Tag Archives: kosher salt

BRINED ROOT VEGETABLES AND CAULIFLOWER

Here’s my take on the brinded vegetables served at Bar Tartine. Even though mine are not nearly as good as those at the restaurant, they have turned out ok.

This exercise began at the farmers market. One of the vendors we especially like had some freshly-dug parsnips. That got me to thinking about brining some root vegetables, and I found some turnips and carrots at the grocery store. I couldn’t find anything green – I guess broccoli would have worked – so I settled on a mix of the four.

Then, of course, I had to drag out my Harsch Steinzeug sauerkraut crock. The task also gave me the opportunity to try out my copy of “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. My daughter, Carol, had given me the book as a gift, and I was so pleased because it has become a classic and the “standard” on the topic in just the short two years since it has been published. The only other things I needed were some Kosher salt and water.

My crock is 5 liters, which is just the right size for me, but it comes in larger and smaller sizes as well. If you haven’t seen a Harsch Steinzeur crock, it is a thing of beauty with a gleaming brown glaze, shaped handles, and a straight-sided lid with a stylish knob on top. It is also an example of German ingenuity and practical design. During my childhood, my grandmother made crocks and crocks of sauerkraut. The process was tedious and odoriferous. As well, skimming the scum off the top of the crocks took lots of attention for weeks.

My crock overcomes all of those problems. Inside are two half-moon weights that fit tightly together to keep whatever you are brining submerged. There are notches in the rim to provide escape for carbon dioxide, and there is a shallow trough around the lip that you fill with water to form an air-tight seal. That cuts down on the smell of fermenting vegetables. Once you have your system set up, and the vegetables start to ferment, you will hear an occasional “frog croak” as a burp of carbon dioxide escapes. That’s reassurance that things are going alright.

Some briners are careful to weigh out the salt and to balance it with enough water to make a brine of specific concentration, but you don’t need to do that so long as you make sure to add enough salt to make a good brine. Even though I peeled the vegetables, you don’t have to do that either, but I thought they would be more attractive with their peelings gone – especially the turnips and rutabegas.

I harvested my vegetables after about ten days of brining. They were still crisp with a briny, slightly pickled taste. If you want a stronger pickle, you can brine them longer, and you can check from time to time to see if the vegetables are to your liking. Just remember when you repack the crock to charge it with more salt and water and to seal the lid with water as you did at the beginning of the process.

So here’s what I did:

RECIPE

Brined Root Vegetables and Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 rutabagas, peeled and cut into eighths, lengthwise
  • 3 turnips, peeled and cut into discs
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Kosher salt
  • water

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables
  2. Arrange a single layer of mixed vegetables on the bottom of the crock. Sprinkle generously with salt.
  3. Repeat the process, layer by layer, until you have used all of the vegetables
  4. Arrange the half-moon weights so that they fit together and the vegetables are covered.
  5. Add water to cover the weights with at least two inches
  6. Place the lid on top of the crock, and move to a cool place out of the way of your cooking.
  7. When the crock is in place pour water into the groove around the lid and go about your business
  8. Check the level of water around the lid on a daily basis. Fill with more water if needed
  9. After about 4 4 days listen for the “burp”
  10. You should probably plan on at least 10 days before you check the vegetables. That will be a good time to remove any scum that might have formed on the weights, although there will probably be none or very little because of the air-lock system. If you want to brine the vegetables longer, sprinkle the top of the vegetables with more salt, adjust the water level, and replace the weights. Refill the watereseal around the lid and let the process work for another week.
  11. Remove and serve the vegetables whenever they suit your taste.
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GRAVLAX AND ELISABET’S MUSTARD AND DILL SAUCE

After lots of travels round California and more problems than I wish to recount with a new wireless router, a laptop that expired without wrning, and many days in the shop for my desktop computer, I am finally back at my desk. This post has been sitting unedited since Christmas, but the food is not just for the holidays, and it’s not just for celebrations.

Two of my children and their families visited us during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Even though they returned home before New Year’s Day, we tried to have some of the family favorites from New Year’s Eve buffets of the past. Gravlax definitely made the cut, although our pregnant daughter opted out for health reasons.

The recipe for gravlax originally came from the volume, Cooking of Scandinavia, from the Time-Life series of Foods of the World published in 1968 and subsequently made it – with revisions – into our family cookbook, Let’s Cook! Let’s Eat!

The sauce is the recipe of a very old and dear friend from Sweden. We first had it as part of a lavish spread at her house celebrating Saint Lucia Day. We had it again years later when Elisabet and her husband visited us in Louisiana. She thought the sauce  would go well with the crawfish boil we prepared in their honor. She was right, and I was lucky enough to talk her out of the recipe. It goes well with many fish dishes, and it will keep for along time in the refrigerator.

RECIPES

Gravlax

Ingredients

  • 1 salmon filet, skin on (about 1½ to 2 pounds)
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar

Method

  1. Make sure scales and fine bones have been removed. Just to be sure, rub your finger lightly over the fish. If you find tiny little white bones, remove them with tweezers or fine-nosed pliers. Cut the filet into two pieces of equal length.
  2. Arrange the wider filet, skin-side down,  in the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish that will hold the fish flat. Place the bunch of fresh dill on the filet. Cover with the other half of the fish, skin-side up.
  3. Crush the pepper in a zippered plastic bag, and then combine with the salt and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and dill. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and weight down with a heavy pan, brick or rock, or several cans of food. Place in the refrigerator
  4. Turn the fish two or three times a day for 3 days, replacing the plastic and weight each time before returning to the refrigerator.
  5. A liquid marinade will develop. Spoon over the fish each time that you turn it.
  6. When you are ready to serve, remove from dish and scrape off the dill and any remainders of the salt and peppercorns. Place the salmon on a carving board, skin-side down. With a very sharp, straight-edge knife, slice the salmon into very thin diagonal slices, detaching them from the skin.
  7. Serve with thin slices of rye bread and Elisabet’s mustard  and dill sauce.

Elisabet’s Mustard and Dill Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup salad oil
  • finely chopped dill fronds, to taste

Method

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved
  2. Whisk continuously while adding the oil gradually in a thin stream.
  3. Add chopped dill fronds to taste. The dill flavor will intensify as the sauce sits for a few minutes before serving.

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