Happy New Year, everyone! I hope your 2015 ended on a high note and that this year has so far brought nothing but joy, happiness, and of course, delicious food. I’m kicking the year off with this month’s Recipe Redux, and the theme is: A New Ingredient for the New Year. As usual, I had to think about which ingredient to choose from the mile long list of ingredients I want to try. Ultimately, I settled on an ingredient that is not technically new to me, but one I’ve never actually worked with despite eating it my whole life. What is this mystical ingredient? Horseradish.
Let me start out by saying that for most of my life, horseradish meant either Passover or gefilte fish (neither of which are particularly great associations for me), and I always imagined horseradish as the stuff that comes in jars, either a weird off-white, very blah color, or else mixed with beets to make an almost neon purplish-pink. Needless to say, I was fairly unimpressed with horseradish. It wasn’t until college that I discovered cheddar cheese with horseradish in it. Total game changer. My entire life suddenly seemed so dull and empty before that moment. I was soon stuffing the horseradish cheddar into everything I could think of, and when I went back to the store for a refill, I almost cried in disappointment to see that they had sold out.
From that point on, I slowly, very slowly, started incorporating horseradish into my life. It really wasn’t until this past year that I officially declared a love for this most bitter root. This love became a full blown obsession the other week when I went to Vedge for dinner and ordered the Dutch Caramel Apple for dessert. Among other components, this dish featured a sweet, creamy sauce that was clearly dessert, but also very clearly made with horseradish. I’m fairly convinced the Vedge uses voodoo magic in most of their dishes because there is simply no other explanation for how good their food is. This dessert is definitely on the voodoo list.
So I finally decided to try some horseradish in the kitchen. Inspired by a plate from Abe Fisher, I decided to pair it with my homemade baked beet chips after I found some particularly beautiful looking yellow beets at the store. As I learned from the jars of horseradish sauce I grew up with, horseradish and beets are just made for each other. This sauce gets its creaminess from soaked cashews and maintains that distinct horseradish bite without making you want to cry (which will happen if you try to grate this stuff by hand). I imagine it would be great on fish (especially of the gefilte variety), and I plan on spending the rest of my week finding out what else it tastes good with.
What new ingredient do you want to try out this year?
Horseradish Cream Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked at least 1 hour and drained
2 inch piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Water to adjust consistency (I used about 1/2 cup, you might need more to loosen up the sauce after it sits in the fridge for a bit)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Throw everything except for the water, salt, and pepper into a food processor or high powered blender. Pulse to break down the cashews and horseradish.
2. Slowly drizzle in the water, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Blend or process everything until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency (my food processor isn’t great, so creamy is a relative term here). Once desired consistency is achieved, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or room temperature.