Ronnie Paul: Fresh paint, fresh dishes |

Ronnie Paul: Fresh paint, fresh dishes

Cucumber-radish salad.
Photo by Jeff Kane |

When my husband Jeff and I decided to paint the kitchen, we pored over fan decks of colors as we sipped our morning espressos. Celery Roulade, Peach Parfait, Apple Crisp: the color names sounded like cookbook entries. I got so famished reading them, I frequently had to dash to the pantry for munchies.

Craving a little spiciness, we finally chose Mango Salsa.

We cleared counters and pantry shelves and hauled everything into the dining room. With three juicers, four espresso makers, and bagged rice from the Y2K era, it looked like an overstocked thrift store. It took me 20 minutes just to locate ingredients for my morning oatmeal.

On a high shelf stuffed behind canning jars, I found a wooden mallet, a metal ball with spikes, and a meat grinder. These forgotten antique kitchen implements looked like medieval instruments of torture, but I couldn’t just toss them. What if they were valuable or came back in style? I chucked them in the garage with the other clutter my kids will have to deal with one day.

Of course, real treasures like our daughters’ ceramic handprints from kindergarten and my mother’s stained Hungarian cookbooks will always retain a place of honor in our kitchen.

It was too difficult to cook during the painting mayhem, but I’m back now to stirring and sautéing. I hope you find these recipes as fresh and colorful as my newly painted walls.

Cucumber-Radish Salad

Serves 3-4

I made this with a bought cucumber, but can attest that the radishes and parsley were from our garden. I can’t wait to try this with our very own cukes!

1 English-style cucumber, sliced thinly (I like the long slim almost seedless cukes, but if you use a fatter variety, seed them and slice thinly to make about 2 cups.)

1/2 cup radishes, sliced thinly in half-moons

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Whisk together:

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon rice vinegar

Salt and pepper

Toss everything together and serve. If you make this ahead (I’m definitely a make-ahead chef), add the salt just before serving.

Potato Ramekins

6 portions

Add this spiffy mashed potato recipe to your comfort-food list. And for a guaranteed “Wow!” light meal, serve it with the above salad.

1 pound potatoes, cut in pieces and boiled until tender

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

1/4 cup milk

1 beaten egg

1 pressed garlic clove

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper

2 scallions, thinly sliced

6 ramekins or custard cups

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon seasoned breadcrumbs

Mash together the potatoes, cheese, milk, egg, garlic, dill and salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in the scallions.

To grease the ramekins, put a little butter in each and place them in the oven while it heats. Voila melted butter! Use a paper towel to coat the bottom and sides of the ramekins.

Divide the breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the ramekin bottoms and whatever you can attach to the sides.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees until the tops are slightly golden.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.

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