Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pennsylvania Pickled Easter Eggs

These eggs are a neccessity for any Pennsylvania-Dutch Easter dinner. My mother used to pickle almost a week before Easter, and we weren't allowed to have any until that day- with good cause, they would have soon been gone! I like to think of them as my grown-up version of dying eggs. And while I'm on that subject, let me mention, one drop of beet juice will stain a counter or carpet forever, so beware! The onions would make a great addition to left-over sandwiches.
I highly recommend doubling the recipe for a crowd.

1 dozen hard-boiled and peeled eggs
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 jar pickled beets (including brine)
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp canning salt
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 cloves

Place eggs in a large, glass jar. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over eggs and delicately mix together. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pickled Okra and Pickled Beets

What can I say? I was a weird kid- when everyone else was looking forward to Cadbury Eggs and Jelly Beans, I was looking forward to Mom's pickled eggs. She always started them a week before Easter, and by Easter Day I was ready to scarf down my share of those purple beauties. Then it was just yesterday that I realized Easter is early this year, only three weeks away- I better get my beets in a pickle!
And to get my husband off my back, I made some okra in the same shot.
Recipe adapted from the USDA Guide to Home Canning's Pickled Okra:

4 pint and 4 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, all sterilized
1.2 #okra, washed and trimmed
6 beets, peeled and sliced

4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar
4 Cups Water
3 Bay Leaves
3 Cloves
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. pepper flakes
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 Cup salt

Begin heating all ingredients for brine. Pack okra into pint jars and beets into 1/2 pint jars. When brine comes to a boil, ladle into jars (herbs and all). Process jars for 10 minutes. Follow all regular canning procedures.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sweet Onion and Lime Pickle

If I could spend my birthday anywhere in Florida, it would be Disney's Animal Kingdom. Really! I'm not a huge fan of theme parks, but it is quite a beautiful place. Two years ago, I decided to take advantage of the free birthday park pass, and this past January my Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob took my husband, Joe, and I as a wedding gift, along with the rest of the family.
On my first visit I was exited to see every attraction, from Asia to Africa. However, it wasn't until my recent trip that I was exposed to the phenomenal food that Animal Kingdom has to offer.
My cousin, Oona, a life-time vegetarian took us to her favorite Tusker House Restaraunt. The exotic buffet here blew us away! As hard-to-impress chefs, Joe and I couldn't believe the variety and fresh flavors they had to offer. But it was at the Kidani Village, a Lodge within Disney where wild animals roamed freely outside our balcony, that I had the absolute best middle eastern bread service I've ever had in my life! A simple handmade naan, in plain and spinach was served with raita, cilantro sauce, and an unforgettable onion and lime pickle.
It was sweet, tart and spicy, the perfect condiment! I savored and analyzed that pickle down to the last bit, in hopes that I could recreate it at home, and here it is!
Or a pretty darn close version of it:

2 sterilized 8 oz. canning jars, lids and rings
3 large sweet onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. table salt
4 Persian limes
1/4 Cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnemon
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
3 swift grates of nutmeg
1 tsp. chili flakes
1/4 Cup lemon juice

Julienne onions, add to a large pan with oil and salt and sweat over medium low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally. In this time zest the limes. You could use a microplane, but I prefer my 5-hole zester, which makes lovely little strands of peel. Now cut off the rind and cut out the segments- this is called the 'supreme'. Squeeze the juice out of what is left of the limes and reserve. Combine spices in a small bowl and check for flavor. This particular pickle was heavy in turmeric and chili, but you can alter it to your taste. Once the onions are cooked out and very broken down, add the brown sugar, lime supremes and spices. Stir constantly until sugar darkens and becomes thick, about 1-2 minutes. Add reserved lime and lemon juice, stir through and turn off heat. Pack into jars following all normal canning procedures and process 10 minutes. Makes about 12 oz., I ate the extra right away.
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*Warning* this is not a tested recipe, but I'm pretty sure the heavy doses of lime juice and lemon juice made it acidic enough to withstand time.