Monday, July 09, 2007

Pickled shoots & a not so secret sauce

This past week's produce box brought another bag of garlic shoots to me. Since I was still enjoying the ones from my garden and from last week's produce box, I decided to pickle this batch. Since I was going to eat them within a few weeks, I made a refrigerator pickle version to save myself the sweaty hassle of canning a couple of jars. If you're going to store them at room temperature for a while, you may want to can them. Otherwise, store them in the fridge and eat them up soon!

Here's my Fast & Dirty Garlic Shoot Pickle recipe:
Garlic shoots - well washed and cut to fit into jars
General pickling liquid:
1 cup vinegar - at lease 5% acid. I used a locally grown apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
*spices- whatever your imagination or pantry has to offer.

Mix together pickling liquid and bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange shoots in clean mason jars. It's a bit of a game of Tetris but you can fit quite a few shoots in a mason jar.
Pour liquid into jars to cover the shoots. Cover with lid and let stand at room temperature until cooled a bit. Move to refrigerator.
Let it marinate for at least a week before cracking open.

*For spices I used a mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and szechuan peppercorns in one. For the other I threw in some dill seeds and red pepper flakes. You can add the seeds straight into the liquid and let it cook up with the vinegar or simply pop them into the jar with the shoots. It's up to you.

I've been busy gorging on this summer weather. In the last few weeks, I managed to run away for a paddle in the Discovery Islands off of Victoria and most recently, a nice afternoon of rompy waves in the Winchelsea Island off of Lantzville with a couple of good friends.

With the hot weather, I do my best to spend as little time cooped up in my kitchen. I'd rather 'assemble' dinner than cook it, especially since my kitchen gets blistering hot by late afternoon. Usually I don't start thinking about dinner until it gets cooler and darker. By that time, it's after 9pm and all I want to do is put my feet up or do some spinning or knitting. But I still want good, local eats!

My usual hot weather cooking MO is to cook up a batch of meat and veggies, usually on the BBQ, to see us through the week. I also make up a couple of different dressings that can also do double duty as a marinade or sauce. From there I simply mix and match salads fixings and top it with a bit of meat. Since it's still new potato season, I usually boil up or bbq up a huge batch of potatoes. A loaf or two of breads from one of the local artisan bakers and we're set!

I've had a couple 100 mile diet BBQ dinners these past few week. Besides local meat, there are plenty of local vegetables and even fruit that find their way onto the grill. I have one of those BBQ pizza pans that make grilling vegetables a breeze and save me the hassle of threading them onto skewers. They don't need anything more than a drizzle of oil before being popped onto the pan and over a medium heat. Make sure they're arranged in a single layer or else they won't cook evening. If you want to get fancy, marinate them in a vinaigrette for 20 minutes before cooking or sprinkle on a spice rub.

For my meats, I've concocted a Fast and Dirty BBQ sauce that is reminiscent of chinese BBQ pork and duck. A sweet, soy sauce based recipe that can be used as a BBQ sauce, a marinate or stir dry sauce. It's a nice alternative to pre-made bottle sauces that have ingredients that I can't pronounce. Though, it is still made up of other jarred and bottle ingredients, at least I can pronounce them. I can even spell some of them ;)

For the sweet and spicy base of the sauce, I use homemade red pepper jelly that I made last year with locally grown hot peppers and locally grown apple cider vinegar. It's easy to make and it's a great condiment to have on hand. Or you can pick one up from Golden Maples Farm , who make a huge range of awesome jellies. They can be found at the farmer's markets and various good events. They use their own locally grown produce to make their tasty condiments.

BTW, I find that sometimes the jelly will crystalize but a quick trip through the nukebox fixed that.

Here's my Fast & Dirty Chinese BBQ sauce
2/3 cup red pepper jelly
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 thumb of ginger grated
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Mix thoroughly and use as needed.

So far I've used it on chicken in two ways:
Roasted chicken (from Cedar Valley Poultry). I roasted the chicken with a couple spoonfuls of the sauce in the cavity. About 20 minutes before it's done, I brushed the sauce on liberally all over the chicken. I brushed on a second coat once the chicken was done. I had some sauce on the side. It was a zingy version of traditional chinese bbq chicken.

BBQ chicken strips: I marinated a bunch of thinly sliced chicken breasts for 20 minutes then grilled them. I brushed some more sauce on once the chicken was done and served some sauce on the side.

At my last BBQ dinner, I marinated a locally raised flank steak in some of the sauce and then grilled it. Again, I waited until the steak was done before brushing on more sauce:
Chinese bbq steak with locally grown vegetables.

The flank steak was served along with more roasted local veggies, some from my produce box and some from my garden and a huge link of sausage from the Nanaimo Sausage House. It was plenty to feed my dinner guests and the usual unannounced dinner guests (it's hard to not attract hungry bellies when the wind is carrying the smell of yummy food all the way down the street I guess). I still managed to hold onto some leftover meat, greens, blanched snap peas and made a nice salad the next day for lunch. I made a vinaigrette with one part bbq sauce and 1 part rice vinegar.
That dinner ended with a luscious fresh strawberry pie from Grandma's Country Pies, a gem of a pie shop right beside the Nanaimo Sausage House. The strawberries were from Dudink's Gardens. A sweet end to a great 100 mile diet meal!

Last night's meal was leftovers from the flank steak above, with sugar peas and garlic shoots from the garden stir fried with Chinese BBQ sauce and some shrimp noodles. Done in under 10 minutes!

Have a tasty week & happy eating everyone!


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

1 comment:

Dennis said...

OMG, that roasted chicken looks just like the ones hanging in the storefronts in Chinatown! Thanks for the BBQ sauce recipe. I love how you take one idea and play with it so many ways.

If I had you just down the street from me, I'd be mooching dinner from you too ;)