Monthly Archives: July 2010

bread & butter pickles


Confession time: I don’t like cucumbers.

Okay, not a very thrilling confession, but I’m disappointed by my palate on this one. I *want* to want a zingy cucumber salad or enjoy a refreshing cucumber-based cocktail. But the only way I like cucumbers is pickled. And dill pickles are fine, sure, but I tend to crave spicy, zangy bread and butter pickles.

Thus, I could hardly contain my joy when Deb posted an easy refrigerator b&b pickles recipe. First, I love almost anything that comes out of the kitchen that is smitten. Secondly… really, I just pretty much love anything I’ve made from SK (with the exception of the raspberry gratin, but even that was delicious once chilled and scooped over oatmeal). Really, she doesn’t mess around.

I found the perfect little knobbly cukes at the end of July and made a batch right away, but waited a few weeks to post. I wanted to see how these little guys did over time, and, of course, they’ve only improved. Fridge pickles seems so… summery to me!

Bread & Butter Pickles

1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Diamond Kosher salt [Updated: Why Diamond? Read this first.<– link to] or ~1/8 c. Morton kosher salt
3/4 cups sugar (see note above)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for at least two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil.

Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

Note: These are wonderful as-is, but next time I’m going to cut down on the onion and add a chile or two to add a little kick. Try it!

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Summer, Vegetables

Double cookie dough ice cream

Sounds too good to be true, huh?

I love cookie dough icecream, but the thing that bugs me is that it isn’t cookie dough-y enough. The vanilla base is often blah. And I am not the only person who thinks this! Lucky for us, Annie at Annie’s Eats put a cookie dough icecream and bits of cookie dough together to form … bliss. A strong force the likes of which has not been seen in my freezer before. Captain Planet?!

I was not so impressed with David Lebovitz’s cookie dough recipe. I KNOW, RIGHT?? How could I not love it?!? Call me heathen. But alas… I think it can be improved. Which gives me all the more reason to make this again, soon. :)

Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

For the cookie dough: (alternately, use pre-made cookie dough from the store or your favorite recipe)
5 T. salted butter, melted (or unsalted butter plus ¼ tsp. salt)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2/3 c. mini chocolate chips

For the ice cream:
3 T. unsalted butter
2 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch of coarse salt
2 t. vanilla extract
1½ c. whole milk (can use 1-1/3 c. skim milk and fill to 1-1/2 c. mark with cream)
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips

To make the cookie dough, stir together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Mix in the flour and vanilla; make sure the dough is room temperature, and then add chocolate chips.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until firm. (It will seem too buttery, but is better once it’s been refrigerated.)

To make the ice cream, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Continue heating, stirring often, until the butter is a deep golden brown color, being careful not to burn it.  Whisk in the heavy cream and heat until simmering.  Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and the egg yolks until pale and fluffy.  Once the cream mixture is warm, add a small amount of it to the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream.  Mix in the salt.  Return the egg-cream mixture to the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and heat until just slightly thickened and the temperature reads 170-175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.  Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract and the whole milk.  Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Once the mixture is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Chop the disk of cookie dough into small chunks.  With about one minute left in the maker, throw in the chocolate chips and the chunks of cookie dough just to mix in.  Store in the freezer in an airtight container until firm.

Source: cookie dough from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, ice cream adapted from Joy the Baker

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Filed under Desserts, Summer

Wordless Wednesday, one day late

lily and hydrangeas

Not food, but completely gorge… as in “gorgeous”… and grown outside my front door with very little assistance from me. I heart nature.

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Filed under Just a Thought

introducing the newest family member

Meet Oscar! He’s a spunky, scrawny little orange and white tabby.

So shy! His mom was abandoned at the shelter about 3 weeks before he was born. He’s only 2 months old right now, but very social. (And cute.)

… but he’ll hardly stay still long enough for me to take a picture!


Filed under Just a Thought

Kohlrabi and apple salad

I’m still on the quest to try new foods, and since beets were such a big hit with my tastebuds, I figured that little alien bulbs with leafy greens kohlrabi would be a good next step.

small aliens with wavy green hair

The word kohlrabi supposedly means cabbage-turnip in German (I think I read that on the interest somewhere). It’s got a pleasant crisp and zing, and reminds me of broccoli. These little suckers looked pretty daunting, so I turned to the trusty Googles to help me clean them up but found no definitive guide. I found it easiest to cut off the “tenticles” near the bulb, and then cut off the tough bottom part where green meets white.

kohlrabis, in various stages of undress.

I then proceeded to peel the thick, bitter skin [which can be green or purple (!)] until I had a fragrant, white little bulb smiling up at me. I julienned all 3 of them, along with an apple, and thoughtfully munched on alternating matchsticks of  kohlrabi and apple, tangy and earthy and then sweet and crisp.

I googled again and found this recipe. My julienned pieces found their fate!  Then I ate half the bowl in one setting.

Verdict: Yummy, crispy, fresh, slightly bitter, and certainly unique.  Honestly, I think I prefer a very similar broccoli salad. Though I wonder if half-broccoli, half-kohlrabi in a big batch of this salad might be the perfect side for spicy smoked pork butt when my parents visit next month?

Kohlrabi Salad
adapted from Dianasaur Dishes

3 medium kohlrabis
1 large apple (I used Gala or Fuju, I think)
4 slices bacon, cooked
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 t. vinegar
2 T. honey

Clean and julienne the kohlrabis and apple. Crumble the bacon; admire the cute little peas. Toss these together in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, add the cream and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk together, then whisk in the honey. Pour over the other ingredients and toss lightly. Add a little ground black pepper to taste (optional).


Filed under 30 min. or less, Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables

Chicken P-P-P-P Pockets

No, I don’t have a stutter and have no desire to make fun of anyone who does- but titling this post “Chicken pesto provolone puff pastry pockets” seemed ridonk.

I made the pesto with walnuts and with basil fresh from the garden. If I was really impressive, I’d tell you all about butchering the chicken and rolling out the from-scratch puff pastry… but the poultry is from the farmer’s market, and the pastry is from a box in the freezer section.

Not a real “home-made meal,” I know. I felt like I was cheating, like I was pulling a little Sandra Lee, while I put these together. (The only difference is I wasn’t drinking a pitcher of vodka- ba-dum CHING!)

Getting the puff pastry out to thaw – which takes 40-45 minutes- does require a bit of planning, which makes this a later-weeknight meal or one for the weekends.  If you have the time and patience, you could even make your own. OR, you can rush the pastry and rip it apart while trying to unfold it, then have to patch it together with water and flour (-and of course, all I had was wheat so not only did it have seams, it had patches). I recommend pouring a glass of wine and practicing patience.

But even though I used boxed pastry and a few other grocery staples, the meal was filling and tasty, something of comfort with a hint of summer in it. And eventually, I WILL make puff pastry, danggit.

Just not this week.

Chicken 4P Pockets

I like to serve  with a light pasta-veggie salad in the summer, or pasta and marinara for a heartier option.

1 sheet puff pastry dough
2 large halved or 4 small chicken breasts
3 T. oil, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 t. each oregano and thyme
1 c. pesto
4 oz. provolone cheese
~1/4 c. grated parmesan

Thaw puff pastry according to direction. While thawing, heat 1 T. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the chicken breasts with the remaining oil and then season with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Brown chicken in skillet, about 3 minutes on each side, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover for 10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Heat oven to 400. On a lightly floured surface, carefully unfold pastry sheet. Roll out lightly to flatten seams and even out edges. Facing the sheet with the long edge of the pastry going left to right (not up and down), cut the sheet down the middle to create two rectangles (don’t worry about separating/moving the sheet). Then in one of the upper corners of one rectangle, make a diagonal cut across the rectangle to the opposite corner. Repeat with the other rectangle. You will end up with 4 long triangle shaped sections of pastry. (See the picture above if you have any confusion, and ignore my misshapen mess of pastry!)

Divide the pesto among the 4 triangles and spread, staying away from the edges a bit. Grate a bit of parmesan on top of the pesto. On the fat part of each triangle, lay down a 1 oz. slice of provolone, and top it with a piece of chicken. Carefully wrap the pastry around the chicken and cheese, careful to press down and seal the edges a bit. Space on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and chicken juices run clear when cut.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Chicken, Main dishes

The joys of homeownership…

I had a few posts and recipes brainstormed and ready to go/try last week, but then the joys of homeownership showed up- in my basement- to haunt me. I walked downstairs late evening one night last week, and stepped into 1-1/2 inches of water. Lovely.  After the initial bailing and cleaning, the water kept coming in… and it was evident that leaving the house or sleeping for more than an hour at a time was not an option. It was soon discovered that the our main water line was leaking, and the only immediate option was to turn off the water to the house.  Doh.

And then I drove 10 hours west to see my wonderful father- and sister-in-law, and to feed the National Guard unit that N belongs to. Great to see so many friends and we had a lovely time.

But… I still have no water. Which means no showering, watering the garden, washing said garden produce, or doing dishes. And the plumber’s initial estimate is Saturday at the earliest, with next Monday the more likely option.

Until then, it’s things that I can eat straight out of the fridge or warm up and eat. No boiling, mixing, baking, frying, or broiling anytime soon.   So I’ll see you… when I see you.

For now, here is a lovely strawberry that was waiting for me when I returned from my whirlwind roadtrip:

Sometimes the smallest things can be huge sources of cheering-up.

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Filed under house