Smoky burgers fresh off the grill. Savory BLTs with tomatoes fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun. Club sandwiches with crisp lettuce, salty bacon and creamy avocado. All of these things are mouthwatering all on their own. But to my mind, each of them needs a foil, a companion condiment to bring out their best: a pickle.
Continue Reading Quick Pickles Pick Up Your Summer Sandwiches
I’m absolutely crazy for stone fruit. From the moment the first cherries come in, I quiver in anticipation of what’s to follow: sweet-tart plums and pluots, gushingly juicy peaches. I most look forward to the apricots, seductive and demure.
I could eat a bushel of them right out of hand, but apricot jam is my favorite, bar none, so every year I hunker down and make a bunch. Apricots don’t need much; their flavor blooms as you cook them down, but they also take nicely to a little spice. A few peppercorns, some cardamom, perhaps half a stick of cinnamon all bundled into a cheesecloth sachet will leave a subtle undertone to your jam. But if you want to create something special, crack open a few of the apricot pits and toss the kernels into the sachet.
Continue Reading Going Ape for Apricot Preserves
I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for those Day-Glow red maraschino cherries that lurk in the murky depths of the classic Manhattan. They’re nostalgic, and always good for a bar bet if you can tie the stems with your tongue. But let’s face it: They don’t really taste much like cherries. Or, for that matter, anything but sugar. And red.
In the interest of having a cherry that tastes like a cherry, consider making your own maraschinos. It really couldn’t be easier, other than the grueling effort of pitting the stubborn little buggers. (This can be greatly expedited by employing eager, young hands and one of these swank tabletop cherry pitters.) Or not: You can leave the pits in some or all; they lend a pleasing, almond-like flavor to the final product. That flavor happens to come from – ahem – cyanide, but it’s in quantities small enough to be merely delicious, not deadly.
Continue Reading Cherry Condition
They turn your head. Maybe it’s the flash of lurid red in the corner of your eye as you walk by the booth at the farmer’s market. More likely it’s the intense, candy-like perfume that fills your sinuses. Maybe you weren’t conscious of the triggers, but you suddenly find yourself salivating. Strawberries have a siren song.
So irresistible are they that, I confess, I have found myself mystified upon return home on how, exactly, I managed to purchase two groaningly heavy flats of the beauties. Mmm hmm, like you haven’t.
The problem is that the glorious music that is a perfectly ripe strawberry is fleeting. From the minute you pick them, the berries begin to wither and decay. If you want to capture it, you’d better work fast.
Continue Reading Your (Not-So) Basic Strawberry Jam Recipe
Zucchini Preserved in Oil with Hot Peppers, Garlic, and Mint
I recently had the pleasure of lunching at the Oakland home of Rosetta Costantino. Rosetta’s been teaching how to cook the foods of her native Calabria for years, and her extensive knowledge of this much overlooked regional cuisine is now lovingly and gorgeously documented in a new book.
Continue Reading Zucchine Sott’Olio
Fig jam with fennel pollen, yogurt cheese, pickled figs.
Abundance is the mother of preservation. My friend Amy found herself in possession of a very large quantity of figs, more than any rational human could possibly manage to consume, so I happily took a few flats off her hands. Fig jam, after all, is my absolute favorite.
Continue Reading Fig Jam with Fennel Pollen
A little effort today means fresh tomatoes for months to come.
The end of summer means that once again my husband and I, along with a couple of friends, are undertaking a major tomato canning extravaganza. We work together to stock all of our shelves with jars of tomato-y goodness for the year to come, methodically processing the fresh tomatoes from firm, whole fruit to bubbling red jars of liquid summer.
Continue Reading Canning Tomatoes: Many (Dirty) Hands Make Light Work