Monthly Archives: November 2009

In a Pickle

It’s nice to have a partner in the kitchen. Howard is a great helper, but, more important, he does a great job on his own when he’s the chef. He makes our breakfast every morning. It’s something simple during the week, usually just toast and fruit. On weekends, it’s more elaborate: eggs in many styles, pancakes, waffles.

As a trained scientist, Howard comes up with his own kitchen experiments. Some time, I’ll tell you about his sous vide setup (assembled from parts purchased on eBay). This week, he worked on perfecting Chinese pickles. These were inspired by a garnish on the entrees at Baumgart’s, a place we ate with Howard’s family in New Jersey. The garnish was pickled broccoli stems. They were tasty. Howard made similar pickles with the stems from our CSA broccoli plus carrots and daikon (also from the CSA share).

Here’s the formula:

Howard’s Sweet and Sour Chinese Pickles
Makes about 1 quart

3 to 4 cups crispy vegetables (such as broccoli stems, carrots, daikon, radishes, salad turnips), cut into penny-sized slices
2 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1½ Tbsp shredded fresh ginger

Prepare the vegetables. For broccoli stems and daikon, peel, quarter lengthwise, then slice thinly. Carrots can be treated the same, but don’t need to be quartered. Radishes can just be sliced. Turnips probably need to be quartered, depending on the width.

Place the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for 2 hours. Rinse off the salt and drain.

To make the brine, combine vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add ginger.

Put the vegetables in a clear jar big enough to hold them. Pour the brine over the vegetables to cover. Store in the refrigerator. Wait overnight or longer before eating them.

Still Life with Escarole

Autumnal DinnerWe had a quiet weekend.  I was still on the mend from my bout with flu/cold, so we laid low.  Bella was excellent company during my days home sick from work.  She was happy to hang out and sleep at my feet while I napped.

Over the weekend, we brought Bella to meet more dogs.  She took a trip to Willard Woods for her first foray on a long rope, went shopping at PetCo, and went to meet her “cousins” Ranger and Skyler at Lauren’s house.  She’s getting more practice at being social.

Sunday, we picked up our Thanksgiving turkey from Farmer Kim.  We listened to her 5-minute Turkey College lecture.  Then, we took possession of a 28-pound bird that was still gobbling on Friday.  I am really excited to taste a fresh bird that has never been even flash-frozen. More on that after Thursday.

We had a tasty autumnal dinner on Sunday:  roasted chicken thighs, sweet potatoes wrapped in prosciutto, and sautéed escarole.  (By the way, I just love the word autumnal!) This week’s Minimalist video on TiVo showed the sweet potatoes.  You can also see the video on the New York Times site.  Click here.  They were as good as they looked on the video.  I also recommend the entire list of The Minimalist’s 101 Head Starts on the Day (Thanksgiving Day). (The sweet potatoes are #48.)

Even better than the sweet potatoes was the escarole.  The escarole was packed with flavors, including several different kinds of salty.  I’ll have to try these ingredients with other kinds of greens too.

Sauteed Escarole with Pine Nuts, Garlic, Capers, and Anchovies
Adapted from “Vegetables” by James Peterson
(Serves 2-3)

1 large head of escarole (8 – 10 ounces)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp sherry vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

To prepare the escarole: Separate the leaves.  Cut each leaf in half, down the center of the rib.  Cut leaves across into 1-inch strips.  Wash well, and dry.  I used the salad spinner.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium.  Stir in pine nuts, and cook until they start to brown (it won’t take very long). Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add the escarole, and turn the heat up to high.  Stir until the escarole wilts and softens, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the capers, anchovy paste, and vinegar.  Saute for another minute, then season with salt and pepper to taste.