Alexa Weibel’s 17 Recipes for a Small Thanksgiving Dinner in the New York Times (11/20/20) caught my eye in making preparations for a cozy meal of gratitude for only three. Alexa Weibel, the newspaper’s senior staff editor for NYT Cooking, a digital source for thousands of recipes from The New York Times along with how-to guides for home cooks at every skill level, described her 17 suggested recipes as delivering deliciousness without leaving too much leftover. A range of vegetables were center stage in some of the recipes, including brussels sprouts, sweet potato, green beans, spinach, carrots and apples as well.
This home cook would like to offer an additional recipe, simple and special and locally sourced, at least in the greater Northeast of the United States and Canada. Preparation involves only washing, some minor peeling and slicing, and to have on hand a local, artisanal cheese to complement the little bit peppery flavor of watermelon radishes.
Included in my weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share in late fall from Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook (Columbia County), New York were nearly a dozen watermelon radishes. There are many different colors and sizes of radishes, but it was a big surprise a few years ago, as a subscriber to a farm share from Roxbury Farm, to enjoy the surprise of slicing into a watermelon radish for the first time.
Similar to pulling up a carrot from the backyard garden, where there’s a kind of magic to suddenly see the colorful orange of this common root vegetable. Not so common, it’s also a colorful surprise to see the colorful slices of watermelon radish, resembling the ripe summertime fruit, when slicing into this peppery edible root.
On a recent visit to the Hudson Farmers Market in Hudson (Columbia County), New York, I was pleased to see the farm stand of Chaseholm Farm, a dairy and creamery located in Pine Plains (Dutchess County), New York offering small batch, artisanal cheeses, yogurt and milk. Chaseholm Farm is a 350 acre certified organic third generation dairy farm in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley. Its grass-fed cows graze on pastures every day for 8 to 9 months of the year and during the winter eat the farm’s homegrown forages.
Relying on the suggestion of the friendly woman in charge of the creamery’s farm stand at the Hudson Farmers Market was easy. Usually responsible for milking the dairy’s cows, each apparently bearing its own name, she was substituting for the day for the creamery’s usual cheesemonger at the farmers market. The replacement’s expertise in things dairy and cheese was unquestionable. And what a great suggestion she had to prepare a side dish of sliced watermelon radish and cheese using the creamery’s soft-ripened cheese named Moonlight.
A slightly aged, bloomy rind cheese whose white rind just conceals the ash layer beneath. Quick to ripen, Moonlight has a tart and firm chevre style center in its youth, but as it ages, ripening from the outside in, the pate sweetens taking on an ever more delicate body and creaminess. An ash layer beneath the bloom has characteristics of a goat’s milk St Maure, though made here with cows milk. Pair with salted almonds and honey.
The side dish of sliced watermelon radish and a local cheese for Thanksgiving will be extra special and not only colorful, with this remarkable artisanal cheese from the Hudson Valley’s Chaseholm Farm Creamery.
And to our readers: Best wishes for a safe and happy and appetizing Thanksgiving, with lots of delicious and locally sourced ingredients.
(Frank W. Barrie, 11/24/20)