May – Spicy Quick Radish Pickles

May – Spicy Quick Radish Pickles

What to do with an abundance of radishes left over from a crudite platter? That was the question that needed addressing this morning. The party was last weekend and those radishes needed a solution, there were simply too many of them to use up before they turned brown. The answer, a quick pickle. They will be wonderful with anything on the BBQ or as a quick snack with sharp cheddar cheese.

I found this recipe on the blog site COOKIE+Kate, it was originally posted in May of 2014. I modified it slightly by the addition of cumin seeds, with which I am slightly obsessed.

She slices the radishes very thinly, it makes the pickling process much faster. I don’t have a mandoline (must be one of the very few things not currently crowding my kitchen) and didn’t want to pull out the big food processor, so mine are not sliced quite so thinly. That’s okay though, I want them to have a definite crunch and don’t intend to use them for a couple of days. These will last several weeks in the fridge. IMG_7546 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large bunch of radishes
  • 3/4 cup of white wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon yields quite spicy pickles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds (optional, I didn’t have any handy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (my addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (also my addition)

METHOD:

  1. Prepare the radishes. Cut off the tops and slice into rounds (thin ones will pickle much faster). Pack the radishes into a pint canning jar or larger container if you have more radishes…I had about two bunches and used a quart canning jar.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes, optional mustard, cumin and peppercorns to the top of the jar.
  3. For the brine. In a saucepan (non aluminum) combine the vinegar, water, honey or maple syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the hot liquid over the radishes in the jar and screw on the lid.
  4. Let the mix cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

If you have sliced them very thinly the pickles will be ready to eat in a few hours. They will keep well for several weeks but will gradually loose their crispness after a week or so (depending on how thinly you sliced them). One bunch will make about a pint jar, depending on how large they are. I had enough for  quart canning jar, a bit worse for wear, that had just been removed from the dishwasher.

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PS There was left over canning liquid since I doubled the recipe. Not wanting to waste anything, I found half of a large red onion languishing in the produce drawer. I sliced it thinly, packed it into a pint canning jar, and added the pickling liquid on top. Quick pickled onions are amazing on burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches, not to mention anything Mexican.

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August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

I don’t think summer is the season for fancy cooking. It is the time for salads of all kinds, melon and prosciutto, yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, juicy sliced tomatoes, BBQ, veggies on the grill, and chilled wine. The spotlight should be on highlighting the glory of the best local and seasonal ingredients, cooked (or not cooked) with a few fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

That being said, sometimes the food needs a little embellishing. Maybe you are expecting company or it is a special holiday weekend. I want to introduce the idea of a fruit salsa to go with those amazing grilled dishes. We are all familiar with a tomato based salsa but peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and mangos all make excellent salsas. If you live in Hawaii or the tropics, pineapples are also a good choice (I don’t think they are worth eating elsewhere…sorry Dole).

fruit salsa

fruit salsa

Use whatever is freshest and perfectly ripe but not mushy. This is a very loose recipe but I will give some general directions. I think the essentials are sweet, crisp, spicy heat, sharpness, acid, and salt. In the salsa shown above the peaches provide sweet, the cucumber is crisp, the chilis are heat, the onion sharp, and lime juice acid.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fruit, cut into cubes – I used 4 peaches
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary and cubed to the same size
  • 1 – 2 hot chilis – seeded and cut into small cubes, I used 1 jalapeno and 1 small red chili
  • 1/2 red onion – chopped finely
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt to taste

Again this is a very flexible list. If you have a ripe avocado, add it. What about a mix of fruit? Watermelon with tomatoes is a winner. Apples would be good in the fall. Have some fresh basil on hand? Wonderful! Cilantro? Yum! Mint? Oh my! See what I mean?

Notice that there is no oil in this salsa? None is needed. It is a good way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables deliciously without any additional fat.

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

April – Fermented Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

April – Fermented Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

You will find recipes for fermenting vegetables (and sometimes fruit) in every culture. it is a way to preserve seasonal vegetables, increase their nutritional potency, and add a ton of flavor as well. In its simplest form, fermenting vegetables just involves submerging vegetables in salty liquid and leaving them alone to let the wild bacteria do its work.

Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Moroccan preserved lemons, Chinese pickles, Indian pickles, Japanese umeboshi are all examples of fermented vegetables and fruits. In his book, The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz explains that although you can call fermented vegetables pickled, all pickles are not fermented. The “Dill pickles” found in grocery stores are vegetables preserved in vinegar and are not fermented. It is important to know this difference as eating fermented foods has a lot of health benefits.  

Katz in his book observes correctly that Indian pickling is not an unified tradition – each state, each region, each sub-culture, and even each family has its prized pickling method.  Most will add heated mustard or sesame oil, but some may not.  Some will leave it out in the sun, but some will just leave it in a cool place inside.  Some will add lemon juice, some will not. But throughout India you will find fermented lemon pickle served with rice and yogurt. It is a pantry staple.

This fermented lemon pickle is definitely out of my usual comfort zone, but it was so intriguing. I love the mix of spices, and I just happened to have them all on hand having recently visited the Oaktown Spice Shop. I thought, why not? Go for it! I’m posting  the recipe, even though it has to cure for another month, because there are many of us right now with a glut of Meyer lemons, you may want to try it.

I found this recipe on the blog hungry tigress. There are two parts to the blog, tigress in a pickle and tigress in a jam. Check out this blog for wonderful recipes on preserving, pickling and fermenting. I made the recipe exactly how it was written on her blog, you can read the original here.

Meyer Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

makes 1/2 gallon or two quart jars

Ingredients

  • 13 organic Meyer lemons, washed and wiped dry
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • scant 1/2 cup fine sea salt
  • scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cayenne powder or ground chili of choice
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida powder

Method

  1. Wash and wipe the lemons with a dry cloth. Slice 12 of them in quarters lengthwise, slice each quarter through its width into three pieces. Remove the seeds as you go. Put the lemons into a large bowl and try to catch as much juice as possible, adding it to the bowl as you go.
  2. In a heavy dry skillet toast the 5 whole spices on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. As soon as you smell a wonderful aroma and the fenugreek seeds have turned a shade darker, they are ready. If you are using the asafoetida powder, add it the last few seconds before turning everything out onto a plate to cool.IMG_4333
  3. Once cool, grind them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add them to the lemons along with the salt, sugar, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir until all is combined.
  4. Scoop all into a immaculately dry half gallon (or into two quart jars) glass jar with a tight fitting lid. The recipe warns that the jar and all utensils that touch the pickle must be dry because even a little water could lead to spoilage of the lemons.
  5. Place the jar in a sunny windowsill. Give the jar a shake every day or so, or keep in right side up one day and upside down the next.
  6. Every few days open the cap, carefully, as there will be fermentation going on inside and it will sizzle a bit when you open the lid. The pickle should be done in about 3 weeks, taste it to see if the flavor and texture is to your liking. You want some firmness to remain.
  7. Store in the refrigerator and it will easily last for a year or more. Be sure to use a clean dry spoon each time.
    Meyer Lemon Fermented Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

    Meyer Lemon Fermented Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

    I love this pickle with plain brown rice or another grain, with a dollop of yogurt on the side to cut the heat. But, my husband prefers it whirled in a blender with some mayonnaise. It it a wonderful sauce for roasted vegetables, fish, or chicken. It also makes a wonderful salad dressing, whirled to a smooth consistency in a food processor (I use my mini one) and thinned with a little olive oil.

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

April – Quick Meyer Lemon Pickle

April – Quick Meyer Lemon Pickle

Lemon pickle is often served with Indian meals. I can imagine it would go well with many other kinds of meals as well. Do you have any favorites? I’ve purchased jars of it in the grocery store and been disappointed. But, I love the idea of this pickle and have an abundance of lemons to use. This recipe came from Madhur Jaffrey’s book World Vegetarian. It’s a quick and simple pickle which is ready in 5-7 days, unlike ones that are fermented for several weeks. It also uses ingredients common to most kitchens. There really isn’t anything too fancy here. You could probably use regular lemons as well, let me know if you try it.

Quick Lemon Pickle

Quick Lemon Pickle

Ingredients

  • 2 large fresh lemons (preferably organic), well washed and dried
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pickling salt – I used Kosher
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 7 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Cut the lemons into 1/8 inch slices, cut the slices into 1/8 inch dice. Remove the seeds.
  2. Add the lemons and the rest of the ingredients to a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer 5-6 minutes.
  3. Transfer the contents of your saucepan to a clean 8-12 oz container. Cover with the lid. Cool.
  4. Store on the counter at room temperature for 5-7 days to cure.
  5. Refrigerate once to your liking.
  6. Use within 6 weeks.

Note: We ate the first of this pickle last night with roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken. Oh my, was it a hit! I wish I had made a double batch! This lemon pickle is tart, sweet, spicy, has definite heat but is not overwhelming. And, it set off the moist chicken in a delightful way. This pickle about to become a staple in my fridge.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Quick Spicy Lemon Pickle

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Quick Spicy Lemon Pickle

I might try freezing some to have this winter. Has anyone tried freezing an Indian pickle before? This pickle could be addictive and it add a tart note which would work with winter braises beautifully. I don’t want to be without it. And all that turmeric is good for you.

April – Preserved Lemons

April – Preserved Lemons

You could say that my life is coming up lemons. The best kind, Meyers. An abundance has me making marmalade, preserving, and pickling. I’m sharing the recipe I use for preserved or salted lemons. There are lots of them out there once you start a search. And you don’t have to use Meyers, regular supermarket lemons (you will want to buy organic unwaxed ones) make good preserved lemons as well. It will perhaps be a bit more tart but still delicious. It’s easy to make preserved lemons, it only takes a little patience during the curing time. The little jars you find at gourmet stores are outrageously expensive. Start salting now and you will have lemons to flavor your late summer recipes. The Bon appetit website has a wonderful slideshow highlighting various recipes where they are used, find a link here. Preserved lemons are amazingly adaptable and add flavor to many dishes, not just in Middle Eastern cooking. They are a pantry staple at my house. They add a lovely lemony perfume to a dish without adding acidity.

You can find recipes out there for speeding this up, search the web for them if you are interested. This cure takes about 3 months but the results are worth the wait. To use the lemons once they are ready, rinse off the salt and remove the pulp. It’s the rind that you use. Some cookbooks also recommend scraping off the white pith on the inside of the rind before you use them. I don’t find it absolutely necessary. 

My recipe comes from the book The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant. I have posted several recipes from the book. It is my “go to” source of recipes for making and cooking with pickles, preserves, and Aigre-doux. The recipe is more a ratio, you can scale it up or down depending on how many lemons are available. I have read that it also works for oranges, although I haven’t tried it.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup herbes de Provence
  • 10 lemons, washed and well scrubbed, dried

This is enough cure for at least a dozen large lemons.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, and herbes de Provence
  2. Slice the ends off 8 of the lemons and slice into wedges, top to bottom, leaving the wedges connected at one end. Smaller lemons can be cut into 4 wedges, larger ones 6.
  3. Layer some of the cure at the base of a ceramic or glass storage container. Layer in the lemons, sprinkling some of the cure into the center of each before placing it in the jar. Keep layering lemons, add more cure between each layer as well.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the two additional lemons into the jar and coat generously with the salt mixture. If the lemons are not completely covered by juice, sprinkle a layer of salt over the top.
  5. Set aside at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. In a few days lemon juice will leach out of the wedges and mix with the salt, creating a brine.
  6. After 4 or 5 days the lemons should be covered by brine. Check to see that they are submerged. If not you may want to put a plastic lid on top and put a weight on top. I use a glass ramekin on top of the plastic lid to prevent the lemons from bobbing to the surface (that will inhibit proper curing).
  7. Place in a cool, dark corner, giving the lemons and occasional stir, for at least a month but ideally 4 months.
  8. Once cured the lemons will keep for at least a year in the refrigerator as long as they are submerged.

 

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Small jars make wonderful gifts for those who are not blessed with a lemon tree in their backyard.