Tag Archives: pickles

Summertime easy

saladbowl
It’s been more than a month since I’ve written here, and in the meantime, we took a 12-day road trip to Montana (central and eastern) and a bit of Wyoming. For those of you who have followed my blog, you’ll know this trip in the rural West presents a challenge for me in finding food that I like, especially fresh vegetables.

I’ve written about my road trip kitchen and motel cooking tips before here, and here — and salads I made by boiling water in the electric kettle to cook bulgur and washing lettuce and other vegetables in my salad spinner.

But this year, I was lazier — ahem, that is to say, more practical (smarter?)– and often bought those packages of pre-washed spinach or salad greens that I usually eschew at home. Let me just say –they are great for travel! — Of course, I had my bottle of olive oil, plenty of lemons (and my lemon reamer) and some salt, so I had all the ingredients for dressing any kind of salad.

Also, I was inspired by a nice new blue speckled enamel salad bowl I bought at Ray’s Sports & Western Wear in Harlowton, Montana.

broccolirabe

Amy of Terra Verde Farms clued me in about roasted broccoli rabe. Just toss with a little oil and salt, roast at 400 degrees till it’s as done as you like it.

Back home, I really haven’t had much energy for making dinner. So we continue with salads (lettuce and radishes from the farmers’ market) and corn or bread or a quesadilla. If I am more ambitious (not much) I might just make pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil and a sprinkle of pecorino. Or it’s cool enough to turn on the oven, occasionally I make a delicious  little piece of sockeye salmon and rice. Or some roast vegetables.

Often I really can’t think of what we should eat for dinner (crackers and cheese?) but if I do decide to actually cook something, it must be simple. It’s summertime, after all.

beancornquinoaThe salad above is about the most complicated thing I’ve made in a month, and it was really pretty easy. Quinoa (I used red quinoa from Trader Joe’s) a can of black beans, corn kernels, green and red onions, halved cherry tomatoes (from the plants on my patio!), chopped cucumber, cilantro, a little chopped jalapeno, avocado pieces and a dressing with some oil and lots of lime juice, some lime zest and salt. You could vary this a number of ways, of course.

It made a good lunch today — but I don’t know what we’ll have for dinner.

It’s not that I’ve been avoiding the kitchen all the time. I made a jar of quick pickles using dill I had in the garden, and I bought basil from farmers’ market to make pesto.

picklesI made Blueberry Boy Bait for summer visitors. Lately, Steve and I have been picking lots of wild blackberries in the evenings, and I’ve made blackberry scones and blackberry crisp (in individual servings so we wouldn’t eat too much) and even blackberry focaccia —  but mostly I’ve been putting them into the freezer for the long winter ahead.

It’s summertime, I’m lazy, and the livin’ should be easy…

individualblackbcrisp

When it comes to dessert, few things are easier than a blackberry crisp. Add a tablespoon or two of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of cornstarch to enough berries to fill two ramekins; top with a mixture of butter (you don’t need much), oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon (and chopped nuts if you wish.) Bake at 350 degrees till berries are bubbling and topping is crisp. Yum!

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Filed under dessert, salad, summer, supper time, vegetables

End of summer……..

"Peaches in a White Ceramic Basket," Fede Galizia, c. 1600-1605

Well, summer is nearly officially over, a poignant marker. There’s something a little sad about the turning of seasons. Goodbye to summer’s great bounty, to all those things you didn’t do or wish you could do again….

I never wrote “Summer Fruit, part two” which was supposed to be about peaches, plums, nectarines, more blackberries, and such. I never made a peach pie, which is rather shocking (though I am still eating fresh peaches, and with all the peach varieties, you can eat peaches from mid-summer to early autumn).

But I did eat rhubarb well into August and  I did make some of those nice dill pickles in brine, with fresh dill. I had a good summer kitchen day with Aviva: She made canned pickles and the two of us made a nice big batch of blackberry jam.

Aviva surveys results of the pickle-and-jam marathon

Grey days and rainy weather are setting in again, and there never were enough warm sunny days here this summer — but I just returned from the Midwest, where people were complaining about too many hot days!

Mario's Lemonade, Chicago

In Chicago, we went to Mario’s Lemonade on Taylor Street,  just before the stand closed for the season– how’s that for marking the end of the summer? And we talked to Mario, who has never used a computer or a credit card, and still sells a small iced lemonade for only $1.

Delicious icy lemonade, complete with rind

Back home, on a cool day, and still thinking about lemons, I made a simple supper of roast chicken, bulgur pilaf and green salad.

The roast chicken with lemon is one of the many slow-roast dishes I make in cool weather (that’s most of the year here): You set the oven to 300 degrees, stuff one or two lemons (pricked all over with a fork, to let the juices out) into the cavity, put a little olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle salt and pepper and paprika on the top, then let it roast for 2 1/2 or 3 hours.  You can baste a lot, or not, turn the chicken over halfway through or not — the long slow cooking will make it tender and juicy. Let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes before you cut it, and squeeze the lemon juice over it.

And the salad of course, had a simple olive oil-lemon-salt dressing….

For dessert? Now, the blackberries have sadly come to an end, but before they were gone, I discovered an easy dessert with some leftover pie dough I had: mini pies in ramekins.

I just mixed the berries with a little sugar and lemon juice and a bit of cornstarch to thicken, then cut a couple circles of dough with my biscuit cutter and laid them on top, brushed with a little milk and sprinkled sugar on top.  I turned the oven to 400 degrees and baked till the tops were golden. I bet this would work with frozen berries too.

"Apples and grapes" Claude Monet, 1880

Now it’s time to welcome those fruits of fall!

The Jewish harvest festival of Sukkos is just around the corner, and one of its primary symbols is the citron, or esrog (or etrog), the ancestor of the lemon. It’s considered a sacred fruit, and does indeed smell divine, but is not too good to eat….

What I always want to make and eat around this time of year is a simple yeast dough covered in delicious and beautiful Italian plums. Soon I will be making Zwetchgenkuchen!

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Filed under baked goods, dessert, fall, fruit, summer, supper time, Uncategorized

Pickles in a hurry, kosher style

When I was growing up in Chicago, for a while my aunt and uncle ran Batt’s Delicatessen, and it had a real pickle barrel, so visits there always included a big wonderfully crisp, garlicky dill pickle.  Kosher dill pickles were also the treat of choice when I had to go to Sunday school at South Shore Temple. Afterwards, my sisters, brother and I would stop at Kosmer’s (or was it Cosmer’s?) Deli on Jeffery Blvd. where we bought  big salty garlicky pickles, which were wrapped in brown paper so we could eat them as we walked home. Ah, what a delight!

Well, it’s not easy to get such a pickle these days if you don’t live near a good deli.  I always thought it was a complicated, long procedure to make real kosher-style dill pickles. And maybe it is, but thanks to Mark Bittman (again!), I found it’s easy to make great pickles. You just need salt, plus garlic and dill. And pickling cucumbers, of course.

I bought a couple pounds of pickling cucumbers at the Mount Vernon farmers’ market yesterday, put the pickles in a bowl with brine last night, and had bright green, crisp and crunchy garlicky pickles in the morning (not so good for breakfast, but excellent any other time of the day).

pickles

Kosher Pickles the Right Way

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Makes about 30 pickle quarters or 15 halves

Time: 1 to 2 days

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 pounds small (“Kirby”) cucumbers, washed (scrub if spiny) and cut lengthwise into halves or quarters
  • At least 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 large bunch dill, preferably fresh and with flowers, or substitute 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds or 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1. Combine the salt and boiling water in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool down the mixture, then add all the remaining ingredients.

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to hold the cucumbers under the water. Keep at room temperature.

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 4 hours if you’ve quartered them, 8 hours if you’ve cut them in half. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 or even 48 hours for them to taste “pickle-y” enough to suit your taste.

4. When they are ready, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to ferment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to a week.

As Bittman says, these pickles won’t keep long–a week or so in the refrigerator–but you’ll eat them quickly enough that you won’t notice. So, make kosher style dills in small batches and eat ’em up without restraint….

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Filed under fall, musings, Praise for other cooks, summer, Uncategorized, vegetables