Sometimes you come across an answer even before you think of the question. For example, you can travel by car to Haifa early in the morning, with the sea on your left and fish ponds on the right, and suddenly you hear Joni Mitchell on the radio singing about her California, and immediately wonder why you’re so homesick.
It happens to everyone, sometimes even several times a day. It happens to me a lot when I’m in the kitchen. For instance, when I suddenly see a jar of mustard and immediately ask myself how I can get hold of a few slices of roast beef and good rye bread. Or when I see a few spearmint leaves and immediately remember how much I wanted tea. It happens all the time.
Take radishes, for example: They spark so many questions. You can ask, for example, how to refresh yourself in this heat, or how to moderate the saltiness of the herring, or what will make the vodka slide down better − or even what’s the best thing to put on a slice of black bread with butter.
It’s easy with radishes. Their name in Hebrew, tznon, hints at coolness, and their smell reveals that they’re sharp, and touching them indicates that we’ll hear a sound when we chew them. Now all that’s left to ask is whether there’s anything that shouldn’t be eaten together with radishes. Now we’ve found a question and once again we don’t have an answer.
Salad of radishes and baked beef schnitzel
Here is a refreshing summer salad that takes advantage of the sharpness and freshness of the radishes to balance the taste of crisp beef schnitzel. The schnitzel is not baked for health reasons, God forbid; rather, is meant to prevent too much greasiness in the salad, which can easily be eaten as a complete lunch. Anyone who insists on frying will use clarified butter. If you do it, you might as well do it right.
Those who observe kashrut can avoid using the Parmesan or the milk in the recipe, and replace them with a heaping tablespoonful of high-quality mustard. The role of the cheese is to thicken the batter and add a slightly scorched taste, which is created when it is heated in the oven. In any case, it’s important to make sure to slice the radishes shortly before serving, and not to add the pieces of schnitzel to the salad when they are too hot, so they won’t soften the radishes and will retain their crispness. Serves four.
For the schnitzel:
500-gm. chunk ofsinta (sirloin) orsheitel (rump)
a bunch of parsley
leaves from two sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or 60 ml. milk
2 cups high-quality bread crumbs
1/4 cup extra fine olive oil
ground black pepper
For the salad:
1 small lemon
6 scallion stalks
4 sprigs of coriander (optional)
ground black pepper
To prepare the schnitzel: Remove the fat and sinews from the meat and with a sharp knife cut into 1/2-cm. slices in the direction of the fibers. (You can ask the butcher to do this.) To make slicing easier, you can freeze the meat for an hour to harden it a bit. Cut each slice into 4-5 bite-sized pieces.
Break the eggs into a deep bowl, add the parsley stalks, thyme leaves, Parmesan, salt and pepper; mix with a hand blender. You can also use a food processor to get a very thick and greenish paste.
Place the pieces of meat in the egg mixture, and then coat with the bread crumbs. Line a baking tray with baking paper and grease it with a little olive oil. Arrange the pieces of schnitzel on it, crowded close together, drip a little more olive oil over them, and transfer to an oven preheated to 250 degrees Celsius on the turbo setting for about 20 minutes, until the bread-crumb coating turns brown. If there is no turbo setting, turn the pieces over once in the middle of baking.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad: Rinse the radishes, cut them widthwise into 2-3 mm. slices and transfer to a bowl. Rinse the lemon thoroughly, divide it into quarters lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice 2 or 3 of the quarters thinly; add to the salad.
Tear the scallion stalks by hand into 2-cm. pieces; remove the coriander leaves from the stalks and add them to the bowl too. Remove the pieces of schnitzel from the oven and set aside to cool for about 2 minutes. Add them to the bowl with the radishes and lemon, season with a little more salt and pepper, and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over everything. Mix lightly and serve immediately in individual bowls with a glass of cold white wine.
A salad of roots and stalks
The ingredients listed here are only a suggestion. Some can be replaced, depending on your taste and on what’s available in the market. You can add or subtract, as long as you maintain the ratio between the sharpness of the radishes and the sweetness of the kohlrabi, the saltiness of the celery and the bitterness of the spearmint, and you use the olive oil, salt and pepper. There are people in this country who grow the entire salad in their own garden.
1 small red onion
2 celery stalks
4 scallion stalks
3 spearmint stalks
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
ground black pepper
Rinse all the roots and stalks thoroughly; peel the turnip, the kohlrabi, the carrot and the onion. Cut the turnip, kohlrabi and onion into quarters or eighths, and slice each into very thin slices. Slice the carrot and radishes lengthwise into very thin rings, too, and place everything in a bowl.
Cut the celery stalks and scallions into slices. Remove the parsley and spearmint leaves from their stalks and add to the salad. Season with olive oil and a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve as a first course.