Here it is once again, my friends. Creeping up on one of my favorite times of the year, when the temps get warm enough to start thinking about putting plants in the earth.
Getting my hands dirty is one of the most satisfying things you can possibly do. I come from a long line of gardening gentlemen on both sides of my family. When I was a kid growing up, I never fully appreciated the gift of fresh from the garden food. It doesn’t taste the same as store bought food.
So I am challenging you, friend, to take up the task and feed yourself!
If you think you have a black thumb, stop. The Gentleman Caller is here to offer you some tips and insights to make your experience easy and efficient.
Today I offer my cucumber trellis.
The cucumber trellis is a simple lean-to structure. You can affix it to a fence, outdoor building, garage, any structure with some integrity. It will allow your cukes to grow upward rather than spread on the ground. This makes harvesting easier, and will likely give you an increase in your yield.
I used a wooden fence. Watch the YouTube video for full instructions.
Oils are an integral part of cooking. Regardless of what you are preparing, it’s likely you will incorporate a fat, unless you are in a time machine going back the SnackWell 1990’s.
Oils are purposeful. They add flavor, they lubricate, in some cases they elevate ordinary things to spectacular dishes.
They are also malleable, and take on the flavors compounded with them over time.
So, I offer you The Gentleman Caller’s Infused Oil. This is good for salad dressing and finishing. It can be used for cooking as well, but because of the labor involved and the subtlety of the product, it’s best for dressing and finishing.
What you need:
4 cups of grapeseed oil
2 heads of garlic
4 tbsp peppercorn (black or mixed)
4 tbsp red chili flakes
4 long sprigs of fresh rosemary
the rind of a lemon
In a sturdy pot (I use a cast iron skillet), measure out your oil. Cut the heads of garlic to expose the insides of each clove. No need to peel. Place in a 250 degree oven for about an hour and a half.
Allow this to cool.
Choose your bottles or jars. I chose 1 bottle to accommodate 2 cups, and then 2 more to accommodate 1 cup each. Wash them diligently. Make sure whatever vessel you use can attain a solid seal to prevent leaking and contamination.
Combine your ingredients. For every cup of oil, you will want 1 tbsp of chili, 2 lemon peels, 1 tbsp of peppercorn and a sprig of rosemary.
Allow to sit for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Enjoy!
Ahhh, the annual tradition of harvesting the oranges and turning them into sweet, sweet marmalade. It’s become something I do every single year, and seemingly can never make enough to get the family and friends in supply until the next harvest.
Now, marmalade wasn’t something I ate as a kid, but once I discovered it as an adult, the fire was ablaze. Citrus has such a different tang than most other fruits, and with crusty bread and a dollop of good butter, you simply can’t beat it.
So here is The Gentleman Caller’s Magical Marmalade.
What you need:
5 high quality oranges
2 high quality lemons
2 1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp butter
1 1/2 – 1.75 ounce boxes of fruit pectin (I use Sure Jell)
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 oz Cointreau or other good orange liqueur
8 – 1 cup jars with unused rubber ring lids and the rings
Fill a stock pot with water. Immerse jars and bring to a boil. Boil for several minutes to sterilize. Remove and allow to cool on a clean towel. Keep the water in the pot on the stove.
Using a sturdy vegetable peeler, take the outer skin off of the fruit. Chop into thin ribbons, no more than 1/16th inch wide by 1 inch long. It will look similar to a chiffonade.
Put 2 1/2 cups water into a sizable saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Add the chopped peels, 1/8 tsp baking soda and cover. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
While the peels simmer, use a serrated knife to remove the white under skin from the fruit. Then segment and chop the fruit into 1 inch pieces, reserving juice that may escape.
When the 20 minutes has elapsed, add the butter and the chopped fruit and juice to the cooked peels. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add the pectin. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.
Once rolling boil is attained, add the sugar.
Bring once again to a full rolling boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat. Add liqueur. The mixture will give a sizzle when this is added.
Heat the water in the stock pot. Add the rings and lids to the hot water so the rubber can get warm and create the seal on the jar.
Fill the jars carefully to not burn yourself! Wipe any spilled liquid off the rims. Allow a 1/2 inch reserve at the top of the jar. Swiftly affix a lid and screw a ring tightly on top.
Place lidded jars into the stockpot of boiling water.
Process for 10 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool. The liquid will thicken as the mixture cools. Do not invert the jars in this process or there will be marmalade on the inside of the lid (unsightly).
Ahhh, barbecue, that most polarizing and satisfying culinary endeavor. I have gone to great lengths and waited in great lines for delicious barbecue, and have rarely regretted it.
However, sometimes you aren’t in the mood to fight the blue hairs, screaming children of others, and if you’re in Texas – the heat – just for some ‘cue. Sometimes it’s validating to take matters into your own hands.
Now, I am a Texan… well, a New Yorker from Texas… and generally beef is the Bible of barbecue. But I have strayed. Brisket is still generally the king for The Gentleman Caller, but dammit if I don’t love some pork barbecue as well.
We are going to do this step by step. This here is the rub. The perfect dry rub for a pork butt or ribs. This also works brilliantly on pork chops… really any kind of grilled meat. Note that it doesn’t contain any spices that BURN.
Adjust quantities as you need to achieve the yield you want, and let’s go!
What you need:
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground oregano
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp Mexene chili powder
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1/2 tbsp all spice
1/2 tbsp cumin
**For a sweeter meat, you have the option of incorporating 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. I prefer to pour liquid molasses over the meat as it cooks. That way you can control whether or not it burns. Sugar BURNS.
When I am making my own rubs and blends, I prefer to use bulk spices. My favorite bulk spice purveyor in New York City is International Grocery, 543 9th Avenue, NY, NY 10018. It’s easy to miss, but has been in the same location for decades. They also make hummus and baba in house and it’s spectacular. www.internationalgrocerynyc.com 212-279-1000
If you are in Texas, HEB Central Market sells bulk spices. That’s where I go when I am down South. www.centralmarket.com for locations