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.

Jacques Pepin Chicken Liver Pâté — Twitter Avatar Fun

This month Di picked Jacques Pepin for our Twitter avatar chef. There are about a dozen of us participating in this endeavor. Each month someone chooses a chef, and we each pick a recipe by that chef, cook or bake it, and use a picture of the results as our Twitter avatar for that month.

I wasn’t very familiar with this month’s chef, so I started looking up recipes online. As I expected his recipes looked really delicious and a bit on a the gourmet side. But what surprised me was that most of them also seemed to be quick and simple to prepare. 

I have been wanting to make a “Welly” (beef — or venison — Wellington) lately, so I thought homemade chicken liver pâté would be a good start. My only fear was what kind of photo I would be able to get. Kayte didn’t help any by pointing this out, either.

Nonetheless, I made the pâté recipe, as reproduced here. It was so easy. Fresh chicken livers poached with onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and salt, then whirred in the food processor with pepper, brandy, and lots of butter.

 

The results were fabulous — rich, fatty, a little smoky. And the picture wasn’t half bad, either.

It’s a good thing this pâté is so easy to make, since once we started sampling it, it wasn’t long before there wasn’t enough left to make Welly.

Swiss Onion Tart {ModBak}

The fourth tart recipe in the Savory Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker is a caramelized onion tart. If the idea of onion pie or tart doesn’t appeal to you, it’s only because you’ve never tried Nick’s recipe. The onions are caramelized slowly to draw out and evaporate their water, then cooked in butter until they are soft, golden, and oh so sweet.

Once the onions are cooked, the recipe comes together really quickly. You mix flour, milk, cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and the caramelized onions in a bowl and pour it into a tart crust.

The whole thing is baked in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes (less in the case of mini tarts like I made), until the crust is baked through and the filling has set.

You can serve the tart warm or allow it to cool to room temperature. It was delicious both ways. For a light supper, I would serve it warm with a mixed greens salad. But it would also work really well cooled as an appetizer or brunch dish, as it could be made ahead of time and allowed to sit at room temperature until serving time.

Either way, this was a wonderful tart — sweet, savory, not too heavy — that would be great for Saturday brunch or Sunday supper.

Check out the Modern Baker Challenge blog to see Kayte’s bacon-lovers version of this tart and to view blogs on all the recipes in the book that we’ve made so far.

Paris Mushroom Soup {FFwD}

At French Fridays with Dorie we’re starting off the new year with the perfect recipe for those wintry January days. I love soup, especially when it’s cold outside. I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often, especially since so many soup recipes, like this one from Around My French Table, are so easy to put together.

Preparing to cook included little more than chopping vegetables and measuring out the remaining ingredients. The most time-consuming part was cleaning and slicing the mushrooms. If you really wanted this soup to be almost effortless, you could start with sliced white mushrooms. Starting with whole mushrooms, it still only took me about 15 minutes to get everything ready. With my mise en place completed, it was time to make soup.

I began by sautéing onions and garlic in butter.

Or rather, my sous chef sautéed them.

After the onions and garlic had softened a bit, we added the mushrooms and cooked them down until they gave up their liquid.

We continued cooking the mushrooms until the liquid had mostly evaporated. Then we added white wine and cooked it away, too. Finally, we dropped in rosemary and parsley, then poured in chicken broth.

We brought the broth to a boil, covered the pan, and simmered the soup for about 20 minutes. We — or rather, I, as my sous chef had gone off to play by then — uncovered the pot, moved it off the heat, and broke out the immersion blender to purée the vegetables.

 With the soup ready to go, I prepared the salad, which consisted of mushrooms, scallions, parsley, and chives.

I assembled the salad in the bottom of shallow soup bowls, then ladled the hot soup onto the salad.

I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream. The recipe called for crème fraiche, but the grocery store didn’t have any, and I hadn’t thought ahead to make it. No matter, as the sour cream worked just fine.

This soup was perfect for a chilly winter Sunday supper. My sous chef, who claims not to like mushrooms, even liked it. Actually, that was part of the reason I had her help me cook it. I’ve found that kids are more likely to try — and like — a dish that they have helped prepare.

As for the rest of us, we loved the soup, too. Everyone finished their bowls, and I went back for seconds. The soup was creamy and delicious, and the salad gave it a bit of added flavor and texture.

 This is definitely a recipe I will make again. And it has me thinking I should make homemade soup a regular part of my winter dinner rotation.

Focaccia alla Barese: Apulian Onion, Anchovy, & Olive Focaccia {ModBak}

Now that I’ve found an easy, tasty, and reliable focaccia dough, I have enjoyed trying new focaccia and pizza recipes, like this recipe from The Modern Baker. Like the Sfincione that I made recently, the Focaccia alla Barese is part of the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of the Modern Baker Challenge. And like the Sfincione, this recipe featured anchovies, so I knew I would be eating it alone.

After making the dough, and while it was on its final rise, I made the topping. I began by sautéing onion in olive oil, then adding chopped anchovies. I seasoned with pepper (no salt, as the anchovies were salty enough on their own).

I stirred in the olives, then put the topping in the fridge to chill for a few minutes. While the onion mixture was cooling, I prepared the crust by dimpling the top with my fingers. Then I spread the topping on the crust, dusted the focaccia with the barest sprinkling of sea salt, and drizzled it with olive oil.

I baked the focaccia at 425°F for 30 minutes, until the dough was well-risen and the topping had begun to dry.

I let the focaccia cool for a few minutes on the pan, then moved it to a cutting board to finish cooling. I cut the focaccia into squares to serve.

The Focaccia alla Barese was savory and delicious. The anchovies and olives blended well and gave it a salty, yet slightly sweet flavor.

Although I enjoyed this focaccia immensely, I have to take exception with something Nick Malgieri says about it in the side note to the recipe. Nick states that the anchovies “melt into the topping and add a pleasant note of saltiness, but no stong fishy taste.” While I wouldn’t call this focaccia overly fishy tasting, you can definitely tell it has anchovies on it. And if you’re not an anchovy lover, this isn’t the dish to make a convert out of you.

But if you like anchovies, you will love this focaccia.

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (FFwD)

This week’s entry for French Fridays with Dorie is a new favorite around my house. Who doesn’t love a delicious roast chicken? And this one comes with a few special treats for the chef.

The recipe says to start with a thick slice of bread. Because I was so looking forward to this, I used really big slice of bread.

After rubbing the inside of the pot with oil, I put the slice of bread in the bottom of the pan.

I rubbed the chicken inside and out with oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then stuffed the chicken with fresh herbs, garlic, half an onion, and the chicken liver.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: chicken liver? Why would you put that in there? Well, reader, because it’s one of the chef’s treats. You may think you don’t like chicken liver, but until you’ve tried it roasted this way, you really don’t know.

I placed the chicken in the pan on top of the bread (the other treat for the cook), then placed additional herbs, garlic, and onion around the chicken in the pot.

I roasted the chicken in a 450°F oven for 90 minutes, until the skin was browned and crisp.

The chicken was sizzling and smelled amazing when it came out of the oven. I let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then removed it from the pot to a cutting board. I discarded the herbs, onion, and garlic, then went for the bread.

I think I added a bit too much oil to the pan, as the bread was very greasy on the top, while the bottom was crisp and stuck to the bottom of the pan. I scraped the bread from the pan with a spatula, then tentatively tried a bite. Oh, me. Oh, my. How do I describe this bread? It was toasty, crisp, spongy, greasy. And tasted like a little bit of heaven. I ate several more bites of the bread, then I remembered the liver.

Now, I’m not squeamish when it comes to eating animal parts. I get a taste for beef liver about once a year, and giblet gravy is a regular feature on our Thanksgiving table. Oh, and did I mention that I love pâté? So, eating the chicken liver was not a stretch for me, although I would never have thought of roasting it in the bird and then smearing it on bread. I spread a healthy layer on a chunk of the roasted bread and took a bite. It was so good, I thought I might cry. I quickly ate the rest of the bread and liver before anyone caught me and asked for a bite.

After my selfish bread and liver indulgence, I sliced the chicken and served it for dinner with fresh bread and green beans. We all agreed that it was among the best roast chicken we had ever had.

This recipe is one that I will make again, especially as long as I can keep the bread and liver to myself.