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Pickled Daikon: Meat’s Perfect Pal

We got them radishes all day, son!

By guest blogger Katie Walsh

I spent some time in Houston with my dad On A Meat Mission, to learn about meat and how it’s cooked. Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing recipes and tales from our meaty adventures.

Strangely enough, the first step on our meat program was pickling daikon. Dad has a small, raised-bed organic garden in back of the house that was overflowing with daikon radishes. (Thanks to gardening guru Jim Sherman for suggesting that we plant daikon this year!)

Inspired by the julienned pickled daikon served on Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Dad had experimented with several recipes. The most successful were radishes cut into thin coins. He said he asked Kelly (my step-mom) to taste them and she proceeded to kill a whole jar in one sitting. They rock.

We’d planned on making a venison pâté, and thought that daikon pickles would taste great with it. Plus those babies were just dying to be harvested. First ya pull ‘em out. Grab down by the base, near the ground.

Now that's a dirty daikon.

Then ya wash ‘em off. We had a big bowl of water we dunked them into. Cut the tops off, give ‘em one more rinse and throw them in a clean bowl.

Now it’s time to put ‘em up.

read more Pickled Daikon: Meat’s Perfect Pal »

Homemade Cayenne & Tabasco Sauce

Jim "Pepper Rancher" Sherman

Jim Sherman, my gardening guru, told me to meet him at a raised bed garden this morning. He was trying to clean the place up to get it ready to plant the fall and winter crops. The last plants left over from the summer were peppers and they were out of control. There were so many red ripe cayenne and tabasco peppers he couldn’t pick them all. The birds were having a field day. He had been reading the series about Homemade Pepper Sauces on this blog and knew I could put some peppers to good use.

read more Homemade Cayenne & Tabasco Sauce »

Creamer Peas with Wild Boar Country Ham

My friend Dr. Ray Hambuchen of Conway Arkansas has an impressive sausage making and dry curing operation in his suburban garage. Every year around this time he clears his freezers and walk-in (yes, he has a walk-in in his garage) of last year’s surplus venison sausage, wild boar hams and the rest  to [...]

Fermentation Frenzy

Kim Kosher Hot Pickles

The fermenting frenzy continues. Last week, I was given a half a bushel of heirloom cucumbers, some with lovely ridged skins. I used them to make hot fermented pickles with my own fermented garlic chile paste and ginger. I call them Kim-Kosher pickles. Korean Kimchi is made according to a very sophisticated technique involving multiple brines and rice flour, Kosher pickles are often fermented in a brine with garlic. These are somewhere in between.

My efforts at creating a fermented pepper recipe for the Louisiana hot sauce are complete. Thanks to your comments I learned that it’s a lot easier to ferment whole red chiles cut into coarse chunks than to try to ferment a gloppy mash. After you ferment the chiles, you turn them into mash in a food processor. I also learned from Sandor Katz’s book, “The Art of Fermentation,” that its a great idea to ferment all the ingredients together, so I added garlic and onions to the red peppers.

The fermented red jalapeño, garlic and onion mash tastes so good, my wife and I are smearing it all over everything. I cut the mash 50-50 with Steen’s cane vinegar and put the mixture through a coarse sieve to remove the seeds and skin. The resulting pepper sauce is even better than previous batches.

The mash is incredibly versatile. Chris Shepherd at Underbelly showed me how to combine some of it with fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to make a very tasty nuoc cham. I also used the mash in the Kim-Kosher pickles and will soon use some to make the highly seasoned fermented cabbage Katz calls “kraut-chi.”

Crunchy pickled jalapeños

My efforts to create a green pepper sauce were not so successful. After a week and a half of fermenting, a crock full of green jalapeños, tomatillos, garlic and onions wasn’t very soft. I put some in the food processor and ended up with a gritty mash that doesn’t work for pepper sauce.

But all was not lost. My favorite pickled jalapeños are the crunchy little pods bottled by Trappey’s. On a visit to their Louisiana headquarters years ago, I discovered that the company ferments the peppers in giant concrete vats full of brine. So while my fermentation experiment was a failure, I am not all that sad about it. Yes, I was trying to make green Tabasco, not Trappey’s-style pickled jalapeños. But several bottles full of crunchy pickled jalapeños isn’t such a bad consolation prize.

read more Fermentation Frenzy »

Jam Time, Ya’ll

On my way back from Foodways Texas BBQ Summer Camp, I bought a box of sweet and juicy two inch-size Hill Country freestone peaches for $33 at DiIorio’s farmstand in Hempstead. I had hoped to make peach preserves and brandied peaches with them, but I am fighting a losing battle trying to keep [...]

Peach Patrol!

Every year, we wait patiently for the freestone peaches to be perfectly ripe so we can begin making preserves, brandied peaches, and peach pies. Freestone peaches are the best to cook with because the fruit comes easily away from the pit. Cling peaches, the ones with fruit that sticks to the pit, generally ripen a couple of weeks earlier than freestones. There are several cultivars of each kind–some sweeter and juicier than others.

This year, warm, rainy weather across the South has accelerated the growing seasons. The mayhaws, which are supposed to be ripe in May, were all harvested by mid-April. And the cling peaches, which we usually get in June, were already ripening in mid-May.

Looks like the freestones season is about to begin! Please leave alerts about where you are finding the best peaches this year in the comments section!

Peach Pie Recipe after the jump! read more Peach Patrol! »

Hot Sauce at Home: Fermented Pepper Sauce, Part 1


My first foray into making Lousiana pepper sauce started with a search for red chiles. Tabasco chiles were introduced to Louisiana in the 1800s and became the favorite chile for bottled pepper sauces. The recipe included the elaborate step of fermenting the ripe red peppers in oak barrels. Pepper pickers carried a stick painted with the shade of red that the peppers needed to reach. The ripeness was important because you need a decent level of sugar to get the fermentation process going.

read more Hot Sauce at Home: Fermented Pepper Sauce, Part 1 »

Eating Roses

My daughter Katie Walsh writes for a food blog called Whisked Foodie She called me the other day to ask where to get edible roses. (If you have a source, please share it under “comments.”) This question seems to come up once a year around this time. I used to grow organic roses so I could cook with them, but growing roses without chemicals proved too be to big a challenge for my modest gardening skills.

Still, the question brought back fond memories of Valentine’s Day cooking projects.

This article and the recipe for Quail in Rose Petal Sauce ran in column I used to write for Natural History Magazine “A Matter of Taste.” The story was published in May of 1999. (story and recipe after the jump)

read more Eating Roses »

My Bumper Crop of Easter Eggs

What a year for radishes! A couple of months ago, I bought a mixed radish seed blend from Johnny’s Seeds called Easter Egg. I planted the seeds in mid-October and harvested this first bunch of radishes a week before Thanksgiving. I served the radishes on the relish tray and put the greens in my [...]