Thank you all for your support of Small Batch and other essay and article publications in 2014. I am happy to announce an exciting event in Buffalo, NY on February 12th as part of the Larkin Square Author Series with more events and press to be announced shortly.
I’ve been quiet here as I have been pushing my upcoming book SMALL BATCH: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits and the Return of Artisanal Food which is publishing next week! SMALL BATCH looks at the cultural history of artisanal food and details the … Continue reading →
I was very proud this fall when I finally got to use my Nani’s heavy, lacquered earthenware crock – the same one that she used to make the cherry brandy that my cousins and I would lick pooled from the … Continue reading →
I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least when Michaela Hayes, owner of Crock and Jar, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in making pickles and the teaching the art of pickling and canning, said that a main tenet of her … Continue reading →
As I’m researching and writing my book Small Batch: The Fall and Rise of Artisanal Cheese, Chocolate, Pickles, and Alcoholic Spirits, I purposely chose the term “artisanal” in part because it seemed to be the best to represent that handmade, … Continue reading →
It was hot yesterday. So the last thing I wanted to do was boil anything on the stove. But yet I had picked up my weekly Red Fire Farm farm share and still had carrots, peppers, cukes and other assorted veggies left over from my garden and previous weeks of bounty, some of which were starting to look worse for wear. What to do to make sure none of this goes to waste?
I did some creative freezing (which I’ll detail in a later post) but was also inspired by a delicious little side of curried pickled veggies from Tupelo in Cambridge that my beau and I treated ourselves to a week ago. But since I wanted to keep my heating of things to a minimum, I first gathered all of the jars of pickles that were sitting in various stages of emptiness, in the fridge. I thinly sliced cucumbers and added them to my favorite brine, making sure there was enough liquid to cover them. Those I returned to the fridge as-is, to sit for at least a few days until I sample them.
I had one large jar of mostly brine, most likely from a pickling experiment earlier in the season, that tasted mostly of vinegar and salt, with some mustard seeds and peppercorns floating in the bottom. I hate to throw anything away – even pickle brine – so I strained the liquid and then added it to a sauce pan where I had toasted about a tablespoon of curry powder for a minute or so. To the curry-brine I added a tablespoon of honey and a little water, only because the vinegar was so strong to begin with. If I had liked the taste, I might have added equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. While I was waiting for that to boil I cleaned and par-boiled the beets and carrots that I intended to pickle. Peppers, cauliflower, onions would all work well in this, although not everything would need to be parboiled. (OK – truth here: I zapped them, covered in warm water, in the microwave for a few minutes just to take away the bite.) Once the veg were al dente I stuffed them back into the pickle jar and covered them with the boiling brine. I let the jar set out until it was room temp, and then I put it into the fridge for storage. I’ll wait a few days to taste these as well.
So: no wasted pickle brine, no wasted veg, and (almost) no cooking.
This is not news: greens are the first, heartiest, most prolific edible that can be grown in the northeast. After the deep winter farm share pick-ups – where a pound of stemmy salad mache was a treat in early February – I learned to expect and accept this green (or greens) challenge. Unsurprisingly we got a bunch of various greens at the first regular farm share pick up of the season last Wednesday and I’ve been pulling out the stops since to use them in new and creative ways. Luckily we’ve found some local greenhouse tomatoes that rival the mid-summer fruits. These have been gracing our salads with goat cheese (I think I can stop identifying my dairy as local any more – it all is!) and shredded carrots. The tomatoes also made a star appearance in a caprese with Fiore mozzarella and basil from my garden.
But the braising greens were another challenge. To make the kale and bok choy more exciting, I modified a recipe I tried last year, using some mustard from Maine and my own spicy pickled cukes and shredded onion. Great as a side dish with dinner, or the next day cold over lettuce.
Saute a clove of spring garlic and a thinly sliced onion or a couple of scallions in oil (olive oil or mustard oil would be extra tasty). Meanwhile wash your greens well – don’t dry them. When the garlic is soft (maybe 2 or 3 minutes) add the damp greens. The heat should be around medium. Add a two or three tablespoons of pickle brine, some chopped pickled vegetables and a fat tablespoon of mustard. Cover the saute pan and let the greens wilt, flipping the contents with tongs a few times. When the greens are almost done to your liking (maybe 5 minutes later), uncover and let some of the steam burn off before serving.