Wednesday, July 26, 2006

who makes pickles in the middle of a heat wave?

Lets start with dinner last night.

I went to the Italian market on Sunday with my sister, who is back from Paris (where she’d been since December for school) and saw some apricots. One of my favorite things to make is cooked stone fruit with caramelly sauce. (slice up some fruit, melt some butter, add the fruit and some brown sugar, cook until fruit is a little soft and sugar is melted and you think its done). This is good over ice cream or pancakes, but usually I just eat it as is for breakfast or dessert. This is one of the things that Kelly will eat, so I got 3 pounds (for $1!!). when I got home I remembered that Kelly does not like apricots. Oh well. So I spent Monday and Tuesday looking for apricot recipes. I had an apricot bread in mind (we used to get a white bread with apricots baked in at a French bakery when we lived south of Boston as kids) but that recipe didn’t exist and I’m still unsure of gluten-free breads. Don’t try them if you don’t have to.

I ended up making an apricot cobbler and apricot fritters. The cobbler was better as leftovers, and I would have put in some juice or butter before putting on the crumbly topping. The apricot fritters were amazing, though. They were like little donuts, with apricots inside. Since I stopped eating gluten I haven’t had a single donut (I don’t know if I’ve even ever seen a GF donut) and I didn’t expect big things from the fritters, especially since the recipe I had didn’t have enough liquid and I frantically added water until it was the right consistency, then when I tasted it it wasn’t good so I added sugar and lemon juice and usually when I do that kind of thing with gluten free flour it doesn’t turn out well. But man, were they good. I ate as many as I could.
For the dinner part of dinner I made veg chili (hoping Kelly would eat some, I just want to feed everyone I know) and these corn fritters called ‘festivals’. I got that recipe from the festivals were too dense. I subbed in a little less than 2 cups rice flour and a pinch of xanthem gum for the flour, and had to use a lot more water to get a stiff dough. I probably mixed them too much. But soaked in chili, they weren’t half bad. I ate while watching eight below which I wouldn’t recommend anyone who cries at movies ever goes to see, because I was hysterically crying throughout the whole movie and made puff sit on my lap so I could hug her and tell her I’d never leave her in the arctic.

I am also in the process of making pickles. Most pickles in the grocery store are made with distilled vinegar. Wholefoods has some good ones but I never remember to buy them. I bought a whole bunch of pickling cukes from the ital market ($1 for 10), got a general sense of how to make pickles, and they’re currently resting in a jar in the kitchen, begging me to eat them. Of course they’re not ready yet. But they smell damn good.

Half sour garlic experiment pickles:
Pickling cucumbers
A decent handful of fresh dill
6 cloves of garlic
5 T of kosher salt
3 bay leaves
a few peppercorns
1 t of mustard seed
enough boiling water to cover your cukes in the jar

Put pickles in a large jar and spread everything around. Pour boiling water on top, enough to cover pickles all the way. Slosh around to mix salt in a little, then cover and put in a cool place for a week, covered with a cloth.*

*it is 90 degrees at the coolest point of the day this summer, so I don’t know how well this is going to work. I also don’t know the significance of covering the pickles with a cloth, but I put a sweatshirt over them because it helps me not look at them and think about how delicious I hope they’re going to be.

apricot fritters:
1 c rice flour
1 T melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
pinch of salt
2 t lemon juice
1/2 c milk
2 T sugar
1/2 c water, or more, or less
about a dozen apricots, washed, dried, and halved

combine ingredients in a bowl. batter should be similar to that of pancake batter. heat oil hot enough that it spatters like crazy when you flick a drop of water in. dip apricot halves into batter, then slide into oil. do small batches because they cook FAST. have a paper bag on hand to put the fritters into and dust with regular white sugar. dont shake the bag too hard, or the fritters will all smash together. you can also use berries instead of apricots, just use a little more flour to make batter thicker.

apricot cobbler:
1 c rice flour
1 c sugar, half white half brown
1/4 c butter, melted
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 t baking powder

preheat oven to 350 degrees. mix everything together in a bowl, it should be crumbly. butter the bottom of a pie plate, and put a bunch (about 2 pounds) of halved, washed apricots in the bottom. sprinkle crumb over the top, then bake for 30 mins.
i would suggest putting some liquid in with the apricots, or honey.

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