Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pickle Day: Bread-and-Butter Pickles

No, I'm not yet out of vinegar. Yes, I am really looking forward to the next few days, when I get to start sampling. This is basically Alton Brown's recipe, but with spears and cipollini onions instead of rounds and standard onions. I also made a bonus jar of dill-infused vodka (not pictured). And I'm right now in the process of making things for Mr. Bento, so this is pretty much a Sunday of food win.

Pickle Day: Hard-Boiled Eggs

John has pickled hard-boiled eggs before, but with beets and far less heat. I wanted to try Lisey's version, which rocks the hot peppers, wasabi and umami-laden wakame , among other things. By neccessity, I had to substitute fresh banana peppers for jarred ones and severely lessen the amount of wasabi, but hopefully these will turn out well.
  • 12 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (we had two casualties, and so only used 10 + a stray half-tomatillo)
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 strips wakame
  • 4-6 leaves red cabbage, sliced
  • 4 hot banana peppers
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-2/3 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. wasabi (used the tube kind)
  • 2 tbsp. + 1-1/2 tsp. pickling spice
Hard boil eggs (I use a simplified version of Julia Child's method - put in water, bring to boil, cover, remove from heat, let stand 17 minutes, put in ice bath for 2 minutes), then cool and peel them. Add to jars along with garlic, wakame and cabbage.

Bring vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, salt, wasabi and pickling spice to a boil. Pour into jars, completely covering everything and leaving 1/2 inch room at the top.

Seal, cool, then refrigerate. Wait at least 72 hours.

Pickle Day: Tomatillos

Confession: I've ordered tomatillos from Peapod twice before. Each time, they ended up mouldering, unused, in the back of the fridge. This time, armed with this pickling recipe, I've finally used them. The raw ones taste wonderful, too - tart and firm; they remind me a bit of green mangoes. The urge to find some bagoong to have with them aside, here's the recipe I ended up using:
  • about 1 lb. tomatillos, quartered or cut into eighths
  • 1 cherry bomb pepper (no habaneros at the market)
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1-1/2 c. water
  • 1-1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
Put the tomatillos, garlic, pepper and cumin into a Mason jar.

Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Pour the hot liquid into the Mason jar, covering everything completely and leaving 1/2 inch space from the top of the jar.

Cover, let cool and refrigerate. Recipe says to let them stand for at least 24 hours, and that they should last for about a month.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Staple: Sausage and Couscous

I keep forgetting what an awesome summer food couscous is - quick, light, addition-friendly and especially good when cold. This is more a sample recipe than a base - just happens to be the one variant we had. A single box made three meals for two people: Saturday night dinner, with lamb sausages; Sunday brunch, with spicy longaniza and vinegar dipping sauce (pictured above); and Sunday snacks, with salami, while we waited in line for "One-Man Star Wars Trilogy" tickets. The lamb sausages were simply boiled; the longaniza, cooked in 1/4 cup of water till the liquid evaporated, then browned over low heat for 3-5 minutes in the rendered fat.
  • 1 box Near East plain couscous (one day I'll find and try cooking the real stuff)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 summer squash, halved and sliced thin
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp. lemon juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan with a cover, add the olive oil to two cups of water and bring to a boil. Add couscous, mix, cover and set aside, off the heat. (I actually added the squash at this point as well, because I wanted it slightly softened but not cooked.)
When couscous is cooked (about 5-7 minutes), mix with scallions, squash (or whatever other vegetables and/or nuts you're using). Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Infusion: Dill Vodka

Wanted something light and cool for summer cocktails, hence this. Basically: 750 ml (a bit more in this case, as I nearly filled the jar) of Svedka and a heaping packed cup of dill (about 1/2 of a generous bunch from the farmer's market). Spent a happy 10 minutes stripping the  fronds from the stems and enjoying both the delicate, feathery texture and the intoxicatingly springlike smell. Will check on it tonight and see if it's ready.

UPDATE (17 July): Strained it into another container after six days. Perfect in a one-to-one vodka tonic: dilly and refreshing. This will become one of my go-to summer drinks; I've already bought another bunch of dill.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Egg Salad with Dill

Given that I've been craving cold summer salads and the dill has been bolting, egg salad seemed a natural. At first, the proportions in this recipe, which I halved, seemed much too saucy. So, I asked John to bring home two more hard-boiled eggs, mixed those into the dish, and all was good. My version, with tweaks, below:
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • heaping 1/4 cup red onion, chopped, plus more for garnish if desired
  • heaping 1/6 cup dill (though some found the original proportions too much, I love this herb and actually increased the amount)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/8 cup sour cream (seriously, don't skip this - adds a wonderful rich tang)
  • 1/8 cup Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon country-style worked very well, as the seeds added texture)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put the eggs, red onion and dill in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Add to the egg mix, toss, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for a few hours or serve warm with bread or crackers.