Dill Pickles

Dill pickles are my favourite.  Of all the flavours I miss from the States, they’re at the top of my list.  The first time I tried a dill pickle in the U.K. I was surprised by how sweet it was.  I’ve tried many others since, but none live up to the crunchy, garlicky, vingeary goodness of my youth.

For a while when I was a kid, I went through a phase of only eating matzo ball soup or reuben sandwiches. Luckily for me, my parents had a house account at Greenblatt’s Deli.  I ordered food from there all the time.  I ordered it so much that when went I went to college my dad called them to place a delivery one day and when the driver arrived at the house he was surprised to find someone other than me at the door.  “Where’s the little girl?” Yves wanted to know.  Each time I’d come home for the holidays, I would go to Greenblatt’s to get my fill of pastrami and pickles.

Here is my refrigerator pickle recipe.  I’m too greedy and impatient to let anything ferment properly.  I simply cannot wait that long.  Like the dill pickles I love , these have a sharpness that are sure to “make your toikey poikey” as the Vlasic pelican would say.

p.s. I have Russian friends who swear drinking pickle juice is the best hangover cure.

 

Ingredients:

1 pint jar with a lid, washed and sterilized

3-4 Persian or Kirby cucumbers

2 smashed garlic cloves

1 tsp mustard yellow seeds

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp dill seeds

a few stems of fresh dill (these aren’t necessary as the dill flavour comes from the seeds, but I like the way the fresh dill looks–like seaweed swaying in a briny current)

1/2 c cider vinegar (for a bit of sweetness)

1/2 c white wine vinegar (for sharpness)

1 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp salt

optional: 1 tsp of sugar if you really want

Method:

Place the garlic, mustard seeds, dill seeds, and dill weed in the bottom of your jar.

Next, wash and dry the cucumbers then cut off their blossom ends.  If you don’t,  your pickles might go soggy.  Quarter the cucumbers and put them in the jar, packing them as tight as you can.  If you have to trim them so their tops don’t stick out, do so.

In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegars, salt, and sugar if you’re using it, to a boil.  Once a rolling boil has been reached, take the brine off the heat.  Pour it over the cucumbers leaving a 1/2″ of head room.  Seal the jar and let it come to room temperature then place it in the refrigerator.  Try to wait at least 2 days before cracking it open.  I never can, but the flavour does intensify the longer you can leave it on a refrigerator shelf.

Small side note:  I usually can’t fit 4 cucumbers in a jar, but I always need more than 3.  What I like to do is top up my cucumber spears each time I take one out.

pickles

 

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Crab Cakes for Lenny Bruce

Recently, I walked through the aisles of my local supermarket and was horrified when I stumbled upon the American section.  Imagine a few shelves packed with every manner of preservative and artificial color.  Everything from Fruity Pebbles to Nerds and Cheetos to Pop Tarts and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.  Basically, food for children.  Or stoned people.  I was so embarrassed I had to walk away.  I didn’t want other shoppers to think I was contemplating putting any of these items into my basket.  Then I saw the Boylan’s Black Cherry Soda and I couldn’t resist.  I also couldn’t help thinking about Lenny Bruce.

In the 1960s, Bruce neologized Jewish and Goyish as part of his act.  In it, he included many foods.  Black cherry soda being one of them and to me the most memorable.  Probably because as a kid it was my favorite drink to order when eating Reuben sandwiches at Greenblatt’s.

Kool-Aid is goyish. All Drake’s cakes are goyish. Pumpernickel is Jewish, and, as you know, white bread is very goyish. Instant potatoes–goyish. Black cherry soda’s very Jewish. Macaroons are very Jewish–very Jewish cake. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime jello is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.”  This is what played out in my head as I stood mouth agape looking at the black cherry soda of my youth.  I started to feel self-conscious with all the passersby witnessing my struggle.   

Eventually I put the indecision to an end and put the bottle of Boylan’s in my basket.  I headed for the check out and drank my soda with relish on the way home.  When it was finished, I hid the evidence of my crime against acceptable cuisine in some random recycling bin on the street.  I wanted no evidence to shame my English family.

Then the snob in me surfaced.  Sure I might have been purchasing crap from the American section of the grocery store but I was buying Jewish crap, not Goyish. Not that any English person would necessarily know the difference.  Nor any Goy.  But I knew and this made me feel superior.

When I came home, I had Lenny Bruce on the brain and that night his spirit found its way into my cooking.  Throughout his career, Bruce was frequently arrested under charges of obscenity.  And as obscene as he was charged for being, I topped that in the kitchen by making the most unkosher thing imaginable(not that I’m kosher).  Crab cakes with creme fraiche on top.

Lenny, I dedicate this obscenely good crab cake recipe to you and if you were around, I’d invite over for dinner so you wouldn’t have to be all alone.

Ingredients:  

1/2 a pound of cooked crab meat

2 medium potatoes, peeled, diced, boiled and steam dried

a bunch of dill, chopped

a bunch of chives, chopped

2 tablespoons of capers, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

the zest and juice of a lemon

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

1/4 cup mayonnaise

vegetable oil for frying

salt & pepper

a plate of flour for dredging

a plate of one whisked egg

a plate of bread crumbs (I find 2 pieces of toast is all I need)

 

Method: 

In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with half the herbs, spices, zest, and juice.  Then mix in the crab and incorporate well.

crab mixture

Form the mixture into cakes and refrigerate them about half an hour.  While they are chilling, combine the creme fraiche, mayonnaise, remaining herbs/spices/juice/zest for your sauce.  Set this aside.

crab cakes

Dredge the cakes in flour, then egg, then coat with breadcrumbs.

pre-frying

Place some oil in a large skillet.  Over medium heat, fry the cakes until golden on both sides.

frying

Serve immediately topped with sauce.

crab cakes with sauce