Dill pickles

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...
Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered for pickling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Pickled Cucumbers - Li Li's Imperial Cuisine
Pickled Cucumbers – Li Li’s Imperial Cuisine (Photo credit: avlxyz)

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumbers Español: Pepinos Português: Pepinos
Cucumbers Español: Pepinos Português: Pepinos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love pickles but have never made them.  I’m not one to can, preserve etc.  It all seems too complicated and I would fear poisoning myself somehow for not respecting the perfect canning rules.  I don’t follow directions well.  I succeeded in making delicious dill pickles with a hint of heat.  The good thing about these pickles is they could just be stored in the fridge for up to two months.  The trick was to get them to last more than two weeks in our pickle loving household.

 

You need about 6-8 pounds pickling cucumbers

a big bunch of fresh dill

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves sliced and whole-depending on your preference.

1 quart water

1 quart white vinegar

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup sugar

One hot pepper sliced in circles.  Keep the seeds if you want it extra spicy.  Note:  When cutting hot peppers wear gloves, unless you want to do what I did and have hot pepper on everything, including my coffee cup.

 

  1. Cut each cucumber lengthwise into four spears or as I did in rounds. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, dill, onions and garlic; set aside. In a pot, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook and stir just until salt is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture; cool.
  2. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Yum!

IMG_0836

Grilled Pork Chop with Sel de Cali

We no longer can use our grill at our apartment due to California law and fires,  so this meal is an ode to the grill.  I accompanied the Grilled pork chop with a mushroom ragu, a side of steamed spinach and grilled red and yellow peppers.

For the pork chop I used some of my Cabernet Sel de Cali, a special wine infused salt from California, infused with California Cabernet and dried in the California sun.

For the mushroom ragu I used about one tablespoon of unsalted butter and sautéed some shallots.  Just as the shallots were tender I added a splash of Marsala cooking wine.  I then added a mix of mushrooms:  cremini, portabella and shiitake, any mix will do.  I wished I had oyster mushrooms or other kinds.   I cooked it until tender.  I grilled the peppers that were drenched in olive oil, Sel de Cali and pepper while the pork chop was cooking.  It turned out to be a nice end of the grill meal.

Pork chop with mushroom ragu

Veggie melange with sauteed radishes

I received my farm fresh to you box at my door.  It was filled with yummy vegetables including organic celery, Nantes carrots, fennel and some radishes of all sorts of different colors.  I decided to do a quick saute and it ended up delicious.  I used a bit of olive oil and chopped up garlic and shallots to start.  I then added my finely chopped carrots, celery, fennel and then some radishes.  In the end I seasoned with some of my Sel De Cali, the chardonnay infused salt and a few sprigs of rosemary.  I can’t remember what the main protein was for this meal, but I’m sure it was either steak, chicken or pork chops!  It was the first time I added radishes to a saute and it turned out delicious!

English: Easter egg radishes, just harvested
English: Easter egg radishes, just harvested (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the start of crocking

Butternut and acorn squash soup

English: Cucurbita pepo (acorn squash). Locati...
English: Cucurbita pepo (acorn squash). Location: Maui, Foodland Pukalani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Onions on a neutral, mostly white background
Onions on a neutral, mostly white background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided that I would eat my still life, autumn display.  I had made a butternut squash soup before and an acorn squash soup, but never did I put the two together.  I started out with about 3 tablespoons or so of butter and melted it into a pot, I added 1 sliced, sweet onion with about 4 fresh sage leaves.  I let it cook for about 5 minutes or more because it was so tough cutting up my acorn squash and butternut squash.  I would advise cutting them up in cubes prior to cooking the onions.  I then added the cut up squash.  I let it cook for about 3 or 4 minutes with the onions.  Then I added about 4-5 glasses of water and two bouillon cubes.  I let it cook for a while till the squash was tender.  It was too thick, so I added more water, each time letting it cook together well.  This soup can be thick or thin depending on taste.  I like it in between.  I used the hand blender to mix it all up.  I cooked it some more.  I saw many recipes that added heavy cream, yogurt, or even cream cheese.  I had none of the above, but I did add about 1/3 cup milk, or one big pour.   It added to the creamy-ness and made the soup silky smooth.  It was delicious.  At the end add a bit of nutmeg.  I served this in my Japanese Ramen bowls which made it look nice, but the photo doesn’t do it justice.  The lighting was bad and we didn’t eat till 10pm.  My husband came home super late from work.  I served this with some french bread. I buy the – french small french baguette from trader joes.  I put them right in the freezer.  When I want them, I just heat the oven up to 350 and pop the frozen par-baked bread in for about 10 minutes. It turns out great.  No preservatives and the closest thing to fresh baguette I get in Rancho Palos Verdes.  This dinner is very inexpensive, filling and yummy.  Enjoy.

5 tbls of butter

1 onion sliced or chopped

1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 butternut squash, same as above

2 bouillon cubes-chicken or vegetable

1/3 cup milk

4-5 sage leaves or dried sage

pinch of nutmeg and salt

Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut'. Original descr...
Cucurbita moschata ‘Butternut’. Original description: Courges butternut (Cucurbita moschata) Photo JH Mora, septembre 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Floating islands

Whisking egg whites
Whisking egg whites (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crème anglaise made from milk, eggs, sugar and...

This was the most amazing and simple dessert I made.  During our stay in France, we were at a cafe eating lunch.  My husband and son didn’t want a dessert, fine for them, I was thinking I’m going back to the states in 4 weeks, time to eat up all the wonderful things possible on this visit.  I ordered l’ile flottante a lovely french desert.  It arrived at the table and my husband was curious and took a bite.  Basically it’s a big poof cloud on a liquid creme anglaise.  It’s so delicious.  He gobbled up most of my desert.  My son only 6 still scared of liquidy looking, strange things passed on it.  I decided I needed to try it at home back in Los Angeles.  I searched on line for many different recipes.  I found some that added corn starch or other things.  I knew it was a very simple desert, so finally I found one that just asked for 1.5 cups of milk, a split vanilla pod, 3 eggs separated and 115 grams of castor sugar.  Voila.  I found it and made it.

I did what they said.  Beat the egg whites, add a pinch

of salt until the eggs have firm peaks.  Continue beating the eggs while slowly adding 40 grams of sugar.  The eggs can be either put in boiling water or do what I did… 45 seconds in the microwave which is totally unheard of for me.  I don’t like microwaves, but I am a horrible egg poacher, I just couldn’t see how I could do egg whites.  So I thickened out, oh no, sounds bad while talking about eggs.  Anyway, I used the fast, microwave route.  They were perfect. I put them on a plate and in the fridge to keep.  I then made my custard.  Or wait, I made my custard first, but I don’t think it matters.  I heated the milk over a low heat with the vanilla pod slip in it.  I took out most of the seeds and added it mixing the milk.  Heat the milk till it bubbles a bit then remove from heat.  In a bowl mix the egg yolks and 75 grams of sugar.  Then pour the hot milk on this egg mixture.  Mix well.  Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan, add heat over low heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  It shouldn’t boil!  After a few minutes the custard will thickened a bit, but thicken even more in the fridge.  Place it all in fridge.  Try and find fun bowls, martini glasses, whatever you have to make the desert look wonderful.  Add the vanilla bean as a garnish.  This was too good and not bad for you.  The ingredients are so simple

1.5 cups milk, 3 eggs, 115 grams sugar and a vanilla pod-easy and yummy

Cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic and black truffle sea salt

I didn’t have much time to prepare anything fancy, but somehow my simple dish made it to the “I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen” category in my husbands eyes, even though it took all of 10 minutes to prepare, if that.  I searched for something interesting to make for a side dish.  We are staying away from so many starches and cauliflower just has that satisfying taste that not all veggies have.  I chopped up, trying to keep the “flowers” in tack, 1/2 a cauliflower, sliced about 8 nice white mushrooms that I bought from the local farmer’s stand and then added a few sliced garlic cloves.  Voila, just a few drizzles of my herb infused extra virgin olive oil and a few sprinkles of my black truffle sea salt, it was ready to go into the oven.  I put it at 375 for about 30 minutes covered with foil and then 5 minutes uncovered.  In the meantime I grilled up my usual grilled chicken, but this time I played around with the flavors a bit, using more salt and rosemary, from my friends salt concoction she calls, Herbs de PV.  She blended sea salts with natural growing herbs from Palos Verdes.  I think our meal was great and it was definitely healthy.

ceviche

chili peppers
chili peppers (Photo credit: marzbars)

I love ceviche.  I had the real deal 10-years ago when I went to visit my sister in Peru.  We traveled all over sampling some of the most amazing Peruvian dishes, but for me, Ceviche is my favorite.  I had never tried making it until today.  Inspired by the Peruvian restaurant and my local fish monger, I decided to try it out when I was buying my weekly fish.   The fish guy told me to try his frozen tilapia. I’m a purest and didn’t feel like buying frozen fish, why after all, I was in fresh-fish heaven?  However, he convinced me by saying, “It makes for a wonderful ceviche”  I bought four filets for about $5 dollars.  I went home thawed out the fish and started squeezing my bags of lemons and limes.  I know you can use one or the other (lemons or limes), but this was my first and I wanted it “cooked.”  I was on a time constraint so the only thing I did was cover my fish completely with lemon and lime juice and put it in the fridge.  I let it sit for a few hours, the time to get my son, bring him to an afterschool event and then back.  So my ceviche was done in several stages.  So, three hours later……  I chopped up some fresh hot peppers– I had bought a little medly of peppers and I can’t remember all the names of each, but in general any spicey pepper will do.  Some were super spicy and others more mild.  I also chopped up a big bunch of cilantro. I really love the fresh taste of cilantro, so I probably added more than the average Peruvian would add.  Next I cut up half a red onion in the thinnest slivers possible with a chefs knife.  A mandolin would have been perfect, but I don’t have one.  I also added 4 half of garlic cloves for flavor.  Lots of Sel de Cali– the chardonnay version, a bit of fresh, ground pepper and I put it all in the bowl with my fish and back into the fridge to “cook” some more.  Just before serving, maybe 2 hours later, I boiled a sweet potato to go on the side.  Generally this dish is served with big corn and a sweet potato.  I didn’t have big Peruvian corn, so we settled for the lovely orange-colored potato.  I have to say, it was delicious.  We had enough to feed several people.  I had used all 4 filets.  Next time I think I will use two filets, if it’s a main course for two people.  This dish would also be a great party appetizer.  It could be served on a tortilla, on a lettuce wrap, or just alone in little individual ramekins.  Now that I’ve made it the possibilities are endless if I am to entertain.   Just make sure you keep the ceviche cold, nobody likes a warm ceviche.

Tilapia filet

10-15 limes or/and lemons

3 hot peppers chopped fine

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

4 halved garlic cloves

1 bunch of cilantro roughly chopped

Sel de Cali- Chardonnay kind

1 sweet potato or yam

Lobster and shrimp ceviche

(Ceviche de pulpo, as known and prepared in th...

Ceviche