For all their stunning beauty, watermelon radishes emit a pungent, offensive odor as they ferment. It’s the sort of smell that might make you turn around and ask yourself: is it possible that I’ve stepped in something?
But mature, they are pink, and pleasant, and piquant. And flavored with garlic, hot peppers, and star anise, I have no doubt that they will be an excellent addition to the edible menagerie of living foods that are slowly taking over the fridge.
The recipe is as follows:
About 8 Watermelon Radishes (sliced thinly into semicircles)
1 1/2 quarts Brine (filtered water, plus 3 tbsp of Sea Salt)
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Star Anise Pod
Dried Hot Peppers and Black Peppercorns to taste
To put it all together, have a look over at this post about Lactofermented radishes from a couple of years ago.
People! Philadelphia People, especially! Pay attention!
I am pleased to announce that, because it was such a hoot in the fall, I will be rerunning my pickling workshop — Pickling Without Pasteur — this spring. Thanks to the Mount Airy Learning Tree, on Saturday May 3rd from 10am to noon, we will be gathering in the Unitarian Society of Germantown’s kitchen to talk about the biology and methodology of lacto-pickling, and then to make copious quantities of delicious pickles which participants will get to take home in jars.
Dear readers, I will be candid: I would really prefer to live some hundred years ago. I would settle for 80, even. Or 120. For all its benefits, including refrigeration, antibacterial agents, and your esteemed selves, the modern age lacks a certain cozy charm to be found now only between the yellowing pages of novels: scenes of tea and toast before the fire, embroidered slippers, long hours of novel-reading, acrostics, baked apples, baked eggs, floral wallpapers, lemon-scented barley-water, candied violets, kippered herring, crumpets, puddings in the nursery…. It is not perhaps surprising that my interest centers on foods, fabrics, and the fireside. I confess that I have tried to recreate that coziness in my modern life. I bake apples. I cook kippers. I light fires at the slightest chill. I rest my feet on an embroidered footstool, and the quantity of novels lying about suggests more leisure time than I actually possess.
One of the things that I really like about Chinese food is that it baffles me just a little bit. Oh, if you put me in front of a steamer full of dumplings or a bowl of dan dan noodles, I could probably tell you — for the most part — what’s in them. But Chinese food is out of my cooking idiom: it isn’t something that I had at home growing up, I’m not quite comfortable with its methods, and I would almost say that I have a block about producing most of my favorite dishes myself.
For the most part, I am content with this fact. It turns out that Philadelphia is pretty great for Chinese restaurants, and I’ve developed a deep stable of favorites in and around the city: Sang Kee, Han Dynasty, Joy Tsin Lau, and the like. And it is a pleasure, I find, to choose a handful of elaborately prepared, intricately spiced dishes from their menus, and enjoy them without giving too much consideration to the prospect of reproducing them at home.
One thing you should know about the making of sauerkraut is that it’s important to massage the shredded cabbage. You may pound it with a potato masher or with the end of a French rolling pin. And I always do, to start. But the goal of the exercise is to bruise the brassica bits, and induce them to yield up their water. The goal is to mix cabbage juice with salt, such that the vegetable essentially brines itself. And to accomplish this most effectively, hands are by far the best tool.
As I was making this batch of very purple sauerkraut, there was a moment when Sarah turned to say something to me and found me elbows deep in cabbage. I was moving it around, squeezing handfuls between my fingers, and apparently — says Sarah — singing softly to myself. So struck was she by my display of what she deemed pickling madness that she insisted on taking this photograph of my manual manipulations.
Split pea soup has a slightly unfortunate place in the landscape of American popular culture. Especially, I think, for fans of classic horror. Just to mention it in the same paragraph as Linda Blair or Jason Miller is enough to evoke the scene in The Exorcist. It’s enough for us to recall — with a vivid, sickening churn of the stomach — that moment when Father Karras challenges the poor, possessed Regan.
If that’s true, Karras insists, if my mother really is in hell, and you’re really the Devil, you must know her maiden name. What is it? What is it?
He steps forward to drive home his point, and Blair’s response comes in the form of liquid. A green, gloppy, almost laughably gross bucketful, complete with a splattering sound effect.
I had thought, this year, that I might post a recipe that would be appropriate for the big game, the pigskin classic, the Super Bowl. It is, after all, one of the great calendar customs of the United States, in which folks come together to mark the passing of the winter with symbolically complex entertainment, the company of friends and family, and the life-affirming (if somewhat unhealthy) consumption of many of our native foods. It’s one of the great folk festivals, like the Palio in Siena, where the community as a whole bands temporarily into factions that compete against one another, but where that competition is ultimately about reaffirming our unity.
I explained all this to Sarah, and this is what she said: Clearly — you know nothing about football, or the Super Bowl. Not at all. So if you’re going to do this, you had better ask the advice of the Internet.
This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to share for months. I had planned, in fact, to include it in my post about Madeira wine and the sea back in November. But then that post got too long with all its history and its drinking recommendations. And then the research involved in it tired me out on delicious nautical wines for a while. And then one thing led to another and — oh, look at that! — it’s almost February.
But please don’t take my tardiness on the Madeira braised chicken front to mean that I don’t absolutely adore it. That would be the exact opposite of the truth. And if you were to pass over this recipe just because it was a long time coming, it would make me — personally — very sad for you. Because this is, I think, the single best chicken recipe I’ve posted here at Twice Cooked.
My kitchen sometimes seems to have a problem of over-abundance. It’s not a bad problem to have, you understand. It’s much better than the other thing. But in part because of where my produce comes from — CSAs, farmers’ markets, Sarah’s garden, and the like — I have a kind of limited control over what comes into the house. Which means that fairly often, I end up with strange surfeits or even stranger imbalances.
Six pounds of cabbage and no onions, you say? For me — not an uncommon occurrence.
This is a problem, I seem to recall, that I wrote about last summer when the issue of the day was squash. Zucchini has notoriously high yields anyway, I think I said. And by the height of the season — just about the time it’s no longer novel — there’s so much of it around that farmers are selling it for next to nothing, and you’re forced to resort to leaving midnight care packages on your neighbor’s steps just to keep your own stock under control.
We’re cutting it awfully close to the wire, here, for making a New Years themed blog post. But I wanted to share this one in particular before the calendar turned.
The thing with this recipe, and with black eyed peas in general, is that they’re good luck when eaten during that liminal space as we step from one year to the next. The thrust of the tradition is that they represent coins and prosperity. And that our eating them represents incoming cash.