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Pickle Addiction: It Doesn’t Have to Threaten Your Marriage


Pickles are good; pickled almost anything is good, especially freshly made and marinated overnight in the refrigerator, perfect for piling up on a chalupa or nibbling with smoky barbecue or eating out of the jar while standing in front of the refrigerator.

pickle jar drawingMine is a sane approach to pickles. Were I to live alone, pickles would take up part of a shelf in the fridge, maybe one door shelf. One.

But I live with a pickleaholic. David eats pickles like popcorn. He likes pickles alone or with anything. Be it raw oyster kimchee and hot mango pickle, jalapeño escabeche, pickled eggs, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, he loves it.

At Christmas, he and John Griffin (pickle fanatic No. 2) present each other with gift baskets loaded with pickles. They are equally as excited to paw through their gifts to see what treasures the one found that the other did not.

What could be wrong with such a harmless addiction?

Pickle storage. When one person has a mania for pickles, it can take over more space than it deserves in the communal refrigerator and cupboard shelves. My jar or two of kosher or half-sour dills, a tub of mixed, expensive olives and maybe a jar of roasted red peppers or pickled baby tomatillos stand inoffensively at one side of the top shelf. His jars and cans and tubs and plastic snack bags take up the rest of the room, then elbow their way down to the next shelf and migrate over to the shelves on the door.

The cupboards are open territory for cans of pickles from Ali Baba International Market and other prime pickle pushers.  When I pull out a rolling shelf of canned goods, often a heavy jar or can of parched pickled melons or pickled baby eggplants will fall on my toe.

Ali baba picklesWhile not a marriage buster, this collection could be annoying in that minor but nagging way.  One day, a solution presented itself. He needed his own pickle fridge. Some men build additions onto their house so that they can put in a pool table and bar or a media room. Dedicated pickle storage: why not?

I didn’t have to look far, as a cube-sized fridge that formerly resided in his office was stacked away in the garage. I could move this into the house and offload jars of salted cassia flower and giant capers from main fridge to pickle fridge.

I formulated my plan. One day, when the coast was clear I found and dragged the small (but heavy) fridge out of the garage. I planned to put it in the dining room, but doing this meant going up three steps and over three door jambs and through two rooms. Our dolly had a broken wheel, which meant the appliance had to be muscled along the journey by sheer brute force — and I knew just the brute to do it.

The fridge had been stored for some time, so I took it through the kitchen first and gave it a good scrubbing. Then it resumed its journey across another floor, over another door jamb, to the dining room. A couple of whole-bottle wine cubes that were unused made a sturdy stand when pushed together.

Then — and I don’t recommend anyone over the age of 45 do this — in one mighty swoop I hove the thing up off the floor and placed it on top of the stand.

Done.

And there it stood, a white elephant in the dining room. As out-of-place looking as a blender in the bathtub. Snuggled up next to my late mother-in-law’s antique writing desk-turned-china cabinet, it deeply lacked in aesthetic appeal. The mahogany desk looked embarrassed.

“Well, too bad,” I thought. “I’ll disguise it and be done with it.”

Pickle FridgeThe final product was, I’m afraid, not much better than just a plain, unadorned white fridge would be (see photo).

Pressing on with the project, and before my husband got home I went out and fetched a few jars of exotic pickles and a nice smelly cheese. I added a couple of micro-brews to place invitingly in the cube.

And then … it was time for the presentation of the fridge. Which was anticlimactic. David came home, he wandered around awhile, he looked at his mail. He changed his clothes. He refused to notice it. (How could he not?!) When I finally couldn’t wait another minute and introduced to him his very own pickle fridge he seemed dubious. But more or less accepting. That is, not exactly rolling around on the floor in throes of gratitude. But, he was sympathetic a few days later when my back gave out.

My reward is — he uses it. Going into the dining room just now, I made a list of what is in that fridge: a tub of mixed grocery store pickled vegetables and two of olives; a wedge of Spanish cheese, a can of pickled baby eggplant, another of baby melons, some Sriracha sauce, capers, an unopened can of pickled cassia flowers and a beer or two.

It’s all delicious stuff, and even more agreeable now that it has a home of its own.

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Pickled Radishes


Do you love the bite that radishes bring to dishes? Here’s an easy pickled version from celebrated chef Thomas Keller that will add a welcome kick to most any meal.

“Our basic pickling liquid is 2 parts vinegar to 1 part sugar to 1 part water; it can be scaled up easily for larger quantities of vegetables,” writes Thomas Keller in “Ad Hoc at Home.” It can be used with baby leeks, green beans, cauliflower, carrots and garlic, among other vegetables.

Pickled Radishes

Basic Pickling Liquid (recipe follows)
1 cup icicle radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal, or red radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced (see note)

Basic Pickling Liquid

1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

Combine vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator.

Put the radishes in a canning jar or other storage container and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Note: If using red radishes, expect the color to run.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

From “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

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Pickled Loquats Work Without Sugar


Pickled Loquats

Loquats don’t have a long shelf life. So, you may find yourself trying a number of recipes in order to use all of the fruit you pick.

Don’t make desserts out of all of them. Loquats are versatile. They take to savory treatments as well as sweet.

Therein lies the beauty of this recipe. It has no sugar in it. That leaves you with a tart treat. Of course, you could add some sugar or sweetener to the vinegar-water solution for a sweet-tart flavor. Just make sure it dissolves before you remove it from the heat.

Either way, these would complement ham or pork loin as well as fish. Or you could snack on them by themselves.

Pickled Loquats

2 1/4 pounds loquats
Bay leaves
Stems of fresh rosemary
3 heaped tablespoons of cooking or rock salt
2 cups mild vinegar
2 cups water

There are seeds and a membrane at the center of the loquat.

Clean jars with lids for storage – heat in a warm oven to sterilize.

Pick yellow to orange loquats without blemishes. Halve the fruit.

Remove all seed pits and the blackish end of each fruit (end opposite the stem). Leave the skins on. Do not worry if the cut fruit browns.

Rinse the prepared loquats with water. Place in a bowl and add salt.

Leave for 24 hours in a bowl. Stir whenever it is convenient to allow the fruit to make contact with the salty juices.

After 24 hours, drain the salty juices. Rinse the loquats with water to remove excess salt.

Pour salt on the loquats.

Mix vinegar and water in a stainless steel saucepan; bring to boil and allow it to cool for 3 minutes.

Put a fresh bay leaf and two stems of rosemary into each jar. Firmly pack the washed salted loquats into the jars. Carefully pour hot mixture of vinegar and water over the loquats. Ensure that there are no trapped air bubbles. Fill to the top of the jars. Seal jars with thin plastic wrap to stop any rusting under jar lids.

Place in the fridge and store for at least a week before using.

Adapted from LoquatWorld.com

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Pickle Your Own Watermelon Rind


Don't discard the rind after eating watermelon.

“Between the dark green skin of a watermelon and its pinky flesh lies an often discarded, pale green rind that’s full of possibilities,” writes John Besh in “My New Orleans: The Cookbook.” “Seasoned by aromatic spices in a quick boil, these pickles can be served the same way as other pickles, but they are especially fine with … pork recipes.”

And some juicy watermelons are still available as we head into fall. So, don’t throw out the rind. Try this recipe from Besh, whose Lüke restaurant is opening in San Antonio in October.

Watermelon Pickles

1 whole medium watermelon
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 star anise
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut the watermelon into manageable pieces. With a vegetable peeler, peel away the outer skin, trim away the pink flesh and save for granita or sorbet, and cut the white rind into 1-inch pieces.

Put 2 cups water, the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, star anise, fennel seed, peppercorns, and salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the watermelon rinds and gently boil until the rinds become tender, about 10 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat.

Let the watermelon rinds and syrup cool to room temperature in the pot. Pack then into a sterilized jar or two and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 quart.

From “My New Orleans: The Cookbook” by John Besh

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Chefs’ Corner: Pickled Vegetables Spice Up a Meal


Mixed Pickle Vegetables

Folks who have visited Cibolo Moon in the JW Marriott know they have a healthy array of mouthwatering side dishes to choose from, including Brazos Valley Mac and Cheese and fries topped with smoked salt and pepper. Then there’s the jar of house and local pickled vegetables that executive chef Ryan Littman has created. Bursting with flavor, this assortment of crispy, crunchy pickles is perfect alongside a slab of bison meatloaf or the bacon cheddar cheeseburger.

Mixed Pickled Vegetables

1/2 pound cauliflower, cut into small buds
1/4 pound cipollini onions
1/2 pound carrots, cut into thick slices
1/8 pound garlic cloves, whole
1/3 pound green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/8 cup salt
Crushed ice
2 cups vinegar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix cauliflower, onions, carrots, garlic and green beans with salt and cover with crushed ice. Place in the cooler for 3-4 hours. Drain the vegetables and rinse. Bring the vinegar, turmeric, mustard seed, sugar and red pepper flakes to a boil. Add the vegetables and remove from heat, pouring in to shallow pans and allow to cool.

Source: Ryan Littman/Cibolo Moon at JW Marriott

Cibolo Moon at JW Marriott
23808 Resort Parkway off TPC Parkway
210-403-3434

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What’s Hot: Cucumber Salad in a Jar


On a run to Ali Baba International Food Market for fresh pita bread the other day we picked up a jar of Pulaski Cucumber Salad. The sliced cukes resembled sliced hamburger sliced dills, but had a fresher look.  Fresher is how they tasted, too.

I’ve already picked up a second jar. The flavor is less acidic than pickles, with a little sweetness like bread and butter pickles but far less intense. They are not overly salty or vinegary. In other words, as much a salad as a pickle. But they are really good on sandwiches: chicken or tuna salad, Italian meats and hamburgers, too.  I’m thinking they’d be great on pulled pork sandwiches and served along with barbecue.

The pickles are a product of Poland, but packed in the United States. A 30-ounce jar is $3.99. You’ll find them on the pickle aisle at Ali Baba, down toward the fresh produce end. Ali Baba is at 9307 Wurzbach Road.

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