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Cookbooks: The Quick Pickle Cookbook

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post rounding up some useful cookbooks to help inspire us all during this month of quick pickles. In my research for that post, I came across a new-to-me book on the topic called The Quick Pickle Cookbook.

Written by Food & Wine alum Grace Parisi, this slim volume came out last fall and is a delightful addition to my personal pickle resource library. I think many of you will feel similarly.

The book is divided into two sections, with vegetable pickles coming first and fruit pickles coming second. Scattered amidst the pickle recipes are dishes designed to help you put your pickles (and their leftover brine) to work.

Some of the recipes I’ve marked to try include the Smoky Okra Pickles (page 47), the Pickled Pepper Romesco (page 85), the Bourbon-Pickled Blackberries (page 97), and the Lime-Chile Pickled Pineapple (page 135).

If you’ve really enjoyed this month’s quick pickle challenge, consider adding this one to your library for future idea fodder!

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Quick Pickle Cookbook Recommendations

Our month of quick pickles for the Mastery Challenge is underway. While there is PLENTY of information about quick and refrigerator pickling available on the internet, I also have a short stack of books to recommend in case you’re hoping to dig deeper. (Amazon | Powell’s)

  • Pickled by Kelly Carrolata (Amazon | Powell’s) – This book runs the pickling spectrum. You’ll find everything from a class dill pickle to refrigerator herring. There are some recipes here that are designed for the water bath, but most are to be used and eaten promptly. Another fine feature of this volume is the fact that about a quarter of the recipes are ones to help you use up what you’ve put up.
  • Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger, John “Doc” Willoughby, and Dan George (Amazon | Powell’s) – This book is a celebration of the unprocessed pickle and serves up inspiration every time I flip through its pages. It does show its age a bit as far as the names of the recipes go (no one would name something Korean-Style Cabbage Pickle in these times, they’d simply call it Quick Kimchi), but the fact remains that it has plenty to offer.
  • The New Preserves by Anne V. Nelson (Amazon | Powell’s) – I bought this book for its pickled cantaloupe recipe and keep it around for its sweet pickled carrots. Just don’t make the three bean salad – there’s not nearly enough acid in that recipe for boiling water bath canning.
  • Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon (Amazon | Powell’s) – If you want to pursue authentic pickles from Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asian, you want Karen Solomon by your side. This book is a masterful piece of recipe development and curation. And since many of the traditional pickles from those parts of the world are kept with processing, much of the book is perfect for this month’s challenge.
  • The Pickling Handbook by Karin Bojs (Amazon | Powell’s) – I included this book in the round-up because it is beautiful. It offers a handful of pickling recipes, as well as bunch of recipes to help you use up the pickles you’ve made.
  • The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich (Amazon | Powell’s) – Linda Ziedrich is the high priestess of home food preservation (I anxiously await her forthcoming book on savory jams). The third edition of her pickling book came out last summer and is bursting with all manner of pickled delight. If you only own one book on pickling, this should be it.
  • The Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman (Amazon | Powell’s) – This is a big, friendly book with lots of pickle knowledge to offer. Andrea processes most of her pickles, but many of the recipes could be easily done as quick pickles. She’s got one section where the recipes are all scaled for a single jar, making them easy for the small batch aficionado.
  • Pickled & Packed by Valerie Aikman-Smith (Amazon | Powell’s) – Pickled rose petals! Boozy bread and butter pickles! Pickled makrut lime leaves! This book is the one I pull down when I need something to wake me up and get me thinking about pickling in a whole new way.
  • Beyond Canning by Autumn Giles (Amazon | Powell’s) – I love Autumn’s flavor sensibility. She has a way of combining ingredients that is creative, delicious, and accessible. Recipes in this book that would work particularly well for the challenge include Kombu Dashi Pickled Shitake Mushrooms, Curried Orange Pickle, Bloody Mary Pickled Eggs, and Quick Pickled Rhubarb.
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Cookbooks: Perfect for Pesach

I have had this copy of Perfect for Pesach by Naomi Nachman sitting on my desk for a better part of the last month. I’ve sifted through it several times, taking note of various recipes to try and appreciating each time the fact that there’s a picture for every recipe (as a cookbook author, I am painfully aware of how expensive this can be).

I’ve also hoped that inspiration would strike that would give me a good way to write about it. Because as a book, it brings up some stuff for me (I’ve written about other books with Judaism or kosher cooking at their core without this trouble. I don’t know why this particular volume got me. But it did).

I am Jewish by birth, but was raised in the loose, liberalism of the Unitarian Universalist church. I regret nothing about my upbringing and am deeply grateful for the space I was given to craft and cultivate my own belief system and perspective on the world.

But. Sometimes, I long to fit in. To be connected to that Jewish side of me without uncertainty or fear that I will be denied recognition. And this book triggers that longing. I think it’s happening because this is a book designed to help cooks out during the eight day holiday of Passover/Pesach.

It’s not a book about celebratory meals or festival food (those don’t haven’t caught me off-guard the way this one did). It simply about daily cooking for a time when grains, legumes and anything leavened is forbidden. And that’s not really a space in which I feel like I have easy footing or even feel like I belong.

Now, with that angst out of the way, there are things I want to tell you about this book. Like the cover says, these are “Passover recipes you’ll want to make all year.” At its core, this is a book about home cooking and it has a lot to offer in that arena. Because grains are off the table during Passover, many of the recipes are, by default, gluten-free (if that’s your allergen of avoidance, make sure to steer clear of anything including matzo meal).

It’s a book that spends a lot of time focusing on vegetables and proteins as well, which makes it relevant also to the paleo and low carb crowd.

I have a long list of things I plan on making, including the Zucchini Mushroom Soup (page 72), Sweet and Salty Pecan Chicken Cutlets (page 112), the Zucchini Onion Frittata pictured above (page 164), and the Crispy Potato Stacks (page 186).

These thumbprint cookies are made using potato starch and ground almonds rather than wheat flour, and the filling is a combination of apricot jam and chopped pecans. Sounds like a good treat no matter what time of year it is!

This book is a solid collection of recipes that are terrific whether you keep kosher for Passover, or you’re simply looking for fresh inspiration for your family meals.

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Cookbooks: Composing the Cheese Plate

I love cheese plate books, because in many cases, they’re really preserving books in disguise. Because what goes better with all manner of cheese that interesting jams, spreads, chutneys, mostardas, and jellies? Nothing, that’s what!

Published last fall, Composing the Cheese Plate is a perfect example of preserving-centric cheese book. Written by cheese evangelist Brian Keyser and pastry chef and condiment maker Leigh Friend, this book is bursting with an array of bright, creative, and unusual things to spread, smear, and dollop on cheese.

I have markers sticking out of this book in every direction. In addition to the recipes I’ve shared via photography here, I’m hoping to make the Balsamic Rosemary Cherry Mustard (page 63), Cardamom Poached Butternut Squash (page 89), Spiced Carrot Chutney (page 131), and the Pineapple Mostarda (page 198).

There is one downside to working with a book like this and that’s that none of the recipes are designed for boiling water bath canning. However, the batch sizes are small enough that you can easily tuck them into the fridge and use them up. I confess that I will probably borrow flavor elements from this book and will marry them with recipes I know to be safe for the canning pot.

One final note. This book comes to us from the same publisher that produces my books and as a result, this book shares the same size and binding as those in the Food in Jars series. It would fit quite nicely on a shelf next to my trio of books!

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Books to Take You Further on the Salt Preserving Path

Judging from the happy posts on Instagram and Facebook, most of you who are participating in this month’s Mastery Challenge are really enjoying your exploration of salt preserving (and for those of you who haven’t loved this month, March and its jelly and/or shrub topic is just around the corner).

I thought it would be really useful to recommend some books for those of you who are finding yourself really engaged with the salt preserving and want to keep going after this month is up. Here are the five books I turn to most often when I’m looking for inspiration and answers around the topics of salting, curing, and fermenting.

1. Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. This book never lets me down. It turn to it any time I’m contemplating trying a new ferment, because I know that Kirsten and Christopher always share honestly about what works and what isn’t worth my time. I appreciate the step-by-step pictures for the basic ferments as well as the more exotic combinations.

2. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. If you only have space for one book on this topic, this is the one to have. It’s not limited to salty ferments, but covers the entire fermentation canon. It can be dense at times, but as long as you approach it with patience, it will never let you down.

3. Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison. The brilliance of this book is in its range. It’s got something for every food preserver, and there’s plenty here for those who want to zero in on salting. Joel and Dana also go beyond the preserves and show you how to make the most of everything you salt, cure, can, smoke, and infuse. The introductions to fermenting and salting are worth the price of admission alone.

4. Bar Tartine by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns. The restaurant is closed, but the book lives on! The sub-title is Techniques & Recipes and it’s the combination of those two that makes this volume so useful. Within each section, they lay down a technique and then over up a handful of recipes that riff on that technique. This allows curious readers to crack open the offered skills and journey towards working knowledge.

5. Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry. This is an intensely beautiful book and the chapter entitled “Salted, Cured, and Potted” is particularly useful to those looking to deepen their salting knowledge (it includes multiple takes on gravlax). Diana is a UK-based author, and so does make storage recommendations that are in contrast with those we’re guided to in the states. In the case of her sweet preserves, I will often use her recipes and then apply a water bath.

If you have other books that you turn to for salt preserving instruction, please share them in the comments!

Disclosure: I got my copy of Fermented Vegetables as a free review copy. All other books listed here were ones I bought because I knew my library wouldn’t be complete without them. 

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Cookbooks: Eat It Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton

There is little in life I find more satisfying that making a meal that uses up things that might otherwise get thrown away. Leek tops? A batch of veggie stock, which then becomes risotto, soup, or a cooking medium for whole grains. Random, limp vegetables? Soup, fried rice, or egg scramble. Stale bread? Bread pudding, savory panade, meatball or meatloaf binder, panzanella, or toasted bread crumbs.

However, having spent some time with Sherri Brooks Vinton‘s relatively new book (it came out last June), Eat It Up!, I’ve come to realize that there’s even more I could be doing to use things up and prevent waste in my kitchen.

Sherri begins the book with an introduction that defines the problem of food waste and identifies reasons why so many are striving to reduce it. From there, she heads off into techniques and recipes for using up unloved bits and transforming scraps into delicious dishes.

In the produce section, Sherri focuses primarily on the parts that we most often toss into the trash or compost. She’s included recipes that make good use of apple peels, celery leaves, the stems from various greens, fennel fronds, and the tops of radishes, turnips and beets.

In the meat section, she shows you how to make stock, prepare bone marrow, render fat, and transform those things into tasty dishes. Hit the dairy section of the book to use up scraps of cheese, the end of a tub of yogurt, and make queso fresco. There are suggestions for the ends of condiments, leftover baguettes, and the olives that invariably remain after you’ve thrown a party.

If one of your resolutions for 2017 was to do better with food waste, I highly encourage you get yourself a copy of this book. It’s bursting with useful tips (potato peel croutons!) and is friendly, approachable, and fun.

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