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GOOD COOKING

Put Up and Chill Out

October 27, 1994|ABBY MANDEL

In fall, we still have an old-fashioned urge to "put up" some of the harvest's bounty. Fortunately, home pickling and preserving need not be as complicated as you might think, thanks to the refrigerator. Refrigerator-held preserves may have a limited shelf life, but they still give us a chance to "put things by."

Consider the following recipes that use the stalwarts of the fall harvest all loading the farm stands right now--pickling cucumbers, tart fall apples and young sweet beets. Freshness is the key to successful pickling and preserving. Once you've bought the ingredients, make the recipes as soon as possible.

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These easy recipes yield small quantities, but they can also be doubled or tripled according to needs. In order for flavors to fully develop, keep these condiments at least a day or two before serving.

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These homemade crisps are bright-green and very fresh-tasting, quite unlike those you can buy.

SWEET DILL CUCUMBER CRISPS

4 cups thinly sliced unpeeled pickling cucumbers, about 1 pound cucumbers

1 cup thinly sliced, quartered green peppers

1 cup thinly sliced, quartered red onions

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Put cucumbers, green peppers, red onions and salt in 2-quart bowl. Cover with cold water. Soak 2 hours. Drain in colander. Return to bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile combine sugar, vinegar, dill and mustard seeds in 1-quart non-aluminum pan. Bring to boil. Cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

Pour cool mixture over cucumbers. Toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 days to allow flavors to meld together. Can be kept up to 1 month, refrigerated. Makes 4 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

9 calories; 166 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.07 gram fiber.

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Chutneys dress up any meal, even a sandwich. In this chutney, the contrasting flavors, colors and textures of the cranberries and apples are especially appealing.

APPLE CHUTNEY WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup minced onions

5 cups peeled diced tart apples

1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed

6 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Dash salt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Put garlic, onions, apples, sugar, vinegar, mustard, ginger, allspice, cloves, red pepper flakes and salt in 1 1/2-quart non-reactive saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Simmer, uncovered, until apples are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add cranberries and cornstarch mixture to pan. Stir well to combine. Cook until cranberries are plumped and mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes. Refrigerate 2 days before serving. Can be refrigerated up to 1 month, or frozen as long as 2 months. Serve chilled, or at room temperature. Makes 3 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

16 calories; 6 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.09 gram fiber.

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Beets elicit a strong response--positive or negative! Here, they're mixed with thinly sliced shallots in a spicy orange juice mixture. They're great in a composed salad paired with portions of celery root remoulade and shredded carrots or as a component in a Cobb salad. They are also a flavorful condiment relish with a wide variety of meals.

ORANGE PICKLED BEETS AND SHALLOTS

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 tablespoon oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 1/4 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 3/4 cups julienned cooked, peeled beets

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

Put orange zest, orange juice, oil, mustard, sugar, allspice, salt and pepper to taste in 1 1/2-quart bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add beets and shallots. Toss until vegetables are mixed and well coated. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to 2 weeks. To serve, mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes 2 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

9 calories; 32 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.09 gram fiber.

Note: To cook beets, rinse, trim and wrap each in foil. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of beets. To test for doneness, insert small sharp knife right through foil.

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