I think I am on a pickling and preserving roll.
First up were the padron peppers, then we made basil walnut pesto and oven roasted tomatoes (which in a turkey provolone are heaven!) and now pickled bell peppers. Cool and crunchy, these colorful peppers are soaked in a vinegar bath for 2 - 3 days. Surprisingly tangy, they don’t turn into a mush.
I made one batch with 2 bell peppers and it got over quickly. I didn’t want the vinegar brine to go to waste. I had couple more bell peppers on hand so I sliced and added them to the jar. I guess the novelty of the peppers wore off and this jar is going slowly. Mom and I loved it over our chickpeas salad sandwiches. As well as over spinach salad.
Oh well, its something you should try while the bell peppers are still cheap! Or try with colorful cauliflowers or carrots!
Fridge Pickled Bell Peppers Recipe
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 – 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 7-8 black peppercorns
- 2- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 red or orange bell peppers, sliced thin (washed, de-seeded and white membranes removed!)
- Add all the spices, vinegar and water in a clean glass jar. Add salt. Taste and adjust for tanginess and salt.
Add the bell peppers to the vinegar bath. Close the jar tightly and place it in the back corner of the fridge. Leave it untouched for 3 days before opening.
Excellent over salads, sandwiches and even scrambled eggs.
Refrigerate after opening.
Sweet potatoes. Its one vegetable that has featured in our house only during fasts and in “introduction to solids” phase. Mom used to grate sweet potatoes and pan fry it with peanuts and cumin and salt. Along with Sabudana Khichadi it is on approved food during fasts and eagerly relished by me and my brother. When Varun started solids, sweet potato puree was one thing he used to love. I don’t think sweet potatoes are common as first baby foods in India but they are staple here in US.
Now Vihaan is in that stage of life. Solids, trying to pick up chunks and shove it in his mouth. He drools and coo’s. And along with spinach, pumpkin and apples, we have sweet-potatoes in his menu. I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes at the farmers market and decided to make them into chips – inspired the many Pinterest pins and the Whole Foods Vegetable Chips.
Baked with olive oil and salt, they have no added ingredients. Other than slicing the sweet-potato it is fairly hands-off. It is crunchy, colorful and healthy. A bunch of them in a paper cone was an interesting afternoon snack. Well, whats not to like about crunchy, colorful snack!
I have read the same method works with beets as well. Thats what I am going to try next!
Sweet Potato Chips Recipe
- 1- 2 sweet potatoes, washed and sliced 1/4 ” thin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika or cumin (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl toss the sweet potato slices with olive oil, spices and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- On a pre-lined baking sheet, layer the slices in a single layer
- Bake for 20 – 30 minutes till the chips crisp and curl up on edges.
Let cool and store in an airtight container.
One of my latest finds in SF is The Palace of Fine Arts. Its a beautiful structure – central rotunda, flanked by pillared walkway on either side, overlooking a beautiful lake. It is on the most popular itineraries for SF visit and is definitely on any photographers visit to the city. Bing/Google Image search has some really pretty pictures of the Palace. On our way to Varun’s swim class or going towards Golden Gate Bridge we usually drive by it. The carvings atop the pillars and the rotunda peek out amidst the trees and we always think about going there. I am surprised it too us this long to visit it!
A few weekends ago, Varun wanted to go feed the ducks. He read about it in some book and asked me to take him someplace to feed the ducks. I looked up online and to my surprise saw that the Palace of Fine Arts listed as one of the places in our neighborhood to feed ducks. So we took some sunflower and pumpkin seeds and went one Sunday morning.
Parking was easy to find at that hour. We walked on the pathway around to the spot where there were many other kids (with their parents) with the same intention of feeding the ducks. Varun was so excited to see the ducks that he just kept jumping. He threw a few seeds to the ducks and then snacked on some. One for them and one for him. Taking turns. Though eventually the ducks didn’t get a turn.
We strolled around the path. Watching more ducks, photo-shoots of families and couples against the beautiful backdrop of the trees or the monument. I didn’t have the best light to photograph it but it was the best morning in days. Vihaan slept. Varun walked along without protest or tantrums. I was in a good mood too as the kids behaved.
Walk around Palace of Fine Arts. Fort Mason Farmers Market. Lunch over Crepes or Roti Roti Chicken and potatoes.It may just become our Sunday morning routine!
Summer is winding down and this year I am going to make some vegetable condiments to last us through fall or possibly even winter. In India, my mom and aunt used to make vegetable pickles, fruit relishes and chutneys and even dry vegetables in summer to make interesting fritters ( tomato- carrots sandge or dried yogurt filled mirchi??). I have some other ideas based on recent mind-blowing dining experiences in SF. Home-made French mustard ( over salmon, in sandwiches and salads), over roasted sun-dried tomatoes ( for sandwiches, tarts and pasta), pickled red bell pepper (over anything really).
Before buying things in bulk, I am experimenting with a few vegetables and will probably make them in bulk to preserve if successful.
First up are Padron Peppers. I haven’t seen them in Whole Foods or Trader Joes but local Farmers Market has these peppers in bulk. The Peppers are not very spicy as is ( at least not if you are used to Indian palate) but taste brilliant when tempered in fruity olive oil. If you like Indian green chillies pickle, you are bound to like this.
Tempering the peppers reduces their heat even further. The crisped up pepper skin, fruity flavor of the oil and smokiness from the cumin and peppers make this an excellent condiment. We have had it with curd-rice, dal-chawal and even over taco’s and salads.
The pepper and cumin flavors seep into the oil giving it depth and smokiness. I used the oil as a dipping sauce as well as a base to make salad dressing. Both were excellent.
This is truly one pickle you should make before the peppers disappear from the market!
NOTE: I made this couple of times in very small quantity. I plan to make a pound of pickled peppers. It will probably need 1 cup of oil and 1/4 cup cumin seeds. Cooking time will increase as well but just eye-ball it to make sure that the peppers are roasted evenly for better taste. Taste and adjust salt. Let cool completely before filling and refrigerating in airtight containers.
Padron Peppers Pickle Recipe
- 1 – 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup padron peppers, washed and slit
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds when the oil is heated. When the cumin seeds sizzle, add the padron peppers.
Let them cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes or so till they are blistered. Toss them and let the other side of the peppers cook for another minute or so. Add salt. Cover with a lid and let cook for another minute over low heat.
Summertime, fresh Californian produce, farmers market and fresh air. What do they all have in common?
Nothing much, per se, but they all provide a lot of inspiration of fresh and healthy meals.
Last week while we were at the Fort Mason Farmers Market, the vegetable stall was a riot of color. I saw orange-yellow squash blossoms stacked next to green and yellow zucchinis and red tomatoes. The colors were inviting and I picked up a bunch of flowers. Vipul eyed me and the flowers suspiciously. I told him I am going to make some zucchini blossom fritters. He asked me if that was all for dinner or there was “real” food as well along with it.