Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PICKLED RADISHES



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I had toyed with the idea of pickling radishes for a while, but when Paul and I had dinner one evening at The Community Table in Washington, Connecticut, I knew they were going on my “to pickle list.”

Community Table’s Executive Chef Joel Viehland has an extensive background having worked with numerous well-respected chefs throughout his career, including Chef Katy Sparks at Gramercy Tavern, Chez es Saada (now closed) and Quilty’s in Soho (also shuttered); with Chef Susan Spicer and Chef Donald Link at Herbsaint in New Orleans, and later spent two years at Noma, at that time a small two-star Michelin restaurant. While he was there, San Pellegrino’s Top 50 Restaurants in the World ranked the restaurant third in the world, and I believe Noma is currently ranked Number One.

Community Table’s approach to cuisine “is rooted in timeless cooking techniques and methods of preserving foods. Cooking seasonally and only with food gathered from the surrounding environment,” and like myself they believe that our triangle of Litchfield County, Connecticut; Dutchess County, New York; and Berkshire County, Massachusetts are home to some of the most amazing farms in the United States. Because the restaurant serves only seasonal and locally grown and procured food including foraged foods, their menu changes daily. To find out more about this amazing restaurant click here.

The salad I enjoyed the evening we had dinner this past spring was laced with quarters of a delicately sweet pickled spring radish. Returning home I searched through my pickling and preserving library and came up with a recipe I hope would make Joel proud. It certainly made my taste buds happy and I hope it does the same for yours.

The radishes will loose some of their color turning pinkish throughout.  You can do these as "refrigerator pickles" or run them through a hot water bath and keep them on the shelf for a longer period.  Of course, the longer you keep them in the pantry the less crispness they will have, but they will still be delicious.

I have been using more honey and less sugar over the years, but because I wanted a more intense " sweet and sour" flavor I went with raw sugar in this recipe.



PICKLED RADISHES


INGREDIENTS

3/4  cup Rice Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Raw Sugar

2 Teaspoons finely chopped Ginger

1Teaspoon Black Peppercorns

1 Teaspoon finely chopped Dill Weed (optional)

2 bunches Radish


DIRECTIONS

Wash and trim radishes; if they are smaller leave whole or cut in half.

Combine Rice Vinegar, Raw Sugar, Ginger, Peppercorns and Dill in non-reactionary saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and flavors are incorporated. Remove from heat.

If you want to refrigerate, toss radishes with dressing, pack in containers, and place in refrigerator.  Wait several days for radishes to marinade. Serve in salad or as a side dish.

If preparing for pantry, pack radishes into sterilized jars (about  2-3 pints), ladle liquid evenly between jars leaving about 1/4 inch of head space, process pint jars  in a Hot Water Bath for 10 minutes.

If you do not have enough pickling liquid simply add more vinegar to jars  Will last on shelf for up to a year.  

Refrigerate after opening.




Hot Water Bath or Pressure Canning

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BLACK CHERRY COMPOTE




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Cherries have a very short growing season, with June being the peak season in North America. Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the U.S. come from four states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.


Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Chieri Kubota, PhD, Department of Plant Sciences, at the University of Arizona wrote an article on the health benefits of cherries for the National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation.

They tell us that “Sweet cherries have several cancer-preventive components including fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids and anthocyanins.” Anthocyanins are the red pigment in berries. Fruits that are rich in anthocyanins include: blueberry, cranberry, bilberry, black raspberry, red raspberry, blackberry, black currant, Concord grape and cherries.


The article also states that cherries “are considered a good source of dietary potassium, with approximately 260 mg potassium for every cup of fresh cherries consumed (USDA MyPyramid nutrient data analysis program).” I guess bananas aren't the world's only perfect fruit.

OK, enough biology for the day, what is important is that such a delicious snack is actually good for you too. While I like to snack on whole, fresh cherries I also like to preserve them as a compote.

Compote is a dessert originating from 17th century France made of whole or pieces of fruit preserved in syrup. The fruit is gently cooked in water or spirits with sugar and spices. The compote is then served either warm or chilled arranged in a large fruit bowl or single-serve bowl compote dishes.




The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard is one of my favorite reference books when it comes to canning and preserving.  Their recipe for Cherry Compote calls for sugar, corn starch and a splash of kirsh. I skipped the corn starch and kirsh and went with red wine and honey, which leaves my version a little tarter and runnier, but I like it that way.  It is still delicious over pound cake, ice cream, or even cooked down for serving with duck or goose.


I used black cherries in this batch but any sweet or sour cherry will do, and of course a cherry pitter makes the whole process go more quickly. Lemon juice adds a bit of acidity, as well as flavor, and allows for finishing in a hot water bath. As always use clean sterile jars, and for this recipe make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace before processing.




BLACK CHERRY COMPOTE


INGREDIENTS


Cup + 2 Tablespoons Dry Red Wine

1/4 Cup Honey (more or less to taste)

2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

4 Cups fresh pitted Cherries cut in half




DIRECTIONS

Place Wine, Honey and Lemon Juice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to allow ingredients to blend. Gently boil for several minutes allowing juice to reduce slightly.  Boil for another fifteen minutes stirring occasionally.

At this point, if you decide you'd like your syrup a bit thicker, stir together 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon of water; stir into syrup. Gently boil for another minute while syrup thickens. Remove from heat.

Remove hot, sterile jars from dishwasher or canner. Pack cherries into jars ( I usually end up with about two pints).  Pour syrup over cherries.  

Process 25 minutes for 1/2 pint jars or 40 minutes for pint jars. Store in pantry for up to one year.  Refrigerate after opening.


Hot Water Bath or Pressure Canning

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SNEAK PEEK OF UPCOMING EVENTS...

The summer is flying by and I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post anything for about a month. It certainly doesn't look like my schedule is going to slow down anytime soon.  In the meanwhile, here are some photos of what's been happening in the kitchen.


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Hand Chopper I inherited from my grandmother and my favorite wooden bowl.






Preparing for Pickled Radishes
 
Fresh Garlic Scapes

Lovely Eggplants for Preserving in Oil.

Cardamom, Star Anise and Cinnamon for the Jams and Jellies.

My new Chinois Set and Stone Crock for Jellies and Pickles.


Black Cherries for Black Cherry Compote.


Coming Soon - more recipes and photos.