Tags: cooking, pickles
After a bit of cutthroat competition involving a waitlist and a rush to a sign-up event to snag one of fifteen spots off said waitlist (oh New York, why must everything be so difficult?), I managed to secure a spot in a local CSA for the season. One of my favorite things about being in a CSA is also its big challenge…having to think quickly so that the surprise assortment of perishables you are presented with doesn’t do just that. I am determined not to toss anything into the bin, so I have to get a little creative sometimes. There have been some interesting slaws (a kohlrabi one, in particular, was a stand-out) and a lot of grain and veggie salads. Pickling is another great way to use vegetables, especially because the ten minutes you spend to prep your pickles gives you snacks that last for weeks. They are the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak.
When I came home from my CSA pick-up a couple of weeks ago with a sack of Kirby cucumbers, I knew immediately that I wanted to make bread and butter pickles. For just a couple of bucks, I knew I could make sandwich pickles just as tasty as those $10 jars of Brooklyn hipster-made ones that all the gourmet shops around here sell. Quick, refrigerator-style pickles are my thing. I’m just making a jar at a time anyway, so there’s no need for me to get into canning for really-long-term storage. These are extremely easy to make. Not only do you get zingy, crunchy pickled cukes, but also onions(!), which are equally tasty on sandwiches. The recipe says you can keep them for two weeks, but I’m betting that in their vinegary brine, they’ll keep for up to a month in the fridge.
*Have beets? Try these Raw Pickled Beets.*
Quick Bread and Butter Pickles- makes one large jar
modified from Cooks Illustrated (July 2007)
Steph’s Note: The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar, but I reduced it to 1/2 cup (after my experience making some too-sweet pickles out of another veggie a few weeks ago). Use the amount you think would suit your tastes.
1 pound pickling (Kirby) cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch disks
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon corriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
-Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl. Let stand 1 hour. Discard any liquid collected in the bowl.
-Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add cucumbers and onion, and press to submerge in liquid. Cover and cook until cucumbers turn dullish olive-brown, about 5 minutes.
-Transfer entire pan contents to glass bowl. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 2 hours before serving. Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.
Tags: baking, snacks
If you are looking for one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres ever, then look no further than Mustard Bâtons. Not only are they dead easy, they’re dead tasty, too. Take some ready-made puff-pastry, smear it with strong Dijon mustard and fold it over to encase the mustard. Then cut it into strips, eggwash and sprinkle with seeds or salt or pepper or whatever and bake until golden, crispy and flaky. Voilà! Enjoy with a glass of wine.
Tags: baking, bread
Cheese bread! cheesy bread! I went nuts when I saw this recipe was coming up for FFWD. Who the heck wouldn’t want to eat cheesy, onioney (is that a word?) homemade bread? I wanted to eat it so much that I made a whole big loaf, instead of a mini or half-loaf. We had some the day it was baked with homemade tomato soup– so good!– and some went into the freezer, because it will be awesome alongside scrambled eggs for a weekend breakfast.
If you shy away from making bread at home, or fear yeast, or whatever, don’t worry here. This is a quick bread, much like a muffin. In fact, you can even turn the loaf into cheese muffins, if you are so inclined. The original recipe uses chives, but I didn’t have any and used scallions instead. A combo of cheddar and Gruyère was just right, and made this a great, easy, cheesy bread that I’ll bake again and again.
OK, I know it is New Year’s Eve afternoon already, and maybe I’ve missed the boat on telling you about this….but if you happen to be ringing in 2011 by having people over for cocktails, or if you are going to someone else’s place and looking for something to bring, I have just the thing. Dorie’s Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts are fast and easy (provided you have a stash of nuts in your fridge or cupboard), and trust me, they will be gobbled up.
The technique is simple: take a couple cups of your favorite nuts (a mix is best), coat them lightly in a frothed-up egg white and then toss them in a mix of sugar, salt and spices. Bake for half an hour at 300°, making sure they are in a single layer so they don’t stick together. Let cool and enjoy with wine or bubbly.
For the exact recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts (not all of us are doing the recipe this week). Happy 2011, and I’ll see you next year!
This French Fridays with Dorie recipe isn’t a dessert flan with caramel, but a savory custard with blue cheese and walnuts. The pumpkin flan base comes together in snap thanks to canned pumpkin and the food processor. I think I was a little aggressive with the whizzing up…my flans looked like I had some tiny air bubbles trapped below the surface. No matter, they still tasted great, and baking them in a water bath ensured a creamy, soft texture. I know I usually think of pie when I think of pumpkin, but really, it’s just squash and goes wonderfully with cheese and nuts. Add a spinach salad, a piece of baguette and maybe a glass of wine, and you have dinner!
Today is a special day for one of my favorite cookbook authors…it’s Dorie Greenspan’s birthday! Happy birthday, Dorie! A few TWDers and FFWDers have put together a sort of virtual progressive dinner party, all made from Dorie’s new book, Around my French Table, to celebrate.
I chose to take on a soup course, and made her Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup. I’m no stranger to squash soup, and usually I’ll use a butternut, but a crazy lumpy, bumpy golden hubbard caught my eye at the market and wound up coming home with me. I’ve never made squash soup with the additions of pear and fennel before…they brought a delicious sweetness to the pot. Don’t forget to toast up your squash seeds as garnish. This is a great, warming soup that gets even more flavorful the next day.
For the recipe for this delicious soup, see page 80 of Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Holly from Phe.MOM.enon worked hard to coordinate this party, and will have the whole round-up on her site!
I may have skipped last week’s French Fridays with Dorie, but there was no way I was going to skip this week’s. I crave soup went the weather gets cool, and this Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup is full of flavors I love– chiles, cilantro and coconut.
There’s a lot of flavor packed into this coconut broth, as it’s infused with ginger, cilantro stems or root, coriander, star anise and peppercorns. I threw in some lime leaves and a bashed lemongrass stalk, too. I went heavy on the lime juice and fish sauce to give it extra twang. This is the kind of soup where, when you’re almost to the bottom, you set down your spoon and pick up the bowl to slurp up the rest of the broth and noodles.
Oh, and by the way, my friend Lauren and I went to one of Dorie’s book events in NYC the other night. She’s so warm and she’s truly happy to meet us. If she’s on the road near you, don’t miss her! And she’s funny, too…if this cookbook thing doesn’t work out for her (ha!), there might be a career in stand-up waiting.
Yeah, that’s right– a new Dorie book means a new group! Laurie started up French Fridays with Dorie (which, for some reason, I keep calling “French Fries with Dorie”), a weekly celebration of the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s gorgeous new book Around my French Table.
Things have been more than a little disorganized here…boxes are everywhere, butcher paper is tied and stacked like bales of hay, and the kitchen counter is pretty messy. I thought I might miss the first party, and have to skip making these gougères. Then I thought again, and realized I could really use a glass of wine and some snacks!
Gougères are little cheesey puffs made with a pâte à choux base. If you’ve never prepared choux paste before, it’s not hard (I even made this batch by hand), and in my opinion it’s one of the most fun things to make! I used gruyère cheese in mine, but you can use whatever grating cheese flots your boat. Salty and good!
It’s Fourth of July weekend! Long, warm days out in the yard, kids running around with sparklers, grown-ups grilling with a beer in one hand…ahhhh. Oh, wait, I don’t have a house in the country, or even a balcony, and alas, no sparklers. But I do have an oven, a six-pack and a jar of homemade barbecue sauce, so I can still do my thing…BTW, “my thing” this year is pulled chicken sandwiches.
I have been making this sauce recipe for years, and I just love it. It’s perfect for slathering on all types of meat and veg…and come Monday it will make for an amazing leftover barbecue chicken pizza! I’m fully aware that some people gag at the thought of liquid smoke…if that includes you (or if you are lucky enough to have a charcoal grill), leave it out. Another way to get good smokiness and a little heat is by replacing the liquid smoke, hot sauce and cayenne with a couple tablespoons of the sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo.
Happy Fourth, and happy grilling!
Simple Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce– makes 1 1/2 cups
adapted from Cooks Illustrated (July 2000)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 c ketchup
2 T cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Dijon mustard
5 T molasses
1 t hot pepper sauce , such as Tabasco
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 t liquid smoke (optional)
2 T vegetable oil
1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 t chili powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
-Process onion and 1/4 cup water in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until pureed and mixture resembles slush, about 30 seconds. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids with rubber spatula to obtain 1/2 cup juice. Discard solids in strainer.
-Whisk onion juice, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, and liquid smoke (if using) in medium bowl.
-Heat oil in large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in ketchup mixture and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Cool sauce to room temperature before using. (Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 7 days.)
What is that?? Does seeing a salad here blow your mind just a little? Would you be surprised if I told you that I love veggies even more than sweets? My head is positively spinning seeing all things green popping up at the farmers’ market. I am snapping up asparagus while I can, and this raw salad is my favorite new thing to do with it. I know that raw asparagus sounds a little strange, but I have been eating up huge bowlfuls of this stuff all month long.
Take those skinny-minny stalks of raw asparagus, add red onion, sharp pecorino and a quick dressing and you get something super fresh, crisp, and snappy. Not to mention so easy…my only real advice is to use a big cutting board for prep, because otherwise those little coins of asparagus will want to go mobile all over your counter.
Raw Asparagus, Pecorino and Red Onion Salad- makes 6 to 8 servings
from a recipe by Anne Burrell
1 bunch pencil (the skinny stuff) asparagus, tough bottom stems removed
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 cup coarsely grated aged pecorino
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
-Cut the asparagus, including the tips into very thin slices, crosswise and place in a medium bowl. Add the red onion and pecorino and toss to combine.
-Dress with the vinegar, olive oil and salt and toss again. This salad should be fairly heavily dressed. The vinegar will sort of “cook” or tenderize the asparagus. It is best to do this about an hour or so in advance to let the flavors marry.