Category Archives: Vegetables

Pickled Garlic

The topic for the May Food in Jars Mastery Challenge was cold pack canning, which as the name suggests, involves putting the food in the jar cold and uncooked before adding liquid and processing. It is a quick and straightforward method but some vegetables and fruits are more suited to this treatment than others.

pickled garlic from britinthesouth.comI found this month’s subject more challenging than previous months purely because of finding something suitable to preserve. I prefer to use seasonal produce from the farmer’s market when I can and many of the best candidates for cold pack canning simply weren’t in season yet.

Luckily, as the clock ticked away towards the end of the month, my friends at Riverview Farms came to the rescue, bringing bundles of freshly picked garlic to the farmer’s market. This wasn’t the dried old stuff with papery skins that you find in the supermarket but plump and juicy garlic cloves not long out of the ground. They are easy to peel and large cloves means it is a quick and easy exercise to fill the jars and before you know it you have some good looking jars of pickled garlic stashed away.

pickled garlic from britinthesouth.com

I followed Marisa McClellan’s recipe for “Pickled Garlic Cloves” from “Preserving by the Pint”, using homemade pickling spice. Her recipe made 3 half pint jars but I only managed 2, probably because of the large garlic cloves I had.

Pickled Garlic

1 pound fresh garlic, peeled

2 cups red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon pickling salt

2 teaspoons pickling spice (see recipe below)

Put the vinegar in a nonreactive pan, add the pickling salt, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.

Put a teaspoon of the pickling spice mix into each of the two half pint jars, then pack the garlic cloves as tightly as you can into the jar. Pour the hot brine over, leaving half an inch of headspace. Tap the jars to eliminate any air bubbles, wipe the rims, apply the lid and ring and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 half pint jars

Pickling Spice

3 tbs yellow mustard seeds

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs whole allspice berries

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

pickling spice from britinthesouth.com

 

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

I’m a sucker for eye catching produce and in particular am often unable to resist the colourful pepper section at one of my favourite Asian markets in town. They have a vast array, ranging from mild to really hot, including many you simply wouldn’t find in a regular grocery store.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comLast time I was tempted by the red poblanos, which I turned into pepper jelly, but this time a pile of sweet, mini, multi-coloured bell peppers caught my eye. They were the perfect subject for the quick pickle treatment for this month’s Food In Jars Mastery Challenge.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comAs the name suggest, quick pickles are fast and easy. You simply make a brine with vinegar, water, sugar (or another sweetener of your choice) and spices. As they are kept in the fridge they do not need any sort of water bath processing or special equipment. Just prep your vegetable of choice, stick it in a jar, pour over the hot brine and you will soon be enjoying crisp, tasty pickles.

The taste of your final product will be heavily influenced by your choice of pickling spice. Of course, you can just go out and buy a jar of ready made pickling spice but where is the fun in that? Make your own and you can customise the flavour and spice level to your own liking.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comFor my quick pickles I loosely followed a recipe from Cathy Barrow’s “Mrs.Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry”. I started with her basic spice mix but cut back on the cinnamon, which I often find overpowering, and made it a little spicier.

This was a quick and fairly simple recipe and the peppers were ready to eat within a day of making them. I’ve already enjoyed them on veggie tacos and added to sandwiches and salads. They may not have the shelf life of water bath processed pickles but they don’t look like lasting long anyway.

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

12oz mixed sweet mini peppers

1 cup water

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbs salt

1 tbs granulated sugar

1.5 tsp pickling spice (recipe below)

Pickling Spice

3 tbs yellow mustard seeds

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs whole allspice berries

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comPrep the peppers by washing them and cutting them into thin slices. As I used small peppers they were the perfect size to fit in a jar. Larger bell peppers will work but might need cutting down to smaller strips. Pack the peppers into a sterilised quart jar.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comIn a nonreactive pan combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar, ensuring the peppers are covered. Once the jar has cooled down pop a lid on.

Leave for about 24 hours before trying. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.

 

 

 

 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

As the name suggests, purple sprouting broccoli is a bright purple cousin of regular broccoli, producing small vivid violet florets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic but holds a special place in the hearts of British vegetable lovers. It is a frost hardy plant that grows slowly through the winter, reaching its peak between February and April, thus providing a welcome burst of colour and flavour in the garden and on the plate when folks are starting to tire of winter but the delights of the spring vegetable garden still seem a long way away.

So imagine my delight to find some recently at one of my local farmers markets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is tender enough to nibble raw so doesn’t need a lot of cooking and whilst a versatile vegetable I find a relatively simple approach is best.

It takes just 2-3 minutes in a steamer to cook, maybe a minute or so longer if the stalks are on the thick or woody side.

It is glorious just dipped into a soft boiled egg but I also like to pair it with a simple blue cheese sauce. Just eat it with your fingers, licking off any stray sauce.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.com

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli

6 fl.oz (0.75 cup) heavy whipping cream

3oz Stilton cheese

Bring water to a boil in a steamer (if you don’t have one just put a colander above a pan of boiling water)

To make the sauce simply warm the cream over medium heat and crumble in the cheese. Stir regularly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth (8-10 minutes).

Trim any thick or woody pieces from the end of the broccoli stalks. Place in the steamer and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the steamer and serve immediately, drizzled with the cheese sauce.

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Collard Green Kimchi

The February topic for the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge was salt preserving. My only previous experience of this was a batch of preserved lemons a few years ago so I thought I would venture into unknown territory and have a go at making kimchi.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comThe winter goodies at one of my local farmers markets included eye catching bunches of young collard green leaves, which I thought would be a good candidate for kimchi with a southern twist.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comThe project also gave me a good excuse to go and explore the aisles of one of the great Asian supermarkets in town to pick up Korean red pepper powder and a big bag of fine Korean sea salt.

The recipe is loosely based on this one from minimalistbaker.com but with quite a few tweaks along the way.

I wanted my kimchi to be vegetarian so the first step was to make a batch of vegetarian fish sauce. For this component I turned to this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a deeply savoury sauce made from shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce.

While the sauce was cooling I prepped my collards, washing and drying them before cutting them into bite sized pieces and layering with generous amounts of salt. They were then turned regularly for a number of hours, drawing out moisture and leaving the leaves tender. I used young leaves, which are smaller and more tender to start with than regular collard leaves, but they would work although might need a little more time in the salting process to get tender.

While the salting process was taking place I made a spicy paste from ginger, garlic, Korean chili, onion and the vegetarian fish sauce.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comAfter rinsing the excess salt from the collard leaves and patting them dry again they were thoroughly coated with the spice paste before packing into a jar to ferment.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comI was delighted with the result, which tasted great with a good burst of spiciness. I’ll definitely be making more kimchi in the future.

Collard Green Kimchi

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

3 cups water

0.25oz dried shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Soak the dried mushrooms in one cup of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. This makes them easier to slice and you can used the soaking water when cooking to add more shiitake goodness to the final sauce. Make sure to strain out any grit from the soaking liquid.

Slice the mushrooms and add to a small pan with the soaking liquid, 2 more cups of water and the salt and soy sauce. Combine all the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, 30 – 40 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.

Spice Paste

3 tbs fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

0.25 cup Korean red chili powder

1 small onion, peeled  and roughly chopped

0.5 cup vegetarian fish sauce

Place all ingredients into a food processor and whiz until combined into a paste.

Vegetables

1 small bunch young collard green leaves (5-6oz)

4 green onions, sliced into half inch pieces

Remove the stalks from the collard leaves and slice into bite sized pieces. Wash well, drain and dry. Layer the leaves in a bowl with generous amounts of sea salt between each layer. Weigh the leaves down (I used a nest of smaller bowls) and leave for half an hour. Then turn and massage the leaves, ensuring they are still well coated with salt, weigh down once more and leave for another 30 minutes. Repeat this process a further 3 times, by which time the leaves should have lost some moisture and become noticeably tender.

Rinse the leaves to remove any excess salt and then place on paper towels and pat dry.

Next comes the fun part. Put the leaves in a bowl and add the sliced green onions. Then add the spice paste and mix by hand, making sure the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the paste.

Once well combined pack the mixture into a sterilised jar, pressing it down well. Put the lid on and leave in a cool dark place to ferment. Leave for at least 2-3 days and periodically taste to see how the flavour is developing. Once you are happy with it, put it in the fridge. I left mine for a week before refrigerating.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.com

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Black Bean / Red Rice Veggie Burgers

Black Bean / Red Rice Veggie Burgers from britinthesouth.comMy wife and I often have crazy work schedules with long hours and late finishes. We usually do a pretty good job of meal planning and prepping food ahead of time to make sure we have something tasty and nutritious to enjoy when we eventually get home but like everyone, there are occasions when we resort to takeout or something quick and easy from the grocery store.

One of our staples on these occasions are spicy black bean burgers from the supermarket freezer. They may be convenient, and they have significantly less fat and zero cholesterol compared to a burger made from beef but a quick glance at the ingredient list reveals such delights as disodium inosinate and thiamin hydrochloride as well as unspecified artificial flavors.

I therefore set out to create my own spicy black bean burger, with ingredients I recognise and a customised spice blend to suit our palates.

Black Bean / Red Rice Veggie Burgers from britinthesouth.comAs well as black beans I included red rice to help bind the burger together. I’m a big fan of red rice, which is available quite cheaply in big bags from our local Asian supermarkets. It’s nutty flavour not only works well in this recipe but I find it makes a great base for salads. You could cook dried black beans for this recipe but I opted for a can. I used low sodium beans to give me more control over the seasoning

Black Bean / Red Rice Burgers

15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
4oz cooked red rice
0.5 medium red onion, chopped
1oz breadcrumbs
1 large garlic clove
0.5 tsp sweet paprika
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
0.5 tsp crushed red pepper
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
0.5 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp ground coriander seed

 

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture is combined but still relatively coarse in texture.

By hand, form the mixture into four patties, each about half an inch thick.

Black Bean / Red Rice Veggie Burgers from britinthesouth.comIn a skillet or frying pan, warm about a quarter of an inch of olive oil over medium high heat. Let the burger form a good brown crust on one side before flipping. Cook the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side until crisp on the outside and heated through.

Serve them in a burger bun with the toppings of your choice.

Black Bean / Red Rice Veggie Burgers from britinthesouth.com

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Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce from britinthesouth.comIt was in a bar in the deep south that I had my first encounter with fried pickles. Down here it is easy to strike up a relaxed conversation with the complete strangers sitting next to you, especially when you throw in the added novelty of an English accent.

When their bar snacks arrived they urged us to share and that is how I came to first experience the wonder of fried pickles. On the surface of it, slices of pickled cucumber, breaded and then deep fried and served with a side of ranch dressing do not sound like a culinary masterpiece, but these were just the perfect combination of crispy, crunchy, oily, spicy and salty to make the ideal accompaniment to a cold beer. I was hooked.

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce from britinthesouth.comThis summer I have been experiencing a glut of cucumbers and have been happily preserving the surplus into pickles and relishes for future enjoyment. I made a batch of garlic dill pickles using this recipe from the excellent foodinjars.com blog. The garlic and pepper gave them a nice kick and I thought they would be the perfect candidate for transforming into spicy fried pickles. I added a little smoked paprika to the cornmeal mix to add to the taste sensation and made a cooling blue cheese and yogurt dipping sauce to partner them. The end result is a tasty and quite addictive snack.

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

8oz dill pickles, drained (I made mine using this recipe, or you can use shop bought pickles)

2 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

0.5 cup cornmeal

0.5 teaspoon salt

0.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

0.5 teaspoon smoked paprika

Vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce

1 cup blue cheese crumbles

0.5 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce from britinthesouth.com

To make the sauce, place the blue cheese, yogurt, vinegar and black pepper in a food processor and blitz until combined but still slightly chunky. Check for seasoning.

Drain your dill pickles.

Beat the two eggs and place in a bowl.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper and paprika in a shallow bowl or plate.

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce from britinthesouth.comHeat a 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

Dip the pickle slices in the beaten egg, then dip them in the flour mix until well coated and then carefully place them in the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towel before enjoying, ideally with a cold beer.

Spicy Pan Fried Dill Pickles with a Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce from britinthesouth.com

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A Southern Classic with an Italian Twist: pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

Back in Britain I would occasionally encounter okra, usually on the menu of Indian restaurants, but it certainly wasn’t as popular as it is here in the American South.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comIt crops up with great regularity in our CSA box so I have learned to love it over the years and discovered it is a versatile vegetable, working well when roasted, baked or steamed.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comThe classic southern preparation is fried, with little nuggets of okra encased in a crisp cornmeal shell. This is a great recipe for experimentation: by tweaking the seasoning in your cornmeal mix you can turn up the spice or add interesting layers of flavour.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comOn this occasion I went in an Italian direction, throwing crushed fennel seeds and grated Parmigiano Reggiano into the mix.

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

0.5 lb Okra

0.5 cup cornmeal

0.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

0.5 tsp freshly crushed fennel seed

1 tsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano

4 tbs olive oil

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comWash the okra and slice it into half inch pieces.

Mix together the cornmeal, salt, pepper, crushed fennel seeds and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Give the okra a quick rinse in a colander. I find this helps to get rid of some of the gloop and also helps the cornmeal mix stick. After draining the okra add it to the cornmeal mix and make sure it is well coated.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and then add the okra pieces. Fry, stirring regularly, until it is gold and crispy, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, place briefly on paper towel to soak up any excess oil and then enjoy while hot.

 

 

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Field Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend)

I wouldn’t exactly say that I grew up eating Indian food, but it has been an integral part of the British culinary landscape for at least 200 years. Every British town of any reasonable size will have a curry house or two and I lived for many years in both Birmingham and London, which boast many Indian dining spots, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to expensive fine dining.

Predominantly operated by Bangladeshis most of them offer a pretty similar set of dishes, many of them created for or heavily tweaked to suit the British palate and unrecognizable from dishes that would actually be found in India, which boasts a rich and varied tapestry of regional cuisine. Luckily, in recent years many new restaurants have emerged that tap into this regional treasure trove as well as taking inspiration from Indian street food.

When I first moved to the American South it was hard to track down Indian food but as the Indian immigrant community has steadily grown so has the choice of restaurants and grocery stores to find great Indian dishes and ingredients.

I make no claims of authenticity when it comes to playing with Indian ingredients in my own kitchen but I do enjoy experimenting with interesting and sometimes obscure spices, or snacking on street food like panipuri and chaat.

Field Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend) from britinthesouth.com

I just love a grocery store that also sells cricket bats

Hence my recent expedition to stock up on ingredients, including an array of spices from which to blend my own curry mix. Grinding and blending your own curry spice mix is not only fun, but you get to control the heat levels and flavor profile, accentuating the things you like and avoiding the fillers you can find in supermarket curry powders. It just takes a bit of experimentation to come up with a blend you’ll love. It also makes your kitchen smell great.

I particularly like the aniseed notes of fennel seeds, as well as the distinctive aroma of fenugreek so these feature strongly in my mix.

Curry Spice Blend

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon yellow mustard powder

0.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes

0.5 teaspoon cayenne

Put the coriander seeds, cumin and fennel seeds in a pan and toast over medium heat, stirring regularly, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pan to make sure the spices don’t burn.

Field Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend) from britinthesouth.com

Add the toasted spices to all the other ingredients and grind to a powder. An old coffee grinder will do a good job or if you have the stamina you can use a pestle and mortar.

Homemade curry spice blend from britinthesouth.comField Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend) from britinthesouth.com

Store the blend in a jar or airtight container.

This is a versatile blend that can be used in any recipes featuring curry powder. I used it to create a quick midweek dinner featuring two local products currently in abundant supply: field peas and tomatoes.

Field peas were a new phenomenon to me when I first moved here. Where I come from peas are small and green, but I soon discovered the delights of crowder peas and pinkeyes.

Field Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend) from britinthesouth.com

Field Pea and Tomato Curry

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons curry powder

3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

0.5 cup vegetable stock

2 cups cooked field peas

Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and curry powder. Cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer for 15 minutes until the tomatoes soften and the sauce thickens. Add the field peas and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Field Pea and Tomato Curry (with homemade curry spice blend) from britinthesouth.comServe over rice.

 

The First C.S.A. Box Of The Year

This is the 8th year that we have participated in the C.S.A. program of Riverview Farms, a beautiful spot around an hour’s drive north of Atlanta. As well as growing the veg that we enjoy from May to December they produce superb heritage breed pork and grass fed beef.

C.S.A. boxes are not for everyone. You have no choice over what you get, just a box of whatever is in season and ready to pick that week. At the height of summer that can mean 18 ears of corn, or as autumn arrives, huge bunches of collards that won’t fit in the fridge. Luckily, we enjoy the challenge of working out what to do with this abundance of vegetables, eating seasonally and preserving the surplus to reduce our reliance on supermarkets through the winter months.

CSA box from Riverview FarmsThe first few boxes of the year tend to be a little lighter until the crops really get going in the summer months, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement of getting that first box of the year after the long winter hiatus.

When we get a summer glut we often retire to our neighborhood coffee shop with a few well thumbed cookbooks to give us inspiration and plan some menus but this first box of the year needed little menu planning: we started our evening meal nibbling the radishes with butter and sea salt, the green onions and eggs would go into an onion and Parmigiano frittata accompanied by a salad made with the lettuce, cucumber and local feta cheese, and to  finish we enjoyed the fresh strawberries with ice cream. A simple meal but a deeply satisfying one.

The first CSA box of the year from britinthesouth.com

Green Onion and Parmigiano Frittata

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 green onion, stalk thinly sliced and bulb finely diced

6 eggs, beaten

¼ cup of of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

 

Preheat your broiler.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes until soft.

Season the beaten eggs with salt and black pepper, add to the pan and cook until the frittata begins to set at the edge.

Sprinkle the grated Parmigiano cheese over the top of the frittata and then place under the broiler until the eggs are set and the top of the frittata is golden brown.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.