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Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

You know what’s awesome?  Handing your daughter a pickle and having her proclaim (without knowing where it was from) “This is amazin’!”.  That, my friends, is what I call winning.  She didn’t see me make the first batch of refrigerator pickles this year, but she’s been helping me make every batch since.  She is fascinated by the fact that it doesn’t take very long to transform a cucumber into a wonderful pickle.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

I decided to wing-it this year and make up my own pickle recipe.  After waiting rather impatiently for my mom to send me her recipe (you’re in trouble, mother), I decided to conjure up my own version.  Sure, I’ve made lots of refrigerator pickles in the past, but nothing that kept me wanting to make the same batch again.  I was reaching too far, to be honest– over-complicating things.  I kept looking for something “interesting” that would blow me away.  Last year I even tried a version with mint, and while they were fine, they just were not what I was looking for.  I realized that what I was really after wasn’t complicated at all.  I wanted something that was really crunchy, fresh, garlicy, and had a clean dill taste.  Simple. Classic.  So, I stopped searching and just made them the way I wanted.  Duh.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerato Pickles with Garlic + Dill | Relishing It

The key for me to keeping them refreshing is to lessen the salt and vinegar amount a bit.  I remember this trick from my mom, which is why I probably loved her pickles so much.  Add a little filtered water to the vinegar and it creates the most refreshing brine.  Too much salt makes me want to stop eating something in a hurry, but just the right amount– and I can chomp on these babies all day long.  The dill and garlic are just what you’d expect them to be– delicious.  No surprises here.  I always add carrots to my refrigerator dills– they’re fantastic.  They take a bit longer to pickle than the cucumbers do.  Using young small cucumbers is the key to a crunchy pickle, as is not heating up the brine mixture.  Keep everything cold and you’ll have a fantastic crunch– I promise you.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

These pickles are perfect to bring to a barbecue or neighborhood gathering.  Bring a huge bowl of them– they’ll disappear quickly.   There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a cold, crunchy pickle on a hot summer evening.  National Night Out is next Tuesday in the US.  I plan on bringing a big bowl of these crunchy dills, and I think you should do the same.  Or just make a jar or two to keep in your refrigerator for when you need that tangy, satisfying crunch.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

The Recipe: Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic

Smallish cucumbers, cut however you like– I prefer spears

carrots, cut into spears

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt ( I use Diamond Crystal–and weirdly this matters.  Different salt.  Different results.)

fresh dill

white vinegar

Make as many jars as you want.  Fill each clean quart jar with cucumber spears, carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic, and fresh dill. Make sure everything is packed in there tightly.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Pour vinegar into the jar until it is  3/4 full.  Then finish filling the jar with filtered water, leaving about 1/2-inch space at the top.  Cover with lid and gently shake to combine.  Refrigerate.  Pickles will be ready within a few hours, but it’s best to wait at least a day for optimum results.  Carrots often take a bit longer to fully become pickled, but I generally eat them before the fact.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

Laurie

 

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Pickled Eggs with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

My Mom used to raise chickens on our farm when I was growing up.  To be honest with you, sometimes those crabby hens would scare the heck out of me, but I sure developed a love of the eggs they provided.  Farm fresh eggs– there is nothing better.  One of my favorite ways to eat them is pickled.  I previously shared a favorite recipe of mine for pickled eggs.  And though I absolutely love that version– the spicy heat is just too much for my kids.  Today’s version with beets and dill has absolutely no heat– but the flavor is unreal.  I was worried that my husband wouldn’t quite go for it.  I love beets, but I thought it might be too much for him to embrace.  I was completely wrong.  Even without the heat, he was loving them.

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

Beets and dill are an excellent combination.  Here, the eggs take on a beautiful deep purple hue and are laced with a dill flavor.  The beets and onions become perfectly pickled, as well.  Chopped up they work wonderfully atop egg-salad sandwiches, paired with pork, or just eaten as a snack.  The beets remain somewhat crunchy, which I love.  The eggs pickle rather quickly–and the lovely purple hue is present after just a day or so.  The longer the eggs sit in the vinegar, the less white from the eggs will be present.  Eventually the entire egg will be purple.  Which tastes amazing, but if dramatic effects are what you are after– it’s best to eat them within 5 days, or so.

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

Eggs are a perfect, portable protein to snack on– we pack them a lot for school lunches and for summer outings. Make sure to buy good quality eggs, preferably from a farmers market or co-op.  You’ll end up worrying a lot less when you feed them to your family. Give this version a try–I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

The Recipe: Pickled Eggs with Fresh Beets and Dill

(makes 2 quarts)

10-12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled  *see note

2 beets, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

6-8 garlic cloves

4 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon pickling spice

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh dill sprigs

white vinegar (enough to fill each jar)

Note: To properly boil eggs– add eggs to a large sauce pan filled with water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute, cover with lid, and remove from heat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Then immediately drain the eggs and place them in a bowl of cold water filled with ice.  This will stop the cooking process and yield a perfectly hard-boiled egg.

Divide all the ingredients between the two quart jars.  Layer the eggs, beets, and onions.  Fill each jar with enough vinegar to cover all of the ingredients.  Put lids on the jars and give a gentle shake to mix the ingredients.  Place in the refrigerator.  Eggs will be ready in about 2 days.  The flavor and color will deepen the longer they sit.  After about 2 weeks, their texture may start to change and be less firm, so it’s best to eat them before that happens. Enjoy!

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

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The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

If you’re like me, this time of year you may go a little overboard with salads.  It’s hard not to with all of the fresh, crisp produce popping up in gardens and farmers markets.  I absolutely love a good leafy-green salad, but sometimes I want more than just a lettuce version– something a bit more substantial than those delicate little leaves.  When I’m looking for something heartier, I often turn to my favorite un-lettuce salad.  It’s my favorite way to incorporate a load of healthy vegetables into a meal.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Alright, this “recipe” is more of a suggestion– an idea, if you will.  You can use what you have, but this is the combination that I like best.  All of these vegetables are currently available in Minnesota.  The pea tendrils give this dish it a nice slightly sweet flavor.  If you can’t find them, a few spinach leaves make a lovely replacement.  Roasted red peppers add a brilliant kick.  If you can’t find fresh ones, feel free to buy a jar.  Sun-dried tomatoes would be perfect in this salad, too.  Ricotta salata is my go-to cheese for summer salads– I love it’s subtle flavor, but parmesan, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue would all work.  I used pepitas here, though I often turn to sunflower seeds for a nice crunch.  Load it up with herbs, if you want.  I like dill with this combination.  Are you feeling me, here?  Use your imagination, you’ll be happy.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Sometimes I make a simple vinaigrette with this salad.  This one works well.  But, more often, I choose to do something creamy, so I enjoy this simple herbed buttermilk dressing.  It’s less gloppy and bad for you than the bottled versions.  I like a dressing that lightly coats my greens, instead of sits on top of them.  I still use full-fat mayonnaise, but just less of it  (even better if you make your own completely out of olive oil– recipe coming soon on that).  The reduced-fat versions tend to have a sweetness to them that makes for an off-flavor.  And honestly, don’t even get me started on the fat-free bottled dressings that are on the grocery store shelves.  If you have them in the refrigerator, do yourself a favor and toss them out.  They are loaded with a bunch of junk (corn syrup to replace the fat?  Seriously?).  Not to mention, your body needs a little fat to absorb all of those healthy things that you eat a salad for in the first place.  Make your own and use less.  Hope you enjoy!

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing via Relishing It

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

The Recipe:  The Un-Lettuce Salad

(Make this as big or as small as you like)

Handful of pea tendrils, large stems removed

english cucumbers,

broccoli

cauliflower

garden peas, left in the pod or not

radishes

roasted red peppers

ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

pepitas or sunflower seeds

dill or any herbs you prefer

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing:

2/3 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons mayonnaise (full fat)

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped dill, oregano, and parsley

kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste

To make the Dressing:  Combine all of the ingredients into a small jar and shake.  Make sure to season properly with salt and pepper.  If you prefer a thicker dressing, and a bit more mayonnaise.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Place into a large salad bowl and coat with a bit of dressing.  Top with the cheese, nuts, and dill.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it today!

xo

Laurie

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Borscht

While growing up, I recall my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles always talking about how much they loved Borscht.  As a child, I had to disagree.  They couldn’t be talking about that deep-red vegetable soup that I sat at the table and stared at, hoping it would somehow disappear so I could go play, could they?  I’d like to believe I wasn’t too keen on Borscht because of the not-so-wonderful sounding name, though no doubt my palatte has simply changed.  I get what my family was talking about.  Now I make this soup all of the time.  Take one look at that beautiful color, and then a spoonful of those lovely vegetables and comforting broth, and you’ll see why.

Beets– probably the most vibrant vegetable around.  I love their slightly-sweet flavor, and eat them both roasted and raw.  They are the foundation of this soup, along with a nice selection of other fresh vegetables.  I like to add as wide a variety of vegetables as possible– in particular root vegetables– but if you don’t have exactly what I used, don’t worry.  Like any good soup, this one is forgiving and you should be able to find a substitute.  I used fresh tomatoes because I had them on hand.  I also used the last of my homemade tomato juice.  When I don’t have fresh tomatoes in winter, I rely on my homemade crushed canned tomatoes– about 2 cups.  If you use canned crushed tomatoes, be sure to make the appropriate adjustments to the amount of liquid you add.  In other words, you may not need as much water.

Speaking of the broth, this is generally the only soup that I make using just water.  In this soup the ingredients are so numerous and fresh that they provide that additional flavor that you generally get from vegetable broth.  If you want a little more taste, you can add a ham shank or ham juice– like my Mother does.  Both wonderful additions.  The two ingredients where you won’t want to vary from the recipe are the fresh dill and addition of vinegar.  Both are keys to making this soup complete.  So how do you add fresh dill in early January when you want to linger over a bowl of Borscht?  Thankfully, dill freezes very well.  Stick it in a freezer storage bag and it’ll last for months.

So why am I writing about a warm soup in late August?  Good question.  The last two weeks have seen crisp air at night here in Minnesota.  I bought apples at the farmers’ market this weekend.  And right now my house smells of cinnamon, as my husband is bottling a batch of his home-brewed Autumn Spice Ale.  It has seemed like an unusually short summer– and though it going to be hard to let it go, I think I’m getting ready for Fall.  This soup was a test and I think it feels right.

The Recipe:  Borscht

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tomatoes, diced

4 beets, peeled and diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

3 parsnips, peeled and diced

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 onion, chopped

1/2 head small cabbage, chopped

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4  teaspoon cracked black pepper

6 cups water

1 cup tomato juice

In a large heavy-bottomed kettle, such as a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the onion, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnip, and tomatoes along with the kosher salt and black pepper.  Saute until the vegetables start to soften, 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the cabbage and allow to wilt a bit, another 3-4 minutes.  Add the water, tomato juice, bay leaf and vinegar.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, 30-45 minutes, depending upon how high the heat is.  Stir in the fresh dill.  Make seasoning adjustments if necessary.   Serve with a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy!

Thanks again for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great day.

Laurie

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Italian Wedding Soup

Judging by my previous posts here (as well several others on Bliss), you probably think its all sweets at our house. Obviously I love to bake, and I generally agree that we shouldn’t deprive ourselves or our kids of these treats. Truthfully though, we eat healthy meals.  I  usually prepare something with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and/or legumes.  My husband can confirm that I probably make quinoa with chickpeas more often than I should.  Which brings me to today’s dish.  This soup is incredibly flavorful and healthy.

Meatballs?!  Yup.  Healthy soup with meatballs?  That’s right.  A little background:  I come from a German/Hungarian/Bohemian background.  From my childhood through today, whenever my extended family gets together for a holiday, we have four different types of meatballs.  Four!  I’m a connoisseur.  When I saw this soup– with it’s chicken meatballs (rather than the beef versions of our holiday meals)– I had to give it a try.

I’ve made a few variations on the meatballs in this soup.  They’re all fantastic.  Ground turkey (rather than ground chicken, as in the recipe) works just fine.  Also, if you can’t find chicken sausage, substitute an equal amount of ground chicken and add extra black pepper and one teaspoon each of sweet and sharp paprika to the mixture.  While each is slightly different, no one version is better than the others.

What about the flavor?  It’s amazing.  The meatballs, with their combined garlic, parsley, parmesan, and romano cheese are both savory and fresh.  Fresh may sound weird, but there’s really no other way to describe how the parsley affects these little meatballs.  The broth is incredible as well.  The dill stands out, but it doesn’t overpower the soup. The spinach really adds to the fresh-feel of this Spring dish.  Make it– you’ll be happy you did so.

The Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

(Serves 6-8)

For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground chicken

1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed

2/3 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (Ina uses white)

2-3 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

3 tablespoons milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 cup minced white onion

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 carrots)

3/4 cup diced celery ( 2 stalks)

10 cups good quality chicken stock

1/2 dry white wine  (Note: If you don’t have any wine, the soup will still be delicious without it)

1 cup any small pasta, such as tubetini or stars

1/4 cup minced fresh dill

12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed   (Use a little less if you feel this is too much for you)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, garlic, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.  You should get 40 meatballs from this mixture.  Make a round ball and score the meat into 4 equal parts.  You will get 10 meatballs from each of them.  Drop meatballs onto the pan with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook  for another minute, until it is just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese.

Source:  Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook

Thanks again for stopping by!

Laurie

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