Sunday, July 6, 2014

Smoked Veggies

Carrots – peeled and cut into 5 inch (or so) lengths
Broccoli – broken into good size pieces
Cauliflower – broken into good size pieces
Salt – about ½ teaspoon
Grounded pepper – about 1 teaspoon
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons of minced shallots
3 Tablespoons of beef stock
              3 Tablespoons of cane syrup
              2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
              3 Tablespoons of molasses
              2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

Pot of hot water for blanching
Ice water bath to stop the cooking
Stovetop smoker with selected soaked wood chips
Pan for finishing

Blanch the veggies: 3 minutes for the carrots, 2 minutes for the cauliflower, 1-½ minutes for the broccoli. Immediately after blanching, plunge the veggies into the ice bath to stop the cooking. All veggies should be somewhat tender (stick a knife in them to test).

Prepare the smoker with the soaked chips. Place the blanched veggies in the tray. Place over high heat with a 1” opening. Watch for the hint of smoke and then close the lid completely. Smoke for five minutes and then turn off the heat, leaving the lid closed.

Here's the blanched veggies laid out on the smoker tray.
Here's the smoker - waiting for the hint of smoke to trigger closing the lid and starting the five minutes.

Here's the ingredients used to finish the veggies. (This shows the molasses and light brown sugar option. Could go with cane syrup and dark brown sugar.)
Melt the butter in the pan over medium high heat until it begins to foam. Add the shallots and sauté until transparent. Add the carrots and toss to fully coat with the butter. Add the stock, bring to a boil and reduce a wee bit. 
Stir in either the cane syrup/dark brown sugar or the molasses/light brown sugar, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Liquid should become thick and syrupy. 
Remove from the heat. Remove the carrots. Toss the cauliflower and broccoli in the sauce and then add to the carrots on the plate.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Watermelon Pickles

When I was growing up, I could walk downstairs into the basement and be amazed at the number of Ball jars chock-full with various items. One of the favorites was watermelon pickles – available in green and red. So, when a friend gave me a cookbook with a recipe for them, I then had a starting point for recreating the memory. Then, in a discussion about watermelon pickles with a neighbor, I got a recipe card from her mother – so that would be from my grandmother’s generation. What follows is a blend of it all.

Here’s what’s needed:

4 cups of watermelon rind – this is about all the rind from a ‘personal’ size melon
4 cups water
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 lemon sliced in 1/16 inch slices, or equivalent of 1 lemon of juice
1 stick cinnamon (crushed)
1 teaspoon whole cloves

If you want to make them spicy, then the following is needed as well:
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Watermelon rind is the white part between the red meat and the green skin. 

I found that it is best to peel the skin off ¾ inch slices after the red meat has been removed.

Then, after the peel is removed, the strips of rind can be cut into ¾ inch or so pieces.

Blanch the pieces of rind to tenderize them. Meanwhile, in the brining bucket, dissolve the 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt into the 4 cups of water. Add the blanched rind, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the rind.

In a good size pot combine the sugar, vinegar and the 1 cup of water. If heat in the pickles is desired, then also add the mustard seeds and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Place the sliced lemon, crushed cinnamon, and cloves in cheesecloth. Again, if heat in the pickles is desired, then also add the peppercorns. Tie up the cheesecloth and place in the pot. If lemon juice is used instead of the sliced lemon, then add the juice to the sugar and vinegar.

Let the pot simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the rind. Bring to a boil again. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 more minutes.

Once cooled, scoop the rind pieces into a jar. Pour enough syrup into the jar to completely cover the rind.

I suspect that Mom used white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar and either red or green food coloring in order to get the colors.