Saturday, September 29, 2012

These bread sticks are really impressive, and not very hard to make - plus you can do most of the work ahead of time, as the dough freezes beautifully. Just take it out and pop it in the fridge the night before you want fresh baked breadsticks!

Braided Herbed Breadsticks

3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary and oregano work great)
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1-1.5 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 egg white beaten with 1 Tbs water

Heat milk with butter and sugar until butter just melts and temperature is 110-120 F.
Add yeast to milk mixture in bowl of standing mixer. Let proof for 10 minutes until bubbly, add 1 cup flour, salt, pepper and herbs. Stir at low speed with dough hook until combined. Add semolina flour and continue to stir at medium speed, adding additionally all purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until
a ball forms and then continue to knead at medium high speed for five minutes. Grease a medium size bowl lightly and place dough in bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a paper towel or kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. At this point you can freeze the dough for use within the next 6 months, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding. If refrigerated let dough sit at room temperature for 20 mins. Divide dough in half. Roll one half into a 10x9 inch rectangle on a lightly floured board and cut into 24 thin strips, lengthwise. Roll into braids, working with three strips for each braid. Place braids 1.5 inches apart on an oiled foil lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise 30 mins. Brush each braid with egg white/water mixture and bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm, with olive oil as a dip (add a little minced garlic, salt, pepper and some more minced herbs to the oil if desired)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Calzone with sausage and cheese

Fun to make and fun to eat, calzones start with a simple pizza dough that only needs one rise. You can fill them with all kinds of things, ricotta and sweet sausage make a lovely combo.

Calzones with Ricotta & Sausage

For dough:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2-3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

In a standing mixer bowl add water and yeast and sugar and let proof for 5-10 mins until it gets all foamy and bubbly. Add 1 cup flour, salt and olive oil. Using dough hook stir at low speed until well mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if you want (i never do because the dough will eventually form a ball and scrape the sides for you if you are brave enough to increase the mixer speed) Add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together and forms a ball. Increase mixer speed to medium high and let mixer knead the dough for 5-10 mins. Oil a medium bowl with a thin coat of olive oil, place ball of dough in bowl and turn over to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down and separate into 3 equal portions for large calzones, or 6 for small calzones. Pat or roll each portion of dough into a circle about 1/8-1/4 thick.

For filling:

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese, homemade or store bought
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella 
  • 3 sweet (or hot) italian sausages
  • 2 Tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 16 oz baby spinach, cooked and drained, water squeezed out chopped (optional)

Remove casings from sausage and cook in a cast iron skillet, breaking up into small pieces until no pink remains. Drain fat. Combine cheeses, sausage, parsley and red pepper in a bowl. Add spinach if desired.

Place some filling on one half of each dough circle and fold other half over, creating a half moon. Use a fork or your fingers to seal edges. Brush with olive oil (add some garlic powder or chopped fresh garlic to the oil if you'd like) Place on a baking sheet or pizza stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake in a 350 oven for about 15-30 mins depending on size of calzone, until golden and bottom is firm and brown. Serve with tomato sauce.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baked Figs with homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese on roasted figs, with honey and nutmeg
Cheese is a wonderful thing. I love cheese, we love cheese - my family, dogs included. I love hard cheeses, like parmesan and sharp aged cheddar, gruyere reserve, asiago - I love semi soft cheeses, like fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese, farmers cheese, brie!! So many delicious cheeses. And you can cook with cheese, a melted cheese open faced sandwich is a delightful thing. A grilled cheese with a farm fresh tomato is a fabulous thing. A cheese soufflé is lovely. Cheese adds dimension to so many dishes, from lasagna to quesadillas - to gratins and mac-n-cheese, I don't think life would be as rich, as fun as enjoyable without cheese. There is fondue - there is warm brie with roasted garlic, there is cheese everywhere and I have not even begun to touch on this miracle of science...

Cheese cubes make fantastic dog treats - cheese slices, say 3 different types, arranged artfully on a platter with some decent crackers and/or grapes make a fantastic appetizer for humans...cheese is good.

Cheese is also really fun to make. Hard cheeses can be made at home, but soft cheese is so easy. Here's a simple cheese similar to ricotta (it isn't really ricotta, which is made from whey, its more a paneer - but it tastes and looks and cooks just like ricotta and it is SO EASY!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  • 1 gallon milk (use whole milk, and try to get a brand that is NOT ultra pasteurized)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)

Heat the milk and cream (if using, gives a richer taste, adds calories - works really well if you intend to use the cheese in a dessert, say cannoli -- however it is quite good without it, particularly for savory dishes just use whole milk please!) in a heavy bottom pan until it almost boils - around 180 F. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, one good stir  - stop stirring and let it sit, covered for a few hours (at least two). Drain in a colander lined with dampened cheese cloth. The longer you drain it, the drier the cheese. Stir in salt. Thats it. Practically instant ricotta, fabulous warm on toast (crostini) with a little olive oil drizzled over it. Use it in lasagna, baked ziti, manicotti, cook some spinach and squeeze the water out, chop it fine and add to the cheese with a little nutmeg and use it as a crepe filling, make gnocchi verdi, make cannoli, make a zuppa inglese - have fun with it!!

Serve it with figs -

you can roast the figs, or just leave them uncooked, sliced in half. Place a tbs or so of ricotta on each fig half and drizzle with a little honey. To roast the figs, slice in half lengthwise and pour a little melted butter with some fresh grated nutmeg or cinnamon on each fig, roast at 350 for 20-30 mins.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Moussaka - lightened up

We love Greek food here (and Italian and Korean and French and Chinese and ...) but sometimes the heavy sauces can get a person, well, heavy - so here's a lighter take on the classic eggplant casserole, moussaka. I roast the eggplants instead of frying them and I use a Greek yogurt based topping instead of a heavy white sauce...still tastes authentic and its quite easy to prepare. This is a great dish to do ahead, either the day before or weeks/months before (if you freeze it).


  • 3-4 eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/4"
  • 2-3 yukon gold potatoes (optional)
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (lamb and/or beef)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled

Prepare eggplant:
Lay the eggplant slices flat on a paper towel lined tray, and sprinkle with salt, turn over and sprinkle other side. Place paper towel over and repeat, weigh down with a heavy book/pan. Let sit for 30 mins. Rinse and blot dry. Brush a baking tray with olive oil and lay eggplant slices flat on tray, brush with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30 mins, turning halfway through baking. Repeat until all eggplants are cooked. (Remove cooked eggplant to a cool baking sheet, or plate)

Prepare meat filling:
Brown ground meat over medium high heat, add onion and garlic and cook for 5 mins. Drain fat. Add spices and herbs and tomato paste and canned tomatoes with liquid. Stir and cook for 10 mins.

Prepare potatoes:
Peel and slice 1/4" thick, boil for 5 mins (cooked but still very firm)

Assemble casserole:
In a lasagna pan or large casserole dish, brush pan with olive oil. Place one layer of potatoes if using, layer meat filling over, thinly. Place a layer of eggplant, slightly overlapping on top. Layer another thin meat layer. Place eggplant layer on top and continue, ending with eggplant. (only use one potato layer)

Mix yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, feta and parm. Spread on top of casserole. Bake in a 350 over for 45 mins, place under broiler for 2 mins or until golden brown - let sit for 10 mins and slice. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Salmon Cakes

I make these all the time, in fact I am sure I have previously posted a version of these. I just love them because they are elegant, they taste great (even people who don't usually like fish love these) their healthy and you can mostly make them ahead. I like to use fresh salmon, I think it just adds an extra depth to the taste but you can use canned. The fresh is so easy though, if you prepare it as I do in a foil packet, there isn't any mess and it cooks itself! I love adding capers. I served these last night with honey-gingered carrots and a cucumber, sour cream dill salad.

Easy Salmon Cakes
  • 1.5 lbs salmon fillet
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray or olive oil
  • a few slices white onion (optional)
  • 2 Tbs light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbs capers, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbs parsley chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs minced onion
  • 2 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Get a large piece of aluminium foil and spray with cooking spray. Lay some thin slices of onion and lemon on the cooking spray and place the salmon, skin side down on top. Lightly spray salmon with cooking spray then lay some lemon slices and onion slices on top, season with salt and pepper. Encase in aluminum foil to form a packet, but leave some room. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes or until done, drain liquid and let cool. Remove skin and fat from salmon and flake into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except olive oil. Shape into 3" balls and place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, or you can bring them to room temperature first (the fish is cooked already and they will heat up quicker). Heat a large skillet with olive oil to coat, gently flatten each salmon ball, reshaping into a patty as you do so. Saute in hot oil for a few minutes a side until crisp, browned and heated through.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pineapple Fruit Salad Boat

This fruit salad is a lot of fun, it uses a pineapple cut in half as a serving dish - for some reason this makes all the children I know a lot more likely to eat it! You can use any favorite fruit salad you make, or try this simple recipe. I always strive not to use under ripe fruit, use less variety if necessary

Pineapple Boat Fruit Salad

  • 1 large pineapple, carefully cut in half lengthwise and flesh scooped out, diced, core discarded
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 2 cups blue berries
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into 1/4" rings, then quartered
  • 2 mangos (ripe please, or don't use) peeled and diced, large flat pit removed
  • 2 cups watermelon chunks
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, packed in juice, drained
  • 1 cup green grapes, sliced in half
  • handful of fresh mint chopped fine with some clusters of leaves for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lime

Combine all fruit in a large bowl and toss gently to coat, add chopped mint. Drizzle with juice of a lime if desired. Scoop into pineapple boats and garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Store leftover fruit salad in covered bowl in fridge.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mushroom Risotto

I love Risotto - all kinds, and my favorite is probably just a simple white risotto. I love the simplicity of it and enjoy eating it as is, but I also love that it is the basis of all other risottos, so its easy to start with and change whenever you feel the urge. Like tonight, I wanted to use up some nice mushrooms I had, a mix of white and cremini and I thought, how about a mushroom risotto?

Mushroom Risotto 

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup arborio (or carnaroli) rice
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth
  • 1 shallot, minced (if you don't have a shallot use 1/2 a sweet onion and double the garlic)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional but nice)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parm
  • extra 1 Tbs butter (optional)
  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 2 Tbs butter

Basic Risotto technique: use a cast iron skillet, heat the butter and the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until softened, not browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for another minute. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain with fat. The edges of the rice will turn transparent (or at least translucent). Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed/evaporated. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and stir until the rice has taken up most of the liquid, continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring - you do not have to stir every second, but you don't want the rice to stick and you do want it to cook evenly. After about 20-25 mins all of your broth should be used and your risotto should look nice and creamy and the rice should be cooked al dente. You can add some more hot broth and keep stirring if it isn't cooked to your liking. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese and additional butter if desired. You can sprinkle this with some parsley and of course season it with some salt and pepper and you can serve it just like that...or for mushroom risotto, saute (ahead of time, or while you are making the risotto) 1 lb of mixed rough chopped mushrooms in 2 Tbs butter. Cook until mushrooms give up their liquid and then the liquid is cooked down. Season with salt and pepper and maybe a little thyme. Add the mushrooms to the white risotto when you take the rice off heat, with the parm. Stir to distribute through.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

So many garden tomatoes, making roasted tomato soup for dinner - really easy recipe that avoids the need to skin and seed them. Just cut the tops off the tomatoes, and slice into big chunks, toss with some olive oil, some peeled garlic and some cut up peeled onion - hit with some salt and pepper and bake in a 350 over for about 40 mins

Then combine tomatoes, garlic and onion with some chicken broth and bay leaves and bring to a boil, lower heat and let cook about an hour - use an immersion blender (remove the bay leaves!) to puree and add about 1/2 cup heavy cream if you want to be decadent or skip it and it'll still be great! You can strain this to make it more elegant, but I don't -  I'll add the recipe and show you a picture when its done!

To go with the soup I am planning a mushroom risotto, so I'll start that about 30 mins before I want to serve dinner - I like risotto served as soon as its done, it doesn't hold very well. Leftover risotto is great for suppli though - which I would like to make some time this week (these are basically balls of risotto encasing a piece of mozzarella breaded and sauteed or fried - really good)

usually i'd leave a little more space...

Easy Roasted Tomato Soup
  • 3 lbs tomatos
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a large baking sheet, cut tops off tomatoes and cut in half, or quarters if large. Place cut side down on oiled baking sheet, add garlic, scatter onion over top, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 mins. Carefully pour hot liquid off pan. Add all veggies to a large soup pot, add butter, chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, lower heat. Stir in tomato paste. Cook for an hour (liquid should reduce by about 1/3). Remove bay leaves. Puree soup with an immersion blender. Add heavy cream and additional salt and pepper if desired

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mu Shu Pork

Had to make a fairy quick dinner tonight, so I opted for a stirfry and did the prep early in the day. Shredded a half a head of cabbage, used my mandolin which is awesome! Sliced a pork tenderloin into thin slices, then into strips and tossed it with some soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil, put the wok out on its flametamer on the stove...when I came home I chopped some garlic, wished I had remembered green onions, shredded some carrots and beat up 2 eggs with a little cold water and white pepper. Then cooked everything up for a very respectable Mu Shu Pork, did not have time to make the little pancakes could have used warmed flour tortillas - which are quite acceptable, but I chose to go with jasmine rice and hoisin sauce! You can add minced ginger when you add the garlic if you have it, but this is a really simple can add more soy sauce and a little chicken broth mixed together with another tsp of cornstarch at the end if you want a thicker sauce...bamboo shoots are nice too, and dried black mushrooms are good - cabbage can be napa or not...

Quick Mu Shu Pork

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 2-3 carrots shredded or cut into matchstick size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 1 Tbs cold water and a dash of white pepper
  • canola oil

Slice pork into thin slices, against the grain and then into strips. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch and rice wine and add pork. Let marinate at least 15 mins at room temp or 8 hours in fridge. Heat wok on flame tamer, swirl with oil. Pour in eggs and tilt to spread egg, life with spatula and tilt till egg is cooked through. Remove egg to plate and cut into thin strips. Wipe out wok with paper towel, add 2 Tbs oil, heat. Add pork and marinade, toss to stir fry until cooked through. Remove to plate and wipe out wok, add 2 Tbs oil to wok, heat, add mushrooms and stir fry for about 2 mins, add shredded cabbage and carrot and stir fry for about a minute more, add garlic and bean sprouts, cook about another minute, tossing as you cook. Return pork with any liquid and egg to wok and toss everything together to heat through. Serve with rice, or with Mandarin pancakes and little brushes made with green onions (cut a green onion into 3 inch lengths, then slice 1/2 inch up the end in vertical cuts spaced closely together, place in ice water and brush will open up!) to spread the hoisin sauce on!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Impossible Cake

I did it!! I made a chocoflan, its super easy and really impressive. This is a Mexican cake called Pastel Imposible or chocoflan and it features a caramel sauce (i used dulche de leche) a chocolate cake (i used a devils food cake) and a basic flan. You layer the sauce in the bottom of your cake pan, top it with the chocolate cake batter, top it with the flan. You bake the whole thing in a water bath, then cool it and flip it and the flan ends up traveling through the chocolate cake and ending up below the caramel on top. How cool is that?

What surprised me was you can actually watch the flan settle as soon as you pour it on the top.

  • Dulche de Leche (need 1/2-1 cup)
  • Chocolate cake batter (from a box if you'd like or make your own)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease and flour (or use a baking spray) a ring mold without a removable bottom, or a 10" round x 3" high cake pan. Ladle about 1/2 cup dulche de leche in the bottom and tilt to coat evenly. Pour chocolate cake batter over caramel to about 1/2 up the sides of the cake pan. Blend all flan ingredients and pour evenly over chocolate batter. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Place cake pan in a larger pan and pour hot water in the larger pan up to a depth of about 1" of the cake pan. Bake at 350 for 1-1.5 hours (testing with a knife inserted into middle of cake to see if knife comes out clean) Remove from oven and water bath. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Loosen sides of cake with a knife and place a large pretty plate over cake and invert, shake gently to release cake. Can serve with more dulche de leche (some may be left in pan). Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any!!

How the cake looks cut

Can watch me make this cake on youtube - 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Coleslaw - no mayo

I love coleslaw - creamy coleslaw, coleslaw with a tangy light mayo free dressing, just cabbage with no other veggies or lots of veggies...but I can't stand deli coleslaw, way too sweet. Here's a recipe I turn to for bbq's its easy, fast and very very pretty and also quite light because it doesn't have any mayonnaise or sour cream or yogurt, which makes it more weather tolerant as well...

Pretty Coleslaw

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, core removed
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, core removed
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed

Thinly shred cabbages, using a mandolin, sharp knife or a food processor. Combine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper in a pretty bowl and stir briskly with a fork. Add cabbages, carrots and green onions and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to blend.
(Fun way to remove core from cabbage - take off thick outer leaves and discard. Raise cabbage high up over a firm steady surface and ram it down (stem end down) HARD - with any luck core will dislodge. Alternatively, you can cut cabbage in half lengthwise and then cut core out.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hunger Games Cake

I  made this awhile ago, but I just found a picture and I wanted to share it. I love using color sugar sheets as an easy way to add a decorative element to a cake and here I used one in yellow to cut out a hunger games inspired mocking jay design

My daughter and her friends loved this cake, and i also made cupcakes with mocking jay pins as take home and keep toppers . The cake was a carrot cake, and the frosting cream cheese - the sugar sheet stuck just fine to it, although the general rule is to use a buttercream or fondant frosting to aid in the sheet adhering. Guess cream cheese frosting is similar to buttercream!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry

OK, I posted the radish-cucumber salad already tonight, and I wasn't going to post this stir-fry...but it came out so good!! I wanted to share it before I forget what I did.

Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1/2 onion cut into thin wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
  • 1 shallot chopped fine
  • 2 green onions, white and pale green part chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, green pepper and yellow pepper cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup carrots (cut into thin match sticks)
  • 2 heads broccoli, separated into florets and parboiled 2 mins
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs rice wine
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • pepper

Combine chicken broth, cornstarch, rice wine and soy sauce and stir, set aside. Heat 2 Tbs canola oil in a wok over medium high heat, stir fry chicken until white, add onion, garlic, ginger and shallot, stir fry 2 minutes, add red pepper and carrots stir fry 4 mins, add chicken broth mixture and let boil stirring. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. If you only have one color pepper thats fine, and you could use a red onion if you had one.

Serve over rice.

Chicken Stir Fry, Radish and Cucumber Salad

Tonight for dinner I had no idea what to make. I have boneless skinless chicken breasts, and I was thinking chicken parm, but my daughter wasn't too thrilled about the idea. So I made a chocolate ice cream base to put in the fridge so it can be good and cold when I put it in the ice cream maker after dinner, at least I know she'll love that. Still thinking about the chicken. I have broccoli, i have an onion, a yellow pepper and carrots - and some ginger root, garlic - I'll make a stir fry! Also have an English cucumber and some radishes, so I'll make a quick side salad with that and some rice - and there you go - dinner when I haven't had time to plan or run to the market.

Cucumber and Radish Salad

  • 1/2 an English cucumber cut into thin half moons
  • 6-8 radishes, cut into thin half moons
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • feta cheese (optional)
  • green onion (optional)
  • cubed garden tomatoes (optional)
  • fresh herbs - like dill, or thyme

Sprinkle about a tsp of salt over sliced cucumber and let drain in a colander. Combine rice vinegar and olive oil and black pepper, add a tsp of sugar if desired, whisk. Add radishes and drained cucumber to vinegar mixture and stir. Add some feta and dill if desired. Or add some tomato and thyme. You can also add green onion, or red onion - this works with just cucumbers as well, very refreshing salad with a touch of Asian flare.