Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fall Pickling Season Kickoff A.A.R.

We've been blessed with our first genuine, non-mechanically produced cool breezes around here and farmers are bringing in their summer produce. It's finally Fall!!

We're off to a great start on this pickling season. To everyone who turned out to play with our food, much thanks and good job!  As always, the pickle parties are a good excuse to host fun folks to drink and converse with. Much love to the new additions to the circle!

Carrot Escabeche:
We're at the final mark in the evolution of this recipe now! After seven years, I'm finally happy with the balance of flavors. The two Innuendo batches came out fine but each was a little off.  This latest batch, however, is not. At all! Beautifully balanced, the TapaRoo, named for its two main producers, is cut in bigger pieces that make this more of a finger food, and a real inviting one at that! This batch boasts a beautiful palate centered on the slight spiciness and peppery flavor of the orange bell peppers. That's ringed by just the right amount of flavorful and spicy from the other peppers and just the right amounts of garlic and onion and carrot. Using the banana peppers is a must now, they really carry their part nicely with just the right amount of heat and their own flavor. Here's the recipe:

TapaRoo Escabeche, 22 Sep. 2013:
--> FINAL VERSION <-- b="">

Carrots, 5 lbs.
Cauliflower, 2 heads
Garlic, 1.5 lbs.
Orange and Yellow Bells, 1.5 lbs.
Jalapenos, some seeded, 1.5 lbs.
Banana Peppers, some seeded, 1.5 lbs.
Red Onion, 1.5 lbs.
Yellow Onion, 1.5 lbs.
3 cups Vinegar
3/4 cups Salt

I let this batch go the full seven days at a temperature range between 69 and 75, mostly below 72. The bag method worked great again, very little headspace was left for mildew to form in and minimal scraping was required. We pounded this batch in three sub-batches (Coke bottle pounder in the crock), which works but needs to be improved upon. I get leery about pounding with a glass bottle in a ceramic crock. We needed more pounding though. And we needed to pound each clove of garlic- this batch produced very little of our favorite Blue Garlic. I think drawing the process out by salting the cut veggies and letting them sit overnight to brine will help, too. I'm basing this off how we had to add water (and hence salt) to this batch at the end, as the veggies didn't produce that much of their own fluid. And yes, thank you for wondering, someone did make a "The Gods Must Be Crazy" joke once we got to pounding. I'm always waiting for that one...

Green Harissa

The good brother Meldrum introduced us to this recipe he found and I was immediately excited- it was damn close to an Indian chutney I'd purchased at Fiesta a few years ago. We loved it so much that I kept the empty jar in the fridge for years, just to keep the ingredient list percolating through the layers of limestone in my head. I've always suspected it was originally a fermented food (like so many other things), so I was ready to experiment by this point. We set up two batches with varying degrees of spice and substituting living vinegar for the lemon juice that was called for. The original stuff had olive oil in it but I still haven't figured out fermenting with fats, so we mixed that in after fermentation.  This stuff's been flying down my hatch ever since and it makes peoples' eyes go sooo wide!

Experimental Green Harissa, 9 June '13:
Cilantro and Parsley, 5 heads each
Jalapenos, 12 fat ones
Green Onions, 1 bunch
Garlic, 4 cloves
Comino (Cumin), 8 Tbsp.
Coriander Seed, 8 Tbsp.
Living Vinegar, 1 cup
Salt, 4 Tsp.
Lightly roast the Cumin and Coriander Seed on medium heat for 2-3 minutes- until it's lightly fragrant. Pick just the Parsley leaves but leave the tender stems on the Cilantro. Chop fine and blend well. We let the stuff go for three days before transferring it to the fridge; plastic bag method works just fine. Since there's so little sugar content in this stuff, I think we can now ferment it longer than a chutney-style 3 days, dunno what I was thinking there...
Mk 1: Light spice, 4 Tbsp Coriander, add 2 Tbsp. Power Mix. Result: Good but Power was unnecessary.
Mk 2: Straight recipe. Result: Beautiful!!

With the experimental batch a success, we set to with the next batch. I goofed and forgot the jalapenos for this one, so we substituted a lesser number of serranos and most of a smallish orange bell pepper, resulting in a slightly spicier product every bit as yummy as the first batch.

After just a bit of research, this green stuff appears to be a variation on more traditional Harissas, so there's some room to explore other ideas down that road. My boss says they make this in Israel and call it Chug ("schyuh!-g"). We're gonna make it a regular, that's for sure. I get to aching and pining when I look in the fridge, that all that's left of the second batch has someone else's name on it! I want some now, on a sandwich with bleu cheese (they love to play together!).

Happy Fermenting, y'all!

No comments: