Tag: summer

Pickled Peaches

I bought 12 peaches. One molded and attracted a hoard of fruit flies that made me nearly gag. I didn’t want to throw them all away (expensive!), so I stuck them in the freezer to bide my time and kill any remaining flies. That was 5 weeks ago. Here’s my plan: pickled peaches from Saveur. Any tips for a first time pickler?

INGREDIENTS

3½ cups sugar
1½ cups white vinegar
14–16 ripe medium peaches, peeled
8 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1″ piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a canning pot of water to a boil. Submerge 2 one-quart canning jars and their lids and ring bands in boiling water; sterilize equipment for 10 minutes. Remove from boiling water with tongs, draining jars, and transfer to a clean dish towel.

2. Combine sugar, vinegar, and 1½ cups water in a heavy medium-size pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Working in batches slide peaches into the pickling liquid and cook, turning once or twice, until peaches soften but before they turn fuzzy, 4–5 minutes per batch. Transfer peaches to a bowl as done.

3. Divide cloves, cinnamon, and ginger between the 2 jars. Cut any peaches with brown spots into halves or quarters, discarding pits, and trim away the brown spots. Spoon peaches into the jars, filling the gaps with the halves and quarters and packing the jars as tightly as possible.

4. Return pickling liquid to a boil, then pour boiling liquid into each jar, covering peaches and filling jar to 1/4″ from the rims. Let liquid settle in jars, then add more boiling liquid as necessary. Discard any remaining liquid. Wipe jar rims with a clean dish towel, place lids on jars, and screw on ring bands.

5. Transfer filled jars to a canning rack, submerge in a canning pot of gently boiling water (jars should be covered by at least 1″ of water), and process for 10 minutes. Carefully lift jars from water with jar tongs and place on a dish towel at least 1″ apart to let cool undisturbed for 24 hours. To test that jars have properly sealed, press on center of each lid. Remove your finger; if lid stays down, it’s sealed. Refrigerate any jars of pickled peaches that aren’t sealed; use within 4 weeks.

MAKES 2 QUARTS

Secondhand Smoke

Guest Post  – Smoked Brisket

Earlier this summer, I procured a smoker from a friend for the very reasonable price of $30. It was older and well-loved, but still in decent shape. My friend was trying to sell it on Craig’s List but I was willing to take it off his hands after tasting some of is smoked meats. I had no prior experience with smoking but I was quite eager to step into the game. Throughout the summer I’ve used it three times: first  with beef brisket, then pork ribs, then brisket again. I chose brisket again because of the success on the first go-round and the fact I knew it would be a crowd pleaser. (We’ll ignore the ribs for now; still got some tinkering to do there.)

I researched what type of rub to lather on the delicious cut of meat. There seems to be quite a variety so I won’t lie to you and pretend I looked extensively; I just randomly picked one of the first recipes I came across. Hats off to Bobby Flay’s Oklahoma Joe recipe, which served as the basis for my first rub. Of course I didn’t have all the spices on hand, so I made some alterations. Here is how the rub actually shook out:

To note: I didn’t have onion powder so I replaced it with dry mustard. Are these things similar? Well, no, not really. However, I learned through my previous tasting experiences that mustard in BBQ freaking rocks. I also didn’t have white pepper because who the hell keeps white pepper around?

I gave the cut of brisket a good smothering, wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Once I got the coals going, I took out the brisket to let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour. I used hickory wood chips as recommended. The most difficult thing in smoking is regulating the temperature. It flared up a little too hot at times and in my overzealous tempering, it got a little too cool. I was lacking a meat thermometer and the “thermometer” on the smoker only lists “warm, ideal, and hot.” I’ve now learned that you want to stay on the low-end of ideal, closer to warm (at least for the brisket – don’t quote me on other meats yet). As the recipe states, I kept the brisket moist with apple juice throughout the process. It says use a spray bottle, but a turkey baster is a perfect alternative.

With smoking,  the size of the cut of meat is going to heavily play into the time it takes to cook. The recipe calls for around 6 hours of smoking for a 5 to 8 pound cut of brisket. You could probably find that size at a butcher but if you are just heading to the meat aisle at your local grocery store, you’re more likely to find a smaller cut – more on the order of 3 pounds. It took around 3 hours for the approximately 3 pound cut I purchased.

Since I’m a sandwich hound, and have written about my concoctions here and here on this blog before, I should note that I did enjoy a brisket sandwich. I used a medium-sized sub (or a hoagie roll would suffice), and the kicker for me was also smoking some jalapeños and some Gouda cheese to finish off the sandwich.

Everything went over well with the guests and I highly recommend this rub. I still have awhile to go to perfect my smoking skills, but not bad for my first foray. Meanwhile, the house still smells like a campfire…

– posted by Bryan

Gazpacho-esque Soup

I’m not entirely certain what constitutes “gazpacho,” and the internet is full of dissenting opinions. But the chilled tomato-based soup I made with friends last night was so freaking good – who cares what it’s called? It’s dairy free, gluten-free, raw, vegan happy and oh-so-satisfying!

12 vine-ripened tomatoes (we used 22 home-grown Roma tomatoes), seeded
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (yes, the entire bunch)
1/2+ jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks (we used stoplight colors, but yellow and red would be lovely)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 onion, peeled and cut thick
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS minced garlic, or to taste
2 TBS freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper

The instructions couldn’t be easier:

Combine everything except the salt and pepper into a large bowl. Toss the ingredients together. Using a blender or food processor, blend in batches until pureed. (They’re stupid expensive, but Vitamix blenders last for 30 years!) Combine the batches, then salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro and avocado.

Zesty, tangy and smooth – I recommend serving it with rustic bread as you’re gonna wanna sop this up. You can also add seafood for a complete meal. As for wine, we enjoyed a chilled red sangria that was surprisingly smooth – Eppa (pictured at righ).

Adapted from Quick Cooking with Pacific Flavors.