Author Notes: “What’s important is the temperature of the butter,” Raij says. “It should be plastic and cold.” Raij was initially inspired by a snack at Roscioli delicatessen in Rome that combined salty Spanish anchovies with curls of cold vanilla butter. “I was so enchanted with it, I came home and put it on everything now,” Raij said. Her take on Roscioli’s dish, a deliberately plain cracker with a thin tube of vanilla butter and a very good-quality Spanish anchovy, has been on the menu at her NYC restaurant El Quinto Pino ever since, and she riffs on it often for parties, big and small. Adapted from Alex Raij and El Quinto Pino restaurant. To see the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes
Serves: 8 to 10
Prep time: 1 hrs
tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
whole vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste, Raij’s preference)
teaspoon superfine sugar, or to taste (omit if using vanilla paste, which is slightly sweetened)
Flaky salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel
1 to 2
bunches small radishes (with pretty fresh tops, if serving with tops in option 1)
- Scrape the butter into a medium bowl. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a paring knife, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the caviar (a.k.a. the seeds) from the vanilla bean. Scrape the beans onto the soft butter and add the sugar and a large pinch of salt. Stir well to combine.
- Serving option 1 (more casual): Cover the vanilla butter in a small serving bowl and chill until you’re ready to serve, then take out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving, so the butter is still cold but spreadable.
- Scrub the radishes and wash the leaves well. Chill well in the fridge or a bowl of ice water. Serve the radishes, tops and all, with the small bowl of vanilla butter and another small dish of flaky salt. Dip the radishes in butter and sprinkle with salt as you go (or lightly dip the buttered radish into the dish of salt).
- Serving option 2 (fancier): Form the vanilla butter into a log to chill: Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, scrape the butter onto it in a long, log-ish shape, then wrap tightly and roll until you have a round tube an inch or two in diameter. Chill until very firm, about an hour.
- Scrub your radishes and thinly slice them on a mandoline. Keep in a bowl of ice water if making ahead, then briefly drain on a clean kitchen towel before serving. When ready to serve, slice the butter into thin rounds and lay on crackers, then top with a few slices of radish and a sprinkle of flaky salt. Serve while still cold. Save any extra vanilla butter for toast or smearing on sandwiches tomorrow.