Spicy Pickled Okra

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It’s dead in the middle of winter and there are no fresh okra at the market these days. Or so I thought. They’re around, albeit pricier than usual, and who knows where they came from, but I found them at the store last week and this recipe immediately came to mind. If you know me, you know I love pickles and I love okra too, so this condiment-slash-side dish is just perfect.

These are probably better pickled during the summer months, when okra are actually in season, but making these garlicy spears now is fine if you’re craving a taste of summer. Just make sure to use fresh, not frozen okra. They’re excellent alongside sandwiches or as a cocktail garnish. Oh, and straight out of the jar works too.

Spicy Pickled Okra

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds okra
4 garlic cloves
2 cups cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Divide okra and garlic evenly among 2 (2-pint) jars.

2. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Carefully pour vinegar mixture into jars, leaving about 1/4 inch at top. Seal jars; refrigerate at least 3 days and up to 1 month before serving.

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.

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.