Spicy Pickled Slaw, (Repost, Update)

This post is a recipe from one of my first successful pickling experiences; since then I haven’t stopped. But I still use this same basic recipe and ratio. It’s a great way to pickle. I updated a couple things, but wanted to re-share it and get you all as excited about pickling everything in sight as I am! 

I was recently cursed with bout of the ugliest of flus, spending a week of my life on the couch. It sucked. Seriously, sucked. There were, however, one or two breaks in the clouds where I thought I was feeling better and so ventured out, desperate for some fresh air and to avoid the atrophy that was setting in on my body. One such evening, I weakly stumbled upon the Mission Community Farmer’s Market.


And by golly, what luck of the season (though I already knew), it was perfect timing. The market full of lovely purveyors, delicious pupusas and super scrumptious fruits and veggies. And, of course, as it’s that glorious season for all things canned, jammed, jellied and pickled with an adorable label, my heart let out a sweet giggle when I found this purveyor, Emmy’s Pickles and Jams:

I indulged myself in some quince butter (oh, mmmmmmm) and a jar of zesty pickles (double mmmmmm)…..

I’m going to get me some fig jam next time….

After chatting it up for a minute, I moseyed on for my own jarring (hah! oh, puns…) adventure. I was on the look out for some additions to a cabbage, fennel, onion, and carrot combination…. that’s right. Some additions to…. SLAW!

Mmmmm!

Edging dangerously close to the end of pepper season, I didn’t know what I was going to find – but I did know I was going to snatch up and hoard what I could. I got lucky and crossed ways with some real beauties!

The great thing about slaw / pickled items is that they’re incredibly versatile. You can use just about anything that’s available. Lately, I’ve been using a combination of some or all of the following:

  • Cabbage
  • Jalapenos (lots of ’em, some seeded, some not)
  • Fennel
  • Onions (white, red, yellow, shallots)
  • Green Beans
  • Yellow Wax Beans
  • Carrots
  • Padrons/Shishitos (stemmed and torn in half lengthwise)
  • Red, Yellow, Orange Bells and these gorgeous purple heirloom peppers I got at the market:

with a quick, mild pickle. 

Try this mildly pickle slaw (similar to Salvadorian curtido) on eggs, tacos and pupusas (duh), mixed with avocado and cucumber, in place of lettuce on any sandwich…the options go on and on.

Be sure to experiment with the brine, too, based on what your ingredients are. Sweeter peppers? Make a spicier brine. Spicier pickles, make a sweeter brine by using more brown sugar than white sugar and apple cider vinegar in place of granulated. Or, add some funky spices that you really love. Clove? Extra black peppercorn? Or make it crazy spicy with some whole dried cayennes. Try adding tarragon, star anise, who knows. It’s quick and cheap so you can experiment time and time again.

Here’re the basics:

Prep Your Slaw Veggies:

      1. Chop or clean all the ingredients you chose to use into long strips that
          are as close to the same size as you can get.
      2. Mix them together in a large bowl so they’re evenly distributed. It should
          look about like this:

3. Evenly distribute the mix amongst the jars you have cleaned. Fill them fully to     the top.

4. Follow the instructions below to make the brine and pickle.

Basic Brine (for 2 cups)

    • 1/2 c. white vinegar
    • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
    • 3T white sugar
    • 3T brown sugar
    • 2t coarse grey sea salt (substitute regular kosher salt if you can’t find coarse)
    • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1T black peppercorn
    • 1cup water
    1. Bring all ingredients to a boil, then pour immediately over your prepared slaw, in jars.
    2. Let cool until just comfortable to the touch, then seal with a screw top lid. (It’s not necessary to do a proper canning seal for this quick pickle, as long as you eat it within a week or so.)
      3. Let cool, then refrigerate and let sit for 24 hours, then

enjoy!

Eat Some Oysters Already!

If you love oysters, this is for you. If you don’t love oysters, even better – I’m on a mission to make you a fan!

Here in the Bay Area we have some of the best oysters around. While it’s true that I love ’em all and I’ll eat pretty much any oyster put in front of me – it’s also true that these beautiful Tomales Bay oysters are at the top of my list.

Their crisp brininess is, indeed, comparable to those briny, creamy tiny little Puget Sound guys that I also love so much… but I live here, and I like my oysters fresh as they can come. I rarely eat oysters that aren’t local, and at Tomales Bay they’re more than just local – they’re growing in the water you’re sitting next to while eating them. In fact, they’re so fresh, you sometimes get a little hitchhiker on your bag of oysters…

You can chow down at a picnic table on the beach and then take a walk along the sand next to the beds. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t been, go. If you have been, go again. And if you don’t live around here – get your butt over here and go. Take a look at what you’re missing out on:

 

Those picnic tables you see there to the right are where you eat your tasty treats, there on the left is where you buy them…

The oysters’ temporary home, before I eat all of them and my belly is their home….

Just for reference on how my pals and I can scarf up some oysters – between 4 of us, we ate 62 oysters. Its a lot, but we were pretty happy campers, even considering a few more before we came to our senses. Once they all settled, I was pretty oystered out for a little while. (The next day I was fortunate enough to follow it up with tomato steamed clams for dinner. Oops on the mollusk overload.)

The key to eating so many oysters is taking a break in the middle for a stroll along the beach, throwing sticks for the dog to catch, taking silly pictures and viewing the oyster beds. (Some people even buy their oysters and carry the bags to eat on the beach)…

The second key is to have the most banging supply of treats and goodies you can imagine. There’re picnic tables, it’s sunny, you’re on the water, and surrounded by happy oyster loving people. Bring a huge cooler, a car crammed full of your most favorite people and stay a while!

Plenty of wine (champagne strongly suggested), bangin’ cheeses of all kinds (I prefer hard with oysters), tomatoes, mango, avocado, shallots, apples, lemons, grapes, fresh french bread – there’s also some hummus, salad greens, canned white beans. And plenty more. It’s this spread that will lead to the greatest oyster feast of all time; the feast that had led to some of the surprising recipes and combinations I am about to offer you; recipes and combinations for those who love oysters and will do anything with them, as well as for those who don’t, who need a little ‘umph to enjoy this beautiful mollusk.

The more items you have in your tasty treat box (cooler), the more tasty adventures you can have, of course. We took pretty much everything on the table and tried it with the oysters – in the shell, in a salad, on bread – we did the best we could to do it all. Take a look at just a few of the attempts we made. Some were amazing, some were less than that…

Green apples on top, with the brine in. Amazing!

Cucumbers. Also good, but not as good as the apples. The two mixed together – ohhhh yeah.

 Avocado – the smooth semi-sweet creaminess on top of the salty brininess: not bad. Mango – less than mediocre.

Sometimes, though, you just need a plate of plain old oysters. No funny business. (Well, maybe one…try out some tomato. It’s not too bad – tomato, hot sauce, lemon.)

But, of course, for those simple plates of oysters, you need some sauce.

You need lemon, you need hot sauce. Horseradish, cocktail sauce, mignonette are classics.  But, of course, I always encourage experimenting with as many as you can gather, and all the combinations in between.

Cocktail Sauce

  • Ketchup
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash (or a big splash, depending on taste) of hot sauce (tabasco recommended)
  • Mix together to taste!

Mignonette

  • White wine or champagne (sparkling wine)
  • Finely minced shallots
  • Splash of acid: white or red wine vinegar, lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Mix together to taste and pour over oysters!

Don’t forget that arugula and can of cannellini beans we had…..

Simple and Delish Raw Oyster Salad for Two

  • 2 fresh oysters, with brine from shell
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 can cannellini beans, plus 1/2 teaspoon or so of bean juice from the can
  • teaspoon or so of white wine/champagne mignonette
  • handful of arugula
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
  • Mix together and enjoy!
Just follow my simple guidelines, come up with some funky oyster recipes of your own, and you, too, will walk away with a bucket of oyster shells as full as this one:
Shuck and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Refreshing Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Cucumber-Jalapeno Tea Sandwiches

A couple years ago my mom gave me a package that included a bunch of cooking tools that I remember from her kitchen when I was a kid, and subsequently found out they were from my grandmother’s. These pieces still hang out in my kitchen, and will take up residence in the kitchen of the next generation.

In addition to these tools, she also compiled new and old family recipes for me, and this is one hers, with some added tea sandwiches. cukeavosouprecipe

There are only two alterations I have:

    1 cup of broth rather than 1 ½ cups
    Top with a teeny pinch of cumin

avosoup1

And for the Cucumber-Jalapeno Tea Sandwiches
:

Jalapeno Butter:

    1T Butter, softened
    1-2t juice from canned jalapenos

    1. Mix butter and juice together, refrigerate


For sandwich:

    2 slices wheat bread, lightly toasted and cooled
    5 thin slices of peeled cucumber
    1t jalapeno butter
    4-6 leaves of arugula

    1. Cut off the crust of the toast, and cut in half diagonally
    2. Spread thin layers of jalapeno butter on each side and top with 3 cucumber slices and
    2-3 leaves of arugula
    3. Secure with a toothpick
    4. Serve along side soup, for dipping!

Mmmmm. It’s so good for a summer picnic or park-outing. Or just to eat when it’s hot and you feel like dipping something!

I Wanted Guacamole, He Wanted Meatballs

I had a few conflicting feelings about mixing meatballs with guacamole. First of all – I’m a biiiiiig guacamole fan, so for me, anything with guacamole will be a-ok at worst. But on the other hand, it seemed like meatballs and guacamole was a dish that wasn’t going to be easy to eat – meatballs aren’t really finger-foods and guacamole is a dip that requires some digital dexterity. In addition, while I am in full favor of spicing up traditional ground meat products, I feel pretty standard about meatballs – they go with tomato sauce, they go either in the midst of long slender noodles or between two pieces of submarine sandwich bread, and that’s how it’s done. Granted, they are made of the same base product as a burger patty, which can be done in so many varieties of meat with so many flavors, there’s something different about a circular roll of ground beef and a round, flat patty between two pieces of bread. Maybe it’s the bread, maybe it’s the shape. In any case, meatballs, in my mind, just don’t lend themselves the same manipulation that other ground meat products do.

In the end, though, I wanted guacamole and he wanted meatballs and so it had to be. I tried my own adaptation for “Spiced Meatballs with Guacamole” from Tamasin Day Lewis’s “Good Tempered Food: Food to Love, Leave and Linger Over”.

My initial concerns ended up both justified and denied: It’s true that meatballs are a little awkward to eat with guacamole. The roundness is not adequate for a finger food, and cutting and dipping a meatball is just wierd. A meatball, however, does not deserve to be repressed to living in a sandwich or marinara sauce, or with some bare-bones oregano and parsely and some bread crumbs. The meatball loves some new flavor!

Try this recipe these ways. too:

    · Sausages: roll the meat into sausage-link shapes and dip them like French fries into the guacamole. a great casual appetizer
    · Mexican Meatball Sanwiches: like a regular meatball sandwich, but use guacamole instead of marinara, and melt some mozzarella cheese!
    · Tacos: Use as ground meat for tacos, plop on the guacamole and add some extra onions and cotija cheese.
    · Nachos: Cook ground meat, pile on chips, melt mozzarella cheese, add guacamole, and cotija cheese.

Guacamole for Meatballs

    · 3 Haas Avocados
    · Juice of 2 Limes
    · Juice of one lemon wedge
    · 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced with only a few seeds
    · ½ white onion, finely diced
    · Handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    · 2t cumin
    · ½ tSea salt
    · Pinch of ground black pepper
    · Pinch of red chili flakes

    1. Cut avocados in half, pit and scoop out into a bowl
    2. Add limes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and chili flakes
    3. Mix with a fork until desired consistency – whether you prefer chunky or smooth guacamole.
    4. Squeeze lemon wedge over the top to keep from browning (the lime in it will help, but lemon works the best)
    5. Refrigerate and let sit for an hour.

*The jalapenos and cilantro/parsley combination in this recipe are the star flavors. Really make sure to coarsely chop the herbs, so that they are more than just an accent when biting in. Their freshness will also complement and counter the spice of the jalapenos.

Ground Meat

    · 1 ½ lbs lean beef
    · ¾ lb ground turkey breast
    · 1 egg
    · ¼ C parsley and cilantro combined, both coarsely chopped
    · ½ jalapeno, with seeds, finely diced
    · 1t cumin
    · 1t cayenne
    · 1/8 c bread crumbs
    · Pinch red chili flakes
    · 2t salt
    · 1t ground black pepper
    · 1t celery salt
    · 1t chili powder

    1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except egg and use your hands to mix it up.
    2. When well combined, add egg and re-mix
    3. Make a very mini-patty to prepare and taste-test.
    4. If to your liking, wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap to prevent oxidation and refridgerate until ready to use.
    5. When ready to cook:

    For meatballs: roll in balls, and sauté in warmed butter, turning when browned on one side until well browned on the outside and just very barely browned (still a tiny bit pink) inside pink. Serve hot with room temperature guacamole on the size.meatballs

    For sausage-link-like meatballs: roll into finger-length links, cook the same as meatballs and serve with a dipping bowl of cool guacamole.

    For tacos and nachos: it’s okay that it has the egg in it. Just sauté it up in a shallow, non-stick pan coated with butter and use a spatula to continue breaking it up until browned. For tacos, toss a tortilla in the same pan til warm and crispy, pile on the meat, a spoonful of guacamole, a pinch of minced white onion, bit of cotija cheese and some coarsely chopped cilantro. For nachos, warm chips, onions and cheese in the oven in the oven, and cover with cooked meat, guacamole and jalapenos.

meatballtaco

Double and triple mmmmmm……