Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sweet 'n Sour Mystic Gypsy Pickles

I found 6 mini Hungarian cucumbers at Fairway this weekend, and realized how badly I need to pickle again. We're going to a BBQ this coming weekend and making burgers for everyone (see previous post) and I decided to make some sweet 'n sour pickle slices to go on our burgers.

Sweet 'n Sour Mystic Gypsy Pickles

6 small cucumbers
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. white mustard seed
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. yellow cider vinegar

Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers with kosher salt and cover for 3 hours. Rinse and drain thoroughly. While the cucumbers are marinating in the salt, combine the sugar, turmeric, ground cloves, white mustard seed, water and vinegar. Bring the syrup mixture to a boil. Once the cucumber mix is rinsed, place the veggies into three medium-sized canning jars. Artfully. Pour the boiling hot mixture over the cucumbers and seal. They're good after a few days of marinating in the juice. Yum!

Burgers for 14

Our friends who have a country house Pennsylvania are having so many people over for the weekend of the 4th that D. and I are sleeping in a tent on the lawn. We're planning a BBQ for 14, and I offered to bring burgers. I've been buying all of our meat free-range, local, or organic, so the endeavor was not cheap, but I hope worth the effort. We make a variation of these burgers about once every two weeks, but we never eat them with buns. We have to find a place near us here in Brooklyn that makes good hamburger buns.

Gourmet Free Range Beef Burgers

7 lbs. free range ground sirloin
2 red bell peppers
2 red onions
1 lb of cremini mushrooms
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup panko
worsteshire sauce
sriracha sauce

Finely chop 2 medium red onions and set aside in a bowl. Do the same with peppers and mushrooms, both in separate bowls. Saute onions until they are soft. Add red peppers and saute until they are soft as well. The onions will be limp and will have lost most of their color. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushroom have gotten just soft. Set aside in a cool place (put in the fridge after its cooled for a bit). Mix in a bowl the eggs, salt, pepper, paprikia, cumin, tamari, w. sauce, and sriracha to taste. Don't add too much sriracha. Take out the ground sirloin when the veggies have cooled and mix the veggies and spiced egg mixture into the ground sirloin, dump in 1 1/2 cup of panko and work with your hands until the meat is the right consistency for burgers. Shape and either cook 'em up right away, or store them in the fridge or freezer between parchment paper. Best grilled, but you can cook 'em in a cast iron pan. Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tomato-Basil Tilapia with Roasted Mushroom & Shallots

I'd never seen a Hen-of-the-Woods mushroom before, but my favorite mushroom man was at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market on Saturday, and sold me on 1/4 pound of the succulent beauty. I took it home and presented it to D. and said: "what do we do with it?" The mushroom man had suggested roasting the 'shroom with shallots and olive oil, which is just what we did. The key was cutting the mushroom the right cut it like a cauliflower, separating it from the base into smallish pieces. One quarter pound yielded about a dozen pieces. We tossed sliced shallots (cut to be about the same size as the mushrooms) with salt, pepper, and parsley and then tossed that mix gently with the mushroom pieces, so that the tips didn't break off. Then we placed it all in a small shallow roasting pan at 400 degrees and roasted for about 20 minutes. We ate the mushroom with two medium pieces of tilapia roasted with tomatos and fresh basil from the balcony. Delicious.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

White Sangria for a Blazing Hot Day

Two parties this weekend and I would normally cook something up to bring, but it was just too damn hot. I didn't even want to LOOK at the stove today. So I tried to copy an amazing white sangria that I sampled at a wine store in Red Hook a few weeks ago. The secret: tamarind juice. I embellished on the recipe of course. Homemade coolness. One of the parties was a housewarming for two friends who just moved in together and have more than enough to start their home, so I brought the sangria in a thermos they can use for summer concerts and stuff.

White Sangria

2 bottles of mid-priced Chardonnay
1/2 cup tamarind juice
2 chopped apricots
2 chopped peaches
1 chopped peeled apple
about 30 grapes, halved and juice
Juice from 3 limes
splash of black currant cordial (optional, I just happened to have it on hand).

Add crushed ice and you're good to go.

(you can use any kind of fruit, really. I made it again and used peaches and nectarines. Blood oranges and passion fruit juice work well, too. For an even lighter taste, splash a bit of soda water on top and add a lime wedge.)