Preserve the Season

Quick Pickles Recipe for Summer

Quick pickles are the perfect way to preserve the season. With the simple combination of fresh summer vegetables and vinegar, you can easily make pickles at home. The resulting pickles can be stored in the fridge as a ready-to-eat summer side dish. There is room for creativity at every step in the process. This quick pickle recipe works for any vegetable, vinegar, and seasoning combination. Try cucumber, green beans, and squash for a late summer bite.

We’ve adapted this recipe from Kevin West’s Universal Pickling Recipe. West’s book, Saving the Season: A cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving, is a core book at SHED. His techniques inspire our pantry and café.

The golden ratio for making pickle brine is 1:1 vinegar and water. Make sure that the vinegar has an acidity of at least 5%. Choosing the right vinegar is an essential step. According to West, “The key to making good pickles is to use good vinegar.” Of course, “good vinegar” depends on the type of pickles you are making. West suggests white-wine vinegar as the standard choice, apple-cider vinegar for sweeter mixtures, and red-wine vinegar for when the recipe calls for a flavorful and bright taste. Darker kinds of vinegar such as malt and balsamic are used less frequently but are well-suited for pickled onions.

You can season quick pickles any way you like. After kosher salt (a key component), you can combine fresh and dried herbs, spices, and garlic cloves to create unique concoctions. West opts for aromatic fresh herbs such as dill weed, tarragon, and basil. He also suggests adding sugar to some pickles like ramps. Whole spices such as peppercorns and coriander keep their flavor longer and therefore are suggested for most pickling recipes. You can also add dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and ground spices such as turmeric and paprika.

Quick Pickles
Yields two quarts

2 pounds fresh vegetables
2 cups vinegar of your choice (%5 acidity or higher)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon honey or sugar, optional
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
4-6 three-inch fronds of fresh herb
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole-seed spices, such as coriander or mustard
2 dried red chilies, optional
2 slices of shallot or a half-dozen pearl onions, optional
Woody spices (cloves) to taste, optional

Slice vegetables to desired shape and size.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar or honey, if using. Bring to a boil, and remove brine from heat.

Pack the cut vegetables tightly into two, quart jars, adding garlic and fresh herbs. Then add peppercorns and whole-seed spices. Add optional woody spices, chilies, and onions last, if using.

Bring the brine back to a boil. Ladle the mixture over the vegetables, filling the jar. Seal the jars and allow them to cool at room temperature overnight. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

 

Try your hand at some of our favorite quick pickles recipes: pickled okra and pickled watermelon rind.

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Plum Salad Recipe

Perfectly in-season stone fruit is an unexpected-yet-perfect match for pungent kimchi, cooling yogurt, and bright citrus. With a shower of cilantro blossoms on top, this salad is a beautiful celebration of late-summer flavor.

Serves 6-8

Beet Kimchi:

4 large yellow beets (should yield about 1lb)
1 qt. kombu stock
1/2 cup grated ginger
1/4 cup grated garlic
5 tbsp ground Korean red chili (gochugaru)
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup radish, shaved thin
1/4 cup kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together. Place in a fermentation crock for 14 days then refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Plum Salad:

8 red-fleshed plums, such as a Santa Rosa Plum or Elephant Heart, sliced into wedges
1 cup beet kimchi
1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tbl white soy sauce mixed in
4 tbsp miso, with lemon kosho blended in to taste (recipe follows)
2 cups of purslane tops
2 Serrano chilis, sliced into thin coins
20 basil leaves
1 bunch of flowering cilantro
1 lime for zest and juice

On the desired plate place a small pool of the soy yogurt. Add a dollop of the miso. With the tip and a small spoon swirl together to create a marble effect.

Place the sliced plums off to one side of the yogurt miso mixture. Add some of the beet kimchi. Scatter the purslane, basil, Serrano chili, and cilantro over the top.

Using a microplane zest the lime over each plate.  After you have added zest to each plate, cut the lime in half and squeeze the lime over each salad.

Lemon Kosho

1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Korean chili paste (tobanjan)
2 tbsp kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and let sit a room temp for 48 hours, then refrigerate for 1 week. It’s then ready to use. The kosho will hold for 6 months in the refrigerator.

Eat Good Food, Preserve the Season

Macerated Strawberry Jam

Late-season strawberries are almost upon us, and there’s no better way to capture their tender sweetness than with a macerated jam. This technique, adapted from Joyce Goldstein’s new book Jam Session, separates the strawberries from their juices partway through the cooking process. This allows the berries to retain more of their fresh character than they would in a long-cooked preserve. It contains a mix of ripe and underripe strawberries, as the latter provide natural pectin to help the jam set. If you can only find ripe berries, your jam will be looser.

Everbearing strawberry plants bear multiple crops over the course of one season, starting in late spring and continuing into September or even October. Some popular everbearing varieties include Eversweet, Quinault, Seascape, Tribute, and Albion.

Macerated Strawberry Jam
Makes 7 half-pint jars

6 cups ripe strawberries
2 cups not-quite-ripe strawberries
4 cups granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, optional
Pinch of salt

Place a few ceramic plates in the freezer for testing the jam’s set.

Rinse, dry, and hull strawberries. In a large preserving pot, gently combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice and toss to mix. Set aside to macerate overnight. The next day, add scraped vanilla bean or extract, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, watching closely to ensure berries do not boil over. Remove pot from heat and let it sit, uncovered, for 1-2 hours.

Sterilize jam jars by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Sterilize lids in a smaller pot of boiling water. Leave jars and lids in pots of hot water on the stove until ready to use.

Bring strawberry mixture to a boil again over medium-high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, until berries are tender. Strain strawberries through a colander, reserving juices. Return the juices to the preserving pot and add lemon juice to taste, plus a pinch of salt. Reduce syrup over medium-low heat, stirring frequently,  until thickened.

Slightly mash the strawberries and return to the pot. While stirring, bring to a boil and cook the jam briefly. To test if preserves are adequately set, drop a spoonful of hot preserves onto a frozen plate and turn the plate vertically for a second or two. If the preserve is finished, the jam will run very slowly, if at all. To double-check, run your finger through the dollop—if the jam wrinkles, it is set. Remove the pot from the heat, and remove vanilla bean, if using.

Bring the water baths back to a boil, and place a baking sheet near your stove. Prepare a ladle, a jam funnel, if using, a wet kitchen cloth to clean jar rims, and clean cloths to protect hands from heat. Using tongs, place jars on the baking sheet. Ladle jam into jars, leaving 1/4″ clearance. Wipe rims clean and set the lids on the mouths of the jars. Twist on the rings.

Using a jar lifter or tongs, gently lower jars into the water bath. Return water to a boil, then decrease to an active simmer and let jars simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave jars in water for a minute or two. Transfer jars out of the pot with tongs and leave at room temperature for 6 hours. Check to make sure that lids are depressed in the center. Any improperly sealed jars will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. Sealed jam will keep for up to two years.

Cooking, Field Notes

Summer Reading: French Cooking Edition

Take a page from the French and savor the summer with good books and good eats. We have collected a few of our favorite cookbooks that celebrate French cooking, eating, and reading. Bon appétit!

Simple French Food by Richard Olney
Originally published in 1974, Simple French Food has become a classic French cookbook. Richard Olney was an influential American food writer who brought the joys Provençal cooking to the American table. His promotion of local, seasonal ingredients influenced the food movement in California and inspired prominent chefs like Alice Waters, who keeps a copy of this book at Chez Panisse. Simple French Food is as much a work of literature as it as a cookbook. It deserves to become well-worn and cherished, in a kitchen cabinet or tucked away in the living room.

Simple French Food is a training manual for the dedicated home cook. Olney’s words flourish across the pages in deliberate and robust explanations. Appreciating his language is as important as the content of each dish. Within are recipes for braised fennel, squash gratin, crêpe batter, and marinated roast leg of lamb. Some recipes appear simpler than others, though they all maintain the integrity of the Provençal kitchen. An essential addition to any cookbook collection, this is a timeless classic of ingredient-driven cooking.

Tasting Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier
Tasting Paris is a snapshot of the contemporary Parisian foodscape. This modern cookbook offers 100 recipes to eat like a Parisian. Paris native Clotilde Dusoulier writes as if she is sharing a secret with the reader—each page offers advice for finding authenticity in a city notorious for tourist traps. Well-suited for the coffee table, this sizable book transports the reader to Paris through elegant photographs and stories. Tasting Paris is a gentle approach to French gastronomy that encourages you to cook like the locals do.

Dusoulier includes some classic French dishes such as brioche with café au lait for breakfast and duck magret for dinner. Less traditional (but no less delicious) is the potato chip and chive omelet, made famous by Michelin-starred chef Éric Frechon at the Saint-Lazare train station bistro. Even more impressive are the dishes from immigrant communities in the city. Among these are baghrir, Moroccan crumpets served with melted butter and honey, and Turkish lamb served over roasted eggplant and cheese sauce. Together, these recipes create a memorable and flavorful taste of Paris.


Le Picnic by Suzy Ashford
Le Picnic is a playful recipe book that elevates the average picnic to a sophisticated affair. It offers a spread of chic food for on-the-go excursions and afternoons in the sun. Suzy Ashford, an Australian writer and avid Francophile, brings whimsy to the packed lunch with impressive yet straightforward recipes. Le Picnic is both a practical guide for meal prepping and also an excuse to daydream of summer fun and frivolity.

Ashford categorizes her recipes into Le Snack, Food for Sharing, La Salade, Sweet Delights, and La Drink. Some standouts include baked savory figs with goat cheese and walnuts, comté and asparagus tart, salade Lyonnaise, and rosé granita. These recipes are perfect for summer entertaining, whether along the banks of the Seine, in your local park, or on your back patio. Crafting stylish picnic food is a delightful way to spend a summer day with friends.

Find these books and others in our French collection. Happy reading!

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Provençal Vegetable Tian Recipe

A Provençal favorite, the tian is typically a vegetable gratin baked in a ceramic dish. This recipe highlights the best of the summer season with alternating rows of yellow squash, eggplant, and tomato. These simple ingredients are seasoned with thyme, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil; when cooked, the melded flavors taste somewhat like ratatouille. We baked ours in a Digoin stoneware dish, perfect for serving à table (best at room temperature).

Here’s how to make your own.

Provençal Vegetable Tian
Makes a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large white or yellow onions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium yellow squash
1 1⁄2 pounds small, firm eggplant
1 1⁄2 pounds ripe tomatoes
Basil leaves, to garnish

Cook thinly sliced onions with olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add thyme, chili flakes, and garlic and cook for two minutes.


Cut the squash, eggplant, and tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices.


Spread onion mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish. Arrange the sliced squash, eggplant, and tomato in tightly packed rows. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add sprigs of thyme.


Bake at 400°, uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes to an hour.


Serve at room temperature and garnish with basil leaves.

Recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Eat Good Food

Aperitif Recipe: SHED’s French 25 Twist

The traditional apéritif, also called an apéro for short, is a French ritual. Before eating dinner (and sometimes lunch), the French like to enjoy a low-alcohol apéritif with friends and family – whether it be a cocktail, liqueur, or wine.

A chance to relax and chat before eating a meal, the apéritif is normally served with light snacks such as olives, cheese and crackers, nuts, or crisps and is an opportunity to whet the appetite before the meal.

It’s common to touch glasses and say “Santé!” (good health!) or “Tchin-Tchin!” (cheers!)

The French 25 is a twist on the classic French 75 apéritif. Created by SHED Beverage and Café Manager Patricia Philitsa, this summer cocktail features Meyer lemon juice and lavender. It’s perfect for a French-inspired afternoon on the terrace.

French 25 Aperitif
Serves 2

1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1/2 ounce oz D’Pampe Vermouth Rosé
3/4 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice (can substitute fresh orange juice)
2 dashes lavender bitters
Sparkling wine
Sprig of lavender

In cocktail shaker, combine Lillet Blanc, D’Pampe Vermouth Rosé, Meyer lemon juice, and lavender bitters.

Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.

Strain into chilled Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.

Garnish drink with lavender and serve.

Santé!