What to do with leftover farmer’s market vegetable bounty that’s about to go bad? Pickle them, of course! I learned my basic quick pickle recipe from Thomas Keller and his book Ad Hoc At Home (otherwise known as the Cooking Bible, as written by the God of Cooking – in Selim’s opinion). The basic recipe for quick pickles is as follows. You may want to sit down and mentally prepare yourself because it’s so difficult.
2 parts vinegar, to 1 part water, to 1 part sugar
Simmer. Cool. Pour over vegetables. Refrigerate.
Complex huh? So taking that basic recipe, you can modify it to your tastes a million ways. Which vegetables are in season? (Or if you’re like me and buy too many pretty vegetables at the farmer’s market, which vegetables are about to go bad?) Try a different vinegar… balsamic, rice wine, champagne…?! All would give you unique types of pickles. Try brown sugar instead of white. Scale up or down depending on how many vegetables you want to pickle. And of course, doctor it up with different herbs and spices!
We’ve done this a quick a few different ways in the past, but here’s what I went with today:
Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower & Radishes
- 5 small radishes
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- Slice radishes and cut cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes and then shock in ice water. Set vegetables aside.
- Combine all ingredients except for the radishes and cauliflower in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place vegetables in a large mason jar. Pour liquid over-top. Place in the refrigerator.
- Leave in the fridge for 3 days before enjoying. (They’re edible/won’t kill you immediately, but they’ll taste better if you let them pickle for awhile.)
Note: These aren’t “real” pickles of the canned, like Grandma did it, Little House on the Prairie, feed you during the zombie apocalypse variety. They are not safe to be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end. On a related note, the CDC says that the majority of US cases of botulism are from improper home canning techniques. Tidbit of knowledge for the day.
The slow cooker seems to fall out of popularity in the summer, I guess because most of the recipes you think of as traditionally going in a slow cooker are more “fall” or “winter” recipes. But it’s really perfect for summer! Just think, you don’t have to turn on the oven and heat up your house – your cool haven from the heat. I decided last night that I want to make something in the slow cooker for that reason and because I had some things to do today and wanted us to be able to eat whenever Selim was home and ready.
As you may have noticed, we like to share recipes from all different parts of the world. As I’ve said before, I’m not swearing to the authenticity of any of these, as my family has been in the US for a few hundred years and long ago lost whatever culture we may have had. But we love to try anything with a lot of flavor. Selim has a special attachment to Indian flavors, as he grew up eating real Indian food, homemade by a real Indian grandma. I had no illusions of making food that even slightly compares, but decided to give it a whirl.
Selim’s Take: My wife isn’t good at surprises. She tries, but either she’s not good at them or I’m good at ruining them. (Ally: He’s good at ruining them.) I was in the OR all day with a couple challenging cases, from an anesthesia stand-point, but I knew that Ally would be trying to make something new for dinner tonight. While grabbing a quick lunch break, I saw a snapchat from her with some onions and garlic in a pan. Not exactly a divulging picture, as most great meals start with those classic ingredients. We both really like Indian food and we often dabble with the spices, sauces, and flavors that are characteristic of the diverse food from that country. The house smelled delicious when I got home, but I couldn’t quite put me finger on what exactly we were having for dinner. To tell the truth, I didn’t figure out what was in the slow-cooker until I saw the naan on top of the refrigerator. I really wanted to take a peek/taste, but I resisted. I know it’s tempting, but you should never (or rarely, maybe, possibly only once to turn/stir) because it will add ~20 minutes to the cooking time every time you lift that lid off. Luckily, it was worth the wait. There are a lot of amazing flavors and spices in this dish, although it is really not spicy at all. We might need a little more heat next time.
PS: You should also make raita to go with this!
Slow Cooker Chicken & Cauliflower Tikka Masala
(Adapted from this recipe from Wanderlust Kitchen)
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, grated
- 2 large (~10-12oz) chicken breasts
- 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower
- 1 can (13.5oz) light coconut milk
- 1 can (13.5oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Saute for ~8 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.
- Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, add these to the slow cooker.
- Cut your chicken and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Add these and all of the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stir everything up so well combined.
- Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 5 hours. At this time, remove the lid and stir a few times. Leave the lid off and turn slow cooker up to high. Cook like this for another hour to thicken the sauce some.
- Serve over rice and/or with warm naan.
Makes 4-6 servings.