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Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Happy Marriage of Flavors

Relaxing weekends are such an adventurous cook's dream. The time passes and you begin churning thoughts, taking action, and then if you are in the process of  pickling---wait, wait, wait. Like a fine piece of braised meat, waiting is of the essence and oftentimes pays you back with an incredibly delicious and economical snack.

When I thought of pickling certain items over the weekend (grapes, radishes, carrots, and green tomatoes), my taste buds wandered to pots of simmered mustard greens drenched in pepper vinegar. You know, the kind sitting on the table of some barbecue joints and roadside stands and country kitchens. Bottled in old liquor bottles or soy sauce bottles with conducive drip caps already provided to contain dozens of varieties of peppers, depending on what is at hand. Why is this concoction so prevalent at the aforementioned institutions you might ask? The answer is simple---at least in my estimation---fried food.

That tang of vinegar and spice is mystifying when combined with the warm crunch of fried food. Fried chicken with pepper vinegar, fish-n-chips with malt vinegar, even the acidic spritz of lemon juice on fish straight out of the fryer. The concoctions are endless and paramount to the iconic dishes we cherish. 

We snacked on a handful of the pickled radishes after I initially pickled them over the Memorial day break, but the fish-n-chips certainly thanked us for the vinegary kick in the salad from the carrots and green tomatoes. Who says you can't make a mean fish-n-chips with the American sustainable fish that so many foodies used to snear at. If you guessed the substitute for the traditional cod or haddock was catfish, you would be correct. 

Catfish and fried spuds will certainly surprise when they are shown some respect and attention. The sesame oil gives these fish a piquant earthiness, and double frying the chips will put a smile on your face. This dinner deserves a nice cold ale to accompany it, but you certainly wouldn't be out of place to drink a chilled sauvignon blanc. Either way, it is a weekend pleaser for just two, or a crowd. 

Kickin' Fish-N-Chips
You will find it hard not to dig right in to these morsels of delight, but you have to whip up some tartar sauce to go with them first. Or, if Dawn won't give you her tartar sauce recipe, English mustard does the trick as well.
1 lb Catfish Fillets
2 Lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8ths
6 oz lager or other pale beer
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
5 Grinds Black Pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Canola Oil for frying

1. Whisk flour and dry ingredients to remove clumps. Combine sesame oil and lager.
2. Whisk until smooth consistency, similar to cake batter. Add a bit more flour or beer if necessary and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Batter will have a bit of a nutty flavor from the sesame oil.
3. Heat oil to 325 degrees and add chips in batches, cooking 5 minutes then draining.
4. Heat oil to 350 degrees and fry chips a second time for 5 minutes in batches until golden, wait a few seconds so they don't burn your tongue, I know it's hard.
5. Dip catfish in batter and drop gently into the grease frying in batches 6 to 8 minutes. Turn several times while cooking to achieve a nice amber brown hue.

Dilled Carrot Pickles (Adapted from "The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern")
If you think about it carrots have the perfect texture for pickling just enough crunch to keep them crisp and mesmerizing in just about an hour.


2 medium carrots peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rings
6 sprigs dill
1 tsp. sugar
8 whole black peppercorns
1 small shallot thinly diced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 C white vinegar
1/2 C apple cider vinegar

1. Wash out two pint jars extremely well with hot water.
2. Fill two pint jars with equal amounts carrots and shallot.
3. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a small pot.
4. Pour the liquid over the vegetables until completely submerged and cover loosely until they cool at which point they can be transferred to the fridge for about 3 weeks. I doubt they will last that long once you try them.


Spiked Green Tomatoes
These are so unique with the bite the jalapeno imparts to the tomatoes. These would be an awesome accompaniment to tacos or to make a mean version of salsa verde.

2 medium green tomatoes, cored and cut into half moons
1 jalapeno thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion thinly sliced
1 C white vinegar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar

1. Wash out two pint jars extremely well with hot water.
2. Fill jars with equal amounts tomato, onion and jalapeno.
3. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a small pot.
4. Pour the liquid over the vegetables until completely submerged and cover loosely until they cool at which point they can be transferred to the fridge for about 3 weeks.


Rosemary Pickled Grapes (Adapted from "The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern")
What a cocktail hour treat or something to nibble on when you are outside watching the grill. These are the most intriguing snack your friends have seen in a while.


1- 1/2 # green grapes or a mixture of varieties 
1 C white vinegar
1 C apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
2 sprigs rosemary, only the leaves
5 grinds black pepper
3 garlic cloves crushed


1. Wash out two pint jars extremely well with hot water.
2. Fill jars with equal amounts of grapes.
3. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a small pot.
4. Pour the liquid over the fruit until completely submerged and cover loosely until they cool at which point they can be transferred to the fridge for about 3 weeks. Once you notice how weird it seems that these remind you of olives yet in a fruity sense you will be back for more.


Fennel French Radish Pickles
If you are as lucky as me to find a couple bunches of beautiful candy white tipped French radishes at the farmers market you should consider making these. It has already made a convert out of several non-radish fans I know.

1 # french white tip radishes, washed and sliced 1/4"
1 C white vinegar
1 tsp. ground fennel
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
10 whole black peppercorns


1. Wash out a pint jar extremely well with hot water.
2. Fill it with radish slices.
3. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a small pot.
4. Pour the liquid over the radishes until completely submerged and cover loosely until they cool at which point the can with canning lid can be transferred to the fridge for about 3 weeks.

*All of these are quick pickles, meaning the cans are not sealed. But if you desire to seal them you can bring a large pot of water to a boil with the cans full of pickles and brine already in the pot. In about five minutes you will hear a pop from the top of the can meaning it is sealed. Make sure the cans do not sit on the bottom of the pot- they make a crab like device to prevent this- but either way happy pickling.

23 comments:

Mother Rimmy said...

Fun blog post. The fish and chips look fantastic and what fun pickling. You are so creative!

Cristina said...

I luv how the pickled items look in the jars, so colorful and something to look forward to. I will be thinking of fish-n-chips all day now. Great post and photography!

Sweet and Savory said...

Thanks for all your pickling recipes! I now have a booth at the local farmer's market and these would be great items!

Emily Malloy (Ziegler) said...

Love all of the pickling recipes! Now is the perfect time for it.

The fish and chips?!... Rockin'!!!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I love looking at jars of pickles all lined up especially when they're all of different varieties. The fish and chips look fantastic and I love them paired with pickled green tomatoes. This is the first time I'm seeing pickled grapes!!

alison said...

wow,so many wonderful pickels!i love these!

Drick said...

not sure which one I like best, oh why choose... but the spiked tomatoes caught my eye first (no surprise, right) and the kicking catfish is just great, nice batter would be perfect with a little of that vinegar drizzle

Cook with Madin said...

Lovely Fish N Chips. I think my favorite is the Rosemary Pickled Grapes, but wait I think the spiked tomatoes are great too, all of them are absolute great. Thank you for sharing.

RamblingTart said...

What fantastic preserving you did!! Love it! And your fish and chips are absolutely gorgeous. Sigh. Now I'm craving them something fierce. :-)

Ana Powell said...

Lovely pickling recipe.
Great post. Awesome pictures ♥

Magic of Spice said...

Wonderful post...Great recipes!

The Housewife said...

Love the pictures! And thanks for the pickling recipes..I've been wanting to get pickling and you've inspired me!

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

Great post! I have been wanting to can and pickle veggies for sometime. You have inspired me.

5 Star Foodie said...

What a fabulous meal! The addition of sesame oil in the batter for fish sounds terrific! And your pickle recipes are very neat!

ajcabuang04 said...

You have great photos! The fish and chips and the pickled veggies look fantastic!! I want one! haha.

Would you mind checking out my blog? :D http://ajscookingsecrets.blogspot.com/

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

Great pickling photos. They would look beautiful all lined up in a pantry.
I love fish and chips, I haven't eaten catfish before but if it plates up like that its all good!

Choclette said...

I love all of those pickles and think the carrots are a particularly good idea - crunchy, tasty and colourful.

Mary said...

WOW what great recipes and amazing pictures! I really want some fish and chips right now - yum!

xxMK
Delightful Bitefuls

sweetlife said...

pickled grapes, oh how fun..i love the pic of the jars in all their beauty..great post..

sweetlife

Stella said...

Okay, I just had the infamous feeling of blog envy (smile)! Your awesome photo of the fried food along with your obvious peace of mind that you must have to even attempt pickling did it!
I hope you guys are happy. Seriously though, I wish I could have all of this for lunch. It looks really wonderful...

George said...

You're making me hungry...lol.

Brie: Le Grand Fromage said...

wow, this is an awesome post! so many wonderful recipes - i must try them all!

My Little Space said...

Oh I am drooling over these babies! So good looking and yummy.
Kristy

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