Tag Archives: cucumbers

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

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I’ve never met a pickle I didn’t like.  From beans and carrots to beets and the traditional cucumber, I’m a fan of them all.  Pickled vegetable salads are a common feature on Balkan menus and as such, in the past two years I’ve tried pickled vegetables I never even imagined.  I’ve learned that cauliflower is surprisingly good when it has been sitting in a vinegary brine as are red peppers and even mushrooms. As much as I love pickles it was only recently that I started making my own.  A part of my reasoning for not making my own pickles is because they are so readily available on market shelves.  I am also the only pickle fan in my house so I was hesitant to invest a lot of time into something only I would enjoy.  And then I realized how easy it is to make my own pickles!

These cucumber pickles are the perfect solution to my pickle making phobia.  I am able to make them in small batches so there isn’t the fear of being inundated with more jars than I can possibly ever eat.  (With a move on the horizon the last thing I want to be packing up and moving is jars of pickles).  They cure overnight in a vinegar brine while sitting in the refrigerator so I can enjoy them the next day–no extended pickling process is necessary.  I used cucumbers for these pickles but you can easily substitute any vegetable you like.  Depending upon your preferences, you can add more or less spices.  And because this recipe only makes two pints, you can experiment with vegetable and flavor combinations without ending up with numerous jars of pickles you don’t like.  Unless you are like me and love all things pickled.

REFRIGERATOR GARLIC DILL PICKLES

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup cold water

2 tablespoons pickling salt

4 large pickling cucumbers

4 dill sprigs

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Combine the cider vinegar, water, and salt in a medium-sized sauce pot.  Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Divide the dill, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes between two one-pint canning jars or other glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Thoroughly scrub the cucumbers, discard the ends, and slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch coins.  Pack the two jars with as many cucumber coins as will snuggly fit.
  • Pour the hot pickling brine over the cucumbers to just cover.
  • Wipe the rims and seal with the lids.
  • Place the jars in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before eating.

Yields:  2 pints

 

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Chilled Cucumber Buttermilk Soup w/ Dilled Shrimp

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Regular readers know I love soups and I’m a big fan of chilled soups when hot summer days call for something light and refreshing for dinner. Gazpacho or even a fruit soup might be the first ones that come to mind but they are really just a jumping off point. In reality, the possibilities are endless. I came across this soup from William Sonoma’s Soup of the Day when I was looking for a first course for a recent dinner party but it can just as easily be served as a light dinner when accompanied by a loaf of crusty bread (which is actually how we ate the leftovers the next night).

Because I was serving a crowd and think soup only improves with age, I tripled this recipe which meant blending the cucumber in batches. Lacking fresh buttermilk I used rehydrated powder from King Arthur Flour with good results. To make the soup richer I used half milk and half water when rehydrating the buttermilk. I also substituted Greek style yogurt for the plan yogurt called for in the original recipe.

I’ll admit, I was initially a bit unsure about the combination of ingredients but realized that since I like them all individually I would probably enjoy them together. My guests shared my skepticism but in the end every drop of the soup was scraped from the bowls proving that this recipe is indeed a success and a tasty way to eat your veggies.

CHILLED CUCUMBER BUTTERMILK SOUP WITH DILLED SHRIMP

5 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped

4 green onions, white and tender green parts, chopped

2 large cloves garlic

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups plain whole Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 pound bay shrimp, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

  • Place the cucumbers, green onions, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add the buttermilk, yogurt, and lemon juice and puree.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour.
  • To make the shrimp, place the shrimp and dill in a small bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the soup topped with the dilled shrimp.
    Serves 4

Greek Village Salad

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Last summer I was lucky to take not one but two trips to Greece. The first trip was to the Ionian Islands of Cofru, Paxos and Antipaxos. The second trip included the town of Meteora and the city of Thessaloniki and several villages in between. The geography was varied but the one thing that held true regardless of our locations was the food. Whether eating at fancier restaurants or simple mom and pop operations, all of the food was simple, fresh and delicious. Fish was a mainstay when we were near the sea while inland grilled lamb reigned supreme. But the one item that was guaranteed to be on every menu was a village salad.

The actual ingredients in a village salad may vary depending upon location but cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese were mainstays. Oregano, whether fresh or dried was often included. Some salads may include peppers or onions. Because we were there during the steamy days of July all of the ingredients were local, super fresh and tasted so wonderful. I actually ate a salad as an entree at more than one meal.

I’ve attempted to recreate the salad on numerous occasions but some how the salads never taste quite as good as they do in Greece. But by using the freshest of ingredients; vegetables bought at the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store, feta cheese and olives from a Greek importer rather than mass produced products that come to Belgium from Greece via the United States, the results are pretty darn good.

GREEK VILLAGE SALAD

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby cucumbers, cut into coins

1 cup mixed Mediterranean olives

3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a large bowl.
  • Gently fold in the feta cheese taking care not to crumble the cubes
  • Drizzle the oil over the top of the salad, sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Serves 4

Spicy Black Bean Soup

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

The recipe, adapted from the Splendid Table, is the ultimate in fast since it literally cooks in minutes.  I like my food with a bit of heat but if you think it will be too spicy for your taste you can use less Tabasco and cumin.  While the soup cooks you can make the avocado, cucumber, and orange salsa, which when paired with a dollop of sour cream tempers the heat of the soup.  Don’t skip this addition; this simple salsa takes the soup from good to unbelievable.

SPICY BLACK BEAN SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1 – 15 ounce can corn

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

1 avocado, cubed

Juice of 1 lime

1 orange, peeled and chopped

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup sour cream

  • Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the broth, beans, corn, red peppers, seasonings, and hot sauce and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • While the soup is simmering, combine the avocado, lime juice, orange, and cucumber in a small bowl. Toss well.
  • Serve the soup in bowls topped with the avocado and orange mixture and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Serves 4

Spicy Shrimp Chop Salad

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Sometimes a salad is all you need for dinner.  A bed of greens provides the perfect palate for building an interesting meal.  The sky is the limit as I like to use whatever vegetables or fruits I have on hand.  And I do like to use both fruits and vegetables since the combination of sweet and savory adds a satisfying contrast.  Add a bit of protein and some bread and you have a complete and satisfying meal.

SPICY SHRIMP CHOP SALAD

For the dressing:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Combine the vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

For the salad:

2 cups green leafy lettuce, chopped

2 cups arugula, chopped

1 tomato

1 small red bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

1/2 cup fresh corn

  • Divide the lettuce and arugula between to shallow bowls.
  • Dice the tomato, peppers, cucumber, avocado, and pineapple into uniform bite sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl. Add the corn and toss to combine.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the mixture and stir gently.
  • Evenly divide the vegetable mixture over the top of the lettuce and arugula.

For the shrimp:

1 cup raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup corn starch

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the cornstarch in a large plastic bag and add the shrimp.  Toss to coat.
  • In a shallow pie pan, combine the garlic powder, paprika, salt, thyme, and cayenne pepper.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  • Add the shrimp to the hot oil and stirring occasionally cook until browned and crispy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Divide the shrimp over the top of the prepared salads.

For the toasts:

4 slices crusty bread

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon butter

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic powder and stir to combine.

Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and toasted.

Serves 2

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

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I’ve never met a pickle I didn’t like.  From beans and carrots to beets and the traditional cucumber, I’m a fan of them all.  Pickled vegetable salads are a common feature on Balkan menus and as such, in the past two years I’ve tried pickled vegetables I never even imagined.  I’ve learned that cauliflower is surprisingly good when it has been sitting in a vinegary brine as are red peppers and even mushrooms. As much as I love pickles it was only recently that I started making my own.  A part of my reasoning for not making my own pickles is because they are so readily available on market shelves.  I am also the only pickle fan in my house so I was hesitant to invest a lot of time into something only I would enjoy.  And then I realized how easy it is to make my own pickles!

These cucumber pickles are the perfect solution to my pickle making phobia.  I am able to make them in small batches so there isn’t the fear of being inundated with more jars than I can possibly ever eat.  (With a move on the horizon the last thing I want to be packing up and moving is jars of pickles).  They cure overnight in a vinegar brine while sitting in the refrigerator so I can enjoy them the next day–no extended pickling process is necessary.  I used cucumbers for these pickles but you can easily substitute any vegetable you like.  Depending upon your preferences, you can add more or less spices.  And because this recipe only makes two pints, you can experiment with vegetable and flavor combinations without ending up with numerous jars of pickles you don’t like.  Unless you are like me and love all things pickled.

REFRIGERATOR GARLIC DILL PICKLES

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup cold water

2 tablespoons pickling salt

4 large pickling cucumbers

4 dill sprigs

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Combine the cider vinegar, water, and salt in a medium-sized sauce pot.  Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Divide the dill, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes between two one-pint canning jars or other glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Thoroughly scrub the cucumbers, discard the ends, and slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch coins.  Pack the two jars with as many cucumber coins as will snuggly fit.
  • Pour the hot pickling brine over the cucumbers to just cover.
  • Wipe the rims and seal with the lids.
  • Place the jars in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before eating.

Yields:  2 pints

Panzanella

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I ate my first panzanella salad while traveling through Tuscany with my mom several years ago.  We had rented a car in Pisa and were meandering our way through the rolling Italian hills covered with grape vines and olive groves when we realized that, even by European standards, it was long past lunch hour.  Restaurants were few and far between on this lonely stretch of road but we made a vow that we would stop at the every next place we came across and eat lunch.  Soon we came to the crest of a hill and saw a small stone restaurant literally perched on the edge of the road.  There was barely enough space to park our Fiat and with two wrought iron tables outside we wondered what we were getting into but we decided to try it anyway and we were so glad we did.  That simple lunch of panzanella salad and glasses of Chianti was the best meal we ate during our entire trip and I still think about it today.

Because panzanella has so few ingredients, it is important that they be of the freshest and best quality you can find.  Tomatoes and basil are in their prime here in the Mediterranean world during the summer so now is the perfect time to make this salad.  I’ve served it alongside grilled meats as a side dish but my favorite way to eat panzanella is the way I first experienced it:  as is with a glass of Chianti.

PANZANELLA

5 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 English cucumbers, peeled, sliced, and sliced thinly

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

3/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

1 loaf Italian bread, or other crusty loaf; day old bread is preferable

  • Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and basil in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes.  Place half of the bread in a large shallow serving bowl.
  • Add half of the tomato mixture to the top of the bread then top with the remainder of the bread.
  • Layer the rest of the tomato mixture and all of the juices on top of the bread.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Toss the salad to combine all of the ingredients.  If the bread is still dry drizzle with additional olive oil.  Adjust the seasonings.

Serves:  8 as side salad or 4 as an entree

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