Pumpkin Cake Roll

Pumpkin Cake Roll We can’t seem to get enough pumpkin these days. From pumpkin spice Oreos to pumpkin spice latte burgers (yes, really), there’s more and more of this popular flavor combination every year. And why not? The pairing of this seasonal squash with sugar and comforting cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg can be almost addictive. This is also why many classic recipes are so easily adaptable to a pumpkin spice version. Although Pumpkin may not have been a common ingredient at the height of my grandmother’s career, the spice mix was. My grandmother used these spices in her simple spiced sponge cake recipe, which I used as a base for this pumpkin cake roll.

I often wonder what my grandmother would think of this pumpkin explosion. I’m sure she would have first perfected pumpkin pie and then possibly expanded to pumpkin cookies or bread. She may have stopped at that point or continued on a quest to master the best of the pumpkin recipes. This type of cake roll would have been somewhat abstract for her but I was inspired by the pumpkin craze and decided to merge her chocolate roll/yule log recipe with her spiced sponge cake one. The light whipped mascarpone cream is what differentiates this from other cake roll recipes that often use cream cheese frosting. I have nothing against cream cheese frosting (love it on carrot cake) but those of us who are somehow offended by it may prefer this light whipped cream to help balance the spice of the cake. The rich buttery taste remains but without the sourness often experienced with cream cheese. If you’re not tired of pumpkin yet but don’t want to stray too far from the classic pumpkin desserts, a cake roll could be the sweet finish to end your Thanksgiving meal.

Ingredients:

Cake
4 eggs
pinch salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbs sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sifted corn starch
3/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mascarpone Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 11 x 16 jelly roll pan or a 9 x 13 pan and line with parchment paper.

Separate eggs. Beat egg whites with salt until they hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in sugar, sprinkling it in a little at a time. Continue beating until whites are very firm, about 5 minutes in all.

Stir yolks with a fork to break them up. Whisk in pumpkin. Add vanilla. Fold a quarter of the stiffly beaten egg whites thoroughly into egg yolks. Pour egg yolk mixture on top of remaining whites. Sprinkle corn starch, flour, and spices over mixture. Fold all very gently together until no pieces of egg white show. Careful not to over mix.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading batter evenly. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cake is very lightly browned.

While cake sheet cools, make the whipped cream:

Beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Continue beating, gradually adding remaining sugar, until the cream holds stiff peaks. Carefully bear in mascarpone cheese until just combined.

To assemble the cake roll:

Place cake on a sheet of wax paper large enough to extend at least 1 inch on all sides and dusted with powdered sugar or a little flour. Spread cake with whipped cream. Lifting one long side of the wax paper, roll pastry inward. Continue to lift wax paper while pastry rolls up, jelly-roll style. Twist wax paper firmly around cake roll to help give it shape. Dust with powdered sugar.

 

Mizutaki Soup

MitzutakiIt’s officially soup weather here in the Northeast. Now that the days are shorter and less likely to get above 50 degrees, hot soup is a favorite staple in our diets again. As the warmth of the summer sun becomes a distant past, soup as well as hot beverages are like comforting familiar friends that make the increasingly cold weather bareable. That and all of the delicious holiday food, of course.

My grandmother had many tasty soup recipes both published (in “The Art of Good Cooking”) and unpublished. I have yet to try them all but I’ve been very happy with the ones that I’ve posted here such as Stuffed Cabbage Soup, Basil Vegetable Soup, Fresh Tomato Soup, and New England Clam Chowder. Soup recipes are also some of the easiest recipes to change and adapt to your preference. This Mizutaki recipe is a good example. It can be made with chicken, beef, or fish and other vegetables, such as enoki mushrooms, can be added as well. Similar to hot pot, the sauce is really the most important part. The chicken is cooked in the broth until just barely tender and then placed in soup bowls with spicy watercress and cooked vermicelli rice noodles. The broth is poured into the bowls and the meat and vegetables are dipped in the sauce before eaten. An intense combination of soy sauce, lemon, daikon, and ginger, the sauce balances the subtle light flavor of the broth.

Much like many of my grandmother’s ethnic recipes, it took some time to figure out the origin of this dish. The title is spelled Misu Taki in her book but after researching, it seems to be an adaptation of the lesser known Japanese Mizutaki dish. Written and tested in the 1960’s, this recipe must have been incredibly unique, especially with the use of daikon or chinese radish (a store that no longer exists, “Japanese Foodland Inc” on Broadway in NYC is listed as a source in her book and is noted as having “very good Japanese soy sauce”). But I can imagine my grandfather, a lover of all types of Asian food, enjoying this soup on wintery days in Harlem back when Chinese take-out was a novelty. My grandmother writes in the introduction of this recipe, “This is not the original version of misu taki – but it is my own, and very good I think.” It is still an easy recipe to make your own and still perfect for a cold winter-like day.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups grated daikon
1/2 grated ginger
1 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup lemon juice
6 cups well seasoned chicken stock
6 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut in 1 inch cubes
3 cups cooked vermacelli or rice noodles
3 cups watercress
3 scallions, chopped

Combine grated daikon, ginger, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Divide this mixture among small bowls.
Heat chicken stock in a heavy pot over medium heat until simmering. Taste for seasoning and correct, if necessary. Add chicken pieces all at once and cook only a few minutes, until chicken changes color. Be careful not to overcook. Turn heat off. With a slotted spoon, remove peices of chicken to serving bowls. Place cooked noodles and watercress in each of the bowls.

Reheat broth and boil for a few minutes, then remove from heat. Poor broth over chicken, noodles, and watercress. Sprinkle with scallion. Serve with small bowls of soy sauce mixture for dipping chicken.

Serves 6.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

Stuffed Baked Apples with Homemade Caramel Sauce

Stuffed Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe might be over the top. It didn’t start out that way but before I could realize what was happening, I had created the most delicious and elaborate baked apples I have ever had. The plan was originally a minimalist approach. My grandmother doesn’t have a baked whole apple recipe (though she has many other apple recipes) but her mentor, James Beard has a very simple one in “The James Beard Cookbook.” It offers a few options of varying spices for the cavity of the apples but doesn’t venture as far as stuffing them. It even offers a flamed version which involves pouring heated alcohol over the apple and igniting it (“bring to the table blazing”) but I thought it might be best to avoid burning down my apartment building or at least the complaints of “fire smell” from the neighbors. Perhaps I will wait for a special occasion.

I settled for a simple spiced baked apple. But I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing or that it somehow lacked the excitement I was looking for. That’s when I decided to stuff it with crisp. Apple crisp is a favorite I make at least a few times every fall. It’s hard to go wrong with oats, sugar, butter, flour, and cinnamon so why not stuff a whole apple with this lovely crumbly topping? This simple baked apple was getting more interesting.

I then thought about those lonely parts of the apple that wouldn’t be exposed to the tasty crisp. Perhaps it needed a sauce? Enter my second favorite apple accompaniment: Caramel. And not just any caramel, easy homemade caramel sauce. Drizzled over the finished juicy baked apple stuffed with the cinnamon spiced crisp, it’s a combination to die for. I was already out of control so I topped the finished warm apple with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Melting into the crevices of the crisp and dripping down the sides of the apple while mixing with the caramel sauce, excessiveness never looked or tasted so good.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
5 baking apples around the same size (I like Macoun or Honeycrisp)
1 lemon
cinnamon sugar

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow baking dish (large enough to hold all of the apples).

Combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and oats in a medium mixing bowl. Add diced butter and mix until well combined but still a little crumbly. Set aside.

Slice the tops off of apples. Carve out the core and some of the flesh, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Slice lemon in half and rub the cavities of the apples with lemon to stop from browning. Sprinkle the cavities with cinnamon sugar.

Scoop crisp mixture into apples until full and rounded on top. Place apples in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork (baking time may depend on the type of apples used).

To Make the Caramel Sauce:

Heat sugar over medium heat in a heavy saucepan until melted and amber in color. Be careful not to let burn. Add butter and whisk until combined. Whisk in cream (careful adding both cream and butter as it causes the mixture to seize and possibly splatter). Remove from heat and allow the caramel to cool slightly (it will thicken as it cools).

Drizzle caramel sauce over crisp stuffed apples and serve with vanilla ice cream (see Peach Melba recipe for a homemade version).

Baked Apples

Polish Butter Cookies (Autumn Version)

Polish Butter CookiesI like to think of these as cut-out cookies for adults. They can be for kids too (perhaps the cookie shapes seem more childlike) but the buttery flavor is what differentiates these from those regular sugar cookies, often topped with bright colored sprinkles. It’s also the hardboiled egg yolks that bring out the richness in these sweet bites. My grandmother used this technique in many of her recipes for cookies and tarts. It may sound odd at first, to push a hardboiled egg through a sieve, but it adds a depth of flavor to the dough that is unlike anything else.

This recipe was originally brought to my attention by a reader who previously owned my grandmothers book, “The Art of Fine Baking.” Hidden in the cookie section, I had scanned over this recipe a number of times but wasn’t particularly inspired to try it. I’m glad I finally did. It is a versatile recipe that is so simple and basic, it can be used for a number of different occasions. The shapes of the cookies can vary from cutout stars and crescents, to Holiday specific ones such as witch’s hats for Halloween or gingerbread boys for Christmas. I chose these cute little fall shapes because they seemed appropriate for the chilly autumn weather and falling leaves.

The toppings are also up to you. My grandmother recommends cinnamon sugar or poppy seeds. I will eat cinnamon sugar on almost anything so this was a natural choice for me but poppy seeds, chopped nuts, or even those different colored sprinkles (if making them with kids) would be tasty as well. You will be surprised how something as simple as little butter cookie cut-outs will disappear so quickly from the kitchen counter (especially if you accidentally toss half of them on the floor like I did – oops). Good thing it’s a large recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
5 hardboiled egg yolks, pushed through a sieve
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole egg mixed with
1 teaspoon milk

Toppings:
cinnamon sugar
finely chopped nuts
poppy seeds

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in sieved hardboiled egg yolks, vanilla, and then flour mixed with salt. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour counter top or work surface. Roll out cookie dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies with cookie cutters into small crescents, stars, or other shapes. Transfer to a cookie sheet, leaving about an inch between cookies. Brush with beaten egg and milk mixture. Sprinkle with toppings of your choice. Bake about 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Yield approximately 48 cookies

Adapted from “The Art of Fine Baking,” by Paula Peck

Autumn Polish Butter Cookies

Pork and Black Beans with Rice

Pork and Rice with Black Beans

I have to admit this was a difficult dish to make look as good as it tastes. This is basically classic Latin American comfort food, Paula Peck style. I refuse to credit a specific country in Latin America for Pork Black Beans and Rice because so many of them have their own version. I would hate to offend one country if this is not their authentic preparation, or leave another out that makes a similar version. One thing’s for sure, it’s hard to go wrong with black beans and rice on a chilly fall day. In this case, the addition of pork sausage and chunks of pork tenderloin give this dish a salty meaty flavor and also makes a protein packed meal that keeps you full longer when you’re out raking leaves or picking apples.

My favorite part of this dish is the orange. That orange slice you see in the photo is not just for decoration and color, there is actual orange juice in this dish. It’s mixed with red wine to deglaze the pan (release all of those flavorful brown bits) after browning the pork. This is the acid and sweetness the salty fat of this dish needs to provide that balanced flavor our taste buds look for. So ignore the deceiving sloppy look of these pork and beans – serve with orange slices and these are far from the blah rice and beans you may be used to.

Ingredients:

2 cups dried black beans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 small green peppers, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder or tenderloin, cut into 1″ cubes
3/4 lb fresh pork sausage
2/3 cups orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups peeled fresh orange slices

Wash, pick over beans and soak overnight or cover beans in water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and cover for 1 hour. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a deep pot. Add garlic, onion, and green pepper. Saute until tender and season with salt and pepper. Add beans and enough additional water to cover them. Cover pot and simmer 45 minutes or until beans are tender, adding more water if necessary. Drain liquid from pot and reserve.

Remove two cups of cooked beans from pot. Cover remaining beans to keep warm. Puree the two cups of cooked beans with as much liquid as necessary in blender. Stir bean puree into cooked beans and keep warm.

Brown pork cubes and sausage in their own fat in a skillet. Pour off fat when meats are golden all over and cut sausage into 1-inch pieces. Add both meats to beans. Season with additional salt and pepper, if required.

Pour orange juice and wine into skillet that meats were browned in and cook on high heat until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up any brown bits. Pour into bean mixture and stir to combine all flavors.

Serve over fluffy, steamed rice.

Serves 6.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

Viennese Cookie Pockets

Viennese Pockets

 

It appears my grandmother went through a serious Austrian Dessert phase at one point. Her book,“The Art of Fine Baking,” includes recipes for Strudel, Mocha Torte (similar to the famous Sacher Torte), Linzer Slices, and these cute little pocket cookies. I find that Austrian Desserts have two major commonalities: fruit and lots of butter. Strudel for example, is basically sheets of thin butter rolled with the filling, usually fruit such as apples or cherries. Strudel is one of the few desserts that doesn’t use jam or preserves. These cute little pockets are similar to many other popular Viennese desserts where the fruit jam is the star – or so it seems. As a chocolate lover, I actually tried filling these with Nutella to add some excitement. In the end, I preferred the strawberry jam version because it pairs so well with the buttery lemon scented dough.

I like to think of these cookie pockets as turnovers with less commitment. They’re smaller than turnovers and the soft crumbly exterior is much more of a cookie than a pastry. Just eating one won’t commit you to finishing a large pastry (like a turnover), but I can’t promise you won’t eat three or four of them anyway.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 hard-cooked egg yolks mashed or pressed through a sieve
1 raw egg yolk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
thick jam or preserves
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons water

Lightly grease and flour 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Cream butter with sugar. Stir in hard-cooked egg yolks, raw egg yolk, orange zest, and vanilla. Gently add flour and salt. Mix just to combine. Chill dough.

Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares. Place a small dab of thick jam on each square. Fold in half to make triangles. Pinch edges together and place on baking sheets. Chill again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick top of each cookie with a fork. Beat egg whites with water and brush each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Yield about 20-25 cookies

Viennese Pockets

Peach Melba

Peach Melba

This summery ice cream based dessert may seem more appropriate for August than September. Classic Peach Melba uses summery peaches and raspberries, normally in season in late July and early August. However, most produce has been late this year and surprisingly so has the weather. So far, September in NYC has been hotter than August. It may change soon but in the meantime, sweet juicy peaches from the farmers market are perfect for this cool timeless dessert.

Some of you may not be familiar with Peach Melba. Besides the name, there is nothing particularly unique about this old fashioned dessert. In its most basic form, it simply consists of vanilla ice cream with peaches and raspberry sauce. It is somewhat historic though – legend says it was developed by the French chef Escoffier in the late 1800’s and named after Opera singer, Nellie Melba.  This recipe is adapted from the James Beard version in “The James Beard Cookbook.” It continues to surprise me how this one time dear friend and mentor of my grandmother, is becoming more and more of a famous culinary figure. There is currently a movie in the works about him (“America’s First Foodie”) as well as postage stamps (yes, James Beard Postage Stamps).

The main difference in this recipe from the James Beard one is the use of fresh raspberries for the raspberry sauce. I would imagine this is somewhat closer to the original that Escoffier made (I doubt frozen raspberries were common then but who knows). I also used homemade vanilla ice cream instead of store bought – a rich recipe based on classic crème anglaise. The sweet fresh fruit and rich eggy homemade ice cream makes the flavor of each element stand out on its own. Enjoy this summery dessert while the warm weather lasts.

Ingredients:

4 peaches
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons powdered sugar (depending on sweetness of raspberries)
Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe follows)

Blanch peaches to peel by slicing an X in the skin at the bottom of peaches. Boil 2-3 minutes until skin starts to peel back slightly on peaches. Remove and place immediately in ice water. Once chilled, peel and slice peaches.

Combine the sugar, water, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add peaches and poach gently, spooning hot liquid over them. When tender but not mushy, remove from heat and allow to cool in syrup.

While peaches cool, make raspberry sauce. Puree raspberries with a little water. Push through sieve to remove seeds. Whisk in lemon juice and powdered sugar. Chill.

Scoop vanilla ice cream into cold dishes. Spoon poached peaches and raspberry sauce over ice cream. Serve immediately.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups 1 or 2% milk
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream, milk, and vanilla to a boil over medium low heat – be careful not to let it boil over. Meanwhile beat egg yolks with sugar until pale.

Slowly whisk hot milk cream mixture into egg yolks. Pour back into saucepan. Place over low heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overheat – eggs will curdle. Strain mixture and chill. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

 

Salad Nicoise with a Twist

Salad Nicoise with a Twist

With so many variations of salad nicoise these days, it’s difficult to decipher which are authentic and which are simply tasty tuna vegetable salads. This summery French dish is said to have originated in Provence, a region along the Mediterranean Sea, and often known for its Italian Greek-like Mediterranean style cuisine which includes more of an emphasis on vegetables and fruits. The contents of an authentic Salad Nicoise are debated. Should it include boiled potatoes? Cucumbers? Capers? Green Bell Pepper? Should it have canned tuna or fresh tuna? Anchovies? Then it must be decided if it should be served as a composed salad (aesthetically arranged on the plate) or mixed all together. Maybe this salad has evolved so much that there are no longer any rules. Perhaps the only thing that matters (besides a delicious final salad), is that it includes Nicoise olives – after all that is what the salad is named after. But even that can be disputed due to availability nicoise olives in the US (black olives are often substituted).

My version of Salad Nicoise doesn’t follow any of the rules. I wanted a really good salad and simply used the French version as an idea or base. This salad is a combination of my grandmother’s recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking,” my mother’s version which was really my first introduction to Salad Nicoise, and the more by-the-book version I was taught in French Culinary School. I also used earthy purple Peruvian potatoes, cherry tomatoes instead of sliced, and added garlic scapes. If you haven’t experienced garlic scapes, I encourage you to hunt them down at your local farmers market asap. These spicy curly stems can be cut in 1-inch pieces and boiled or steamed. After they are cooked, they look similar to the green beans (unless you are using the traditional haricot vert) but add a mild garlic surprise to this easy salad exploding with different flavors and textures.  This is one of the best ways to take advantage of prime produce season and enjoy the last of those hot summer days.

Ingredients:

2 lbs small potatoes (purple, red, fingerling, and/or baby dutch)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb green beans, stems removed and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 bunch garlic scapes (about 8-10 scapes), stems removed and cut in 1 inch pieces
7 ounces of tuna in oil (or two 4 oz cans)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pitted or unpitted nicoise olives
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile halve or quarter potatoes. Salt the water and add the potatoes. Boil 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain.

While potatoes cool, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper until emulsified. Pour about half the vinaigrette over warm potatoes and toss to combine. Chill potatoes.

Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, green beans, and garlic scapes. Boil for about 5 minutes until just barely tender. Drain and chill.

In a large bow, combine cooked potatoes, green beans, garlic scapes, tuna, tomatoes, scallion, parsely, and Nicoise olives. Dress with remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Serve with hard boiled egg slices.

Serves 4-6.

Salad Nicoise

 

Crunchy Homemade Pickles

Homemade Pickles

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Returning from my summer hiatus, it may seem strange that I selected a pickle recipe – but I absolutely love pickles. And apparently, I’m not the only one. They seem to be growing in popularity and I continue to see more and more specialty pickles at regular grocery stores. The basic dill and bread n butter pickles still remain the staples but now there are garlic dill, horseradish dill, spicy dill, half sour, and sour, just to name a few. There are also different and trendy, often hipster like brands that specialize in..well…specialty pickles. They are delicious but usually expensive, often charging $8-$9 for a small jar. This is why making homemade pickles seems so well worth it. Not only can you add and adjust the spices to your liking, but with just a few ingredients, you can make enough pickles for a year, at less than half the price.

I made quite a few modifications to this recipe, originally from “The Art of Good Cooking.” Most notably, I eliminated the whole cup of olive oil my grandmother instructed to use. I find that vinegar and water works perfectly fine and is both healthier and less expensive. I also added sprigs of dill and adjusted some of the spices. The actual process of making the pickles is very basic and despite what some may believe, no special canning equipment is needed. Just a big pot and canning jars are sufficient. The most important part of the process is salting and chilling the sliced cucumbers and onions. This seems to help ensure a crunchy pickle, which in my opinion, is the key to a good pickle. I’m not a fan of the soft ones, with little or no resistance when you bite into them. The crunchier, the better. A crisp crunchy pickle is a reminder of the fresh cucumber it was made from. That tasty tang from the brine and vinegar makes it the perfect add on to any end of summer barbecue dish – especially hamburgers!

Ingredients:

12 large kirby cucumbers (about 4 lbs)
1/2 cup coarse salt
4 onions, thinly sliced
whole garlic cloves (as many as you have jars)
fresh sprigs of dill (as many as you have jars)
bay leaves (as many as you have jars)
2 quarts cider vinegar
1 quart of water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons pickling spices
2 tablespoons celery seeds
4 quart jars or 8 pint jars, sterilized (see note)

In a large bowl, make alternate layers of sliced cucumbers, salt, and sliced onions. Let stand in refrigerator 5 hours. Rinse in ice water and drain well, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Return vegetables to bowl. Place a clove of garlic, a sprig of dill, and a bay leaf in each jar. Pack jars with vegetables.

Pour cider vinegar and water into a pot. Add sugar, mustard seeds, pickling spices, and celery seeds. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour mixture into each jar to cover vegetables. Cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator for two weeks or to make pickles shelf stable, place jars in a canner or pot of boiling water for 5-10 minutes or until the lid does not move up or down when pressed in the center.

Note: To sterilize jars and lids, simply boil them in a large pot of water for 5 minutes.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

Cucumbers and Onion for Pickles

 

Smoked Salmon in Sour Cream-Horseradish Sauce

Smoked Salmon Spread

 

Growing up in Minnesota, I wasn’t particularly familiar with smoked salmon or its popularity. My limited experience consisted of the bagels and Nova lox my father made a point to bring home every time we visited NYC. It was considered a treat when we had it (though I may have been more into the bagel and cream cheese at that time than the salmon). I had no idea that there were different kinds of smoked salmon and that they could be bought by the pound and on sandwiches at almost every New York deli.

The quality of smoked salmon varies – usually depending on price but also on smoking method and/or curing method. The lower quality smoked salmon is usually saltier and somewhat mushier. I like Nova lox, which is technically a cold smoked salmon, but regular lox (which is just cured and not smoked), Scottish, or Norwegian smoked Salmon are also good depending on your preference. Whether you’re eating it on a sandwich or making a spread such as this, it’s important to use a smoked salmon you really like. Unlike most salmon spreads, the actual salmon flavor (and not just the saltiness) can be tasted in this dip-like spread. The horseradish, scallion, and dill complement the salmon and give it a freshness. No cooking, no fuss. Add a few slices of cucumbers for a refreshing crunch and this is the perfect light lunch or appetizer on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb smoked salmon, shredded
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced (optional)

Add scallions and dill to smoked salmon.

In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.

Add dressing to salmon mixture. Toss gently. Serve on thinly sliced rye or pumpernickel bread or multi-grain crackers layered with cucumbers (if using).

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

Smoked Salmon Spread 2