Icebox Dill Pickles

I love pickles. Like LOVE love. When we were little, both Grandma and Nana would hand my brothers and me a “pickle for the road” when we left their houses after a visit. This was after we had each probably had 3 during the visit! I was picky, I only liked dill pickles. Bread & butter and sweet pickles had no place in my world. I’ve since developed a taste for them but, deep down, I’m a dill pickle girl. Nothing compares to fresh, homemade or house-made (restaurant) pickles. I’ve tried a few recipes over the years but never really loved anything I made. Usually there was just too much going on, too much sugar, too many spices. I wanted a good old simple dill pickle. Well, I finally found it! The recipe below is so simple and, honestly, there are no bells and whistles. Most people are pretty picky about their pickles (say that three times fast!) and these may not be to your taste. For this dill pickle girl, they come pretty darn close to perfect.

A little pickle making music…

Smile and Nod from The Lowest Pair

Icebox Dill Pickles adapted from Pick a Pickle by Hugh Acheson (this is a fabulous little book!). Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints (I usually triple the recipe).

You’ll need: 

  • 8 cups small Kirby pickling cucumbers (I buy mine at Sprouts), 4-5 in. long / 1.5 in. dia.
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt (I use Diamond Crystal Kosher bc it DOES NOT contain anti-caking agents)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

IMG_9810

Pack the cucumbers, dill and garlic into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. *Quick aside here on the jars: I use plastic deli containers, not mason jars. The pickles don’t last long enough in our house to warrant processing the jars. As long as you eat them within a month, they will be fine kept refrigerated. If you want them to keep longer, you’ll need to use mason jars and process them.

IMG_9814

IMG_9815

Combine the salt, mustard seeds, peppercorns, dill seeds, vinegar, and water in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

IMG_9812

Ladle to hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

IMG_9816

IMG_9817

Cap with lids, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

IMG_9819

IMG_9820

Let them soak for a week before devouring them. They will keep for a month in the fridge (if you do choose to process them, they will keep up to 10 months).

IMG_9824

Pour yourself a craft beer and enjoy! IF you decide to share these with your friends, they will love you, but I don’t blame you if you want to keep them all for yourself!

Notes & Tips:

  • Sprouts has great pickling cucumbers!
  • Smart & Final carries the deli containers I use.
  • Don’t you love that beer glass? I know, right?! You can get one, too, from my awesome friend, Craft Beerd! Just click right here to check out his website.
  • For one of my favorite pickles ever, head over to O’Brien’s Pub or to Nickel Beer Company and, hopefully, you’ll be able to try one of Tom and Lindsey Nickel’s amazing spicy pickles.
  • And finally, Sierra Nevada.

Cheers!

Let me know if you make the pickles! Follow The Incidental Spoon on Facebook, @IncidentalSpoon on Twitter and @TheIncidentalSpoon on Instagram!

Salted-Butter Apple Galette with Hidden Rose Apples

“The woman that was helping me showed me the craziest apple!” This was my husband, Ben, around this time last year. I had asked him to stop by Specialty Produce, a local produce warehouse that I adore, to pick up some apples for pies. He’s often the one running my SP errands. He works near downtown San Diego and we live north of the city so it’s easy for him to go on his way into work. Anyway, I will never forget him calling me after this trip, “It was totally red, on the inside! I bought you some, you won’t believe it! They taste like tart green apples.” Both Ben and I get excited about food but, and I think he’d agree here, it was unusual for him to be this excited about an APPLE. I knew this was a big deal.

The apples he brought home were so beautiful on the inside, I had never seen anything like them. I went to high school and college in Washington state. I lived in Chelan, part of the apple valley of the state. Dear friends of mine are generations deep in the apple business. I jump for joy when I see Chelan apples in local markets. And yet, the Hidden Rose apple had remained a mystery to me. I did what any baker would do, I put them in a pie (click here for that pie).

A glimpse of my life in Chelan…

My family moved to Chelan, from La Jolla, when I was 12 (heading into 8th grade). My grandparents had lived there (and had recently bought a home on the lake), my mom was born there, there was history. It is a gorgeous lake town in north central Washington. When I lived there, the surrounding hills were filled with apple orchards. Since then, the land has proved to be a boon for vineyards. Either way, the valley is absolutely beautiful. The lake itself is 50.5 miles long, fed by the Cascade and Chelan Mountains and is the third deepest lake in the country. In the summer, the people come. Towing boats, jet skiis, bbqs, beers, teenagers, and toddlers. At 14, I worked at Lakeview Drive-In, a burger joint open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The summer I was 16 (and until I was 21), I worked at the local waterslide park, Slidewaters, also open for summers only. After I graduated from Chelan High School and went off to Washington State University, I went home for the summers to lifeguard at the “Slides”. We all did.

I remember someone once saying, “Chelan has a population of 3,000 but in the summer it bumps up to 30,000.” I’m sure even when I lived there those numbers were grossly inaccurate, but I think you can picture what I’m describing. We had “summer friends”, those people who showed up every summer, year after year, and just kind of came back into our lives as if we’d seen them yesterday. They just kind of fit. Summers there were amazing and went by so quickly, like a glorious, sparkling blur.

It snowed in the winter. We’d sled at the golf course, meet up at the local pizza place. The entire town would show up for the high school basketball games (at least, it felt like it), even when they were on the road. It was that kind of town. I loved living there, I’m so happy my parents decided to give us that experience.

While Chelan will always be a home, and so dear to me, southern California is where I’m supposed to be. My heart and soul belong right where I am now. You can try to take the girl out of California, but she’ll always come back;).

This song makes me think of beautiful Lake Chelan, a place I also consider home. Golden by Lady Antebellum.

Back to the apples…

So this year, when Specialty Produce tweeted that the Hidden Rose were back in stock, Ben headed there on a mission. I already knew what I wanted to make, I had seen the recipe in my newest Bon Appetit, an apple galette. This dessert showcases the fruit beautifully.

For this post, I am going to link you to the Bon Appetit recipe here. I followed the recipe perfectly, omitting the Maple Whipped Cream (I don’t feel like it was necessary, but if you love whipped cream, you should definitely include it) and, obviously, replacing the Pink Lady apples with Hidden Rose.

Below are my step by step pictures.

IMG_8519

IMG_8521

IMG_8524

IMG_8523

IMG_8525

IMG_8526

IMG_8527

IMG_8529

IMG_8533

IMG_8546

Enjoy!

Be sure to sign up to receive email updates from the blog! Also, follow The Incidental Spoon on Twitter @IncidentalSpoon, Instagram @TheIncidentalSpoon and Facebook The Incidental Spoon! #TheIncidentalSpoon if you use any of the recipes featured on the blog!

Pumpkin Scones

My kids LOVE the pumpkin bread made from the Trader Joe’s mix. They ask for it all year so I try to keep a few boxes on hand out of season. It is the only boxed mix I use for anything. I don’t love it, though, it is just a little too sweet for me. I tend to crave more savory items (crazy, I know, I have so much fun baking sweets). So, when I saw the recipe for Pumpkin Scones in November’s Bon Appetit Magazine, I knew I had to try them. I feel like most scones are a little less sweet than muffins or breads. Less sugar, more butter, sounds good to me;).

I woke up a little earlier this morning to whip these up for the family before we sent the boys off to school. I am so glad I did, they are amazing. And while the boys may still prefer the box mix pumpkin bread, this scone recipe has won Ben and me over. It is the perfect fall baked treat with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Here is a great song for early morning dancing in the kitchen. Escape by Rupert Holmes.

Pumpkin Scones adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2014. Makes 8 scones.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tbsp. raw sugar

IMG_8501

Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cloves, baking soda, and flour in a large bowl.

IMG_8502

Grate the butter, using the large holes on a box grater, tossing to coat in dry ingredients as you go.

IMG_8503

Mix in egg, pumpkin and 1/4 cup buttermilk.

IMG_8507

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a thick disk.

IMG_8510

Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 25-30 minutes.

IMG_8509

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar.

IMG_8511

Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Serve with butter.

IMG_8513

Loved enjoying mine with my morning coffee!

IMG_8516

Be sure to sign up to receive email updates for the blog! Also, follow along on social media: Twitter – @IncidentalSpoon, Instagram – @TheIncidentalSpoon and Facebook – The Incidental Spoon. Hashtag, #TheIncidentalSpoon, if you try any of the recipes!

Fava Bean & Proscuitto Soup

Fall in Southern California is a strange phenomenon. It can be 90 degrees on the coast one day and 66 the next. We’ve run the gamut this year. Humid, yep. Dry, totally. Chilly, not enough for my liking but, sure. Hot, definitely. I love living here, there is nothing like a fall sunset in Encinitas, it is a gorgeous sight to behold. We don’t, however, get that chill in the air that most associate with the beginning of this beautiful season. Therefore, we need to create a sense of it ourselves, in our homes, in our kitchens.

I get really excited about soups, like ridiculously so. I think homemade soup is such a wonderful thing to have in the refrigerator. My husband works odd hours, so he loves when there is something easy for him to reheat and enjoy when he gets home. Soups are also one of those heavenly dishes that are usually better the day after you make them.

I’ve decided that, over the next year, I am going to cook my way through one of my favorite soup cookbooks. It is a tiny little thing, but everything I’ve made from it so far has huge flavor. Zuppe is collection of recipes from the kitchen of The American Academy in Rome. The author, Mona Talbott, has broken the book down by season with about 11-15 recipes per season. I’m going to start with the first recipe and make one a week, in order, over the next year. While I am planning to blog some of my favorites, including this first one, I won’t be blogging all of them. I encourage you to buy the little book (proceeds support the Rome Sustainable Food Project) and follow along with me on social media, sharing your stories and pictures. Of course, I’ll still blog other recipes. With the holidays coming up, I have a ton to share!

For now, join me on my first of the Zuppe Challenge…

Sing, Sing, Sing performed by Louis Prima…

IMG_8479

Fava Bean & Proscuitto Soup adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott. Serves 4 to 6.

You’ll need: 

  • 10 1/2 oz. dried peeled fava beans
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 oz. proscuitto shank (I bought a boneless, trimmed hock from the butcher)
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried chili pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
  • 8 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 bay leaves

IMG_8465

Peel and cut the onions, celery and carrots into a small dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the prosciutto shank in half.

Over low heat, in a 6-qt. stockpot, cook the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil until the vegetables are coated in oil and glistening. Add a pinch of salt and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes.

IMG_8467

Add the garlic and dried pepper flakes to the pan, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

IMG_8468

Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, stir and simmer for 5 more minutes.

IMG_8469

Add the fava beans and proscuitto to the vegetables.

IMG_8470

IMG_8472

Cover with 3 quarts of cold water.

IMG_8475

Bring soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the fava beans have softened and the soup has a creamy texture.

Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove the tender proscuitto and cut into small pieces (it will really just fall apart), return it to the soup.

IMG_8477

Taste and re-season with salt if necessary (be sure to taste it first, the prosciutto adds quite a bit of saltiness). The soup will thicken as it cools, you may need to thin with water when reheating.

Enjoy!

IMG_8481

A delicious, hearty fall soup!

Sign up to receive email updates for the blog! Also, follow along with my Zuppe Challenge on social media! Instagram: @TheIncidentalSpoon, Twitter: @IncidentalSpoon and Facebook: The Incidental Spoon. Be sure to share your pictures and stories with #TheIncidentalSpoon.

Cheers!