Sweet + Tangy Quick Pickled-Radishes

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Currently, I’m smack in the middle of a sweet and tangy quick-pickle phase and thin slices of vinegary vegetables have been going on everything. Seriously, everything. Falafel, rainbow salad, beet and lentil flatbreads, as a taco topping, in lieu of salad dressing, on quick grain and lentil leftover jumbles, and even at a super fancy restaurant meal last week for my birthday.

 

I began this phase by pickling a batch of onions but have had radishes in the vegetable bin non-stop since March. Radishes are one of the quickest, easiest, and earliest of spring vegetables to grow and their vibrant parade of reds, pinks, and neon purples have had me purchasing a bunch each week when waiting for my own to grow. I had been tossing them into just about everything and threw a few thin slices into the quick-pickle jar one day. If I ever had enough beets around for long enough, I’d quick-pickle them as well and am planning to hop on over to pickling creamy spring turnips next because all the spring root vegetables and a jar of slightly sweetly spiced vinegar is a quick and definite thing!

 

Have I convinced you yet?  If not, come on over and I’ll hand you a jar and fork and change your mind forever. But please, don’t even think about smelling my breath–It’s vinegary!

 

The Recipe Redux challenged us to a DIY recipe this month and I’m especilly excited about these quick-pickles because William has gotten on board and he is was not a pickled-anything fan. They are super easy to make and can liven up almost any sort of dish (I’m making fava burgers next–you better believe these are going all up on them!) If you’ve got a few minutes, some sort of vegetable (of the root variety preferred) and vinegar, you’ve got yourself quick-pickles.

 

Okay, I’ll stop chattering now. But only because I’ve got another batch of these to make.

 

For a whole host of other DIY recipes like pizza/pasta sauce version I or version II, an assortment of flavorful dressings, infused oil, vinegar (!), and a must-try pot of creamy black beans, etc., check out the recipe page–I’ve updated it.

 

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Quick-Pickled Radishes

1 1/2 cups apple cider or rice vinegar

3 Tbs. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1-2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

4 black peppercorns

1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

  • Pour  all the ingredients save the radishes into a medium-size pot and stir to dissolve salt and sugar while bringing to a boil.
  • Once the liquid boils, remove from heat and toss in the radish slices.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a jar and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat. They should last for up to a week, if not used right away.

 

Blackberry Mascarpone Tart–An Ode to Summer’s End

When W and I first began dating, the blackberries were just coming into season.   Now, already two years later, it’s blackberry season again. I know because, as we’ve been running in the park these last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded with the scent of sweet, ripe, bursting berries.  Tempted by the size, color, and the glorious smell, we decided to go picking.  Armed with only a bowl from the kitchen, and taking a quick five-minute walk out the door, we soon found our bowl was full, even as I ate as many as I saved for later!  One lady who drove to the park to go running entertained us as she literally jumped out of her car and dived in the bushes.  Clearly she needed some fuel for her run!

Earlier this summer I made a mascarpone tart with berries from the farmers market.  It was one of those dishes where I realized I had cream that was in desperate need of use, and not knowing what else to do, pulled out my wonderful Forgotten Skills cookbook.  I soon learned how simple it is to make mascarpone!  When I shared the finished product with family and friends on the Fourth of July, I realized I was onto something with this simple tart.  Now, as we enjoy the last few weeks of heat and sun that summer has to offer, this tart will certainly please–especially as we are laden with the freshest berries the season has to offer.  It can also be adapted later for other seasons, as the berries are easily interchangeable with other fruits, and surely will be savored again in the months to come!

Blackberry Mascarpone Tart
Mascarpone cheese recipe
Oatmeal pastry recipe
1/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 Tbs. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 cups fresh blackberries
  • Mix the mascarpone, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. Spread evenly in prepared oatmeal pastry crust.  Cover loosely and chill for several hours and up to a day.
  • Prior to serving, wash berries and arrange on top of filling as desired.
For crust, (from Celebrate the Rain)
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, unsalted and cut into small pieces
About 4 Tbs. ice water
  • Combine oats and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Add the flour and salt and mix evenly.  Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the ice water, one splash at a time, until the mixture just comes together.
  • Remove from food processor, and pat into a flat circle.  Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour or more.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll out pastry into large circle, big enough to fit in bottom of tart pan with removable bottom.
  • Gently press into pan, and form rippled edges.  With a fork, evenly prick the pastry several times.
  • Cover the pastry with parchment paper and fill with either pie weights or dry beans.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.  At this point, remove the beans and parchment paper, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool to room temperature prior to preparing the tart.
For Mascarpone, (from the Forgotten Skills of Cooking)
1 quart heavy cream
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Heat the cream in a clean, stainless-steel saucepan, stirring constantly.
  • Once the temperature reaches 185 degrees F, turn off the heat, and remove from stove.
  • Add the lemon juice, stir for an additional minute, and then let cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, cover tightly, and place saucepan in fridge to chill overnight.  It will thicken as it cools.
  • The next day, place a sieve or small colander, lined with a couple of coffee filter papers, over the saucepan to drain out the whey.
  • Rewrap this entire mixture, and place back in the fridge for an additional 8-12 hours.
  • At this point, the cheese is ready for use, but can also be tightly wrapped and left for several days to be used later.

DIY–Whole Grain Mustard

Sometimes we take for granted. We forget that much of our life has been built around convenience–helping us to speed ever faster forward, but perhaps enjoying neither the direction nor the journey itself.  Take mustard for instance.  Prior to learning to make my own (and being surprised how simple it is!) I’d never even thought about the process.  But the jar of fancy French Dijon or Spicy Brown that I reach for on a frequent basis is really a jar containing few ingredients that can be easily made myself.  It makes me wonder.  What else, in our quest for newer/better/faster have we lost?

At home, over the 4th of July, we had a breakfast with my family and our neighbors, my long-time friend, K’s family.  I made a tart–a recipe I will make here–out of homemade mascarpone cheese.  It was so easy.  My dad and K’s dad discussed how both their generation and ours have lost the knowledge of thrift and resourcefulness.  For instance,  I had an excess of heavy cream sitting around that I didn’t know what to do with.  So I made cheese.  The fancy kind of cream cheese that costs more in the grocery store.  There were two ingredients and it barely took any time.  I think I’m on to something!

So why have we lost the ability to know about these types of things?  It’s simple–or rather, really complicated.  It’s the 21st Century, baby.  We’re moving forward!  So should we all go back to the days where we grind our own mustard seeds (in a pepper mill here), and make our own cheese?  Perhaps not.  Though knowing that we can–or how to be resourceful to prevent waste–may prove useful.  After all, we may only be a generation or two away from our children having no thought as to how or where their food is produced.

Wholegrain Mustard, adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbs. brown mustard seeds
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. salt
  • Pour the white wine vinegar over the yellow mustard seeds and leave to soak for 3-5 days.  You may have to periodically add more vinegar so the seeds are covered.  (The longer this sits, the hotter the mustard will be).
  • When it is finished soaking, use a food processor to roughly grind the yellow seeds.  Then grind the brown seeds into a fine powder using a spice mill, mortar and pestle, or as a last resort, a pepper mill.  Mix the two mustards together with the remaining white wine vinegar, honey, and salt.
  • Alternatively, if you have a magic bullet or the like, skip the spice mill step, and throw the yellow seed mixture and the remaining ingredients into the blender with the flat blade, and after a few seconds, your mustard is done!
  • Fill into small glass jars.  Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

A recipe to use the mustard with (a lovely, summer salad) coming soon!