Saturday, 30 June 2012

And so it begins: in a pickle

In a way that may become horribly familiar to you all over the course of this blog, I started something without thinking it through properly (seriously, that appears to be my modus operandi in the kitchen). I started cooking and then decided to document it once all the lovely 'vegetables straight from nature's larder' photo opportunities had passed, because I'd already chopped up the darned things.
I will endeavour to be, to quote Shakespeare, a little less arse about face for future entries. (please note: Shakespeare didn't write that).  

But what can I show you? 

Yep, that's it. No orangey-red tomatoes with their green veins. No beets and their plummage. No fluttering clouds of grated horseradish. Just tin-foil, one hob in desperate need of a scrub, and some orange smash in a seive. 

But what I want to say, I couldn't have done in pictures anyway. And that is: pickles are (ahem) THE BEST FOOD FOR SUMMER. Says the woman who had 3 cold showers today and may yet fit in a fourth. Yes that's right, we're in the middle of a heatwave (which I think New Yorkers just call 'summer'). And I decide to roast vegetables. Roast, as in 350F for an hour plus. I literally prepared the veg/fruit, whacked them in the oven with oil and seasoning and then had to go stand in front of the airconditioner for 10 minutes. But the beauty of roasting is you're done. Smushing and pureeing aside, that's your them-there pickle up in those photos. Ok, there was some horseradish and the inevitable chemical warfare vapour cloud of boilng vinegars to deal with but man, it is worth it. Because now the oven can stay off, and we can munch on bread cheese and pickles. Like so...
Even with the 34C degree heat (sorry for the switching temps but the oven says one thing and BBC Weather another) I marched on down Brooklyn's hipster equivalent of Times Square, Bedford Avenue, and got some cheese. And that pickle is last week's onion pickle. Le voila...

Tasty brown mush. And here is today's tasty purple mush

I must say that it is not a lot of pickle for 7 tomatoes and 8 small beets. But it should last us a little while. And it is just so darn satisfying to make. As vinegar and sugar are cheap, as is veg from the farmer's market, think of it as Austerity Condiments. Which sounds like a character from Jeeves & Wooster.
p.s. as for the title, the trend of bad, food-themed, puns may stop. Maybe 

2 pounds tomatoes, roasted in olive oil at 350F with 6 cloves of garlic
2 pounds beets (scrubbed and wrapped in foil), roasted in olive oil at 350F
Push tomatoes through a sieve. Most of the garlic got nuked but what was not carbonised also got added to the tomato mulch.
Puree beets. I need a food processor. I used a handheld soup blender
1 1.4 cups granulated sugar, 2/3 cup vinegar (I used cider), a good slug balsamic, 2 ounces grated fresh horseradish in a large saucepan, bring to the boil. I recommend not grating the horseradish over the pan that you have the vinegars in. Well, I do and I don't. It is amazing from an aroma perspective but quite a nasal onslaught. Oh, for large saucepan, I used a heavy-bottomed pot (is that what they are called?)
Stir in tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes
Add beets and cook for another 10 minutes. The recipe mentioned that some 'thickening' should be going down at this point but nothing happened for me. 
Spoon into sterilised jar (which I sterilised by filling with extremely hot water, then leaving to dry upside down on a clean tea towel). Seal. Wait a bit, then pop in the fridge. Enjoy the lid going pop when you open it.

Adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin

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