recipe

Pickles: Easy and Easier

by Anne Maxfield on June 17, 2019

Easiest PicklesPickles are so easy, and these two recipes will have you making them again and again. I always have a jar of the sliced pickles in my fridge and the fermented ones are like the ones I miss from Gus’ in the city.

The first one is so simple, you’ll think it’s a joke, but it makes great pickles fast. You’ll find a jar of them hanging out in my fridge all the time.

  • 3-4 small pickling cucumbers, sliced about 1/8” thick
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 scant tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (optional), lightly smashed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a quart Ball jar, cover it and give it a good shake. Put the jar in the front of the refrigerator. Every time you open the fridge, give the jar a shake. Pickles should be good after 2 hours, but I usually let mine sit overnight. They last for a while and are great on burgers and sandwiches.

The other was a recipe for half-sours that I found on Fine Cooking. It was pretty simple, just requiring a little patience (something not normally on my top-ten list of attributes) to let them sit and become pickles.

Now that I have my kits from Kraut Source, this recipe is almost as foolproof as the other. I’ll usually let them sit for about 2 weeks in a cool dark place (for some reason, under my guest bathroom sink seems to work well), taste them and then cover and refrigerate.

This makes pickles closer to those classic sour pickles and you can control how “sour” you want them to be.

My verdict: These are very different but both really good and easy pickles to make, so give them a try and let me know in the comments what you thought.

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Roasted Salmon Niçoise Salad

by Anne Maxfield on June 10, 2019

Plated Salmon Nicoise SaladNow that the weather is getting better it’s time to start breaking out the salad recipes. This is an interesting take on a classic salad Niçoise, using salmon instead of tuna. Serves 4.

Roasted Salmon Niçoise Salad

  • 1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)
  • 1 anchovy fillet, minced
  • 6 ounces haricots verts or green beans, trimmed
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup pitted olives, preferably Niçoise or Kalamata
  • 4 (6-ounce) center-cut, skin-on salmon fillets
  • 5 ounces tender salad greens, like baby red and green leaf lettuce

Tomatoes, Beans and Olives for RoastingHeat the oven to 400° and place a rack near the top of the oven. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. On a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper to make cleaning up easier), arrange the potatoes so the cut sides are facing down and roast for 20 minutes.
While the potatoes roast, fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the eggs and cook over medium heat for exactly 6 minutes. Remove the eggs, and when they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter them.
Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, the garlic, anchovy, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
In the bowl you used for the potatoes, add the haricots verts, tomatoes and olives along with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Add the vegetables to the sides of the baking sheet with the potatoes, leaving a space in the center of the sheet pan. Pat the salmon fillets dry with a paper towel and place them, skin-side down, in the center of the sheet pan.
Salmon and Vegetables for RoastingBrush salmon with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast on the top rack in the oven for 10 minutes.
Turn the broiler to high and broil for 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown the salmon. (If you don’t have a broiler, roast salmon for an additional 2 to 3 minutes instead.) The salmon should flake easily and be just cooked in the center.
Add the greens to the large bowl with the dressing and toss gently. Place greens on a large platter, leaving a narrow border at the platter’s edges. Place the salmon fillets in the middle of the platter, then arrange the roasted vegetables and eggs around them. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: For a couple of people who are usually pretty particular about their Salade Niçoise this was a great version! And since eating more fish, especially salmon, is a goal, this is a painless way to add it to our diet.
Now that it is warmer out, I might just do everything on the grill. Either way, it’s a good main course salad.
Next time, maybe a handful of capers?

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Brussels Sprouts Hash

by Anne Maxfield on May 13, 2019

Brussels sprouts cut to make hashWe love Brussels sprouts and this looked like an easy way to make them. Slicing them for the “hash” is about the most time-consuming job here (and see below for my opinion as to whether it’s worth it), after that it’s about 5 minutes from start to finish. Serves 4 to 6:

Brussels Sprouts Hash

• 1 pound large Brussels sprouts
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
• 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
• 1/4 cup white wine
• Salt and pepper

Cut the stems from the Brussels sprouts and halve each one lengthwise. Slice each half into thin slices, about 1/8” and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat almost to the smoking point. Stir in the hashed sprouts with the garlic and poppy seeds.

Add the white wine and continue stirring for about 3 minutes, until the sprouts are bright green and barely crunchy. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 additional minute. Serve and enjoy!

The finished Brussels sprouts hash dish platedMy verdict: Good but not great. I might have liked it better with the Brussels sprouts halved and browned in the oil. It’s probably a really good dish for people who are on the fence about sprouts.
If shredding Brussels sprouts seems like a waste of time, shredding some cabbage and treating it like the sprouts would be a fine replacement.

Of all the spices I have, surprisingly poppy seeds are not in the house, so I used some of my favorite everything bagel spice, figuring that it had a lot of poppy seeds. Frank started to get huffy about it “do you ever see me eating an everything bagel?” but it was fairly innocuous and served it’s purpose.

No open bottles of white wine? A little chicken or vegetable stock, splash of red wine, or even water would work instead.

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Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

by Anne Maxfield on May 6, 2019

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s because the one decent Chinese restaurant closed, but I’ve been on kind of an Oriental run lately and this lamb dish, was part of it. Serves 4:

Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan or regular peppercorns
  • 1 pound boneless lamb
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 to 8 dried red chiles (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 bunch (about 8) scallions, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese cooking sherry or dry sherry
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush lightly.

Slice meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Toss meat with crushed spices, ground cumin, salt and dried chiles.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb MixPeel onion and halve it through the root end. Trim the ends and cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut white and light green parts of scallions into 2-inch lengths. Thinly slice scallion greens; keep separate.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb PrepHeat a very large skillet or wok over high heat until screaming hot, about 5 minutes. Add oil. Toss in onion and the scallion bottoms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly charred but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add lamb and chiles to skillet. Cook, tossing quickly, until meat begins to brown. Add garlic, soy sauce and sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and lamb is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Toss in onions and scallion bottoms. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallion greens. Serve hot, over rice and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb CookingMy verdict: Another “you can make this anytime” from Frank. It’s hot but not killer, most of the heat coming from the Sichuan peppercorns. If you don’t have them, it will work with regular peppercorns, but won’t have the interesting kick you get from the Sichuan ones.

Since it was close to Easter when I made this, I was able to find a nice small piece of boneless leg of lamb which worked well, but if you don’t mind working around the bones, shoulder chops would work, and are generally a lot less expensive.

I didn’t have any peanut oil, so just used regular vegetable oil and it worked fine. You don’t want olive oil here, because you’re using high heat. Same story with the Chinese cooking sherry—just use dry sherry if you have it.

As you can see from the top photo, we had some green beans in the fridge, so I just tossed them in when I added the lamb and chiles.

 

 

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