Pickles are one of my top 10 favorite foods on the planet. (Also: Dijon mustard, chilies, lemons, coffee … OK, I'll stop.)
I especially love spicy pickles, and there's an artisanal brand that is quite popular. But they're $10 or more a jar, which got me to thinking that I could make them myself as refrigerator pickles.
With refrigerator pickles, you don't have to sterilize anything. They don't keep as long as traditional pickles, but they're so tasty, they don't last that long at my house anyway. Refrigerator pickles are a terrific host gift, too. Pretty much anything you put in a jar with liquid instantly becomes gorgeous.
If you're pickling cucumbers, you have to use the Kirby kind — the small unwaxed ones. But you can vary the spices, herbs and their amounts: coriander, celery seed, mustard seed. Dill is traditional, obviously, but you can opt for tarragon, thyme, anything you like. And always, for me, some hot chilies.
I've pickled just about everything: cucumbers, of course, but also carrots, green beans, onions, unripe green tomatoes, turnips, fennel, asparagus, jalapeños, watermelon rind — even pineapple and apples! I haven't tried pickling okra yet. That one's still on my list.
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups white vinegar
6 teaspoons kosher salt
Several sprigs fresh dill1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 Kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
A handful of green beans
A few pieces of cauliflower
1. In a medium saucepan, boil 4 cups of water; reduce to a simmer and add garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add vinegar and salt; boil. Stir until salt dissolves. Remove from heat.
2. In two 1-quart Mason jars, add dill, seeds and peppercorns. Using tongs, remove garlic from brine and add to jars. Pack jars with vegetables and chilies.
3. Bring brine to a boil and pour over vegetables, to cover. Cool, cover and refrigerate. The pickles are best after a few days and keep for up to 3 months.
Nutrients per serving: 33 calories, 2g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 32mg sodium
Devilish Eggs With Cheddar, Chipotle and Chives
1 dozen large eggs
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped chives
6 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of kosher salt
1. Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes; then drain and immediately plunge the eggs into an ice bath to cool.
2. Peel the eggs, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks. Put the whites on a platter. Pass the yolks through a sieve in a medium bowl, or just mash with a fork. Mix in the cheese, mayo, sour cream, chives (reserving 1 teaspoon for garnish), chipotles, paprika and salt.
3. Use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip to pipe the filling into the whites — or, if you're less fancy, use 2 spoons. Sprinkle with the reserved chives. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving, which should be within one day.
Nutrients per serving: 148 calories, 8g protein, 2g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 13g fat, 222mg cholesterol, 39mg sodium
Recipes reprinted from In My Kitchen by Ted Allen. Copyright (c) 2012 by Ted Allen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers.