Posts Tagged ‘Vinegar’


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!

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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!



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Giardiniera | Relishing It

When I first started writing here on Relishing It more than three years ago, figuring out what to make and blog about was… a process… and sometimes a struggle.  Back then my focus was on making things that I thought you would want to see, which it turn, would bring you back here more often.  It wasn’t really about web traffic or anything like that– I guess it was more about validation.  Knowing that people were seeing what I could do.

I used to bake a lot more here.  Baking posts always get the ‘oohhs’ and ‘aahs’.  I also used to pour through cookbooks and magazines to discover that impressive dish that would be “blog-worthy”.  To be honest, it was a bit stressful, and more than a bit exhausting at times.  Fast forward to the present, and I’m much more comfortable with my posts.  I feel like I’m more true to myself and my interests– which is really why I started this blog in the first place.  It wasn’t to try to make money, or to show off complex recipes that I would make only once.  I really started Relishing It to build up a recipe index that reflects who I am, and to chronicle my relationship with food.  I go back to previous posts to reference recipes so often. Many are my absolute favorites, with a smidge of randoms and experiments while I was trying to figure this whole thing out.

I still do bake, but not as much.  It can appear more impressive, but it’s also more exacting, time consuming, and from a health perspective, just not very sustainable.  Now, I focus much more on food that I’m interested in , and that my family regularly eats.   Mostly-healthy, nutritious food that I can feel good about eating.  I still enjoy learning new techniques, I think I love to tinker in the kitchen now more than ever.  Blogging has been wonderful for that.  Where was I going with all of this? Well, I guess the point is, I no longer have to seek out things to blog about– the process is just so much more organic now. For awhile now, I’ve been just making things that make me happy, and that has made blogging so much easier.

Giardiniera | Relishing It

Giardiniera | Relishing it

Now that sumer is here, I’m eating a ton of vegetables.  And not just boring run-of-the-mill-broccoli-as-a-side-dish vegetables.  I love pickled vegetables, and with this recipe I hope that you will too.  It takes almost no time to make and tastes so much better than those store-bought versions.  Grab whatever vegetables you have, chop them up, add a few dried herbs, make a super-quick brine, throw it all in a jar, and put them in the fridge.  There you have it– you just made yourself giardiniera.  It’s wonderful on sandwiches (roast beef, in particular!), salads, or straight from the jar.  Once you taste this– you’ll be making it every week, it’s that easy, and it really is a perfect snack.  Many recipes have lots of sugar (not my deal) and some have olive oil mixed in.  I’m a little frugal with my olive oil, and don’t feel like it is necessary.  For me, this is a perfect balance  of vegetables, vinegar, and sugar (just a smidge to temper the vinegar).  Add spicy peppers, if you want.  Or don’t.  As I always say– make it yours!  I truly love this version and I hope you do, too.  Give them a try!

Giardiniera | Relishing It

Giardiniera | Relishing It

The Recipe: Giardiniera

(Makes 2 quarts)

* Chop a variety of your favorite vegetables to fit snuggly into 2 quart jars

The above mix contains:

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets

3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into coins

2 celery stalks, chopped

6-7 large radishes, sliced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

4-5 garlic cloves, sliced

4 serrano peppers, sliced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

For the Brine:

3 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 dried bay leaves

Divide the chopped vegetables evenly between 2 sterilized quart jars.  Pack them in there!  Divide the oregano, thyme, and peppercorns between the two jars, as well.  Bring the brine ingredients to a boil– this infuses the bay leaves and dissolves the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat, then place one bay leaf in each jar.  Pour the brine into each of the jars while it is hot.  This will soften the vegetables just a bit.  Let cool at room temperature.  Place a lid on them, give a shake and refrigerate.  Contents will be fully ready within a day.  If you’re impatient, you may even try them sooner. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!




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Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce | Relishing It

There’s a fair chance that our household goes through more hot sauce than any other in the Twin Cities.  I often wish it was sold in vats, rather than puny little bottles.  Speaking of those bottles, we have no fewer than six different kinds of hot sauce in the refrigerator.  And I’ve just added a seventh– my own.  I knew I wanted to make hot sauce this year, and I was initially interested in making a fermented version.  But after talking to a vendor at our farmers market (and I love his unfermented styles), I decided to forge ahead and make a fresh super-spicy version.

Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce | Relishing It

This hot sauce is not for the timid.  It will make you tough or else destroy you.  The primary pepper is the amazing habanero.  I just love it’s unique, sweet, flavor.  With the first bite, it plays nice, and you think, “That’s not so hot.”  But then the burn starts to build.  Of course, you keep eating because it tastes so good, and while the heat is ratcheting up, you think you can handle it.  You start sweating, thinking maybe you should go grab a glass of milk, but no, just one more bite.  And then your face melts off.  That’s this hot sauce.

Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce | Relishing It

Obviously this recipe isn’t for everyone.  But, for those of you who enjoy a good habanero hot sauce, it’s pretty darn amazing.  It has a nice balanced combination of the sweet habanero flavor, a bit of garlic, and vinegar.  It’s also really easy to make.  I decided against making a canned version, instead opting for something that will keep for a while in my refrigerator.  I haven’t tracked down any cute little hot-sauce bottles in the area yet (hence the jars you see here), but I found some on Amazon that are going to work marvelously.  Enjoy!

Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce | Relishing It

The Recipe: Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce

(makes about 3 cups)

1 pound fresh habanero peppers

1 – 1 1/2 bulbs of fresh garlic, peeled and chopped

2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Note: Working with habaneros is serious business.  Use plastic or latex gloves, if you have them.  Be careful of what you touch.  Also, be mindful of how close you breath-in near the chopped peppers– or coughing will ensue.

Carefully remove the stems from the habaneros and chop them, seeds and all.  Place the habaneros, garlic, salt, and 2 1/4 cups of white vinegar in a large saucepan.  Cook the habaneros on medium/high heat for about 30 minutes, or until the peppers feel a bit soft to the touch  (note: be cautious when removing the lid to check the peppers).  When they are soft enough, place the mixture into a blender, or food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Taste.  If you still want a bit more tang, add the remaining 1/4 cup of vinegar.  Place in jars or bottles and store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

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Homemade condiments?  Seriously?  Why bother making homemade mustard when there are several perfectly adequate mustards on the grocery store shelf?  My quick answer is, ‘why not.’  Alright, that response, alone, may not convince you.  How about this– I generally believe that almost anything homemade from fresh ingredients is better.  I like to know where my food comes from, and when I make it from whole ingredients, I get that piece of mind.  But there’s another aspect to making food– even condiments– from scratch.  I love the process.  I enjoy working with each individual ingredient, watching them all combine into something wonderful.  In the end I feel like I’ve accomplished something.  It’s calming– therapeutic even.

Like many of you, I’m a bit embarassed by the shelves of my refrigerator door– stuffed with old half-full condiment jars that rarely get called into action.  (How many versions of Louisianna Hot Sauce does one need?!)  While clearing out some of those forgotten toppings, I decided to add a few of my own– these two jars of mustard and one of homemade ketchup (stay tuned for a post on that one.)  Mustard is so much more versatile than many people realize.  And this grainy mustard version is marvelous.  Aside from the typical burger/hotdog summer fare, it makes for magnificent turkey or ham sandwiches, works well in vinaigrettes,  and– at least if you ask my daughter Aria– is best suited for dipping pretzels.  This weekend I plan to grill wild salmon and add a teaspoon of fresh thyme to the white wine vinegar mustard for a topping.  Very exciting!

I made two variations of mustard, though you can certainly customize your own.  The first was a basic mustard, which I think I enjoyed just a tad more.  The second, the ‘brewhouse’ version, featured a fairly robust dark beer as a central ingredient.  Both were delicious.  Other possible additions to the basic recipe include:  tarragon (1 T, fresh), rosemary (1 tsp, fresh), tomato paste (1 T), honey (2 T), molasses (1 T), balsamic vinegar (1-2 T), cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp), roasted garlic (2-3 cloves, mashed), peach (1/4 cup fresh puree), chili (1 tsp, minced), and mango (1/4 cup fresh puree).  One thing to keep in mind though, if you add any of the above, your mustard won’t keep as long– probably about a week.

The Recipe: Homemade Grainy Mustard

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Basic Grainy Mustard

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/2 cup water  (red wine can also be used)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar (or any vinegar with at least 5% acidity)

pinch of salt

(Note:  A Port Wine Mustard can also be made by substituting 1/2 cup tawny or ruby port for the water or red wine.)

Brewhouse Mustard

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/2 cup sherry vinegar (or any vinegar with at least 5% acidity, such as malt)

1/2 cup strong flavored beer (such as a porter, stout, dark or amber ale)

pinch of salt

Put all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Give it a good shake and let it rest for about 2 days. This will allow the mustard seeds to become soft.  After the 2 days,  pour the mixture into a blender or a mini food processor.  Blend it to your desired consistency. If it appears to be too thick you may need to add a bit of water.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  You’ll never achieve a completely smooth mustard from this mixture.  Return the mustard to the jar and store in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place for several months.  The mustard will mellow and thicken a bit over time.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

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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.


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I made the long drive across the entire state of North Dakota to my home town yesterday.  It was me, my four-year-old and my two-year-old…in a car…for 8 1/2 hours.  I made the same drive last Summer, also without Radd (who’ll be joining us later this week), and was so proud of myself for having arrived with my little kids and sanity intact that you’d have thought I split the atom.  Fortunately it went well again this year, though was about as fun as you’d expect.  

Since I’m heading back to my roots this week, I thought I’d share a little treasure from my childhood–pickled eggs.  It seems a bit odd to follow up French-style recipes for clafoutis and galettes with ‘pickles-in-a-jar’, but there’s something to be said for comfort food.  I grew up with jars of these treats sitting on our counter.  While pouring over childhood pictures recently, I noticed that there was an egg jar in the background in so many photos.  My Mom made the best pickled eggs– we absolutely loved ’em.

In continuing with my food philosophy, I use high-quality eggs in all of my baking and cooking.  I’m talking about eggs that come from a farm where the chickens roam freely and peck at nutritious food– not the cheap, supermarket eggs that sell for $1 a dozen, as these generally come from perpetually-caged chickens that have never seen daylight.  Yes, organic/cage-free eggs are a bit more expensive, but compared to your other proteins (meat) they are affordable.  Free-range cage-free eggs are not only a great source of protein, but they provide healthy Omega-3’s.  They’re also relatively low in calories.

Through the years, my brother and I have made adjustments to our Mom’s pickled-egg recipe.  We’ve been on a quest to improve upon ‘the best’ by making it a bit spicier.  This is my latest version. Now if you don’t fancy spicy food– you can skip the chili peppers and the red pepper flakes.  My family prefers to eat these eggs with a basket of pretzels, a few drops of Chalupa (or a Louisiana-style) sauce, and a nice cold beer.  Perfect.

The Recipe:  Pickled Eggs

Roughly 2 dozen eggs, hard boiled

1 liter white vinegar

1 jar hot chili peppers and the juice (Mezzetta is my favorite brand for these)

1 white onion, thickly sliced

1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled and left whole

1 teaspoon pickling spice

1 tablespoon peppercorns

To boil the eggs:  Gently place the eggs in a 4 quart sauce pan.  Cover with cold water.  Let cook over medium heat until water begins to boil.  Boil for 1 minute only.  Cover and remove from heat immediately.  Set a timer for 12 minutes.  After that, pour out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process.  Let cool completely before peeling.  (Note: older eggs peel more easily than fresh ones)

Once your eggs are cool and peeled, start layering your ingredients into your jar.  This doesn’t have to be precise.  Once the eggs, onions, garlic, hot chili pepper and their juice, peppercorns, and pickling spice are in the jar — you can add the white vinegar.  Make sure you have enough liquid to cover the eggs.  These eggs will start to taste “pickled” in about 3 days, and will keep getting better and hotter the longer they sit.  They can be stored, tightly sealed on your counter.  Enjoy!

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