White: So many things to do with cucumbers

At our first boules party in early June, Chris and Tom Hopkins served a dinner with cold chicken, lots of greens and potato salad. It happened to be a warm Sunday and I truly appreciate cool (in more than one way) entrees and sides. In fact, I used to tell my husband that I was a pretty easy date (or wife, for that matter). If there is cold chicken or turkey in the refrigerator, lots of salad, a good movie on Netflix or a delicious novel in which I am immersed, I am a happy camper.

In the salad at the gathering were long, impossibly thin slices of cucumber. I rarely served cucumbers because my late husband, Doug, said he would burp cucumbers for days. When I could get the English cucumbers, which many call the burpless cucumbers, I would use them. At the boules dinner, I said next to a friend and gave him more of my chicken and he allowed me to eat his cucumbers in addition to mine.

Recently I got my new Bon Appetit with a whole page of recipes for cucumbers. One includes radishes. I never cared much for radishes, but over time I began to love them, sliced very thin, and served with sweet butter, a superb baguette and sea salt. In the magazine, there is also one for spiced cucumbers and coconut milk. (Along with cans of chipotle in adobo, I have many cans of unsweetened coconut milk in my pantry.)

Cucumber and Radish Salad

From Bon Appetit, June, 2012 (recipe by Michael Lindley, Public House, Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Yield: makes 7 cups

1 and one-half cups unseasoned rice vinegar

one-half cup distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

one-quarter teaspoon ground turmeric

2 whole allspice

1 bay leaf

1 bunch stemmed and quartered radishes

6 cups one-inch pieces peeled cucumbers

1 thinly sliced small Vidalia onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Bring the vinegars and the herbs to a simmer in a small saucepan. Place the radishes in a heat-proof container; pour vinegar mixture over. Chill for at least 5 hours and up to 1 week. Before serving, add the cucumbers, let sit for 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in onion and olive oil. Season to taste.

Spiced Cucumber and Coconut Milk

From Bon Appetit, June 2012 (recipe from Jody Adams, Trade, Boston)

Yield: makes about 4 cups

1 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups one-quarter inch-thick slices peeled lemon cucumbers or any other cucumber

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 peel4ed, seeded, coarsely chopped small tomatoes

4 thinly sliced scallions

2 thinly sliced red Thai chiles (with seeds)

1 smashed garlic clove

one-half cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 and one-half teaspoons honey

one-quarter cup fresh cilantro leaves

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add cucumber and saute until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, scallions, chiles and garlic. Saute until vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and honey and simmer until vegetables are cook through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice, if desired.

Nibbles

Bufalina may be the cutest little restaurant I've ever seen, certainly since Kitchen Little in Mystic has moved to bigger digs. Bufalina consists of a granite or marble counter with maybe nine bright red stools. Melissa Pellegrino and Matt Scialabba, husband and wife owners/chefs/cookbook writers, make the pizza and peel them into a gorgeous wood-fired oven. Counter waitstaff take orders from a choice of 10 pizzas (one of which is Nutella with powdered sugar), one salad and a dessert from the oven.

We ordered the Margherita (salame piccante on top) and carciofi (wood-roasted baby artichokes, local sausage, asiago dolce and pecorino). Both were delicious. We each took half home. If I had this little pizzeria close by, I'd be there often. By the way, Melissa is about two weeks from having a baby, and they will be closed for about one week. Call ahead.

Bufalina

1070 Boston Post Road (Route 1)

Guilford, CT

203-458-1377

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