Monday, September 15, 2014

Pickled Carrots (Among other things)

Once again, I have a book in my grubby hands from the Cook My Book group.

With every book I try, there are tons of recipes that I bookmark, and then time slips away and I'm rushing to make a few things before I get the book mailed to the next person.

While we aren't totally obligated to cook from every book that we get, that's kind of the point of mailing them around. You make a recipe (or more) write some notes in the book, and by the time the book gets back to the original owner, it's filled with notes, comments, drawings, food stains, jokes ...

This time around, I'm looking at the Pike's Place Market Recipes cookbook by Jess Thompson. I paged through the book and had bookmarks in just about every section. They were all strong "maybes" until I got to the Bloody Mary recipe.

That one piqued my interest, for sure.

But it wasn't the cocktail I was really interested in. I wanted to make the pickled carrots.

I love anything pickled, and there was something about this pickled carrot recipe that tickled my fancy. Hehe. Get it? Pickled, tickled...

Well, anyway, I bought carrots at the farmers market and I was pretty sure I had everything else I needed. I always have vinegar and salt, and I have more spices than the average grocery store.

And then it all went a little sideways. For some reason I thought I needed one pound of carrots instead of two. Which wasn't a terrible problem except that I had an awful lot of pickling liquid in process by the time I realized I didn't have enough carrots.

And then ... I needed a shallot. I was pretty sure I had a few left, but no. Shall-nots, not shall-lots, So I decided to add a red onion to the mix. I love pickled onions, and I figured it would make up for both the lack of shallot and for the paucity of carrots.

And then ... I went looking for the coriander seeds. They weren't there. Or there. Or anywhere. I substituted ground coriander seeds, which I knew was likely to make my liquid a little cloudy, but at that point I wasn't about to run to the store for coriander seeds.

And then ... on a whim I decided to add a green pepper to the pickling mix as well. I love pickled green peppers, and it was just about what I needed to fill the container I had chosen to house this adventure.

I thought these were just slightly too salty to be eaten on their own, but who does that? Well, I guess I do. But they were nice when munched with a meal or added to a salad.

So here we go with the recipe ...

Pickled Carrots (and other things)
Adapted from Pikes Place Market Recipes by Jess Thompson

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
4 teaspoons whole coriander seed (I used 1 tablespoon ground, but suggest using whole seeds)
4 teaspoons* whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 red onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled

Combine the vinegar, water, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes, then let it cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, cook the carrots for about 5 minutes, so they're partially cooked, but still a little crunchy - how long it will take depends on how thick the carrots are, so check the after three minutes and cook as long as you need to.

When the carrots are cooked, rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking.

Place the carrots, onion, and green pepper in a jar. When the pickling liquid has cooled to room temperature, pour it over the vegetables, making sure they're covered with liquid. If you're a little short, you can add a little bit of water.

Seal the container, and refrigerate for at least two days, or up to two weeks. The pickling will become stronger over time.

Rather than just putting the vegetables into a jar, I used a Vacu Vin Instant Pickler. It's an interesting device. By putting the pickles in a sealed container and then pumping out as much air as possible, the vegetables have no choice but suck in the marinade faster.

The same concept works for meat in a vacuum-sealed bag, but a container is more practical for pickles.

There is a more complete review over on my review blog here.

*Four teaspoons is the same as 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon, but you only need one measuring spoon if you measure in teaspoons. Or, you can eyeball it by using a heaping tablespoon.