Pickled Turnips

OK, before you turn your nose up, make a small batch and see. It is hard to believe something so simple can taste so good!

Besides October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this pickle is the color of choice.

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz, who lives in Paris. I pretty much copied the recipe and fell in love with the results.

In the most recent batch, I added some red radishes to see how they turn out. The turnips really are wonderful done this way as are the beets that give the pickle the lovely magenta hue. The beets and turnips and radishes all turn out to be quite equal in color.

In my next batch I’m going to add some dill and instead of beets for color, I’ll use saffron or turmeric.

At your next gathering, no matter how small, set out a dish of these lovely pickled turnips and see how strangely addicting they are.

You will find yourself sneaking over to the dish for just one more.

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Pickled Turnips
You can dial down the amount of garlic, but I like the slightly aggressive flavor of the slices in the brine. Use whatever white salt is available where you are, but avoid fine table salt as it’s quite unpleasant and bitter. Gray salt will discolor the brine.

For those who like to tinker, although these are usually served as they are, a few sprigs of fresh dill, or dill flowers, in the brine will take them in a different direction. A hot pepper will add some zip.

3 cups (750 ml) water
1/3 cup (70 g) coarse white salt, such as kosher salt or sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar (distilled)
2-pounds (1 kg) turnips, peeled
1 small beet, or a few slices from a regular-size beet, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

In a saucepan, heat about one-third of the water.

Add the salt and bay leaf, stirring until the salt is dissolved.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, add the vinegar and the rest of the water.

Note to Davids Directions:

I added the remaining salt and vinegar as soon as I was ready for it. The salted water cools quickly; adding the remaining water and vinegar definitely cools it quicker.

Cut the turnips and the beet into batons, about the size of French fries.

Use a mandolin and square off the ends for a nice appearance. Cut the garlic by hand, just do it carefully!

Put the turnips, beets, and garlic slices into a large, clean jar.

Pickling Jars with wire bales and silicone or rubber seals

I like to use gallon or 2-gallon Ball or Mason jars with wire bales and rubber or silicone seals. After the process is complete, I transfer the pickles into smaller Ball or Mason jars for the refrigerator.

Pour the salted brine over them in the jar, including the bay leaf.

Make sure everything is below the surface of the liquid. Use a small dish or a water-filled plastic bag as a submersion weight.

Place a small bowl inside to hold contents below the surface. Look carefully as this bowl is clear like the jar.

Cover and let sit at room temperature, in a relatively cool place, for one week. Once done, they can be refrigerated until ready to serve.

Storage: The pickles will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. They’ll be rather strong at first, but will mellow after a few days. They should be enjoyed within six weeks after they are made, as they tend to get less-interesting if they sit too long.

So there you have an amazing and unusual recipe for the age-old question: What can I do to turnips so someone will like them?

Watch everything change color while curing. The batons are turnips, the wedges are radishes.

Now you have your answer!

 

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Baked Crispy Kale Chips

If you love potato chips, you will probably love baked crispy kale chips too.

They are so simple to make, quick and nutritious, and you can’t stop eating them!

The shared bounty this week was baby kale.

ImageHere is how you make the baked crispy kale chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment. Do not use an insulated baking sheet pan.

You will need:

  • 1 bunch fresh kale
  • olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt (do not used iodized table salt)

Prepare the kale.

To make the chips, remove the leaves from the kale stems. Do this by holding the leaf and pulling the stem off from the back side of the leaf. This removes the stringy stem all the way down the leaf.

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Tear the leaves into bite size pieces, but not too small. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner. Place the kale in a bowl, season with a light drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt.Image

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Spread the kale on the baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. The younger and more tender the kale, the less time it takes to crisp.

When the chips are crispy and slightly brown on the edges, remove from the oven and serve.

If you live in a humid area, the chips may need re-crisping by simply placing them in a warm oven for a few minutes.

They have a lovely earthy flavor that complements many dishes. The chips make a great snack and are something different to put out at your next party.

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Spread the kale on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes

When taking a chefs certification once, I used the kale chip to compliment a dish of Lobster and Israeli Couscous with Grapefruit Emulsion. It was the perfect compliment as it brought  warm earthy “umami” flavors which really made the dish pop.

Basic Knowledge Every Cook Should Know: Part 1

These are some basic points of knowledge I believe every cook should know.

Knowing how to do these things can make your food more flavorful, easier, cheaper and lots of fun.

In no particular order:

Make your own creme fraiche, yogurt and sour cream

The procedure is basically the same for each.

Yield: 1 quart

1 quart heavy cream or half and half (for sour cream and creme fraiche) or milk (yogurt)

1/3 cup starter culture:

Creme fraiche – buttermilk

Sour cream –  sour cream

Yogurt –  yogurt, plain

Place the dairy product into a non-reactive pot and bring to 185°F. Remove from heat and cool to below 75°F.

For yogurt, add 1 cup dry milk powder and 1 tbsp honey or other liquid sweetener such as agave syrup or maple syrup while heating.

Add the starter cultures after cooling; stir it in well.

Cover and leave in a warm spot overnight or for 12-18 hours. The product is ready when it has thickened.

To make a Greek style yogurt, pour the thickened yogurt into a quadruple folded cheesecloth. Tie the corners so the yogurt can hang from a wooden spoon suspended over a bowl to catch the dripping whey. Overnight is usually sufficient to thicken the yogurt to  “Greek” style thickness.  The key to a thicker yogurt consistency is using dry milk powder.

Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

Learn to make Half Sour Pickles

These are considered a “fresh” pickle

Ingredients for half sour pickles

Yield: 1 quart

1 quart wide mouth canning jar with new 2-piece lid. Sterilize the jar in the dishwasher, NOT the 2-piece lid

2 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut into spears or leave whole if desired

Brine:

1/4 oz dill sprigs

2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

1 quart water (32 ounces)

3 ounces salt

4 ounces white vinegar

Boil enough water to cover the 2-piece lid. Place the 2-piece canning lid in a mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over the canning lid.

Set aside until ready to use.

Place the dill, garlic and bay leaf into the bottom of a 1 quart wide mouth canning jar. Pack the cucumbers on top.

Bring the water, salt and vinegar to a boil and pour directly over cucumbers. Place the canning lid on the jar; turn upside down and cool. Refrigerate.

Allow pickles to steep 24 hours before eating.

They are good until they are gone, which won’t be long.

Make your own “signature” butter

1# butter (European style preferably)

1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite combination of high quality dried herbs. Using dried herbs, garlic and onions are essential here due to a food safety standpoint.

Mix the butter (soft, of course) and the herbs all together in a mixer. Begin with the lower amount and add more, adjusting to the taste level you like.

Form into a log using parchment paper. Wrap in cellophane or package into small plastic food storage containers and refrigerate.

Use the butter for saute, on bread, rolls, over vegetables, gnocchi, pasta, potatoes, steaks, seafood and so much more.

This alone will give your food character and a flavor profile that will identify you!

For food safety reasons, please use dried herbs and spices for this. However, you can use fresh citrus zest but keep the product cold!

Make your own Seasoning Salts

Seasoning Salts

Use 1 cup of salt. The kind of salt does matter. Do NOT use iodized table salt. That kind of salt should be used for driveways in the winter. There are so many better choices. Not sure about what kinds of salt there are? See my article on Salt.

To make your seasoning salt: Choose your favorite herbs, spices or citrus zest. Mince them fine and stir them into the salt. Allow to mellow a day before using. The salt will “dry out” the seasonings so it is alright to use fresh flavorings here, but not in your butter.

Use these seasoning salts as finishing salts, to top your loaves of bread or rolls, to season a crisp radish or to top a grilled steak or baked potato.

Simple, easy, and the flavor enhancement really goes a long way. Don’t spend the money on gourmet salt blends when you can make your own, have better quality and  all that is much more friendly on your wallet.

Make your own unique fresh ground pepper blends

Every serious cook has a pepper grinder to use for fresh pepper, right? If not, go get one. Fresh ground pepper is necessary.

Instead of just adding plain black peppercorns to your grinder, add whole allspice, white, green, pink and Szechuan  peppercorns. Add broken cinnamon sticks, a clove or 2 or 3, fennel seeds, whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds to the mix as well.

This will create a wonderful complex flavor enhancement whenever you crank a few rounds from your grinder.

Grow your own fresh herbs

Thai basil

Having access to fresh herbs is not only wonderful, but a great time and money saver as well. See my article about growing your own herbs here. There is a lot of information and links to buying herbs and other products from trusted sites.

Make perpetual vanilla extract

I posted an article about how to do this recently. You can access “How To Make Vanilla Extract”here.

making vanilla extract

Doing this is so easy and the flavor of this extract is far better than anything you can buy, even the best vanilla extract out there.

Just be sure to start with quality ingredients and be patient for 6 months. You will then have a lifetime supply.

Coming in Basic Knowledge Part 2:

  • Learn to make a simple loaf of bread
  • Make flavored vinegar and infused oils
  • Create your own favorite Fresh Vinaigrette to use for salads, marinades, or dips

And much more.

Is there anything YOU want to learn about? Leave a comment and let me know.

Salt

Salt is one of the most used seasonings in the world, yet most people don’t even realize there are many kinds of salt.

The salt most people are familiar with is the simple table salt. Finely ground, iodine added, it is meant to be used as a table seasoning, not for cooking. The iodine adds a bitter flavor that most recipes don’t need. This salt is commonly mined from the ground.

We will leave the concept of table salt behind for this discussion.

My favorite salt for finishing dishes is French Fleur de Sel from the coast of Brittany. It adds a delightful crunch to anything from crisp fresh radishes to scallions and baked potatoes. Various SaltsIts appearance is slightly off pure white and has the appearance of being slightly damp. Being a damp salt, it does not dissolve as quickly as a drier salt would. This is why it is used as a finishing salt. The irregular size of the crystals contributes to different melting times thereby lending a salting flavor on many different levels.

The Fleur de Sel forms when the wind blows across the coast of Brittany where workers hand collect the salt formation off of the top before it sinks into the collecting pans below. Being a hand collected salt, Fleur de Sel is one of the most expensive salts, but well worth it. The absolute best comes from towns of Guérande (Fleur de Sel de Guérande)

Here’s a link by one of the worlds foremost experts on salt, Mark Bitterman. He has authored  “Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes” available on Amazon.

Face it, you won’t be salting your pasta water with Fleur de Sel so go ahead and splurge on some. Personally, I like to sprinkle the top of chocolate chip cookies with Fleur de Sel before they go into the oven. As my hair stylist would say,”OMG!”.

French grey salt is similar to Fleur de Sel and is used the same way. It gets the grey from being harvested deeper than just the very top like Fleur de Sel. Still on the pricy side, but should not cost quite as much as Fleur de Sel.

Sea salts are ocean sourced and are dried. You can find crystal sizes from coarse to fine. As an inexpensive salt, it can be used in any application.

Mined salts are cut from the earth. One of the largest salt mines is in Pakistan. From this mine you find Himalayan rock salt which is pink in color from the iron oxide content. Shades vary from light pink to dark reddish hues. Being very hard, the salt can be found shaped into trays, platters, bowls, cooking slabs, lamps, and candle holders in addition to being finely ground for kitchen use.

Himalayan salt

You can use the smaller fragments in a salt grinder just as you would a pepper grinder or use a rasp like a nutmeg rasp or a micro-plane.

I like this salt on popcorn.

Serving food on the slabs is quite interesting. The moist foods will become lightly salted and dry foods do not pick up salt flavors at all.

Salt is not fat soluble so if you oil the slab or serve fatty foods on it they will not pick up large amounts of salt thereby over-salting the food.

If using the slabs for cooking, the slab must get to 600 degrees Fahrenheit so the juices evaporate rather than hanging around melting the salt slab and over-salting the food. Heat the slab slowly. The salt slab will become translucent as it heats.

Salt bowls? I’m thinking ice cream!

If you use a smoker, wrap some coarse crystals of sea salt in multiple layers of cheese cloth or muslin and place it in the smoker. You will get a greyish smoked salt as a result. The trace of smoke flavor is really nice on a piece of fish.

The intention of this post is to simply increase your awareness of salt. If you explore the subject, you will find there are some amazing salt products out there. Try some.

Expanding your salt repertoire can be fun.

Keep your special salts for finishing dishes.

Kosher salt is the staple salt I keep in the kitchen. Great for pasta water, and general all around seasoning. It’s not expensive and available everywhere.

Use this salt to create your own seasoning salts.

Seasoning Salts

Combine herbs, spices, garlic, onion to create your own special blend.

Use a knife or a spice grinder to finely chop the herbs and flavorings you choose. Combine the mix with kosher salt; stir so it gets all mixed up.

Store in glass jars or plastic containers. Use it for finishing vegetables, pasta, potatoes, to season whatever you cook instead of plain salt.

Typically, kosher salt as that is what I have on hand. However you can use whatever kind of salt you want- just don’t use iodized table salt.

If you have health concerns and don’t use salt, get in the habit of using herbs, spices and citrus zest to enhance the flavors of your food. More about that in another post.

Explore something new, have fun and happy cooking!

Chef Pamela