Refrigerator Bread-and-butter Pickles {Recipe}

Behold the pickle jar!!

This jar has been through numerous incarnations in my kitchen. It was the vessel for my failed attempt at homemade sauerkraut and my way-too-successful forray into the world of Kombucha. But now it has finally found its true calling. It is the pickle jar.

Whenever I make homemade refrigerator pickles — something that is happening with increasing frequency around here lately — they begin their pickled lives in “the jar”. After a few days, when we’ve eaten a good portion of them, I’ll move the pickles into increasingly smaller containers until, alas!, they are gone, and it’s time to get out the pickle jar again.

My most recent batch was bread-and-butter pickles, which are what a pickle should be, in my opinion. I might play with the recipe a bit with future batches — mainly trying different vinegars — but they are pretty close to perfect the way they are. Give them a try and see if you agree.

Refrigerator Bread-and-butter Pickles

Ingredients

  •  Pickling cucumbers to fill a gallon jar
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved, and sliced
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

Directions

  1. Wash cucumbers. Cut off and discard ends. Cut  pickles into desired size and shape. For these pickles, I prefer 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Layer cucumbers and onions in gallon jar. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough to fill it all the way.
  3. Combine sugar, salt, and vinegars in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve and mixture clarifies somewhat.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in spices.
  5. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers and onions to cover. Push cucumbers down into liquid as much as possible
  6. Cover and refrigerate.

The pickles will be ready to eat in about 24 hours (although we always start into them sooner than that) and will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely. In our house they’re always gone within a few weeks, and the last ones are as good as the first.

As I said, I might tinker with the recipe by trying different vinegars. For the next batch, I think I’m going to substitute rice wine vinegar for some or all of the apple cider vinegar. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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Citrus-berry Terrine {FFwD}

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is very, very French. No, it’s not laden with butter and wine. Nor is it some ultra-fancy dish you’d expect to find in a 5-star restaurant. No, what makes this dish French is gelatin. You see, unlike Americans who grew up eating Cool Whip and fruit mixed with Jell-O and who now can’t stand the sight of anything called “Fluff”, French home cooks see unflavored gelatin as any other cupboard staple. They use it to hold together meringues or thicken mousse. And in the Summertime, they mix it with fruit juice to make refreshing, light fruit desserts, like this one.

This is one of those recipes that is meant more as a jumping off point than a set of strict instructions. With the basic gist of the recipe — citrus juice thickened with gelatin surrounding fresh berries — you could make any number of tweaks, based on your mood, what’s in season, or, as in my case, what you have in the refrigerator.

The recipe starts with instructions to make supremes of orange slices and set them aside to dry a bit, which I did.

OK, you caught me. My supremes look a little too perfect, don’t they? In my first slight departure from the recipe as printed, I drained a can of mandarin oranges, rinsed off the syrup, and dried them on paper towels. I couldn’t see taking the time to make supremes when I had pre-supremed oranges in the cupboard. I didn’t have any grapefruit, canned or otherwise, so I left those out of the recipe.

The next step was to soften two packets of unflavored gelatin in water. I had recently been to the bulk food store, and I bought powdered gelatin there, so that’s what I used. There was a sign on the bin indicating that one tablespoon of bulk gelatin equalled one packet of gelatin. I would come to find out that this was not the correct proportion (it should have been 2 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin), but more on that later.

While the gelatin softened, I mixed two cups of orange juice with a small amount of sugar and brought them to a boil. In the time it took the sugar and juice to boil, the gelatin coagulated — my first clue that something was amiss with my proportions. Rather than mix the juice into the gelatin in the bowl, I ended up scraping the gelatin into the saucepan and heating it until it softened up.

The recipe says to put the juice mixture in the fridge for about two hours, stirring occasionally, until it firms up a bit and has the consistency of egg whites. I forgot to stir the juice  mixture, and after about 1 1/2 hours, it was completely firm, like set Jell-O. This was when I knew the measurement for the gelatin must have been off. Undeterred, I took the mixture out of the refrigerator and beat it with a whisk until it broke up as much as it was going to; then I mixed in the fruit.

At this point, I knew things had gone way off track, and I had no idea if the mixture would reset and hold together or if I would be eating it out of the pan with a spoon. But it tasted fine, so I decided to chance it. I spread the mixture in a loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap (which I used to press it into the pan as tightly as I could), and put it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I took the pan out of the refrigerator, anxious to see what sort of disaster I had created. I unmolded the terrine onto a platter, and to my surprise, it held together.

Granted, it didn’t look as pretty as the one Nancy made a while ago, but I was impressed that it came out as nice as it did. (Oh, and by the way, the Vintage 10 1/4 x 3 5/8-inch pan she talks about in her post is the same size pan I used for my terrine. Nancy found a bunch of these pans at a sale and was kind enough to send me one.)

So, how was it? Was I able to overcome my potluck fluff nightmares and actually enjoy this gelée? In a delicious word, yes.

The terrine was light, cool, and fruity, perfect for the sweltering Summer weather we’ve been experiencing. And frankly, good enough to make anytime of the year with whatever fruits are available.

This is definitely a recipe that surprised me. I thought it would be OK, but really expected nothing more than a Jell-O salad. It was so much better than that, but every bit as easy to make. This is a recipe I am certain to make again and again, with different juices and fruits. And unflavored gelatin will take the place of the sugary, artificially colored and flavored boxes of Jell-O in my cupboard.

Raspberry Almond Tartlets {ModBak}

Talk about saving the best for last. This is the final recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, and what a way to finish! I would have to put this recipe in the top 3 for this section, right up there with the Pumpkin Pecan and Bourbon-scented Pecan Tarts.

I put this one off until the end, not just because it’s near the end of the section (I tend to make the recipes roughly in order), but also because tartlets always seem a bit fussy to me. I tend to favor full-size tarts and pies, as their miniature counterparts tend to be tedious to assemble. I needn’t have worried with this recipe, however, as it came together really quickly.

Having made the crust the day before to use for lemon lime tartlets, all I had to do was roll it out, cut it, and fit it into the mini muffin pans.

I had planned to make a half recipe of the lemon lime and raspberry almond tartlets, so I divided a single batch of sweet tart dough and set aside half for each recipe. There was a small chunk of dough leftover when I made the lemon lime tartlets, and I had stuck that in the fridge after I made the crusts for those the day before. As I rolled out the dough for the raspberry tartlets, I realized there was enough dough to make more than just 12 tartlets. To my surprise, between the leftovers from the day before and the raspberry tartlet dough, I was able to make 24 tartlet shells.

While the dough chilled in the fridge, I put together the filling, which consisted of almond paste, sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter, and flour, all whirred together in the food processor. Then I gathered my ingredients to assemble the tartlets.

I began by putting a dab of seedless raspberry preserves in each shell, then topping that with either one large raspberry or two small blackberries.

Then I spooned in the filling to cover the berries. Nick says to spread the filling evenly with an offset spatula, but mine seemed to even itself out nicely. I sprinkled the top of each tartlet with sliced almonds, and they were ready to bake.

I baked the tartlets at 350°F for 20 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling was puffy and set.

Allowing the tartlets to cool was no easy task, but I left them alone for about 25 minutes, until the pan was cool enough to handle, then I removed each tartlet to a rack to finish cooling. Well, all except for those destined for the dessert plate.

In case you’re wondering, that wasn’t all for me. My wife and I split the tartlets on the plate. But I did sneak another one every time I walked past the table. And I found lots of excuses to pass through the dining room.

I really enjoyed these tartlets. The almond paste gave the filling a wonderfully rich and warm flavor, while the berries provided a juicy, tart contrast. I liked the blackberry ones the best, although I wouldn’t say no to either of them. Which is why I eventually had to wrap them and put them away.

So that’s it for the sweet tarts and pies. On to Puff Pastries. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Sour Cream Apple Pie {ModBak}

This recipe, the last of three apple pie recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, is the only one that really seems like pie. The other two — Breton apple pie and Maida’s Big Apple Pie — are more of a cake and tart, respectively. Each one is delicious in its own right, but none, including this one, reminds me of a classic apple pie. When I think of apple pie, I picture a double-crusted pie (although I don’t have anything against crumb topping, either) with a filling made of apples, sugar, cinnamon, butter, maybe a splash of lemon juice, and not much else.

The twist in this recipe is the addition of sour cream, which makes a custard-style pie. To make the pie, I began by cooking down some apples in butter and sugar. While the apples were cooking, I whisked together flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Then I made the crumb topping, which consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and butter. Finally, I rolled out and panned a single crust sweet pie dough.

Once the apples had cooled, I combined them with the sour cream custard mixture.

As soon as I put the filling into the pie, I knew I had a bit too much. Fortunately, I had placed the pie pan on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan, so it caught the overflow.

After topping the pie with the crumbs, I baked it at 350°F for about 55 minutes, until the filling was set and the topping nicely browned.

I cooled the pie (more or less), then sliced and served it for a late-evening snack.

The recipe says that the pie needs no accompaniment, and it was certainly good on its own.

Don’t tell Nick, but it was also awesome with ice cream and whipped cream!

Maida’s Big Apple Pie {ModBak}

This is the second of three apple pie recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker. The first one, Breton apple pie, is based on a French cake recipe and actually reminded me more of cake than pie. The third recipe, sour cream apple pie, is a classic crumb-topped apple pie, albeit with a sour cream twist.

This recipe to me is less like a pie than an apple tart. In fact, it is very similar to the rustic apple tart I made last Fall using a mix from Fowler’s Mill.

As large and impressive as this tart is, it’s really simple to assemble. Other than the sweet dough, there are only five ingredients: apples, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

I began by cooking the apples — a mixture of Granny Smith and golden delicious — in butter with the sugars and cinnamon.

As the mixture cooked, the softer golden delicious apples began to break down, while the firmer Granny Smith ones held together. This would provide contrasts of both texture and flavor to the tart.

While the apple mixture cooked, I rolled out the dough. The recipe calls for a double recipe of sweet tart dough, rolled out to a 16-inch circle, which is then draped over a large pizza pan.

Once the apples had cooled, I spread them over the filling, then folded in the edges, leaving the center open

I brushed the edges of the tart with egg wash, and sprinkled with finishing sugar. I baked the tart at 375°F for about 40 minutes, until the crust was golden and the filling bubbly.

I let the tart cool, then cut and served it for dessert. It was sweet, spicy, flavorful, and the mix of apples gave it a subtle complexity. The tart was delicious on its own. But of course, a little ice cream wasn’t amiss, either.

I thought about cutting this recipe in half, as I knew it would be absolutely huge. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t, since part of what made this tart so impressive was its sheer size.

And regardless of how big it was, none of it went to waste.

Pimm’s No. 1 Ice Cream Cup — Sundae Sunday {Recipe}

When Di announced that she was going to host a virtual ice cream social, I knew I would contribute this post. The only trouble was, I hadn’t written it yet. And I was planning to write four posts leading up to this one, none of which I had written, either. Nothing like a little motivation to get things done!

So here’s my Sundae Sunday contribution. Thanks to Di for hosting!

A few weeks ago, I decided to try coming up with a few curd recipes — first lemon, then lime. I wanted the citrus curds to use in ice cream — again developing my own recipes for lemon and lime ice creams. 

And all of this was done with one ultimate goal in mind: to make a Pimm’s ice cream recipe. I recently discovered Pimm’s No. 1, thanks in large part to Steve Buscemi and Boardwalk Empire. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the classics.

Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liquor made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices, and spices. The formula is a well-kept secret. It is reported that only six people in the world know how it’s made. The taste is hard to describe. It’s light, fruity, a little spicy, with a hint of cucumber (yes, cucumber). You definitely don’t have to be a gin drinker to enjoy Pimm’s.

The classic Pimm’s drink, the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, is commonly associated with Wimbledon. As with most classic (i.e., old) cocktail recipes, there are dozens of ways to make a Pimm’s cup. The “official” recipe, from the Pimm’s website, is 1 part Pimm’s No. 1 and 3 parts chilled lemonade, stirred together over ice, and garnished with one or more of mint, cucumber, orange, and strawberry. However, because British lemonade is carbonated and lemonade in the States is not, many recipes call for a 1:2:1 ratio of Pimm’s, lemonade, and lemon-lime soda or seltzer.

As I was enjoying the occasional Pimm’s cup during the recent heatwave,  I realized that the classic Pimm’s  No. 1 Cup would be the perfect platform on which to build a lemon-lime ice cream recipe.

I gathered the ingredients, including homemade lemon curd, lime curd, and Pimm’s syrup, and I was ready to go.

I brought milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, I whisked egg yolks and sugar for about 1 minute, until the went from this…

…to this…

I tempered the eggs with the milk, then cooked the custard until it thickened to the consistency of pudding.

I stirred in the remaining ingredients, chilled the custard base overnight, then froze it in my Kitchen Aid freezer bowl.

I served the ice cream with a little drizzle of Pimm’s syrup. It was exactly as I had envisioned it. The lemon and lime flavors predominated, with the Pimm’s adding a subtle spiciness. It was sweet, but not overly so, and perfectly satisfying as a summery dessert. Even my mom, who never touches alcohol, really enjoyed it.

Pimm’s No. 1 Ice Cream Cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • 1/4 cup lime curd
  • zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, combined
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime, combined
  • 1/2 cup Pimm’s syrup (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and light lemon colored, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour the milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks.
  3. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in lemon curd, lime curd, lemon and lime zest, cream, lemon and lime juice, and Pimm’s syrup, in order, mixing well between each addition.
  5. For best results, refrigerate overnight before churning in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Pimm’s Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Pimm’s No. 1

Directions

  1. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar.
  2. Add Pimm’s No. 1, stir, and return to boil.
  3. Boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup in volume.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The syrup is great on ice cream. It will keep for several weeks in the fridge, and a little goes a long way.

Lime Curd Ice Cream {Recipe}

I adapted this recipe from my lemon curd ice cream recipe. The bright flavor of the lime and green flecks of zest make this delicious, refreshing ice cream a simple, yet company-worthy treat.

Lime Curd Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime curd
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • juice of 2 limes

Directions

  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and light lemon colored, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour the milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks.
  3. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in lime curd, lime zest, cream, and lime juice, in order, mixing well between each addition.
  5. For best results, refrigerate overnight before churning in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Coconut Lemongrass Braised Chicken {FFwD}

I hadn’t originally planned to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, coconut lemongrass braised pork, for the simple reason that I don’t eat pork. The rest of my family eats it, so I thought about making it for them. But the thought of cooking two meals in the summer heat  made me change my mind about that. Nonetheless, I decided to take a quick look at the recipe to see if it seemed like something I might make for the girls another time. That’s when I read in the headnote that Dorie sometimes makes this recipe with chicken instead of pork.

So, I was back in business.

The only ingredients I didn’t already have in the pantry for this recipe were lemongrass and coconut milk, so after a quick trip to the store, I was set to begin.

I began by browning the chicken in a large skillet. I had a whole fryer in the fridge, so I cut it up and used it in this recipe. The next time I make it, I’d like to try it with cubed pieces of boneless breast or thighs, or a combination of the two.

As the pieces browned, I transferred them to an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Once all the chicken was in the Dutch oven, I added the spices — turmeric, curry powder, cardamom seeds, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, lemon zest, lemongrass, salt, and pepper — and cooked until the spices became very fragrant.

I added the coconut milk, water, and, in a departure from the recipe, potatoes, carrots, and onions.

After bringing the pot to a boil, I covered it, then slid it in the oven. I braised the chicken at 300°F for about 50 minutes, until the chicken was done and the vegetables were tender.

I started cooking late the evening I made this, and we ended up eating something else for dinner while the chicken was in the oven. My younger daughter and I decided to split a small serving of the chicken just to try it out.

Note to self: don't photograph yellow food on a green dish

 We both liked the dish a lot. The lemongrass and coconut flavors lent a mild sweetness to the dish, and the curry and other spices were fragrant but not overpowering.

I froze the rest of the chicken and vegetables and served them the following week over egg noodles. As the chicken reheated, it started falling off the bone, so I picked it all off and shredded the chicken, which is what made me think it would be good to make with boneless chicken the next time.

This is a dish I will make again, using my alterations — boneless chicken pieces instead of pork, adding the vegetables before putting the pot in the oven, and braising for a bit longer than the recipe for the pork. And knowing that it reheats well, I’ll probably make a larger recipe next time so we can get several meals from it.

Lemon Curd Ice Cream {Recipe}

In my recent attempt to come up with a recipe for Pimm’s ice cream , I took Vizzini’s advice and went back to the beginning. I knew that I wanted to use lemon and lime flavors, so I searched for ice cream recipes that I could tinker with to get the mix I wanted. That, in turn, led to a search for the perfect lemon curd and lime curd.  For the lemon curd and ice cream, I ended up adapting my own recipes from some that I found online. The lime recipes were derived from the lemon ones.

As the basis of the lemon ice cream recipe, I used one from my friend Tracey’s blog, which she adapted from Murphy’s Ice Cream Book of Sweet Things. I stuck with the basic ingredients from Tracey’s recipe, but tinkered with the proportions a bit; and I made several significant changes to the instructions, which I think simplified the recipe without negatively impacting the results.

 Lemon Curd Ice Cream

(Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • juice of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and light lemon colored, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour the milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks.
  3. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in lemon curd, lemon zest, cream, and lemon juice, in order, mixing well between each addition.
  5. For best results, refrigerate overnight before churning in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Lime Curd {Recipe}

This recipe is the second in a 5-day lemon-lime recipe extravaganza, which began with lemon curd and will culminate on Sundae Sunday with my recipe for Pimm’s No. 1 Ice Cream Cup. Having made a delicious and simple lemon curd, I decided to convert the recipe into one for lime curd. Just as easy, and just as delicious.

Lime Curd

(based on lemon curd recipe by Alton Brown)

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 stick cold butter

Directions

  1. Put water in a medium saucepan to a depth of about 1 inch. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat.
  2. Combine eggs and sugar in a metal bowl large enough to fit over saucepan without the bottom of the bowl touching water in the pan. Whisk until light, about 1 minute.
  3. Add lime juice and zest to the egg mixture, place bowl over simmering water, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Cut butter into 10 pieces and whisk it into lime curd, one piece at a time, stirring until melted before adding the next piece.
  5. Scrape curd into a container, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled.

Makes 2 cups.

As with the lemon curd, this curd is great in ice cream, pie, and tarts, or on toast, scones, or a spoon. The lime curd will keep in the frigde for at least 3 weeks, but don’t stir it, or it will break down and become liquidy.

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