Friday, May 27, 2011

Sort of Quick Pickled Fennel

Shareholder Dan with his bounty, which this week included blueberries, yum.

Pickling is pretty simple, especially if you make "quick" pickles, which usually means that they're not canned. Canning requires special canning jars and lids and a large kettle or canner. The advantage is that canned pickles will keep on the shelf for a very long time, until you open them that is.

Canning isn't very
difficult, but quick pickles are even easier. However, quick pickles must be stored in the refrigerator and will keep only for a week or two, if they last that long. Quick pickles are less of a production and are often made in small batches.

I adapted this Pickled Fennel recipe from one that appeared in the February/March 2011 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. It's a lovely pickle that's nice on a relish tray. It's delicious with poached salmon, either hot or cold. Fine Cooking uses it in an orange juice and brown sugar sauce with skillet-fried pork chops.
Quick Pickled Fennel takes just a few minutes to make, but the pickle needs to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 days before it's ready to eat.

Quick Pickled Fennel
1/2 t yellow mustard seed
1/2 t whole black peppercorns
1 fennel bulb, trimmed
1 C rice vinegar
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 T salt
2 T olive oil

1. Toast the mustard seeds and peppercorns in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Then grind them with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

2. Thinly slice with white part of the fennel bulb and pack a wide-mouth pint jar with a screw-on lid with the fennel and spices, alternating layers of fennel and sprinkling the spice mixture.

3. Bring all of the remaining ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and pour the liquid over the fennel and spices in the jar, covering the fennel entirely. Press the fennel down if necessary. Screw on the lid. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 3 days before using.

If you have a big bulb of fennel you can double this recipe. You might have a little excess pickling liquid, but probably not much. Remember to compost the green and fibrous parts of the fennel bulb.

You can get yellow mustard seeds and peppercorns at the Spice Station on Sunset Blvd.
If you're interested in more pickle recipes, check out my Silver Lake Farms blog posts from January 23, 2010 for Quick Radish Pickles and October 1, 2010 for Cucumber Pickles. Cucumbers aren't quite in season yet, but radishes are.

A Word or Two About Micro-Greens

If you'd like some ideas for using your micro-greens, here are a few:

Lately, I've been putting a handful of micro-greens, instead of lettuce, on my sandwiches. I've found micro-greens to be an absolutely delicious accompaniment to egg salad, tuna salad, smoked turkey, ham and cheese, hummus on pita, and even hamburgers!

Another wonderful way to use micro-greens is in a Vietnamese summer roll. Summer rolls are simple to make - they're just a bunch of vegetables rolled up in a rice paper wrapper. You can find rice paper wrappers at most Asian markets. They come as thin, dry disks, usually in a round container. Just soak them one at a time in warm water for 30-60 seconds, until pliable and fill with your favorite ingredients, such as lettuce leaves, chopped Napa cabbage, micro-greens, mint, cilantro, Thai basil, chopped green onion, shredded carrots, sliced jalapenos, shredded pickled ginger, avocado. You can add some protein if you'd like in the form of chopped grilled tofu, sliced hard-boiled egg, or grilled and chopped chicken, beef, pork or shrimp. A peanut dipping sauce is a very tasty accompaniment.

Today's harvest included the following:

From Underwood Family Farms: Fennel, red leaf lettuce, yellow carrots, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, green kale, mizuna, and green cabbage.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Easter radishes, romaine, Chantennay carrots, collard greens, purple scallions, rainbow chard, baby leeks, and green garlic.

And from Silver Lake Farms: Pak Choi and arugula micro-greens.


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