Pickled Gherkins

Summer is preserving time, from making chutney & passata to pickled cucumbers and making jam. I have thankfully been given some jars, so I am back on track to get bottling. When I saw Quekes (baby cucumbers) on special I knew I had to make some more Pickles.

My dear friend Niina sent me Moomins Cookbook: An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine available here and I have made a couple of things from it, one of the best by far is their recipe for pickled gherkins.

Our kids love gherkins, as do we, they make a lovely addition to a Ploughman’s lunch, a quick easy pre dinner nibbles, or as an addition to lunch boxes. We can get them very cheaply here in Australia from tiny baby cucumbers the size of your kids fingers to the large Polish ones. However if I make them myself I know exactly what’s gone into them and there is nothing quite like home made in my opinion.

For this batch it almost seemed to take longer to get the sticky goo off my jars than it did to make the actual pickles. Then you just let time take it’s course and in about a month or two we’ll be enjoying our very own pickled cucumbers.

I think you’d be able to use this recipe as a base for other pickled vegies like carrots, cauliflower and onions as well as bread and butter cucumbers.For the amount pictured I double the recipe and had exactly the right amount of liquid. I leave out the horseradish, black current leaves (as I don’t have any) and the dill because it makes my nose itch to the point where I would gladly remove it from my face. You can make it to suit your tastes as well.

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You will need:

Some large glass preserving jars or smaller ones if you’re planning on slicing the cucumbers or gherkins.

Firstly wash your jars in hot soapy water and allow to soak to remove the labels and any goo from the labels. Once they’re clean, rinse well and place on a tray in the oven and heat for 10 mins at about 180 degrees Celsius.

1 kg of Gherkins or baby cucumbers

For the stock:

300ml of water

200ml of wine or apple cider vinegar

160g of sugar

1 1/2 tbsp salt

Seasonings:

1 tbsp allspice berries

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp whole cloves

1 tbsp sliced garlic – optional

1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish – optional

For the jar:

2 dill flowers

2 black current leaves

Wash the gherkins well and cut them into slices.

Layer the slices in large sterilised jars together with the seasonings. If you like mild gherkins leave out the garlic and horseradish (as I mentioned above I only leave out the horseradish and they’re delicious, not to spicy at all).

Simmer the ingredients for the stock. Allow to cool, then pour enough stock into the jars to cover the gherkins. Close the lid tightly and store in a cool cellar or pantry (dark cupboard).

I doubled the quantity of stock based on how many cucumbers I had, I also poured hot stock over the cucumbers and microwaved each jar for 30 seconds in order to get the stock hot enough to create a vacuum when you put the lid on. Some people say you don’t need to worry, but I prefer to ensure the jars are sealed properly. Plus I like hearing that little click that happens when the suction forms. Yes you can call me crazy :D.

I hope you love these as much as we do. It’s a little taste of Finland, Thanks to Niina and the Moomins!

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Dinosaur Salad

We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway 🙂 – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.

Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!

Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.

My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.

If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.

Dee’s delicious Salad

You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids

1 tomato diced

1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered

4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped

100gms of danish fetta, crumbled

dash of balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.

Summer Salads

So firstly I have to apologise for the lack of posts over the last 2 months, if you’re following me on facebook then you will have had a few updates with ideas, but I haven’t really had time to sit down and write out the recipes I’ve trialed & developed as I have gone back to work and while technically it’s part time, the co ordination has taken some negotiating as anyone with small children will know.

Anyway, I am back and I will be making time for at least 1 post a week, I figure I can definitely handle that and hopefully more. So given we in Melbourne have been having some warmish weather – although as I am typing a cool change is coming through with large rain droplets & that gorgeous smell that comes with rain on a summer day and blowing away the heat.

Hubby has had a 4 day weekend this week so we’ve been having salads for lunch. Zachie wanted to try some snow peas and I have been thinking of a way I can include these in a meal as we aren’t really a stir fry family, here is my version of Salad Nicoise.

You will need

1 Large tin of Tuna, drained.
handful of Snow Peas trimmed
1-2 diced tomatoes
8 baby Cos lettuce leaves
1 small green or red capsicum
4 hard boiled eggs

For the Dressing you will need

1/4 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
1 small clove of garlic
3 anchovies
1-2 Tbsp vinegar

Slice the snow peas into small pieces & blanched in lightly salted boiling water, leave them in for a minute and then drain and refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process. Put the eggs on to boil – approx 7 mins depending on whether you prefer them hard or soft.
In a morter & pestle crush the garlic, add salt & pepper to taste & the anchovies, mash it all together and add the olive oil with enough vinegar to taste, adjust the seasoning as required & set aside.

In another bowl mix break up the tuna, add the sliced capsicum, tomatoes & lettuce & snow peas pour over the dressing and mix well & place onto or into your serving bowl or platter. Peel the eggs and cut into halves or quarters, arrange over the salad and season lightly.

Serve with Crusty bread if desired.

Yesterday we also made a tuna salad, but had avocado & cucumber in it, it was equally delicious!