Russian gherkins

This is a brine only recipe for pickling gherkins and it will ferment so don’t keep it in closed jars.

See also: Pickling vegetables

This is based on 1kg of gherkins.

Pickling brine:

  • 2l water
  • 70g sea salt

Boil the water and dissolve the salt.  Allow it to cool.

Seasoning:

  • 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 oak, blackberry or cherry, leafs
  • 2 bay leafs
  • De-seeded red chilli or fresh horseradish (optional)

Wash the gherkins and top and tail them.

Put the dill in the bottom of the jar and pack one layer of the gherkins in vertically.

Cover the first layer of gherkins with brine.

Add the seasoning on top of the gherkins and then pack the rest of the gherkins in.

Fill to the top with brine and weigh the gherkins down with a saucer.  Cover with a cloth and store them so the air can circulate underneath the jar.  It’s normal for white foam to appear on the top of the liquid.

They are ready to eat after two days.

Russian brine pickled gherkins

Pickling vegetables

Generic recipe for pickling vegetables, serves as a suitable basis for pickling most things and can be scaled up and adapted to taste.  Good for gherkins, courgettes, peppers and more.

See also: Russian gherkins

Pickling liquid proportions:

  • 1l water
  • 180ml 10% white, pickling, vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 7 teaspoons sugar

Boil the pickling liquid and dissolve the salt and sugar.

Prepare the vegetables:

  • Courgettes: peel them and remove the seeds.
  • Gherkins: top and tail them.
  • Carrots: thickly slice them.
  • Peppers: remove the seeds and chop them into quarters.

Pack the vegetables in the jar as tightly as possible – this helps to stop them floating too much.

Add bay leafs, peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill and any other seasoning you like.  Pro-tip: put the seasoning in between two layers of vegetables to make sure it stays fully immersed in the liquid.

Cover the vegetables with onion slices to above the top of the jar.  When the lid is closed they will hold the vegetables down in the liquid as they try to float.

Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables whilst it’s still boiling.  Fill the jar until it starts to overflow and close the lid.

Leave them for at least three days, although longer is obviously better.

Gherkins after bottling

Kangaroo stoo

This was done with a kangaroo steak but would also work with venison.  Don’t dice the meat, keep it in as big a lump as possible.

  1. Fry shallots and some paprika salami (chorizo would work) in the slow cooker pot.
  2. Brown the meat in the pot.
  3. Add a tin of tomatoes.
  4. Season with good stuff. In particular:
    • mustard
    • rosemary
    • red wine vinegar
    • juniper berries
    • gin
  5. Add mushrooms.
  6. Cook on low for about five hours.
  7. Keep on warm for another three or so.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is readily available these days in the ethnic section of the supermarket or from Polish delis. It comes in either a soft pack or in a jar but both will need cooking the same way. Go for original Polish sauerkraut rather than something made for the British market. It’s best made the day before and reheated when you’re ready.

  1. Fry some bacon (panchetta style cubes, ideally fatty and smoked) in the saucepan.
  2. Put in the sauerkraut from the packet or jar including any liquid.
  3. Add some white wine (or water) – not too much, just enough to stop it sticking. Use more if it’s particularly salty.
  4. Add: bay leaf, peppercorns and juniper berries
  5. Cook on a very low heat for 45 min to an hour (or more – even three or four hours). Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if it’s getting dry.
  6. Finely grate a raw potato into it – this is not optional! Medium sized potato for 500g of sauerkraut.
  7. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. It’s done when it’s got a creamy texture and you can’t taste the potato.
  8. Sweeten with honey, maple syrup or sugar to taste. (It should be on the sour side of sweet and sour – if it’s on the sweet side that’s Bavarian style which is right out.)

Cooked like this it goes well with fatty meats, sausages and pasta (with tomato sauce).

You can also eat sauerkraut ‘raw’ in salads but don’t have too much at first if your digestion isn’t acclimatised to it: it can move through quite fast!

Baltimore Crab Cakes

Ingredients
150g jumbo lump crab meat
1 slice white bread, crust off, small dice
1/4 teaspoon shallots, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon chives, finely diced
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon butter

Instructions
Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

1) In a bowl, whisk one egg
2) Gently fold in all ingredients (except butter) until combined
3) Shape crab cakes into four patties
4) In a hot sauté pan, add 2 tablespoon of butter
5) Lightly brown crab cakes on both sides
6) Remove from sauté pan
7) Using a small oven pan, bake for 5 minutes or until done (they should have a light texture)

Mead

1.5 Kilos of honey
Juice of two oranges and two lemons
Zest of one orange and one lemon
Yeast and nutrient

Bring the honey and zest to the boil in two or three times its volume of water. Stir with a stainless steel spoon until honey is dissolved, or it may burn. Skim off any scum which rises.

Activate the yeast in a little of the warm honey mixture. When the liquid has cooled pour into a fermentation vessel, add the juice, activated yeast and nutrient and top up with cold water. A fermentation vessel with a narrow neck and airlock is preferable.

Allow to ferment to completion and rack when the wine has cleared and no further bubbles are passing. Mead should be left to mature for a year after this.