Seasonal Pickles

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I love pickles. Iranian torshi, Italian giardiniera, Japanese tsukemono – the possibilities are endless. These days, I’m increasingly seeing seasonal pickles show up on restaurant menus, which is a welcome change from the plain pickled cucumber of yesteryear.

This recipe is a simple take on seasonal pickled vegetables, and is ready in just one day. Feel free to substitute the vegetables with whatever is readily available in the markets. These are, after all, seasonal.

Seasonal Pickles

Ingredients:

4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 fresh thyme sprigs
6 Turkish bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1 rosemary sprig
3 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into two-inch pieces
12 radishes, trimmed and halved
15 purple pearl onions, peeled
1/4 pound green beans
1 head cauliflower, thickly sliced

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add thyme, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, and rosemary; stir to blend.

2. Add all vegetables to a large, sterilized canning jar. Add vinegar mixture until vegetables are submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and lid and chill at least one day and up to one week.

Persimmon-Cranberry Sauce

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I have to be honest with you here: I used to really dislike cranberry sauce. Like yams with marshmallows, it was one of the few hallmarks of Thanksgiving that I never came to fully embrace. It probably didn’t help that the only cranberry sauce I’d ever tried was a gelatinous mass out of a can.

Until last year. I grew up with dual cultural Thanksgivings: baghali polo instead of stuffing alongside the turkey, mashed potatoes and tahdeeg. What better way to make an Iranian-American enjoy cranberry sauce than to throw some persimmons in there? We love our persimmons and now, I love my cranberry sauce too. And since Thanksgiving isn’t too far off, I’ve started craving this (ridiculously easy) recipe again. I adapted it from an old issue of Gourmet to suit my own tastes: less sugar, more persimmons and cranberries, and cinnamon instead of star anise to modify the original recipe.

Persimmon-Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh cranberries
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1. Bring cranberries, wine, water, cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Fold in persimmons.

2. Transfer to a bowl and serve at room temperature. Stir gently before serving.

Mint-Lime and Pomegranate Green Tea Sugar Syrups

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I discovered the joys of Torani syrup when I was a kid, gleefully mixing it with club soda to make Italian sodas. I’ve since learned to make the grownup version, and with homemade syrup. Feel free to play around with the flavors, and since I had a bunch of Iranian mint and green tea lying around, I went with these:

Mint-Lime and Pomegranate Green Tea Sugar Syrups

For a quick cocktail, add a few spoons to some vodka or rum with a splash of club soda. I’m planning on making a seasonal cranberry-orange syrup for Thanksgiving cocktails.

Ingredients:

1 handful fresh mint
zest of two limes, peeled in 1/2 inch-thick strips
2 bags of pomegranate green tea
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, bring one cup of sugar and one cup of water just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add mint and lime zest, cover, and turn off heat, letting the mixture steep for an hour. Remove lid and let cool, then pour into a jar and refrigerate.

2. Repeat the process of dissolving the remaining cup of water and sugar over heat, and steep with the tea and honey for a hour. Let cool, and pour into another jar and refrigerate.

Pickled Red Radishes

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i’m a little late on the persian new year wishes, but happy noruz nevertheless! i’ve been so busy this week that i’ve neglected my blog (again).

but i have been cooking:

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chilled udon noodle salad

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wakame and turkey potstickers

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tofu-stuffed shiitake mushrooms

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soy-simmered soybeans with vegetables

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picked red radishes

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chicken donburi

my weekend involved vietamese egg noodle soup, a spike lee movie, a number of bookstores, a whole lot of traffic, and a silly attempt at wardrobe modifications. i relished it all. after all, its not every week that i get to see the boy four days in a row.

Here’s the recipe for the radish pickles:

10-15 red radishes, trimmed
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 one-inch piece kombu (kelp) seaweed

1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and kombu in a small saucepan and let the kombu soak for at least 20 minutes. Place the pan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Slowly bring to just below a boil and cook until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool in the pan.

2. In the meantime, slice each radish into quarters. Place the radish pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon salt. Allow the radishes to sit undisturbed for about five minutes. Gently toss and squeeze to wilt the radishes. Pour off any accumulated liquid and rinse the wilted radishes briefly under cold water to remove excess salt. Squeeze again.

3. Place the radishes in a glass jar and pour the cooled sauce over them, setting the kombu piece on top. Cover with plastic wrap and a tight-fitting lid. Let the radishes stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature and up to one day. After one day, refrigerate the radishes. The radishes will keep in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.