graciously offered to taste test it.
Radish and Chive-Butter Crostini
Prep time: Less than 30 minutes
Serving size: Makes about 1 pint of chive butter, enough for 40 or so crostini
1 Baguette or a couple of mini baguettes
Extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter (good quality butter is best), softened
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2- 2 Tbsp Onion Chives, chopped finely
1 bunch Radishes (red, white, red and white – your preference)
2 oz. Pea Shoots (I used Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea Shoots from Windfall Farms)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place however many pieces of bread you are planning to serve (allow 3-4 per person) on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Using a pastry brush, dab each piece of bread with olive oil. Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly colored and crisp.
Pay close attention to these as, depending upon your oven, they can go from unbaked to burnt quite quickly (see the Eddie Izzard routine about making toast, as it is very apt). Remove from oven and set aside to until ready to use. As you don’t want the butter to melt into the crostini for this recipe, you’ll want them to cool off before you put them together. (These can also be prepared in advance, per this Kitchen Witch Tip.)
While the bread is toasting, chop up the chives. Once the bread is out of the oven and cooling, you can turn your attention to mixing the ingredients for the chive butter. Add the salt, pepper, and chives to the butter and combine thoroughly. This is a good task to do by hand, as it just takes a few minutes to come together.
Trim the green tops from the radishes or have them do it at the farmers market. These would also be delicious pan fried with a bit of the butter and served as a side dish. Slice the radishes very thinly.
Slather a bit of the butter on the now-cooled crostini. Add a few radish slices on top of that and then sprinkle a couple of pea shoots on top of the radishes. These make a perfect appetizer or snack and can be prepared a little bit ahead of serving (not more than 30 minutes).