Pickled Carrots

Homemade Pickled Vegetables Recipe
Like a tennis player that’s been training all year for their first match, I walk into the kitchen, full of bravado, throw the culinary ball into the air, serve it across the net and hear the words “FAULT,” followed by the words, “DOUBLE FAULT,” soon after.

Two cookie recipes in as many days – two epic fails.

Disappointment. It’s officially six days into Cookie Baking Season and I feel like a big o’ Failure. I’m a baker above anything else and this should be my time to SHINE, rather than falter. Blame the recipe. Blame the quality of the ingredients. Blame my mindset. I sound like John McEnroe.

My first attempt, an anise-scented honey cookie lightly glazed and decorated with candied orange peel, was an unmitigated disaster. The texture was all wrong – too dense – and the anise too strong, resulting in a cookie reminiscent of those hard Scandinavian licorice lozenges.

The second recipe, baked yesterday, was supposed to be delicate sandwich cookies filled with mint and dipped in milk chocolate. I was hoping for an elevated version of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (an addiction of mine) crossed with a Girl Scout Thin Mint. What I actually created were misshapen oval disks sandwiching a dollop of minty goo similar to Crest toothpaste. I didn’t even bother with the chocolate dip – in to the trash they went as well.

Rather than squander another pound of butter, I thought I would take a break today, step away from the cookies, and try something else entirely – something that didn’t require baking. I settled on these spice-laden pickled carrots – a better late-night snacking option to a plate of cookies anyway. An array of colorful pickled veggies like these, using a variety of spice combinations, would make a great alternative to the standard holiday crudité platter – no baking required.


Pickled Carrots

  • Servings: 2 quart jars
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This pickling recipe would work with whatever fresh veggies you happened to have on hand – cauliflower, onions, beans, or beets – to name just a few.

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled, cut into sticks and lightly blanched
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon salt
  • Hot water

Directions

  1. Divide garlic, thyme, mustard seeds, allspice berries, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks,peppercorns and cloves between two quart jars. Pack blanched carrot sticks tightly into jars.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt and heat until boiling. Pour hot liquid into jars filling ¼” from top. If there isn’t enough vinegar mixture, fill remaining space in jars with hot water.
  3. Close jars and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 2 weeks.

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Summer Lentil Salad

A spoonful of Summer Lentil Salad
Lentils, with a shape somewhat resembling coins, are symbols of riches and prosperity in Italy. After eight long years, we have finally sold my childhood home this week. What better way to celebrate this little boon than with these symbols of financial good fortune?

Rather than the golden-egg-laying goose the house was expected to be, it morphed into an albatross that created unanticipated familial stress over the last eight years. My oldest sibling wanted to sell immediately, during the real estate collapse, while another mentioned keeping it for 45 years. I managed, surprisingly, to remain neutral over most of the years (caught up in my own personal turmoil, I suppose) until last year – then my exasperation bubbled up, boiled over. Get me out of here – I want to take my share and run! Trouble with the tenants, damage to the property, lawsuits and disagreements between us brought me to the verge of walking away. This house and all its complications was my last fetter to my siblings. Now, no longer financially shackled, I can, should I chose to, slip away never to be found again. Not that I want to, but there’s something liberating in realizing that I could.

Tonight, before I celebrate with my lentil salad, I say thank you to my mom and dad for making this financial provision. I am grateful for this good fortune and I hope to use my portion in a manner that will make them proud.


Lentil Salad

This salad is best served at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ⅓ cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large or two small carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • ⅓ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ head cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup Feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, thyme, garlic, sugar and Dijon. Add olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Set dressing aside.
  2. Cook lentils according to package directions.
  3. While lentils are cooking, in a medium size skillet over high heat, sauté corn, red pepper, carrot and onion until softened and onions are translucent. Do not brown.
  4. Place cabbage in a large bowl.  Drain lentils.  Cover cabbage with warm lentils and sautéed vegetables to help soften cabbage. While salad is still warm, fold in dressing and feta cheese. Cover salad and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to meld. Before serving, season with salt and pepper.

Savory Brussels Sprout & Caramelized Onion Galette

Savory Galette

Every Superhero has one great nemesis. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. My nemesis is named Inertia. Inertia convinces me to sleep an extra hour; she calls me to my comfy couch, and encourages me to get lost in formulaic television rather than creating something of my own. Inertia’s power frightens me. Without her, there’s no telling what I can do, yet I don’t know how to rid myself of her. This layoff has given me approximately 40 weeks to reinvent myself. 40 weeks seems like plenty of time, but not when Inertia sits at my left hand, whispering to me, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, start tomorrow.”


Savory Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Galette


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 4 Large Brussels sprouts, cut in half and finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves)
  • 1/3 cup Canadian bacon, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Sauté onion in butter until beginning to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and bacon and continue cooking until onions are soft and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and 3 Tablespoons milk in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 12” circle. Place on a sheet pan, remove waxed paper.
  3. Spread filling on dough, leaving a ¾” border. Sprinkle filling with feta cheese. Brush border with remaining 1 Tablespoon milk, fold border towards center, just barely enclosing filling and pleating as you go. Brush top of dough with any remaining milk.
  4. Bake galette 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter, Cumin and Coriander

Brussels Sprouts with Cumin and Coriander“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.”
– Aeschylus

If Envy is the green–eyed monster, then call me emerald-eyed Godzilla. A culinary peer just published her first article in a small, but well-regarded, food publication – I stumbled upon it accidentally and I’m verdantly envious. Not one of my nobler facets, this festering envy, but what’s a girl to do? I could deploy my usual denial tactics – block all social media mentioning her name and refuse to acknowledge my feelings of inadequacy. Not very mature nor useful. Instead, I’ve decided to better acquaint myself with the green–eyed goblin. A half–hour of internet research made me see that my envy is merely waiting to be harnessed for my benefit. Envy is a powerful teacher when it’s allowed to speak and the student takes the time to listen. Envy guides us towards our true desires. We need to ask ourselves what, specifically, is causing our envy. It’s typically something we want to be doing ourselves – like publishing a food article, perhaps? Envy rears its head when we feel we are falling behind our peers. Those we tend to envy are our equals, with quirks and failings as clear as our own, yet they’ve managed to express their talents in a way that we feel we should be doing ourselves – she published an article and why haven’t I?

Now that we’ve used envy to our advantage, now that we’re aware of the brass ring within our grasp, it’s time to move past emotion and into action. The quickest way to quash envy is to reach out to the person and offer them our congratulations quickly followed by a request for their advice on how we can move towards our own success. As soon as we see them as an ally and resource working towards a similar goal, the envy seems to melt away. Lastly, we need to take one small step towards our own goal – there’s room for more than one at the top.

And speaking of green…

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter, Cumin and Coriander

Ingredients


– 6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
– ¾ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
– ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 ½ lbs. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure the butter is cooking evenly. Once the color has changed from yellow to light-brown, add coriander and cumin and heat another 30 seconds until fragrant. Set butter aside.
  2. In a large skillet with lid, heat brussels sprouts with ½ cup water on medium heat. Reduce heat, cover with lid and cook about 10 minutes until a knife tip easily pierces center of sprout but sprout is still firm. Remove lid, increase heat to high and heat until water is completely absorbed.
  3. Add butter, including browned butter solids and spices, to sprouts and stir until sprouts are evenly covered with butter and begin to brown around edges. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with zest. Sprouts can be made ahead and reheated or served at room temperature.

Cranberry sauce with dried cherries and cloves

Cranberry Cherry Sauce

For all of November, and most of October if I’m honest, I’ve had a terrible bout of writer’s block. It’s not lack of topics, the “what,” that has me flummoxed; there are plenty of topics – big topics, sensitive topics and juicy topics. However, approaching them, the “how,” has confounded me for weeks.

So, as we move into December, I find myself tardy on both this recipe’s relevancy and the announcement of my not-so-recent career resignation after 15 years. I’ve spent the majority of the last two and a half weeks in my bathrobe without any rush to return to the workforce (or post, obviously).

Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries and Cloves

Original recipe from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups cherry cider or tart cherry juice
  • 1 8-ounce package dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • ¼ teaspoon (generous) ground cloves

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine cider or juice with dried cherries. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat and let stand for 8 minutes to soften cherries.
  2. Add sugar, cranberries and cloves. Cook over medium high heat until cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Can be made 4 days in advance.