Tag Archives: canning

SPICY! The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Style Giardeniera

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

For years I have wondered about giardeniera. Seen it in grocery stores in jars, purveyed in specialty stores in big buckets and such. And here’s the thing: when I finally decided to taste it after years of passing curiosity I LOVED IT.

Its bright, briny bouquet and the textures of the cauliflower and carrot was a treat for my tongue. Mind you, I am a lover of pickled things. I even like pickled eggs.

Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, TX

But back on topic, I was down in Alvin, sauntering through Froberg’s assessing the vegetable selection and it hit me… use Texas-y vegetables like okra and jalapeños, and concoct a giardeniera befitting The Gentleman Caller.

This is a great accompaniment on a relish tray, and works great in a bloody mary.

Get out your jars and let’s get pickled!

What you need:

  • 3 carrots
  • 3 large jalapeños
  • 15 okra
  • 15 green beans
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • about 3 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp peppercorns
  • 3 tsp celery seed
  • lemon peel, optional
  • jars, rings and lids to make 3 pints total

Wash your vegetables. Peel carrots, take tops off okra and jalapeños, remove the stem end of the green beans. Slice jalapeños in 1/8 inch slices, cut the carrots on an angle (see video for suggestions with flare).

Sterilize your jars by boiling them for 10 minutes in a stock pot full of water. When you remove them, add the lids and rings so that the rubber on the ring can soften.

In the microwave or a sauce pan, combine liquids, sugar and salt. bring liquid to a boil and allow everything to dissolve. Remove from heat.

Stuff the vegetables equitably into the jars. You need to really pack them full and evenly. There should be 2 cloves of garlic per pint.

Top the vegetables with peppercorns, 1 tbsp per pint, and celery seed, one tsp per pint. Pour liquid allowing 1/2 inch at the top.

Top with hot rings and lids, carefully avoiding touching the interior sides with your dirty little mitts!

Bring water in the stock pot back to a boil and process the jars upright for 20 minutes. The jars should be covered with at least an inch of water.

Remove from boiling water. Allow to sit for 2, 3, 4 weeks before you crack one open. The longer they sit, the tastier they’ll be!

This is The Gentleman Caller signing out!

Downloadable PDF here: The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Style Giardeniera

 

The Gentleman’s Marmalade

 

The Gentleman Caller’s Orange Marmalade

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

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).

You will hear a  little pop when the seal takes.

Enjoy!

That’s all for now.

The Gentleman Caller

Clickable PDF here: TGCMarmalade

Add this to your Pinterest page!

 

 

The Gentleman’s (+ Momma) End of Summer Strawberry Jam (video)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

If you, dear reader, haven’t noticed how much I enjoy all things strawberry, well, you need to spend more time on this website. It’s summer’s end and not the most traditional time to put up strawberry preserves, especially given that I am presently in Texas. But momma and I discovered some beautiful berries at the local grocery store on sale for a song. Since I sing for my supper, I couldn’t pass up the bargain.

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Momma, Sharon Jo Thompson Taylor, has a backyard resplendent with gifts from the ground. I must tell you I am quite responsible for much of that, but don’t tell her I took credit. Presently she has a sweet mint plant that has somehow been kept at bay and we decided to enhance our jam recipe with some mint and brighten it with lemon peel.

Now, these strawberries are glorious on their own and those enhancements are simply gilding the lily, but it’s kind of like gluing glitter on something and I am always going to do that.

So I give to you, The Gentleman Caller’s (and Momma’s) End of Summer Strawberry Jam.

Here’s what you need:

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  • Mason jars, rings and lids to accommodate about 5 pints of jam
  • 8 cups of cut up strawberries with the green cap removed
  • 7 cups (YES, SEVEN) of granulated white sugar
  • 1 box of Sure-Jell; fruit pectin
  • 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 pat approximately 1 tablespoon butter

Sterilize your jars , lids and rings by boiling them in a large stock pot for 10 minutes.

 

While killing germs in the above step, in another large stock pot or dutch oven start putting heat on the chopped berries. Take a potato masher and mash the berries to the consistency you like. I enjoy tangible pieces of berry in my jam so I try to achieve a nice ratio of mashed fruit to larger bits. This will give you a shoulder workout.

By this time the lids and rings should be sterile. Use tongs to remove them from the boiling water and place them on a CLEAN towel.

Add the box of pectin (Sure-Jell) to the mashed fruit with the pat of butter. This is going to keep the foam to a minimum.

Crank up the heat and get the berries to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil that persists while stirring. Once that is achieved, add the sugar swiftly. I know this seems like a sh** ton of sugar – it is. If you don’t use this much it will not set up. Let me repeat, It Will Not Set Up. And you will have already gone to all this work!

Bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil for precisely one minute. Remove from heat. Skim any foam with a slotted spoon. Toss in the lemon zest and mint; stir.

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Ladle the boiling hot lava berry mix into the prepared jars. It is VERY hot! If you have silicon hot pads, use them. They rinse clean the most easily. I didn’t have a funnel on hand so I sliced a soda bottle in half, washed it up, and it did a  fine job. Plus I didn’t have to clean it up! Leave about ½  inch from the top when filling; wipe any jam off the lids if you spill.

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Tighten lids and bands on the jars.

Bring the water you used to sterilize the jars back to a simmer. If you have a rack to put on the bottom, great. If not, get some extra rings and put those on the bottom to keep the jars off the metal pot surface. Put the jars in and cover the tops with at least an inch of water. Bring to a solid boil.

Process your jam in the boiling water for 10 minutes. After that, remove them carefully from the cauldron of hot water and set them right side up on a towel. Allow to remain upright and cool for 24 hours. You’ll hear the lids give a cute little <pop> as they cool. That is a good thing! It means they’re sealed. If any don’t pop, store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

This jam is so good that my mom and stepdad kept getting into the leftover with their spoons and finally broke down and went to the store for a baguette!

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Finally, there’s an art to selecting the right jar. This is a special project and you should want to use special jars. Mom actually played a key role in this one; she selected very cute ½ pint jars and we decided they should definitely be labeled as well. The flourishes add to the deliciousness of the product, whether you realize it right away or not. Your friends will be impressed, so do it right!

Tell me how you do with this in the comments!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

Pickled. Not me. Cucumbers.

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Knock Knock Knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Hey, friends. It’s me, The Gentleman Caller. Welcome to my first outing. Happy Independence Day!

It’s summer. It’s July. It’s hot. It’s my favorite time of year. You can wear a tank top anywhere except church. Amen to that.

So I was sauntering through Manhattan’s Upper West Side last Sunday before my matinee at Trip of Love, and wandered among the farm stalls. Now believe it or not, Jersey makes beautiful summer produce despite its reputation for murder and Snooki. I found some astonishingly beautiful Kirby cukes and decided it was time to go Granny-style with some canning.

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My Granny, Mrs. Mary Leah Stanton Miller, has an unrivaled pickle recipe. Sweet, salty, spicy… we waited eagerly for a jar of Granny’s crispy cukes every year. One time my sister, Katie, ate a whole quart jar in one sitting. Oy — that makes my guts churn.

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So it’s just me here, and I don’t have bushels of cucumbers coming out of a garden (not this summer at least), so I modified Granny’s recipe to serve my needs. Smaller recipe. I also added some more exotic spices for fun and sliced the cukes for easier use later. Granny always does them whole, but then you end up cutting them once they’ve brined. Saving a step…

Go wash your hands and let’s do this.

What you’ll need:

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  • 2 pint jars with rings and lids, clean
  • 1 pint of water (Granny likes well water, as in water from a well. If you are in Manhattan and have access to that, you send me a text right now.)
  • ½ pint of vinegar (Granny likes 7% acidity, but really that’s for cleaning toilets; 5% is fine.)
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brining spice (You can find this or assemble your own. If making your own, assemble things you like: a whisper of cinnamon bark, peppercorns, coriander, fennel seed, dill seed, bay leaf – all whole.)
  • 5 decent size Kirby cucumbers
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/8 of a red onion
  • Dill sprigs
  • Serrano pepper
  1. Put a pot on the stove full of water – it should be at least 7 inches deep. 8 is better. Put your jars, lids and rings in the pot (disassembled, of course). Let her rip. Bring to a boil and let it boil as you do some prep work.IMG_1216
  2. Do you have a mandolin? Good. Put it on the curvy blade. Set the depth to a quarter of an inch. Slice up your cucumbers carefully. Every time I use a mandolin in front of someone, they’re like, “Don’t cut your fingers!” No shit? Be careful though. You can also just use a knife. The world won’t end; they just won’t have that fun wavy texture.IMG_1258IMG_1268
  3. Slice your garlic cloves in half. You will want to see them in the sides of the jar. Presentation is important.
  4. Sliver pieces of onion, but don’t separate them. Again, presentation.
  5. Slice the Serrano into thin pieces. You will want to distribute these well so you don’t end up with a mouth scorcher in one pickle bite.IMG_1277
  6. Grab some tongs. Pull the jars out of the boiling cauldron. Put 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and ½ tablespoon of brining season into the bottom of the jar.IMG_1299IMG_1321
  7. In a saucepan, assemble the water, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  8. Begin assembling vegetables in the jars. Layer them so the garlic, onions and dill are clearly visible through the sides. Leave about a ½ inch space from the top of the jar.
  9. Without burning yourself (good luck), add the water/vinegar/sugar liquid to the vegetable jars leaving at least a ¼ inch space at the top. With tongs, put the lid with the rubber ring facing down on the jars. Put the ring on top and screw that sucker down. DON’T touch anything on the inside of the lid or ring with your dirty paws.IMG_1352IMG_1373 IMG_1382.jpfg
  10. Time to process. No, this is not a psychological step. Put a cooling or other wire rack, or even just some spare rings from other jars on the bottom of the pot that you sterilized the jars in. Put your vegetable jars on top. Add water to sufficiently cover the jars and bring back to boil (water should still be very hot so this should be quick. Unless you’re super slow.) Once a nice little simmer is achieved, let process for 8 minutes.
  11. Take the jars out after processing and just set them somewhere in earshot. You’ll want to hear a little <pop> from them as they cool. If you don’t hear the pop, put that jar in the fridge. Let it sit for a week and then consume. You should hear the pop. Let these stand for a few weeks. The longer the better.

Now go enjoy! This is The Gentleman Caller signing off for now.

xoxo

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