Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turnip Pickles

Jamie Oliver is a favorite of mine.  I have loved his rough, unfussy style in the kitchen for some time and was so happy when he combined his cooking ethos with product out of his own (outrageous) garden.  On "Jamie at Home" each episode is themed around a particular ingredient grown (mainly) on his own property - "tomatoes", "peppers", "eggs" - you get the idea.  Last year we started DVRing the series and, though I don't actually know how many episodes there are in all, we now have 22 of them recorded.  There is also a book.  "At Home" has a really messy, get-your-hands-dirty kind of vibe and Jeremy also immediately became a big fan.

One of our favorite episodes is titled "Pickles" and we have used a sort of all-purpose recipe from it with great results.  Over the summer we used it to preserve an abundance of eggplants from the garden.  Unsure how they would turn out or what we might use them for, it turns out that pickled eggplant is both tasty and versatile.  It is great used as a spread on the toast of a fried egg sandwich. Adds a kick to turkey sandwiches.  It has also starred as an option in one of our Mediterranean mini-feasts with warm flat bread, hummus, olives, feta, etc., In any case, last month I set out to try the recipe on this season's first harvest of turnips.  The recipe is meant to be good for use on any vegetable that will stay firm after 2-3 minutes of blanching - mushrooms, zucchini, onions...  This is my take on Jamie's suggestion for a flavory, quick pickle:

I stuck a bit of beet into the mix as well, for a little shot of color.

  • turnips (in this case), 2 pounds - cut into sticks about 1/2 inch thick
       pickling liquid
  • cider or white vinegar, 4 cups
  • water, 4 cups
  • kosher or sea salt, 2 tablespoons
       pickling marinade
  • olive oil, 2 cups
  • garlic, 5 cloves roughly chopped
  • fresh red chili, chopped
  • dried oregano or other favorite herb, 2 tablespoons
    1. Have some sterilized jars ready to go.
    2. Bring vinegar, water and salt to a rapid boil in a large pot.
    3. In a large bowl, add all marinade ingredients and mix/mash together well.
    4. Add turnips to the boiling liquid and cook for about 3 minutes.
    5. Lift the veg out of the liquid with a strainer or slotted spoon and add directly to the bowl of marinade.  Toss very well.
    6. Straight away, add the hot turnips to the clean jars, filling to the top and covering with the marinade.  Seal the jars tight and let cool.
    7. Store in a cool, dry spot and wait at least two weeks for the flavors to meld before you get eating. 
    I know that everyone has their own comfort level with canning/preserving techniques.  Jamie Oliver just sealed the hot pickle in the jars and left them unprocessed and in the pantry.  That's what I did as well, refrigerating only after I opened the jars, with great results.  He says that they can be kept that way for up to 3 months.  I suppose they could be easily processed in boiling water or just stuck directly into the refrigerator after making them if one had any worries about food safety.  Whatever your preference, the recipe is really simple and very tasty.  I think I'll try it with some of our fennel next!

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010


    Last Friday morning (while I was laying poolside in Hawaii) Jeremy accepted an enormous delivery of mulch back at the Rancho.  Instead of taking it to the dump, Finch's Tree Service brought a dump truck full of chipped branches and leaves and unloaded it right in front of the house.


    As you can see in the picture, my car is parked just feet behind the huge mound and is about half the size of it.  Our plan is to lay a thick layer of mulch over as much of the unplanted areas of the backyard as possible - both to (fingers crossed) keep the weeds at bay and add organic material to the dusty, clay soil.

    Jeremy made amazing progress on the pile over the weekend.  And, with a few loads between the two of us after work last night, the monster in the driveway is now about 1/3 of its original size.  After we finish getting it moved entirely we'll post pics of how it's really helped transform the weedy spring yard!