Pickled Red Onions & Quattro Stagioni Jars

So, I’ve never bothered doing any giveaways with free stuff or contests or any of that.  I like keeping this page more like a journal that I can use to remember good recipes and gardening ideas, and I don’t feel like spending a bunch of time trying to turn it into something more than that.  BUT…. when a fancy jar company offers to send me some of their jars, that’s a whole different situation.  I will never say no to more jars, whether they’re dusty ones from grandma’s basement or these gorgeous Quattro Staggioni jars that I used this morning.bormioli rocco jarsBormioli Rocco sent me a box of their Quattro Stagioni jars and some canning goodies (opening it was like Christmas in the middle of summer!) and they’re hosting a giveaway on their Facebook page where five winners will receive the same box that I got. All you have to do is go and like their page.

Quattro Stagioni jars have a one piece lid, which I know not everyone has worked with, but is really not much different than a two-piece lid.  Food in Jars has a good instructional over here explaining how to use them, so I won’t completely rewrite it, but the main tip is that you only need to screw on the lids until they’re moderately tight. Food in Jars says: ” When you screw this lids on, you only want to tighten them to the point when you feel the rim of the jar make contact with the sealing compound. Don’t go any tighter or the air won’t be able to escape and you will have compromised your seal.”

(Also, can I say how nice it is that if I am insecure about canning knowledge, all I need to do is go check on the Food In Jars page to confirm it? I don’t know what people did before the internet and food blogs.)floodgate farms torpedo onionsSince these are pretty jars, I wanted to make something pretty to put in them.  I settled on pickled red onions and apricots on in honey syrup.  I’m crazy about the pickled onions. We grilled some venison kebabs the other night, then made sandwiches on french bread with pickled red onions and lots of mustard.  Jason and I drank cold beers and watched the baseball game on tv. and it was pure summer bliss.  You could also put these on burgers, in a wrap with falafel or grilled vegetables, or toss them in a salad.  Once the onions are gone, save the brine and use it for salad dressing.pickled red onions and apricots in honey syrupPICKLED RED ONIONS

Use the freshest onions you can find for a vibrant hot pink color.  I bought these gorgeous onions from Floodgate Farm at the Redwood Valley Farmers Market.

Cook Time: 45 min.

Makes: 7 1/2 pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 5 c. white wine vinegar*
  • 10 c. sliced peeled red onions (1/4″ thick rings)
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • a few sprigs of fresh herbs: I used marjoram today, but sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc. are all fine
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids.

In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the vinegar with the peppercorns and the garlic.  Bring up to a boil and add the sliced onions.  Stir gently and simmer for five minutes, until the onions soften.

Place a small sprig of fresh marjoram in each jar, and then use a slotted spoon to fill up the jar with onions. Ladle  the infused hot vinegar over the onions, leaving a generous 1/2″ of headspace.  Use a chopstick or rubber spatula to remove the air bubbles and adjust the headspace as necessary.  Wipe rims and attach lids, then process for ten minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.

*I’ve also used red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and white vinegar.  The recipe comes out fine with all of them.

Pickled Okra

So here’s my theory: If you’re going to have a fried chicken dinner, I think you need to serve a lot of really fresh vegetables to go with it so that the whole meal’s not super heavy and deep fried.  Braised collards are traditional, of course, but I think what really makes the meal is a big dish of pickled okra.  The vinegar is such a good counterpart to country gravy and mashed potatoes. Plus, everyone knows to make collard greens so they’re necessarily all that exciting, but I’m not sure the general public realizes how amazing pickled okra taste.  If you like dill pickles, you will love these. They’re crisp and tangy (not slimy at all), and even though I could have canned them, I didn’t bother because my family and I polished them off in just a couple days.  They were perfect as a side dish to a big southern dinner, but also delicious with cold beers, pimento cheese and crackers. pickled okraThis is a horrendous picture from my phone because I was more worried about serving a table full of people and then eating with my family before the food got cold than taking perfectly styled photographs, but just so you see where I’m going with this: fried chicken dinnerIt was so good!

My recipe for fried chicken is here, along with some prettier pictures.  The biscuits are a recipe that I always use from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  They’re yeasted buttermilk biscuits and come out wonderfully fluffy.  If you don’t have that cookbook you should almost definitely buy it –  it’s a winner.

PICKLED OKRA

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. okra
  • 2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. dill seed
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • optional: a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • optional, which I didn’t use because I couldn’t find: one or two fresh dill blossoms

Combine the apple cider vinegar, salt, water, garlic, dill seed, black peppercorns and sliced onion in a nonreactive pot and bring to a simmer.  (If you want them spicy, this is also when you should add the red pepper flakes to your own heat preference).  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Arrange the okra in a nonreactive container (I used a glass dish but you could use jars too) and add the dill blossoms if you are using them.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the okra.  It should cover them completely.  Move the container to the refrigerator.  Refrigerate for at least 48 hours before serving.  They should last in the fridge for about a month, but you’ll probably eat them much quicker than that.

Instead of Paying My Bills, I Spent All Afternoon Chopping Cucumbers: Dill Relish Recipe

Last summer I made the recipe dill relish from the Ball Book.  It was pretty delicious.  The original recipe calls to shred the cucumbers with a food processor, though, and I ended up acting like a four year old about it all winter.  (like this: RELISH IS SUPPOSED TO BE LITTLE TINY CUBES OF CUCUMBER.  THE STUFF FROM THE GROCERY STORE IS IN CUBES, NOT SHREDDED.  WHY ISN’T THIS LIKE THAT.)  The other day, I decided that I really, really didn’t want to do any of the important stuff I was supposed to be working on, and that spending the afternoon chopping cucumbers into a 2 mm. dice would be a much more productive use of my time.dill relishI’m pleased to let you know that the work was totally worth it, and this relish is so awesome it makes me want to eat hot dogs every day.  Chopping all these cukes wasn’t as awful as you’d think, either.  If you’re the kind of crazy person who likes to prep giant piles of citrus fruit for marmalade (like me) then this is actually a wonderfully relaxing project.  If you’re normal,  you can definitely just use the food processor instead and it still tastes great.  pickling cucumbersDILL RELISH, adapted from the recipe in the Ball Book of Home Preserving

Brunoise means to cut into a very small dice, between 2 and 4 mm.  (It’s funny, because if you know happen to know what “brunoise” means, you’ll probably notice that I did a really lame job of actually doing it properly.)  Don’t be scared by the fancy word though: the idea is just that you’re cutting the cucumber and onion into teeny pieces.  If you don’t want to, just shred it.

Makes: 14 pints

Cook Time: ha! hours.

Ingredients:

  • 12 lbs. pickling cucumbers, brunoised
  • 2 onions, brunoised
  • 3/4 c. kosher salt
  • 6 c. water
  • 3 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/4 c. chopped dill fronds and blossoms
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 c. white vinegar

Combine the cucumbers, onions, water and salt in a nonreactive container.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids.

Drain the cucumber mixture and then rinse it thoroughly with cold water.  Transfer the drained mixture into a large, nonreactive pot. Add the vinegar, turmeric, celery seed, dill and sugar and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle the hot relish into hot, clean jars leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Use a wooden chopstick to remove air bubbles and adjust headspace. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath, adjusting for altitude as necessary.

PS: I didn’t remove the air bubbles as well as I should have, and ended up with a couple jars that have way too much headspace.  Don’t skip this step!

Purple Cauliflower Pickles

Sooooooo, these aren’t necessarily the best of the best pickles I’ve ever made … but I’m really excited about this purple cauliflower so I kind of have to write about them anyway.

I mean, seriously. look at this:cauliflowerand when you make these pickles, it does this: cauliflower pickles(The brine was originally kind of yellow. I made them and then opened the fridge a few hours later and got really excited.)cauliflower pickles 2I really like the finished product, but I actually felt like something was kind of missing something.  More salt? More vinegar? Maybe some honey? I dunno.  If you have a revelation, please tell me. Usually I try to get recipes as close to perfect before I put them here, but since the ingredients were farmers market produce, I’m not sure if they will be there again when I go shopping today. Either way, they’re fantastic snacks when it’s 108 degrees outside (like right now) and they’re really great served along side some of the dinners we’ve been having during this hot weather.  One night we had homemade falafel, grilled eggplant and butter lettuce topped with a feta-yogurt-cucumber sauce.  Another night we had jerk chicken with white nectarine salsa, coconut rice and drunken black beans, all wrapped up in purple cabbage cups.  A few pieces of purple pickled cauliflower really escalated these meals up into the stratosphere.

I guess my goal is not just to have these pickles in the fridge, but a whole bunch of different icy cold crunchy vegetables……. I just made a big batch of these pickled radishes, (which I’m crazy about and can’t stop eating — you should make some today!), and we have a jar of dilly beans in there too.  Then I’ve got a big jar of wild blackberry jam and another jar of homemade homegrown grated horseradish from my sister-in-law’s farm.  We have a whole selection of good food in jars in there, which is wonderful.  Especially because it’s 105 and I don’t want to go outside to the garden (or, god forbid, the grocery store), let alone actually turn on the stove to cook something.  When I think about how long it will take for the air-conditioning in my truck to start actually doing anything……..  it makes me want crawl into the back of the fridge and eat cold pickles all day.

PURPLE CAULIFLOWER PICKLES, adapted from the White on Rice Couple’s recipe for Curry Cauliflower Pickles

Makes: 1 quart and 1 pint jar

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large head of purple cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced into rounds

for the brine:

  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 3 tsp. tamari
  • 2 1/4” thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Combine the ingredients for the brine in a nonreactive pot, and bring up to a simmer. Meanwhile, pack the vegetables and cilantro into the jars.  One the brine is simmering, pour it over the vegetables leaving about 1/2”headspace.  Cover and refrigerate.  The pickles will be best after about 5 days, and will store in the fridge for up to a month.

I Like Pickles

Before all the summer vegetables are officially gone and we’ve all moved on to baking pumpkin pies and making apple butter,  I have a few pickle recipes from the August Cook it! 2012 project that I want to show you.

The first recipe that I have to rave about is this Rosemary-Sage quick pickle that technically wasn’t part of the august project at all, but is a pickle, so… that counts, right?

A customer at the Redwood Valley Farmers Market brought me a jar of these last Sunday and I proceeded to eat them all in the next hour.  Woah. I mean, who eats a whole jar of pickles in one sitting?

(Me, apparently.)

The reason they were so good, though, is that they weren’t overly briny, more like a cucumber salad, and they’re scented with rosemary and sage, which is so surprising in for a cucumber pickle.  The recipe is here, from The Herb Companion.  Go grab a cucumber and make them, quick!

The next exciting thing:

An epic pickle post from the Adventures of the Kitchen Ninja, where Julianne explains about all the different types of pickles in the universe and gives us her favorite recipes for each type (dilly beans! fermented dills! pickled radishes! and more).  I’m particularly excited for the gorgeous pickled gold beets that she made; I just planted some beets in the garden and I’m bookmarking this recipe for when they’re ready.

http://yankee-kitchen-ninja.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-make-all-kinds-of-pickles-or.html

Aimee from Homemade Trade made curry pickle slices, which makes me want one of these sandwiches she puts them on, right now, even though it’s 7:48 a.m. and that’s a really weird time for eating sandwiches and pickles.  (I definitely just walked over to the fridge, opened the door, stared at my jar of dill pickles for a couple seconds, trying to decide whether I would mess up my morning by eating pickles for breakfast.)
Get her recipe here: http://homemadetrade.blogspot.com/2012/09/make-pickles-cook-it-august-resolution.html

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and a reminder: The September project is to dry fruit.  If you’d like to be included in the round-up post, e-mail me a link to your post by October 15, 2012. My e-mail is thejamgirl@gmail.com.

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Cook it! 2012 August Resolution

My camera is broken. It’s super tragic.

Nothing is coming into focus.  I tried switching lenses. I tried switching from Autofocus to Manual and back again.  Nothing.  My iphone is cool and all, but I really had my heart set on a bunch of pretty macro pictures of mustard seeds and cucumber slices. Now I have to ship it to Canon to get fixed, right when my sunflowers are blooming and there’s all these good projects going on in the kitchen.

(……I guess that’s not all that bad for a cell phone pic…)

Oh well.  So I apologize for the delay in announcing this month’s Cook it! 2012 Resolution, which, as you may realize by now, is…

MAKE PICKLES

This was another month where I was tempted to tackle a more complicated project, but since the summer months are apparently really busy, I wanted to make sure that I stuck to the basics.  Specifically, finding time to get some cucumbers into jars.  I’ve made plenty of pickles, but somehow, last year it just never happened.  Which is crazy, since they’re so easy to make, and I think bread and butter pickles are so vital to being alive that I’ll gladly fork over $5.50 for a good jar at the Natural Food Store.

My cucumbers are awful this year, but I bartered some eggs with one of my friends and ended up with a garbage bag full of beautiful pickling cucumbers from his garden.  (When he said “I hope you’re prepared for this” to me on the phone, I answered with an emphatic “I can’t wait” but once I started packing the jars, I realized that we’re going to have pickles to last well into the apocalypse now.  I guess that’s a good thing, though).

Bread & Butter Pickles, adapted from the recipe in the Fannie Farmer cookbook

FYI: These pickles are cool because they’re sweetened with maple syrup.  

Cook Time: 3 1/2 hrs (including time for the cucumbers to sweat)

Makes: 4 pints

Ingredients:

  • 6 c. pickling cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 1/2 lbs. onions, sliced into 1″ squares
  • 1 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1″ squares
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt

For the brine:

  • 2 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4  c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tbs. mustard seeds

Combine the cucumbers, onions, bell peppers in salt in a nonreactive container.  Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.*  After the time is up, drain in a colander and rinse everything very thoroughly with cold water.

Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Sterilize 4 clean pint jars.  Put the clean lids and rings into a small pot, cover with water, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.

Combine the ingredients for the brine in a pot on the stove.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.   Pack the prepared vegetables into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Cover with hot brine (leaving 1/4″ headspace still).  Poke around the jars with a chopstick to remove air bubbles and then adjust the headspace with more brine if necessary.  Wipe rims clean and screw on lids.

Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.

These pickles are good if you let them sit for atleast a couple days before you eat them, but even better if you let them sit for a couple weeks.

*This is not something that you can let sit for longer and have it be better.  The salt soaks into the cucumbers and then it’s impossible to rinse off.  And then they taste disgusting.

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To be included in the pickle round-up, e-mail me a link to your post by September 20, 2012.  My e-mail is thejamgirl@gmail.com.
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How To Preserve Radishes

I love spring salads with baby greens with thinly sliced radishes and mustard vinaigrette, and radishes are lovely roasted in the oven and tossed with brown butter.  Every spring, though, we always end up with a bit too much and I end up needing to preserve some for later to keep them from going in the compost.

Over the years, I’ve managed to find a few ways to preserve radishes, even though they’re not usually a vegetable that screams out for preservation.  Radishes are so delicate that one heat wave can ruin them – leave them in the garden a few days too long and they turn tough and spicy.  We try to pick them at their peak, when they’re small, crisp and sweet, and turn them into something tasty while they’re still perfect.  These preservation methods will help extend the season a little bit, so that you don’t have to figure out how to do crazy things like eat a whole bed of radishes in four days.

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES
Radishes make perfect pickles.  They’re so crunchy already, and when you put them in a brine in the fridge they’ll stay crisp for weeks.  Spiced with white wine, green garlic and fresh herbs from the spring garden, these pickles are savory and delicious.

PICKLED RADISHES

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • about 2 bunches of radishes
  • 1 c. pinot grigio
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 3″ section of stem from green garlic  (or fresh garlic tops, or scapes would work too)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 small sprig of fennel
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbs. sugar

In a nonreactive pot, combine all of the ingredients except the radishes.  Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer for a five minutes to infuse the brine with the fresh herbs.  Turn off the heat and let cool until lukewarm.  Meanwhile, cut the radishes into smaller pieces.  Depending on the size and shape, you can cut them into halves, quarters, wedges or rounds (whatever makes you happy).  Pack the radishes into a clean quart jar.*  Remove the cooked herbs from the brine and discard.  Pour the brine over them.  Screw on the lid and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.  The radishes take about three days to taste properly pickled.As the radishes sit in the vinegar, the red from the outside of the roots will dye the whole thing a vibrant shade of hot pink.

NOTE: The fresh herbs that I used are entirely optional based on what I had in my garden. Feel free to switch things around based on what you have.

*Sterilize the jar to make the pickles last longer in the fridge.

RADISH BUTTER
This radish butter is so wonderful, such an elegant way to use ugly radishes that are split, cracked or were forgotten in the garden a few days too long.The technique is simple: Grate the radishes in a food processor and then mix them together with softened butter and fresh herbs.  The result is essentially the flavor of the whole spring garden in a compound butter, perfect for spreading on toasted sourdough bread.  This lasts for a week in the fridge, and we’ve had success freezing it for 1-2 months.

RADISH BUTTER

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 3 half pint jars

Ingredients:

  • about 16 radishes
  • 1 1/2 c. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbs. thinly sliced garlic greens (from the growing tops of the garlic in the garden)
  • 2 tbs. chopped fennel fronds
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Grate the radishes in a food processor or on a manual grater.  Blot the mixture dry with a clean kitchen towel.  Add in the softened butter and the fresh herbs and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.  Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.