This open-faced dish will have you running for radishes. Featuring simple and local Northern Michigan ingredients, these radish tea tartines with smoked butter are perfect for spring entertaining.
Is there any more gratifying vegetable in a home garden than the humble radish? While some things take an entire growing season to ripen or—worse—get cut short by Northern Michigan’s tight season before they even flourish, radishes go from seed to edible treat in just 30 days, long before many of their garden neighbors. Beneath those vibrant green leaves (not yet prickly, please!), tucked under all that wet, spring earth, is a crisp, Technicolor treat. Whether you grow radishes yourself or nab a bunch at a farmers market, try an open-faced sandwich to showcase the classic pairing of radishes and butter.
Open-faced sandwiches are nothing new. Welsh rarebit, Danish smørrebrød and Medieval trenchers all came long before the recent renaissance of the French tartine, but there’s a reason they appeal even to those of us who aren’t counting our carbs. Whether it’s a bunch of magenta watermelon radishes, purple daikon, black Spanish radishes or a multi-colored mix of Easter egg radishes you’ve scored, slicing them paper-thin and setting them on a generous spread of the applewood-smoked butter from Kingsley’s Boss Mouse Cheese (bossmousecheese.com) is stunning without a whole lot of effort.
Tartines are typically served whole, but quartering them like tea sandwiches makes this recipe especially fitting for Derby Day. As for a bourbon-themed bow-tie or feathery fascinator … that’s on you.
How to Make Radish Tea Tartines with Smoked Butter
Makes 10 whole tartines or 40 small toasts
- 1 block of smoked butter from Boss Mouse Cheese, about 1/3 pound
- 10 slices of good sourdough bread
- 8 ounces of washed and trimmed mixed radishes Maldon flake salt to taste Thinned radish greens or another microgreen, for garnish
1. Cut butter into 10 equal size pieces and then bring to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to broil. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until just starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. While bread cools, use a mandolin or knife to thinly slice the radishes to the thickness of a wedding invitation.
4. Place cooled bread on a cutting board. Spread equal pieces of butter evenly across each slice of bread. Arrange radish slices onto each piece of toast, and gently press them into the butter so they stay in place. Us- ing a sharp knife, cut bread into quarters, making a dome over the knife with your fingers to hold the artful radish slices in place while you work.
5. Arrange quartered bread onto a serving platter or tiered tea sandwich stand and sprinkle with flake salt to taste. Garnish with several pinches of micro-greens, and serve.
Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and beverage writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.
Find this article and more in the May 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse Magazine delivered to your door each month.