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January 31, 2010

pickled golden beets

 KAMI'S PICKLED BEETS

My old  friend Kami has been asking me for a pickled beets recipe for months . Inspired by some golden beets at the farmers market and the mound of tangerines in my kitchen this recipe is a welcome ray of sunshine in the winter. 
The  earthiness of the beets combined with tangerines and the slightly floral pink peppercorns results in a mildly sweet and tangy pickle. I used the David Chang/Momofuku technique reducing the sugar a bit to compensate for the beets sweetness.
Serve these along side rich meats, added to salad or on a sandwich or burger. Chopped finely they make a great addition to a remoulade or tuna salad.
If you have extra brine pour it over another vegetable, such as onion or carrots, whatever you have on hand, and pop it in the fridge to serve with the beets.

 NOTES:

  • These are refrigerator pickles and therefore require no hot water bath or cooking. 
  • This is a technique that invites experimentation, try different vegetables and spices using what you have on hand.
  • Pink peppercorns grow on tree's in California and are available at gourmet markets , but can easily be replaced by regular peppercorns or omitted altogether.
  • I used golden beets for this recipe, but any beet will work. 
  • Peel the beets before trimming them, it's easier with with the greens attached .
  • Golden beets are orange on the outside and yellow on the inside.
INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 bunches beets (about 9 medium beets) peeled and trimmed
  • zest of 1 orange or two tangerines
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

METHOD
  1.  Peel beets, then cut into very thin slices (less than 1/8 inch) with slicer and transfer to a nonreactive heatproof bowl with zest and peppercorns.
  2. Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. 
  3. Remove from heat and pour hot brine over beets.
  4. Cool to room temperature, stirring and pressing vegetables down occasionally (or keep them submerged with a small plate). 
  5. Transfer beets with pickling liquid to a separate airtight container and chill, covered, shaking occasionally, for at least 1 week. Serve using a slotted spoon. 

January 22, 2010

easy microwave meyer lemon marmalade








In honor of of tigress in a jams can jam I put forth Easy Microwave Meyer Lemon 
Marmalade.
Eager to impress all my new canning pals in the can-athon, I devised a complicated  kumquat preserve but alas there were no kumquats to be had, the farmers markets were all rained out (it's pouring!).
With both my kumquat fantasy and my attempt at culinary pretension dashed, I decided to be sensible and use the meyer lemons on my tree.
Everyone seemed to like the microwave tangarine marmalade that I posted in December so I thought another microwave recipe would be in order.

I have been experimenting with this this technique which works wonderfully with thin skinned citrus. Do not bother making this with thick skinned fruit. You won't be happy with the results unless you trim away all the pith, and if you are going to all that bother you may as well make traditional marmalade.

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity and speed. As I said in the  Tangerine post "this is not as complex or refined as a traditional marmalade, but is fantastic nonetheless, and a great addition to every jammers repertoire. Some might call it cheaters marmalade, but given the work/outcome ratio it’s a winner."

It is divinely easy, ZIP-ZAP-ZING
ZIP it in the the food processor, ZAP it in the nuke,and ZING it in the canner, (ok the last one doesn't really make sense, but it sounds good).

YEILD: 1 PINT


NOTES
  • Use only thin skinned citrus. 
  • Do not double the recipe, the microwave will not like it and you will end up with a giant mess. 
  • Use a high-sided microwaveable container as the jam bubbles up. I like to use my 2-quart glass mixer bowl, which I can pour directly into the jars from. After you get the basic technique down feel free to play a bit adding a alcohol or spices. 
  • This is a great way to use up those bits of dried up vanilla bean in your cupboard, but if you you don't have vanilla this still stands on it's own.
  • My sincere apologies to those of you denied access to meyer lemons.

    INGREDIENTS:



    • 1 lb meyer lemons (about 4 lemons) 
    • 1 3/4 cup sugar 
    • 3 inches vanilla bean


    METHOD:

    Start your hot water bath and prepare your jars and lids.

    Cut of blossom end of lemons and slice lengthwise into quarters. 



    Using a paring knife slice away the thin white membrane on the edge of the flesh.  This will allow you to easily remove the seeds.




    Place cut lemon and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Puree, making sure that all the peel and section skins are reduced to a pulp. It will be quite liquid.



    Pour into a high-sided microwaveable bowl adding vanilla bean cut into a few pieces. Cover tightly with saran wrap that you have pierced a few times to vent.




    Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Stir; remove saran wrap and return to microwave for5- 7 minutes.  Remove, stir and check thickness. At this point, depending on the juiciness of your fruit you may want to return it to the microwave for another 2-3 minutes. It continues thickening as it cools.


    Stir again and pour or ladle marmalade into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2-inch headroom and removing any air bubbles. Wipe rims and place lids on screwing on lightly.

    Place jars in canner making sure they are submerged. Return to a boil and process 5 minutes (timed from the boil) for 4oz jars and 10 minutes for 8oz jars. Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board to cool. Label,date and enjoy. 
     



    January 13, 2010

    The Years Bounty

    BEST OF 2009
    There wasn't a lot to be thrilled about in 2009, frankly I could have have skipped the year altogether. I'm not quite sure how that would have worked, an extended hibernation, time travel or perhaps a year in Tibet. They all sound good.
    In a year filled with disappointments my Blackberry Hooch was an unmitigated success, something to sing about (especially if you have had a few snorts) .
    Perhaps not my most ambitious or most successful canning foray (were one to rate these things), nor the trickiest, using new techniques, gadgets and ingredients, but certainly one of most the most gratifying. 
    Overzealous harvesting one day at the U-PICK FARM left my kitchen counters littered with crates of blackberries ready to spoil in the summer heat. Desperate to not waste, I dumped the near-fermentation berries into my big half gallon BALL jars and covered them with booze. My intention was to make Blackberry Vodka but I quickly ran out (those jars are BIG!) and moved onto the gin remaining in the  liquor cabinet. 
    Come December I pulled them out of the garden shed to bottle as holiday gifts. WOW, they were fantastic!  Smoother than the vodka, the gin was the clear winner even among sworn gin-o-phobes.
    Perhaps it was the long gestation period or maybe just a happy accident. Sometimes the finest cooking moments are born from mistakes. Maybe that's the lesson of 2009, alchemy, baby ,alchemy.
    I was going to do a top ten list but felt felt it was a bit vainglorious so instead I have listed three of my favorite posts and recipes from 2009. 










     


     

    January 5, 2010

    Momofuku Pickles

     
    My new years resolution is to post more often. I know I have been a slacker these past months with my infrequent posts. I vow to return to the kitchen soon, armed with the dozens of empty jars awaiting me in my garage.
    I just returned from New York where I ate some fantastic food, the most exciting at chef David Chang's Momofuku dynasty. I ate at both Ssan Bar and Noodle House in the East Village and even managed to squeeze in a stop at Milk Bar for the ice cream which my daughter and I fought over despite the sub-zero weather. The cereal milk  soft serve ice cream truly is off the hook and worthy of all the praise heaped on it. The chocolate chip, marshmallow, cornflake cookies were insane and I don't even like cookies. Just the right balance of crispy, chewy, salty and sweet without being the least bit cloying.

    Pictured above are the pickles from Noodle House, on the menu as a starter. Served in a mason jar, I'll take them any day over a bread basket. Let's start a new movement, pickles instead of bread. Who wants to fill up on dough before a good meal? Pickles pique the appetite without dulling it. 
    Fresh, crisp and crunchy the Momofuku pickles are delish, the flavor of each vegetable distinct. The waitress told me each vegetable is brined individually and then combined for serving.

    Using rice vinegar as opposed to cider or wine vinegar, produces a delicate brine that doesn't overwhelm and allows each vegetable to sing. Asian pickles are my new obsession, they are light, sweet, and tangy, perfect for the new year.
     

    NOTES:
    • These are refrigerator pickles and therefore require no hot water bath or cooking. 
    • Each vegetable except the beets has a different spice to accompany it.
    • This is a technique that invites experimentation, try different vegetables and spices using what you have on hand.
    • I found the vegetables needed varying amounts of time to set up, depending on their size and density.
    • Shichimi togarashi is Japanese 7-spice blend that typically includes red chile flakes, dried orange peel, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, nori , poppy seeds and ginger.
    Below is David Chang's recipe as published in 2007 in Gourmet Magazine.
    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 medium beets (1/2 pound total), trimmed
    • 4 bunches baby carrots (1 pound), peeled and stems trimmed to 1/2 inch
    • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
    • 3 celery ribs, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
    • 1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)
    • 6 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar (not seasoned; 12 fluid ounces)
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt


    METHOD

    1.  Peel beets, then cut into very thin slices (less than 1/8 inch) with slicer and transfer to a nonreactive heatproof bowl. 
    2. In separate nonreactive heatproof bowls, combine carrots with caraway seeds, celery with coriander seeds, and cauliflower with shichimi togarashi.
    3. Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. 
    4. Remove from heat and pour 1 1/2 cups hot brine over beets, 2 cups over carrots, 2 cups over celery, and remaining liquid over cauliflower.
    5. Cool to room temperature, stirring and pressing vegetables down occasionally (or keep them submerged with a small plate). 
    6. Transfer each vegetable with pickling liquid to a separate airtight container and chill, covered, shaking occasionally, at least 1 week. Serve using a slotted spoon.