FRIDAY’S DISH: Sweet & Spicy Pickles!

POSTED BY: CRESSIDA

The universe has shown me the signs. Just as I sat down to write my first ever blog post (about sweet, salty, briny pickles) my attention was called to my window where I have been cultivating five different types of herbs and one happy poinsettia plant which I saved from the trash at my last television gig. I have been tending to these plants with mixed results, but to my surprise the poinsettia plant is now doing so well that a new seedling has begun to grow.

I live in New York City, Queens to be exact. While it is known for being one of the more “suburban” boroughs of the city, my neighborhood of Elmhurst is that of brick and cement. Suffice it to say, I have never seen a butterfly here….until today. I was sitting in my meditation chair ready to welcome life’s miracles and muse about one of my favorite treats, when a beautiful black butterfly with orange accented wings flitted onto the poinsettia plant and rested for just a moment. Then it was gone.
This is supposed to be a post about pickles but as it turns out, it is a post about miracles and stepping out of my comfort zone. In starting to write this entry I doubted myself and whether I knew enough about the foods I love to cook and eat to tell YOU how to make them. Would you even want to read what I have to say? I’m taking that little butterfly as a sign that I’m on the right track. I’m trying something new and opening my world up to you. If I put the same love into this project that I put into my food (and into that poinsettia plant) only beautiful things will come. 
So here it is, my first blog post. I’m sharing the pickle recipe that I made for my dear friend’s birthday. She, like me, LOVES pickles. I made them because I knew it would be something that she’d really like. (And I couldn’t really afford the Lululemon yoga pants she really wanted.) She’s a fiery woman so they’re a little spicy and a little sweet, just like her.

Here’s how I did it:

“This Girl Is On Fire” Sweet & Spicy Pickles
What you’ll need:
  • 1 cup Unfiltered Cider Vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 lbs of Kirby cucumbers, scrubbed
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsps. red chile flakes
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp. Kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tbsp. cane sugar or honey
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and halved
  • 4 Serrano chiles (I picked the reddish/orange ones for color contrast)
  • 1 red jalapeño
  • 1 bunch dill, cleaned and patted dry

What to do:
  1. Slice the cucumbers into ¼ inch slices and put them in a colander.
  2. Salt them liberally with 2 tbsps. of salt and allow them to drain in the sink while prepping the other ingredients. The salt will draw out the water in the cucumbers which makes for a crispy crunch.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, chile flakes, coriander seeds, black pepper, bay leaves and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Shut off the heat and allow the ingredients to steep while you do the next steps.
  4. Slice jalapeño into rings and the serranos lengthwise using protective gloves if you are sensitive, and for the love of God…DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!
  5. Rinse and drain the cucumbers in cold water to remove the excess salt.
  6. In a clean, gasket-style, pint sized mason jar, layer cucumbers, onion, chile rings and a healthy tuft of dill, creating a beautiful strata. Somewhere in the middle place half of the lengthwise chile and finish with the other half on top for presentation. Repeat with each jar or use plastic “to go” containers if you are jarless.
  7. Using a ladle, dip out the brine mixture and pour it down into each prepared container, making sure that the mix seeps into every pocket and that there are several pieces of garlic and one bay leaf in each one.
  8. Seal and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 day.
These pickles are pretty good after one day but they get even better with time. This is a “quick pickle” recipe so they must be stored in the fridge and for no longer than 1 month. Believe me, they’re so good that they won’t last that long. Enjoy!

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