Archive for the ‘Season 3’ Category

My brother and I ate pancakes often when we were kids, and they were always prepared by Mom. While we occasionally would have Bisquick pancakes, usually our pancakes were made with one of Mom’s two sourdough starters. The one starter gave pancakes that were thin and airy, while the other sourdough pancakes were thick, slightly crispy on the outside, and soft in the center; the thick ones were always my favorite, and I have that very starter in my refrigerator right now. I don’t know exactly how old that sourdough starter is, but I believe it is at least 30. Mom almost always made a blueberry sauce to go with our pancakes, and I vividly remember fights over every spoonful, and especially the very last spoonful. Mom, in her apron, often had to mediate, deciding which one of us would get that final bit of sauce, and promising that the other of us would get it next time. Dad, in his shirt and tie, would hide behind his newspaper shield, ignoring the commotion to the best of his ability, while eating his own share of the blueberry goodness. Ah, the beauty of the family pancake breakfast.

“Instant” Pancake Mix

Seeing as we are starting a four-day mini vacation today, what better way to begin the day than with homemade pancakes? Last evening I watched the 34th episode of Good Eats, and quickly mixed up a batch of Alton Brown’s instant pancake mix.

Pancake mix ingredients:  flour, baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, and sugar.

Pancake mix ingredients:  flour, baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, and sugar.

To make his mix, into a lidded container scoop 6 C of all-purpose flour; the moderate protein content of AP flour is ideal, as low-protein flours (like cake flour) result in pancakes that are too soft and light, while high-protein flours (such as bread flour) yield pancakes that are too dense and tough. Prior to scooping your flour, give it a good shake to aerate grains, as this will result in a more accurate measurement.

Spoon 6 C of flour into a lidded container.

Spoon 6 C of flour into a lidded container.

To the flour, add 1.5 t of baking soda, 1 T of baking powder, 1 T of Kosher salt, and 2 T of sugar.

Add 1.5 t baking soda.

Add 1.5 t baking soda.

Add 1 T baking powder.

Add 1 T baking powder.

Plus a tablespoon of Kosher salt.

Plus a tablespoon of Kosher salt.

And 2 T sugar.

And 2 T sugar.

Shake the mix well and use within three months.

Before shaking.

Before shaking.

After shaking to combine.

After shaking to combine.

Note:  This recipe can easily be scaled up or down – just use the following formula:  1/4 t baking soda per cup of flour, 1/2 t baking powder per cup of flour, 1/2 t Kosher salt per cup of flour, and 1 t sugar per cup of flour.

When ready to make your pancakes, for every 2 C of pancake mix, you will need 4 T of melted butter, 2 C of buttermilk, and 2 eggs, separated. Oh, and fruit, if you want to have fruit in your pancakes. Alton used blueberries in the episode.

Pancake ingredients:  2 C pancake mix, 2 C buttermilk, 4 T melted butter, blueberries, and 2 eggs, separated.

Pancake ingredients: 2 C pancake mix, 2 C buttermilk, 4 T melted butter, blueberries, and 2 eggs, separated.

To give you an idea of how much mix to use, for us this morning, 2 C of pancake mix gave us 9 pancakes, made using a 3 oz. ladle. Measure your dry pancake mix into a large bowl.

2 C of pancake mix in a large bowl.

2 C of pancake mix in a large bowl.

For the liquid ingredients, buttermilk and butter go together like oil and water, so, for proper mixing, add the egg whites to the buttermilk and mix with a fork; since egg whites are mostly water, they will mix easily with the buttermilk.

Adding egg whites to buttermilk.

Adding egg whites to buttermilk.

Buttermilk/egg white mixture.

Buttermilk/egg white mixture.

Separately, add the egg yolks to the melted butter; the yolks will mix well with the butter because their lipoproteins like both fat and water.

Adding egg yolks to melted butter.

Adding egg yolks to melted butter.

Egg yolk/butter mixture.

Egg yolk/butter mixture.

Finally, combine the egg white/buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk/butter mixture, and whisk.

Combining liquid ingredients.

Combining liquid ingredients.

Once combined, heat a griddle or skillet to 350 degrees. If you plan to serve pancakes to numerous people at once, you will also want to put a towel-lined baking sheet in your oven and heat it to 200 degrees. We do not have a griddle, so I used a large, heavy-duty nonstick skillet. I was given an infrared thermometer for Christmas, so I used that to determine when my skillet had reached 350 degrees.

Large skillet preheating.

Large skillet preheating.

Pan just about ready.

Pan just about ready.

If you do not have an electric griddle or an infrared thermometer, you can tell that your skillet is ready when water droplets dance on the surface. When your cooking surface is heated, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined. You do not want to over-mix your batter, and do not worry about lumps, as they will cook out.

Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients once the pan is hot.

Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients once the pan is hot.

Mix just until barely combined.

Mix just until barely combined.

Lube your hot pan by rubbing it with a stick of butter, and then wipe it with some paper towels until no fat is visible on the pan.

Hot pan lubed with butter.

Hot pan lubed with butter.

Using a 3 oz. ladle, gently spoon pancakes onto the pan.

3 ounce ladle.

3 ounce ladle.

Batter in the pan.

Batter in the pan.

If you want to add fruit to your pancakes, sprinkle it onto the pancakes now.

Fruit sprinkled on.

Fruit sprinkled on.

Cook the pancakes until bubbles set around the edges and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the pancakes and cook the second sides until they, too, are golden brown, which should take about half as long as for the first sides.

Flipped pancakes.

Flipped pancakes.

You can hold the pancakes in your warm oven for 20-30 minutes, or serve them immediately with butter and real maple syrup. I opted to eat mine with just butter.

Blueberry pancakes with butter.

Blueberry pancakes with butter.

Alton's blueberry pancakes.

Alton’s blueberry pancakes.

If you have leftover pancakes, Alton says you can cool them completely on a cake rack, wrap them individually in paper towels, and freeze them in a plastic bag; they can be reheated in a toaster or microwave. We had five extra pancakes, and they are in the freezer as I type. We thought these pancakes were really good, and they cooked up very nicely. They were thick, fluffy, golden brown, and slightly crispy on the outside. The tang from the buttermilk was evident, and paired well with the sweetness of the blueberries. Chopped bananas would also be good in these pancakes. Perhaps I will be making these pancakes when our family comes to visit next week. We may not have any chocolate chip cookies left (see my previous post here) but we do have pancake mix! If you are looking for a good, fast pancake recipe that is superior to commercial mixes, Alton’s pancakes are great.

 

Thank goodness I was set to increase my Boston Marathon training last week, as the 33rd episode of Good Eats had me baking not one, not two, but THREE types of chocolate chip cookies. We have family coming to visit next week, so I figured I could always freeze some cookies for when they arrive. As I ate two cookies with my morning coffee today, I was shocked, and somewhat horrified, to realize that we have a mere handful of cookies remaining. How did THAT happen? So much for freezing. At least I can say that we sufficiently and thoroughly evaluated the three cookie recipes, so if you want the scoop on Alton’s three chocolate chip cookie recipes, read on.

The Thin

From title alone, I was least excited to make Alton’s thin chocolate chip cookies, as I think of myself as someone who generally prefers cookies on the chewy side. I set out last Tuesday evening to whip up a batch, figuring they would be the perfect thing to greet Ted when he returned home from his evening running group. To start these cookies, combine one egg, 2 oz. of whole milk, and 1.5 t of vanilla, and allow the liquid to come to room temperature.

Milk, egg, and vanilla.

Milk, egg, and vanilla.

Liquid ingredients, coming to room temperature.

Liquid ingredients, coming to room temperature.

Meanwhile, sift together 2 1/4 C of bleached all-purpose flour, 1 t of salt, and 1 t (plus an extra pinch) of baking soda.

Bleached AP flour, salt, and baking soda.

Bleached AP flour, salt, and baking soda.

Sifted dry ingredients.

Sifted dry ingredients.

Why use bleached flour? Alton did not specify a reason in the episode, but bleached flour is apparently superior for baking because it has a lower protein content. Alton seems to use Kosher salt in nearly all of his recipes, but he did not specify that Kosher salt should be used in these cookies, so I used regular table salt. In a stand mixer, cream 2 sticks of cold butter, starting on low speed.

Cold butter in the mixer.

Cold butter in the mixer.

Add 1 C of sugar, 1/2 C of light brown sugar, increase the speed, and beat until fluffy.

Cold butter creamed with sugar.

Cold butter creamed with sugar.

Light brown sugar added.

Light brown sugar added.

Creamed until fluffy.

Creamed until fluffy.

Once thoroughly mixed, decrease the speed and slowly add the liquid ingredients.

Liquid ingredients slowly added.

Liquid ingredients slowly added.

Next, on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl between additions.

Dry ingredients added gradually.

Dry ingredients added gradually.

Dough after all flour incorporated.

Dough after all flour incorporated.

Once all of the flour is incorporated, stir in 2 C of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Chocolate chips stirred in.

Chocolate chips stirred in.

Final dough.

Final dough.

If you have one, use a #20 disher to spoon the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, with six cookies per sheet; I used an ice cream scoop, which resulted in pretty large cookies.

Ice cream scoop for dishing.

Ice cream scoop for dishing.

The cookies should take 13-15 minutes in the oven, and you want to remove them before they look like they are done. I used my oven’s convection setting to get more even baking.

Six cookies per parchment-lined sheet.

Six cookies per parchment-lined sheet.

In the oven.

In the oven.

After baking for 13 minutes with convection setting.

After baking for 13 minutes with convection setting.

Remove them immediately from the pan to prevent further cooking. Once cool, store for a week at room temperature or freeze for up to three months.

Alton's thin chocolate chip cookie.

Alton’s thin chocolate chip cookie.

The science behind Alton’s thin recipe lies in the combination of ingredients used:

  • Butter is the fat of choice for these cookies because it has a sharp melting point, which allows the batter to spread before setting.
  • The butter is used cold because sugar crystals form bubbles in the butter by cutting into it. These bubbles help other ingredients to be better incorporated.
  • Baking soda is the leavening agent used because it decreases the acidity of the batter, which increases the setting temperature of the cookies. For thinner cookies, increase the baking soda.
  • A combination of one egg and 2 oz. of whole milk is used because eggs cause batters to puff and spread; replacing one egg with some milk results in thinner cookies.
  • A higher ratio of white:brown sugar results in crisper cookies.

The Puffy

Seeing as we only had one type of chocolate chip cookie in the house, last Wednesday seemed to be another day for cookie baking. Next up was Alton’s puffy chocolate chip cookie.

Ingredients for Alton's puffy chocolate chip cookies:  butter-flavored shortening, sugar, brown sugar, cake flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, vanilla, and semisweet chocolate chips.

Ingredients for Alton’s puffy chocolate chip cookies: butter-flavored shortening, sugar, brown sugar, cake flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, vanilla, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

For these cookies, you begin by creaming together 1 C of butter-flavored shortening, 3/4 C of sugar, and 1 C of brown sugar (I used light brown sugar).

Butter-flavored shortening, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer.

Butter-flavored shortening, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer.

Creamed mixture.

Creamed mixture.

Sift together 2 1/4 C of cake flour, 1 t of salt, and 1 1/2 t of baking powder. Again, I used regular salt, as Alton did not specify in the episode that Kosher salt should be used.

Cake flour, baking powder, and salt, ready to be sifted.

Cake flour, baking powder, and salt, ready to be sifted.

Sifted dry ingredients.

Sifted dry ingredients.

To the creamed mixture, add two eggs, one at a time, and 1.5 t of vanilla, and increase the speed.

Eggs and vanilla added.

Eggs and vanilla added.

Liquid ingredients incorporated.

Liquid ingredients incorporated.

Once blended, add the flour mixture slowly in three installments, starting on low speed and increasing to high.

Dry ingredients added in installments.

Dry ingredients added in installments.

Dough after dry ingredients incorporated.

Dough after dry ingredients incorporated.

Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, stir in 2 C of semi-sweet chocolate chips and put the dough in the refrigerator until it is thoroughly chilled.

Chocolate chips being stirred in.

Chocolate chips being stirred in.

Finished puffy dough.

Finished puffy dough.

Dough in the refrigerator to chill.

Dough in the refrigerator to chill.

Again, scoop six cookies per parchment-lined sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until they look to be almost done. For these cookies, Alton tells you to use a smaller scoop to get more puff. I used a smaller ice cream scoop.

Six cookies per parchment-lined sheet.

Six cookies per parchment-lined sheet.

Remove the cookies from the pan ASAP to prevent further cooking, let them cool completely, and store at room temperature for a week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Finished puffy cookies.

Finished puffy cookies.

Alton's puffy cookies.

Alton’s puffy cookies.

3-11-15 057 I literally was about to start baking these cookies when the doorbell rang; it was our cute neighbor girl, selling what else but chocolate chip cookies for school. If you have seen the ending of this episode of Good Eats, you know how ironic this is, as Alton sits on a park bench with a huge tin of cookies when a Girl Scout approaches him, asking him to buy cookies. Too funny. Of course, I had to buy some, so we have even more chocolate chip cookies heading our way in the near future.

And, for Alton’s science behind these cookies:

  • Shortening is the fat used because it has a higher melting temperature, which allows the cookies puff before they spread.
  • The leavening agent here is baking powder because it increases the batter’s acidity, which gives more rise and less spread.
  • Cake flour is the flour of choice because it has lower protein content, so it soaks up less moisture in the batter; more moisture in the batter gives more steam, which increases puffiness.
  • A higher ratio of brown:white sugar yields more tender cookies.
  • Chilling the dough results in less spreading.

The Chewy

Alton’s final cookie recipe in this episode is for the chewy cookie. This is the cookie I was most highly anticipating. I was on a roll last week, so I followed up Tuesday and Wednesday’s cookie baking with another batch on Thursday. Why not? You can never have too many cookies. Right?

Chewy cookie ingredients:  butter, bread flour, Kosher salt, baking soda, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, whole milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips.

Chewy cookie ingredients: butter, bread flour, Kosher salt, baking soda, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, whole milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips.

These cookies begin with melting two sticks of butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Melting butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Melting butter in a saucepan over low heat.

While the butter melts, sift together 2 1/4 C of bread flour, 1 t of Kosher salt, and 1 t of baking soda. Since Alton specified Kosher salt for this recipe, I used it here.

Bread flour, Kosher salt, and baking soda to be sifted.

Bread flour, Kosher salt, and baking soda to be sifted.

Sifted dry ingredients.

Sifted dry ingredients.

Once your butter is melted, combine it in your mixer with 1/4 C sugar and 1 1/4 C dark brown sugar.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

Melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer.

Melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer.

To this mixture add one egg, blending it in, and follow it up with an additional egg yolk.

One egg added to butter/sugar mixture.

One egg added to butter/sugar mixture.

An additional egg yolk.

An additional egg yolk.

Also add 1 oz. of whole milk and 1 1/2 t of vanilla.

Whole milk and vanilla added.

Whole milk and vanilla added.

When all of the liquid ingredients are completely mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl between additions.

Wet ingredients after mixing.

Wet ingredients after mixing.

Flour mixture added gradually.

Flour mixture added gradually.

Dry ingredients mixed in.

Dry ingredients mixed in.

Stir in 2 C of semi-sweet chocolate chips and chill the dough thoroughly.

Chocolate chips added.

Chocolate chips added.

Final chewy dough.

Final chewy dough.

Flour on the Coonhound nose.

Flour on the Coonhound nose.

Dough in the refrigerator to chill.

Dough in the refrigerator to chill.

Once chilled, again scoop the dough onto parchment-lined sheets (six cookies per sheet), and bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes. I again used my smaller ice cream scoop.

Cookies ready to bake.

Cookies ready to bake.

Chewy cookies in the oven.

Chewy cookies in the oven.

I found that these cookies took a little bit longer to bake than the others did. Again, pull them off of the baking sheets immediately and allow them to cool before storing at room temperature or freezing.

Finished chewy cookies.

Finished chewy cookies.

I had to sample part of a cookie that "broke" off.

I had to sample part of a cookie that “broke” off.

Alton explains that these cookies are chewy because:

  • The water from the melted butter combines with the protein of the bread flour, which produces gluten and makes the cookies chewy.
  • Bread flour absorbs more moisture, which therefore increases the moisture in the cookies.
  • Brown sugar is coated in molasses, which loves moisture. Increasing the brown sugar increases the cookies’ absorption of water from the air, which makes the cookies chewy.
  • The egg yolk, rather than a whole second egg, is added because egg whites tend to dry out baked goods.
  • Darker brown sugar leads to chewier cookies.
  • Chilling the dough results in less spreading.

So, how did the cookies stack up against each other? We shared all three cookies with my parents, and the results were unanimous for the four of us.

Left to right cookie comparison:  thin, puffy, and chewy.

Left to right cookie comparison: thin, puffy, and chewy.

Left to right:  Alton's thin, puffy, and chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Left to right: Alton’s thin, puffy, and chewy chocolate chip cookies.

We all preferred the thin cookies the best, followed by the chewy cookies, and finally the puffy cookies. While all of the cookies were delicious, the thin cookies had the perfect combination of texture and flavor; they were thin and had crispy edges, while the centers were perfectly chewy. The chewy cookies were thicker, more dense, and had more of a caramelized flavor to them. Finally, the puffy cookies were lighter and more cake-like in texture and appearance. Aesthetically, the puffy cookies were by far my favorite, and that certainly does count for something. Beauty contest aside, though, the ones I will surely make again (ahem, probably next week for my family) will be the thin cookies.

 

Seeing as I am putting myself through (what I call) the Alton Brown Culinary School of Good Eats, I would be remiss if I did not write a little bit about the day I had yesterday. I was awoken at 5:07 am by my adorable Coonhound, Hitcher, who was suffering from one of his occasional fits of morning sickness. While I stood in the dark kitchen, waiting for him to finish grazing in the back yard, I decided to make a quick check of Facebook, or Twitter, or one of the other online giants. Staring back at me from the feed of none other than Alton Brown was a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates for the location of an autograph signing he would be having in Spokane at noon. The coordinates were for the Spokane Convention Center.

After a few more hours of sleep, I had to decide whether to do my planned 15 mile run, or to try to meet Alton; I split the difference, ran 8.5 miles, and dragged Ted to the Convention Center with me, along with our giant metal spoon and my Alton Brown cookbook. Somehow, I don’t think Ted looked too out-of-place on Spokane’s downtown streets with his spoon, as I think of the gentleman I used to always see, riding a bicycle with a huge Finding Nemo hat. We ended up waiting in line for about 45 minutes, briefly met Alton, had our photo taken with him, and got a few autographs. I will somewhat shamelessly admit how stoked I was about this. Secretly, I think Ted thought it was pretty cool too.

Ted and me with Alton.

Ted and me with Alton.

My custom Alton post-it.

My custom Alton post-it.

To cap off the day, we took my parents to see Alton perform his Edible Inevitable show. Though I did not know what to expect, I knew I would enjoy the show, but it far exceeded my expectations. I cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did last night. Seriously, if you have the chance to see Alton perform live, you really should take that opportunity.

In a Cranberry Jam

Last November, I cooked an early Good Eats Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and us, following it up with a Thanksgiving dinner with Ted’s parents on Thanksgiving day; that meant we had two Good Eats turkeys in a matter of days. I wrote about the early Thanksgiving dinner here. When I wrote about the Thanksgiving special, I failed to realize that the 32nd episode of the show would entail making recipes with the leftovers from the Thanksgiving special. So… we had Thanksgiving dinner again in February. Last Thursday, I again made Alton’s Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, and the Good Eats Roast Turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

After a Thanksgiving-like dinner Thursday, I made Alton’s recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers on Friday, the first of which was for his cranberry jam. This recipe is really simple. To make it, you combine 2 C of leftover cranberry dipping sauce with a cup of sugar and a half cup of ginger ale.

Ingredients for cranberry jam:  leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

Ingredients for cranberry jam: leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

The mixture is cooked over low heat until it reduces to the consistency of loose jam, which took a couple of hours for mine.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Finished cranberry jam.

Finished cranberry jam.

The resulting jam was really delicious, and we have since used it for turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and our morning toast.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

The jam is tart-sweet, has a rich red color, and is easily spreadable. I liked the cranberry dipping sauce the first time around, and being able to make this jam from the leftovers makes it even more worthwhile. I will be making this one again.

Turkey Re-Hash

What better thing to eat for breakfast than Alton’s turkey hash? This recipe utilizes both the leftover turkey meat and the leftover corn bread pudding.

Ingredients for turkey hash:  breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey hash: breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

To start, Alton tells you to heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Since we have a brand new smooth top range, I opted not to use cast iron, as I have heard that it can scratch a smooth top range. Instead, I used a heavy non-stick skillet. Once the pan is hot, add a half pound of breakfast sausage and cook it until it renders some of its fat; I used a spicy Italian sausage.

Sausage rendering fat.

Sausage rendering fat.

To the sausage, add half an onion and half a jalapeno, chopped.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

When the onion is translucent, add a half cup of chopped red bell pepper and cook for a minute or two.

Bell pepper added.

Bell pepper added.

Next, add 1.5 C of cooked, cubed red potatoes (Note: I cooked my potatoes the night before by simmering them in salted water until tender). To get some good brown color on the potatoes, increase the heat to high.

Potatoes added to hash.

Potatoes added to hash.

Then, add a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, followed by a couple cups of the leftover corn bread pudding, cubed.

Black beans in the pan.

Black beans in the pan.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

Stir everything and add a cup of cubed turkey meat.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Season the hash with some cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Seasonings added to the hash.

Seasonings added to the hash.

The completed hash.

The completed hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Serve hot. This hash was good, but not mind-blowing. It really was a perfect leftover recipe, as you could easily make this your own, adding whatever you have in the house. We rarely eat hot breakfasts during the week, so that was a treat in itself. The hash had a nice medley of textures and a pretty good level of heat, which we really like. This is a recipe I wouldn’t seek out, but I will not be surprised if I end up making a version of this again in the future with the leftovers we have on hand. Next time, though, I will likely make Alton’s mentioned additions of a couple of eggs and some cheese. Even better!

Bird to the Last Drop

Alton’s last Thanksgiving leftover recipe is for turkey soup. Allow a few hours for making this soup, as it will be better if it has longer to cook.

Ingredients for turkey soup:  vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey soup: vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

To make it, combine two quarts of vegetable broth with the remains of your turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Cover this and simmer it over low heat. While the online recipe tells you to cook this for an hour, it will only be better if you can cook it longer. I simmered my bones for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

After a good simmer, add 10 ounces of frozen vegetables (I added 12 oz), 1/2 C of rice, 2 C of cubed turkey meat, 1 t of Old Bay Seasoning, 2 t of dried thyme, salt, and pepper.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

3-2-15 038

Addition of rice.

Addition of rice.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Simmer the soup for an additional 20 minutes, remove the bones, and serve.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

I made the soup a day prior to serving it. We returned home Saturday, after doing a mountain bike race in Oregon, and this turkey soup was the perfect meal to come home to. It was the epitome of comfort food, with a super rich mouthfeel, a variety of textures, and the flavor of a slow-cooked stock with lots of thyme.

Finished turkey soup.

Finished turkey soup.

We thought this turkey soup was great, and I will surely be making this with our future turkey leftovers. Delicious and easy! The richness of the soup makes it a meal in itself. Keep this one in mind for Thanksgiving this year, or should you need an excuse to make a Good Eats turkey at any time in the year!

 

First of all, I am getting pretty excited to see Alton Brown’s live show in less than a week, especially considering that we bought tickets the day they went on sale, which was about eight months ago. We will be going with my parents, and I think we are all highly anticipating the show. My dad, too, was an avid Good Eats watcher in the past.

I have not eaten a lot of duck in my life, but I know some people who have, namely my dad and my husband. There was a stretch of time when Dad and Ted would both order duck when we would all go out to eat, and this went on for months. Seriously, they ate more than their fair share of duck. I feel, therefore, that they can appropriately be deemed Duck Aficionados, or “Quackxperts,” as I prefer to call them.

Mighty Duck

I had some trepidation about preparing duck since I know how critical it is to cook properly, but I hoped Alton wouldn’t let me down. I set out to prepare Alton’s recipe last night, after thawing my duck in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Alternatively, for faster thawing, you could thaw your duck under cold, running water. I had intended to cook my duck on Saturday, which would have necessitated the running water thaw, but the combo of too long of a marathon training run with too little food led to a night on the couch, in lieu of duck prep. On the plus side, my duck (I named him Donald) was perfectly thawed for dinner last night.

To make Alton’s duck, first mix your brine by combining 1/2 C Kosher salt, a pint of pineapple orange juice, at least 15 black peppercorns, a bunch of fresh thyme, and four smashed cloves of garlic in a leak-proof, lidded container; shake to dissolve the salt.

Brine ingredients:  Kosher salt, pineapple orange juice, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and garlic.

Brine ingredients: Kosher salt, pineapple orange juice, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and garlic.

Brine mixture.

Brine mixture.

Next it is time to prepare the duck itself. Place your duck on a cutting board and discard all of the innards. With a knife, slice through each wing to the joint, and break each wing off by bending the joint backward. From the base of the neck, cut along one side of the back bone of the bird with kitchen shears.

Dog craving duck, as I cut along the back bone.

Dog craving duck, as I cut along the back bone.

Turn the bird around and cut up the other side of the back bone. It will be tough to cut. Pull the back bone out and discard it. Flatten the duck and flip it over, so the breast is facing up. Again, using the shears, cut down the middle of the breast, splitting the duck into two halves. Using a sharp knife, separate the breast from the leg by making a crescent-shaped cut. The duck is now in quarters, with two breast pieces and two leg pieces. The breast quarters have a fair amount of fat, so you want to score the skin of the breast in a grid pattern (three cuts one way, and three the other way) with a sharp knife, taking care only to score the skin; this will allow much of the fat to cook off.

Duck halves, cut into quarters. The breast pieces are scored.

Duck halves, cut into quarters. The breast pieces are scored.

Line a container with a large Ziplock bag, put the duck quarters inside, and pour the brine over the duck, squeezing as much air as possible from the bag.

Duck and brine in a bag.

Duck and brine in a bag.

Removed as much air as possible from the bag.

Removed as much air as possible from the bag.

Let the duck brine in the refrigerator for 2-2.5 hours. When ready to cook your duck, bring some water to a boil in a large pot that can hold a strainer or colander; I used our pasta pot.

Pasta pot to steam the duck.

Pasta pot to steam the duck.

Place the duck quarters around the sides of the colander, avoiding stacking them on each other, as this can cause uneven cooking.

Duck quarters, ready to be steamed.

Duck quarters, ready to be steamed.

Cover the pot, decrease the heat, and steam the duck for 45 minutes. If your dog is anything like mine are, he/she will be sent into a tizzy, and will pace around the kitchen, whimpering and pleading for just a sampling of your duck. Why steam? In the episode, Alton, or rather his plumber, explains that it is a gentler cooking method than water, is more efficient than air, and it does not wash away the seasoning. Toward the end of your steaming, heat your oven to 475 degrees, placing a cast iron skillet inside.

Hot cast iron skillet.

Hot cast iron skillet.

When the steaming is complete, set the steaming water aside, place the duck legs into the skillet, skin side down, and cook them for 10 minutes.

Duck quarters after steaming for 45 minutes.

Duck quarters after steaming for 45 minutes.

Duck legs in hot skillet.

Duck legs in hot skillet.

After 10 minutes, use tongs to move the legs up to the sides of the skillet, and add the breast quarters to the pan, skin side down. Cook the duck for an additional 7 minutes. While the duck cooks, shred some chard and chop a couple of shallots.

Duck breasts added to skillet with legs.

Duck breasts added to skillet with legs.

Shallots and shredded chard.

Shallots and shredded chard.

Chopped shallot.

Chopped shallot.

When the duck is done, let it rest on a plate, covered with foil; a small, upturned bowl in the center of the plate gives the duck something to lean against, keeping it from sitting in its own juices.

Duck quarters, resting.

Duck quarters, resting.

While the duck rests, add a couple handfuls of shredded chard to the hot cast iron skillet, tossing with tongs.

Chard added to hot duck skillet.

Chard added to hot duck skillet.

The skillet will be hot enough that you can do this off of heat. Add some chopped shallots to the chard, toss until wilted, and sprinkle with some balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Chard and shallots in hot skillet.

Chard and shallots in hot skillet.

Remember that cooking liquid that remained after steaming? The water portion of that liquid can be boiled away until all that remains is wonderful duck fat.

Steaming liquid, boiling down to duck fat.

Steaming liquid, boiling down to duck fat.

Alton recommends simmering some cubed red potatoes in salted water before sautéing them in a little duck fat over high heat. I just could not resist that idea, so I heeded his advice and made some duck fat potatoes to go with our duck and chard.

Red potatoes to saute in duck fat.

Red potatoes to saute in duck fat.

Red potatoes, after simmering in salted water.

Red potatoes, after simmering in salted water.

Potatoes cooked in duck fat.

Potatoes cooked in duck fat.

Duck, potatoes cooked in duck fat, and chard.

Duck, potatoes cooked in duck fat, and chard.

Not being a Quakxpert myself, I thought this meal was pretty darn delicious… and sinful. My one complaint was that the duck skin was only super crispy where it had directly contacted the skillet, but that crispy part was really great. I also ended up having very strongly flavored shallots, which overpowered the chard a bit, but that was just the luck of the draw. The duck was very moist and had lots of flavor. Ted agreed, and he had the leftovers for lunch today. I foresee making this again for a special meal, and it could be a different option for a future holiday dinner. As my dad would say, “It’s a life’s work for a duck.”

I was super stoked to prepare the recipes in the 30th episode of Good Eats. Why, you ask? Though I do love quiche and flan as much as the next girl, I was most excited to make these recipes because I got to use our brand new range for the first time. When we moved into our house, we were greeted with the original, 25-year-old, drop-in Tappan range (I had never even heard of the brand before!). I cook often enough that a range with roll-over numbers (stuck permanently at 4:44), a broken burner, and an oven door that would not shut just was not going to cut it.

The old range. You can't tell in this photo, but the oven light is permanently on since the door won't shut.

The old range. You can’t tell in this photo, but the oven light is permanently on since the door won’t shut.

Old range with a broken front burner.

Old range with a broken front burner.

Ta-da! Enter our new smooth top Samsung electric range.

Isn't she pretty?

Isn’t she pretty?

We considered putting in gas, but the venting, etc. just wasn’t going to be feasible, and we would have lost cabinet space. So far, we are loving our range!

Refrigerator Pie

The very first thing I cooked in our new oven was Alton’s recipe for Refrigerator Pie, AKA quiche. I had my share of quiche growing up, as it was something my mom made on a fairly regular basis. Alton’s version is particularly easy, in that it uses a frozen crust.

Ingredients:  frozen pie crust, spinach, cream, eggs, cheddar, cubed ham, Kosher salt, nutmeg.

Ingredients: frozen pie crust, spinach, cream, eggs, cheddar, cubed ham, Kosher salt, nutmeg.

To start the recipe, you whisk a cup of cream with two eggs (this is called “Royale”) and you place your frozen crust on a baking sheet (to avoid any spills in the oven).

The Royale.

The Royale.

You sprinkle your choice of toppings over the crust, mixing them with your hands; I opted for spinach, shredded cheddar, and cubed ham since that is what Alton did in the episode.

Spinach on the crust.

Spinach on the crust.

Topped with cheese.

Topped with cheese.

And ham.

And ham.

Ingredients tossed together.

Ingredients tossed together.

To your Royale, add a couple pinches of Kosher salt and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. My whole nutmeg seed decided to take a dive into my Royale, which necessitated fishing it out. Butter fingers!

Nutmeg and salt added to Royale.

Nutmeg and salt added to Royale.

Pour your Royale over your ingredients. The egg will expand when it cooks, so you do not want to fill your crust all the way to the top; I had the perfect amount of liquid for my crust.

Royale poured over toppings.

Royale poured over toppings.

Bake your pie in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until it is set like Jell-O and no liquid comes out if you poke a small hole with a toothpick. My quiche was done in 37 minutes.

Obligatory dog shot.

Obligatory dog shot.

Baked Refrigerator Pie.

Baked Refrigerator Pie.

Great filling, but needs a better crust!

Great filling, but needs a better crust!

You do not want to overcook this. Ideally, allow the quiche to cool for about 15 minutes before eating. The filling on this quiche was the best I have ever had because it was so much lighter and fluffier than any other quiche I have had. We liked it so much that Ted made one for breakfast a few days later. My one complaint was about the crust, as it wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked. Alton did not mention pre-baking the crust, so I did not pre-bake mine either, and it seemed a little doughy. When Ted made his quiche, he did pre-bake it, but it was not significantly crispier. I did buy a generic brand of pie crust, so maybe a different brand would yield better results. Seeing as we will be making this again for sure, I will have to play with different crusts. The filling, though, is already a winner. I foresee that we will be making this when our refrigerator is poorly stocked but we still want to eat something good! Seriously, best quiche filling ever.

Flandango

And what was the second thing I made with our new range? Alton’s flan, of course. For some reason, my only childhood association with flan is of an unpleasantly jiggly, overly gelatinized, dessert served at bad Mexican restaurants. I have a distinct memory of my family going to a Mexican restaurant with another family, and at the end of the meal the other family got super excited to order flan. I had no idea what flan was, but their enthusiasm made me think I SHOULD know what flan was, so I feigned excitement and ordered a flan. I should have gone with the churros. Creme brulee has since been my custard of choice.

Still, I was excited to make Alton’s flan, as I figured that pretty much everything Alton made on Good Eats was fantastic, so this was likely to be my best opportunity to have, and make, a good flan.

Flan ingredients:  whole milk, half and half, vanilla, sugar, eggs, blueberry jam, and fat-free (doh!) caramel.

Flan ingredients: whole milk, half and half, vanilla, sugar, eggs, blueberry jam, and fat-free (doh!) caramel.

For this recipe, combine whole milk, half and half, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat at a bare simmer.

Whole milk, half and half, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan.

Whole milk, half and half, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan.

Milk mixture at a bare simmer.

Milk mixture at a bare simmer.

Meanwhile, add 1-2 T of your chosen topping(s) to eight ramekins, and place them in a roasting pan that allows an inch between them.

Caramel and blueberry jam in ramekins.

Caramel and blueberry jam in ramekins.

Ramekins in roasting pan.

Ramekins in roasting pan.

For my toppings, I chose caramel ice cream topping and Alton’s blueberry jam I wrote about here. Unfortunately, I made the horrible error of accidentally purchasing fat-free caramel. Yuck! I did not have time to make a homemade caramel, so I had to go with the fat-free junk and hope for the best. In retrospect, I probably should have opted for plain flan. In a bowl, whisk three eggs and three egg yolks until they are thick and light.

Three eggs and three yolks.

Three eggs and three yolks.

Eggs and yolks whipped until light and thickened.

Eggs and yolks whipped until light and thickened.

Slowly drizzle about a quarter of the cream mixture into the eggs, whisking. The key here is to go slowly. Once the eggs are tempered, add the egg mixture back to the cream, whisking again.

Tempered eggs.

Tempered eggs.

Tempered egg mixture added back to milk mixture.

Tempered egg mixture added back to milk mixture.

Strain the custard to get rid of any curdled egg or any chalazae (the tough “strings” in eggs that keep the yolks suspended).

Strainer to remove any lumps.

Strainer to remove any lumps.

Strained custard.

Strained custard.

Pour the custard into the ramekins and place the roasting pan in the middle of a 350 degree oven.

Custard in ramekins. I wonder which ones are blueberry? So much for mystery.

Custard in ramekins. I wonder which ones are blueberry? So much for mystery.

2-20-15 030 Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, bringing it up almost to the level of the custard in the ramekins.

Water up to almost custard level.

Water up to almost custard level.

Bake for 25-40 minutes. Alton explains in the episode that the slower you cook the custard, the lower its setting temperature will be. My flans were done right at 40 minutes. They are done when they wobble and a pairing knife comes out cleanly. Remove them from the water bath with tongs, allow them to cool to room temperature, wrap them tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them.

Flans after 40 minutes in the oven.

Flans after 40 minutes in the oven.

Completed flan.

Completed flan.

2-20-15 034 When ready to serve, you can eat them straight from the ramekins, or you can run a pairing knife around the outside and invert them onto a plate.

Caramel flan.

Caramel flan.

Caramel flan.

Caramel flan.

We ate the flans for dessert, and shared a couple with my parents. The caramel topping was indeed unfortunate, but the custard was really good. The only flan I have had previously has had caramel topping, so the blueberry topping was very different. My mom commented that the blueberry flavor really surprised her, as she too envisions flan with caramel. Though I would still opt for creme brulee, Alton has redeemed flan for me. The texture was smooth and silky, and the flavor was creamy, sweet, and slightly eggy. There is a pretty good chance that I will make this again in the future, though I will make Alton’s caramel sauce next time. If you are a flan fan, you likely would think this recipe is flantastic! Okay, that was bad.

Mojo Moulies

It was amidst the moving boxes and clutter that I made my first Good Eats recipe in our new home. Continuing with the third season of the show, I prepped Alton’s version of mussels. As with several of the recipes I have made in my Good Eats project, I was again dealing with an ingredient that I had never prepared myself. I fondly recall a delicious dish of moules et frites that I got at a restaurant in Walla Walla, Washington, so I was hopeful that Alton’s mussels would prove to be likewise as delicious.

The online version of this recipe is a little goofy, in that it calls for a total of only 20 mussels, while 10 mussels will be used as part of the sauce. If you watch the episode of the show, however, Alton specifies that you should count on 15-20 mussels per person for an entree portion, while 7-8 mussels make for a great appetizer. Oh, and he recommends that you purchase enough for an extra serving, just in case some mussels need to be thrown away. My store happened to only have about 25 mussels. Rather than waiting for another day, I bought all of the mussels they had, figuring we could always eat more bread if we were still hungry. To store mussels at home, Alton tells you to put them in an open bucket or bowl, covered with a damp paper towel and a bag of ice, and to change the ice daily. I used my mussels within a few hours of buying them, but I still stored them this way.

Mussels ready for storage.

Mussels ready for storage.

Mussels topped with a damp paper towel...

Mussels topped with a damp paper towel…

...and a bag of ice.

…and a bag of ice.

Very few ingredients are needed for this recipe.

Other ingredients for the dish:  garlic, olive oil, leek, tomato, white wine, and Kosher salt.

Other ingredients for the dish: garlic, olive oil, leek, tomato, white wine, and Kosher salt.

Chopped leek.

Chopped leek.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

Diced tomato.

Diced tomato.

To begin, you sweat leeks and garlic in olive oil, along with a pinch of Kosher salt. You will want to do this in a fairly large, lidded stockpot, in which you can nest a colander or steamer basket to hold the mussels.

Leeks and garlic sweating in olive oil.

Leeks and garlic sweating in olive oil.

While the vegetables sweat, you can clean your mussels with a brush. You will also need to remove any beards with needle-nose pliers. Many of my mussels still had their beards. Discard any mussels that are open.

Slightly blurry photo of cleaned mussels.

Slightly blurry photo of cleaned mussels.

Meanwhile, once the leeks have softened, add chopped tomato and white wine, increase the heat, and bring to a boil.

Tomato added to the pan.

Tomato added to the pan.

Wine added to the vegetables.

Wine added to the vegetables.

Once boiling, put the colander of mussels inside the pot, add the lid, and set a timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, make sure all of the mussels are open; if any are unopened, move them around a bit and cook for another 30 seconds. If any mussels are still not open, throw them away, and divide the other mussels among individual serving bowls.

Steamed mussels.

Steamed mussels.

Add the meat of 10 mussels to the pot with the vegetable mixture and cooking liquid, and puree to a smooth consistency with an immersion blender.

Cooking liquid after steaming mussels.

Cooking liquid after steaming mussels.

Ten mussels added to cooking liquid for sauce.

Ten mussels added to cooking liquid for sauce.

Pureed sauce.

Pureed sauce.

Pour this sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley (I forgot to add the parsley), and serve with crusty bread.

Mussels in sauce, served with bread.

Mussels in sauce, served with bread.

We ate our mussels as an entree and had a large proportion of sauce to mussels. The mussels themselves had the fresh taste of the ocean; I always think they taste exactly like the ocean smells. The sauce was, to me, the best part of the dish. It had a great balance of sweetness and acidity, along with a hint of brininess from the mussels, and it was great to dip good bread in. The mussels were really good, but Ted and I agreed that we really think we would prefer a bowl of clams, if given our choice of shellfish.

I have been sort of forced into a project hiatus, as we moved this week. It is quite amazing to see just how much stuff you can accumulate after living in a home for five years, as well as how much of a process it is to move a mere three miles. As I type, I still have boxes on either side of me, but the kitchen items are largely put away, so that is a good start! A few days prior to moving, I tackled the recipes in the 28th episode of Good Eats, but I am only now getting to writing the post about them. It actually has worked out well since this episode is about pickles and you want to let them sit a bit before really eating them anyway. Plus, I am a huge pickle fan, so this was a fun episode for me to do. My mom and I have made pickles nearly every summer for the past several years, and they are a great way to taste seasonal produce year-round.

AB’s B and Bs

Bread and butter pickles are first up in this episode. While I like pretty much any type of pickle, I tend to prefer pickles that are more on the savory, rather than the sweet, side. To make Alton’s version of these, you combine half of a sliced onion and two thinly sliced cucumbers in a spring-top jar.

Whole cucumber.

Whole cucumber.

Sliced cucumbers in a jar.

Sliced cucumbers in a jar.

Cucumber slices in a jar. Note:  I forgot to add the onion to the jar initially, so I ended up adding it after I had put the brine in.

Cucumber slices in a jar. Note: I forgot to add the onion to the jar initially, so I ended up adding it after I had put the brine in.

I somehow managed to forget the onion completely, so I added it after my pickles were all completed. Oops. I opted to slice my cucumbers by hand, but a mandolin would always be a great choice. The brine for these pickles is made up of water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning. All of these ingredients go into a saucepan, are brought to a boil, and are simmered for four minutes.

Water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning make up the brine.

Water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning make up the brine.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Alton says you only need to boil your brine if you are using whole spices, as it results in better spice extraction. Once your brine has simmered, pour it gently over the cucumbers in your jar.

Bread and butters.

Bread and butters.

AB's B and Bs.

AB’s B and Bs.

Let the pickles cool to room temperature before closing the top. You may have extra brine (I did), and you may want to top the jar off after the pickles have cooled. Stick these puppies in the refrigerator, and they will keep for up to two months. I am quite happy with my bread and butter pickles. They have been in their brine for 10 days now, and they are really crunchy and flavorful. They are probably my favorite bread and butter pickles that I have ever had, as they are very well-balanced. They are tart and sweet, but not overly so. They also look pretty in the jar, and would be a great addition to a sandwich. Plus, they take mere minutes to make. Alton has done bread and butters proud with this one.

Kinda Sorta Sours

The second pickle recipe Alton makes in this episode is very similar to his bread and butter pickles, but it is more on the sour/savory side. Again, to begin these pickles, half of a sliced onion and two thinly sliced cucumbers go into a jar. I had run out of spring-top jars, so I used two regular quart canning jars. Note:  I had to make additonal brine to fill both of my jars.

Onion in the pickle jar. Didn't forget it this time!

Onion in the pickle jar. Didn’t forget it this time!

Thinly sliced cucumber.

Thinly sliced cucumber.

Cucumbers and onion in two quart jars.

Cucumbers and onion in two quart jars.

The brine this time includes water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

Brine of water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

Brine of water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

In contrast to the bread and butter brine, this brine has less sugar, more salt, more mustard seed, less turmeric, more celery seed, more pickling seasoning, and the addition of champagne vinegar. The process is the same, except you add four crushed garlic cloves to the jar before adding the brine to the cucumbers and onions.

Four crushed garlic cloves into the jar.

Four crushed garlic cloves into the jar.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Brine poured over cucumbers.

Brine poured over cucumbers.

Kinda Sorta Sours.

Kinda Sorta Sours.

Let the pickles cool before closing, top them off with more brine, and put them in the refrigerator. These, too, will keep for up to a couple of months. I like these pickles quite a bit too. They have the same pleasantly crunchy texture of the bread and butter pickles, but they are much more savory. They really are almost sour. They would also be great on a sandwich. For a more savory cucumber pickle, this is the one to try.

Firecrackers

If you are looking for a more unique pickle to try, try making Alton’s Firecrackers. What are Firecrackers? They are crunchy, spicy, sweet, zesty pickled baby carrots. To make these, Alton tells you to put a half pound of baby carrots in a (you guessed it) spring-top jar. I weighed out a half pound of baby carrots and they only filled my jar half-way, so I wound up using about a pound of baby carrots.

A pound of baby carrots in the jar.

A pound of baby carrots in the jar.

To make the brine, you combine water, sugar, and cider vinegar in a saucepan. To this, you add onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Brine ingredients:  water, sugar, cider vinegar, onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Brine ingredients: water, sugar, cider vinegar, onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Bring the brine to a boil, simmer it for four minutes, and pour it over the carrots.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Brine over carrots.

Brine over carrots.

Firecrackers.

Firecrackers.

Let them cool, close the top, and refrigerate them. My firecrackers are 10 days out and they are only getting better. They are crispy and tangy, and the natural sweetness of the carrots come through. There is also a decent amount of residual heat. I ate some of these on a salad for lunch and they were great. I highly recommend these, especially if you like a little kick to your pickles.

Summer Fruits

Alton’s next next recipe is quite different because it is for fruit pickles. This was my first fruit pickle attempt. Alton calls for you to pickle one Bartlett pear and one red plum. Seeing as it is January, I could not find a red plum, so I substituted an apple (Fuji, I think) for the plum.

Bartlett pear and an apple.

Bartlett pear and an apple.

As with the cucumber pickles, slice the fruit very thinly and add it to a spring-top jar. In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar and simmer this until the sugar dissolves completely; no need to boil this one since there are no whole spices.

Simple brine of water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Simple brine of water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Sugar almost dissolved in brine.

Sugar almost dissolved in brine.

Meanwhile, to the jar add slivered ginger, a sprig of fresh mint, and half of a lemon, thinly sliced.

Thinly sliced lemon added to the sliced fruit in the jar.

Thinly sliced lemon added to the sliced fruit in the jar.

Apple, pear, ginger, and lemon in the jar.

Apple, pear, ginger, and lemon in the jar.

Fresh mint.

Fresh mint.

Mint added to the jar.

Mint added to the jar.

Once the sugar has dissolved in the brine, pour it over the fruit, let the pickles cool, close the lid, and refrigerate them.

Brine poured over fruit.

Brine poured over fruit.

Summer Fruits.

Summer Fruits.

Alton recommends serving these over ice cream or with pound cake. So far, we have only eaten them plain, but I think they would also be fantastic in a spinach salad with some walnuts, beets, and goat cheese. These pickles are fun because they are completely different. They are lightly sweet, but also quite tangy. The fruit has not gotten mushy, which is what I was concerned about. The flavor of the mint really comes through, especially in the pear, and it is really quite a nice pairing with the fruit.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower

The final recipe in this episode is for pickled curried cauliflower. To start these pickles, crush some whole cumin and coriander seeds. I did this with a mortar and pestle.

Whole coriander and cumin seeds.

Whole coriander and cumin seeds.

Crushed cumin and coriander seeds.

Crushed cumin and coriander seeds.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the crushed spices. Along with the spices, add curry powder, ginger, and a smashed clove of garlic.

Coriander seed, cumin seed, curry powder, ginger, and garlic in oil

Coriander seed, cumin seed, curry powder, ginger, and garlic in oil

The spice mixture.

The spice mixture.

Cook the spices until they are fragrant and the oil has turned yellow. To the spice mixture, add one head of cauliflower florets and toss to coat them.

Cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower added to spice mixture.

Cauliflower added to spice mixture.

Curry-coated cauliflower.

Curry-coated cauliflower.

Meanwhile, in a container with a tight-fitting lid, combine water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt; shake this liquid until the salt and sugar have dissolved. If you do not have pickling salt, you can substitute Kosher salt, but be sure to add 1.5x as much.

Water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and Kosher salt shaken until dissolved.

Water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and Kosher salt shaken until dissolved.

Once the cauliflower has softened slightly, add it to a spring-top jar and pour over the brine.

Brine and cauliflower combined.

Brine and cauliflower combined.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower.

Close the lid and refrigerate. These, too, are more unusual pickles. When we first tasted them after a few days of pickling, we agreed that they were our favorite of the five types of pickles in this episode. Tasting them again after 10 days in the brine, we still like them, but not as much as before. While all of the other pickles seemed to improve with more time in the brine, these seemed to just increase in vinegar flavor, while their delightful curry flavor diminished somewhat. Don’t get me wrong… they are still really good. The cauliflower has maintained it’s crunchy texture, they are really tangy, and the curry flavor is in the background. They would be good on a relish tray (Do people do those anymore?).

Overall, we liked all of these pickles and I think they are all worthy of being made again.

All five types of pickles on a plate, along with some summer sausage. Clockwise from the top:  Kinda Sorta Sours, Firecrackers, AB's B and Bs, Hurry Curry Cauliflower, and Summer Fruits.

All five types of pickles on a plate, along with some summer sausage. Clockwise from the top: Kinda Sorta Sours, Firecrackers, AB’s B and Bs, Hurry Curry Cauliflower, and Summer Fruits.

After 10 days of pickling, Ted ranked the pickles from best to worst as:  Firecrackers, B and Bs, Summer Fruits, Sours, and Cauliflower. I ranked the pickles as:  B and Bs, Firecrackers, Sours, Summer Fruits, and Cauliflower.