Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Best Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

A true email story about Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles:

Cora to Joan:
The other day I was craving bread and butter pickles and, when I saw pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market, I decided to satisfy that craving. I located the recipe immediately in my obsessive recipe filing system and set out to gather the ingredients. Somewhere along the way, the recipe disappeared! I looked for hours, then days, to no avail. Gone! When I mentioned it to Mother, she remembered the recipe and said she still had a copy. The next morning she called to read it to me. Finally! I set out again to collect the ingredients and a bowl. Of course, there under the bowl in the pull out cabinet drawer, was the original copy of the recipe! Now I am enjoying my bread and butter pickles even more than I thought I would.  And so I say, "Thank you so very much for sharing your recipe with Mother and me so many years ago!"  They are the BEST!

Joan to Cora:
Save that recipe! I cannot find mine.  We used to serve those pickles as a vegetable side dish and eat a load of them.  Maybe it is the sugar that makes them so good.  Thanks for telling me you like them too.

All I have to add to the story is the testimonial of my friend and neighbor, Jim, who consumed the entire container I dished up and delivered to him. While we enjoyed one of this summer's incredibly pleasant evenings out under the big tree in Jim's backyard -- aka The Martini Lounge -- Jim ate every single pickle in the container I gave him and then, as he handed it back, he said, "You can fill it up again."

And just tonight, when I talked to my husband, who is out on a trip, he told me he had shared the pickle story with his First Officer and assured him he could get the recipe on my blog. Uh, oh! I've been so busy making pickles, eating pickles, sharing pickles and emailing about pickles -- I forgot to tell you the story!

So here goes ... and if you should copy this recipe and lose it, you'll know exactly where to find it -- right here. 

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
8 cups sliced and packed pickling cucumbers - 6 to 8 small
5 medium onions, sliced
1/8 cup pickling salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water

  1.  Wash, dry and slice cucumbers in 1/4" slices
  2.  Peel onion, cut into quarters and slice in 1/4" rings
  3.  Place a layer of cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with a little pickling salt
  4.  Add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little more pickling salt
  5.  Alternate layers of cucumbers and onions until all are used
  6.  Let stand for 2-3 hours
  7.  Drain, but don't rinse
  8.  Combine remaining ingredients in large pan and bring to a boil
  9.  Add cucumbers and onions, lower heat and simmer 5 mins - Don't Boil
10.  Spoon cucumbers, onions and liquid into jars or plastic containers with tight fitting lids and store in refrigerator

Pickles are best after a day or two in the refrigerator and will keep for several weeks -- if they last that long!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simple Homemade Boursin

Planning easy and delicious meals for house guests can sometimes be a challenge, but I have a helper for just such an occasion - a hefty computer file of my go-to recipes. Fast. Easy. Crowd-pleasers. Oh, and delicious! First and foremost -- everything must be delicious.

You know the recipes I'm talking about, don't you? They are on wrinkled bits of paper or stained recipe cards in your files. Most have someone's name scribbled on them to identify the person who gave you the recipe. These are the good ones you bring out for parties, a night with the girls, the neighborhood block party, holidays, a friend in need of comfort food and ... house guests. They are the best worry-free, no-brainer, everybody-likes-this recipes that never let me down. 

With company expected next week, I clicked through my favorite, signature, go-to recipes - Cora's Classics. I had a difficult time choosing - there were so many yummy choices. Today, I ended up making a list of ingredients for some dishes for next week and a couple of good ones we would enjoy anytime - even without company.

Because no trip to the grocery store is complete without forgetting something, I didn't think of this recipe for Boursin until after I returned home. Not to worry though, I actually had these ingredients on hand. Just add crackers, crisp apple or pear slices and a glass of wine -- perfect!

I'm kind of excited now that the sorting, choosing and planning are finished. I love that I've taken a little time to put all these recipe favorites together in one place. Now I'll be ready for a relaxing visit with friends.

Do you have a file of favorites that help you plan meals for house guests? What about breakfast ideas? I could use a couple of new breakfast recipes in my file, if you have some to share.  

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese OR goat cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste with a bit of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme*
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram*
1/8 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix ingredients together with mixer, food processor (pulse) or by hand with fork. Spoon into a small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature and serve with crackers and sliced fresh fruit.

These herbs (in the ribbon-tied cellophane bags in the photo) are some I ordered  from Spartan Table, an Etsy shop owned by Jehny Koniditsioti of Sparta, Greece. Her family grows olives there and they also harvest the herbs that grow wild. They offer sea salt, olives, olive oil and new items being added all the time.

Boursin makes a cute gift basket with crackers, a small spreader and perhaps a packet of mixed herbs.