Warm Summer days are gone… and Fall is threatening to turn to Winter faster than this wee lady might like so spending time in my nice warm kitchen is definitely something I look forward to these days.
As most of my Gentle Visitors might have noticed, I kinda “spaced out” this whole last month and let all of October… Halloween included… slip completely right on by without sharing any new posts or any of my usual fun and hijinks. For that I’m sorry… seems I’m still continuing my wrestling with lethargy and my nasty “blaaaaah” feelings more than I’d like to admit. D’ohhh…. 😦
Yep. My poor lil’ noggin’ is still fighting the blues. But… if there’s one thing that can get me excited through all this, it’s yummy curry. Sweet, spicy, freakishly hot curry. Thanks to that wonderful stuff, at least my taste buds are lively these days….
Recently I even had one of my “midnight epiphanies” that led to a brand new culinary experiment. Wanna hear all about it? Why of course you do…. after all, who can pass up the wonderous miracle that is curry? 😉
“Midnight Epiphanies”…. about curry? Yep… I kid you not. To explain what I’m talking about, I have to let you in on another of this crazy Catgirl’s lil’ quirks. I’m a pretty firm believer in the magic of Dreams… Really. Always have been since I was a wee girl. Honestly… I think dreams are truly powerful things. Like having your own personal “movies’ that play in your head while you sleep… and you get to star in them too! I mean… who wouldn’t think they were magic?
Me? Well, I’ve always had very vivid dreams and as far back as I can remember I’ve always seen them as important personal messages. Even the crazy cartoony and downright silly ones. So ever since I was a wee girl, I’ve always kept a notebook on my bedside table ready for whenever one of those particularly intense ones choose to visit me at night and bestow its Mysteries. Sometimes they are just goofy and downright strange but sometimes I get lucky and something really nice bubbles up out of my subconscious… and a few weeks back I got visited by one of those.
Carolyn’s gotten used to these by now… and she knows all the signs. When I’m having one of these really vivid dream experiences I tend to get restless in my sleep, moving around the bed, whispering and talking to myself and getting up to all sorts of nonsense. She can usually calm me down by snuggling close and wrapping her arms around me, but sooner or later I’ll awaken with my dream vividly fresh and immediate in my mind. If I’m lucky enough to do it without wakening her too, I’ll slip out of bed and grab my trusty notebook and slip out to the living room couch to write it all down while I can still remember it. I get some of my neater ideas this way. Cosplay designs, solutions to problems that are bugging me, and even occasionally recipes… Like this particular one. 😉
What set this one-off I’ve no idea… but once I wrote it all out and revisited it over the next couple days I just knew I had to give it a whirl. And boy… am I glad I did!
So without further adieu, here’s you favorite Catgirl Princess’s very own recipe for “Sweet & Spicy Hot Curried Pickles”.
You’ll need a couple of quart canning jars for this, and of course that means washing and sterilizing them really well right before you begin. We’re not going to be actually canning or preserving here… this is more a quick refrigerator pickling thing, but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. 😉
I made a mélange of cauliflower florets along with carrot chips and onion pieces for my main attempt… but knowing I’d have lots of brine, I also decided to do some cucumber spears for a second jar too. Hey… remember… variety is the spice of life after all!!
So lets see… first you stuff your newly sterile jars with raw veggies.
Jar Number 1: Cauliflower florets, carrot chips, onion pieces… along with the first of my crazy dream ingredients, a few dried apple slices… and for an extra zippy bit of heat, a julienned Thai pepper, seeds and all. I also slipped in a couple of cinnamon bark strips as well and packed them pretty tight up to within 3/4 of an inch of the top.
Jar Number 2: Here I kept things simple. I sliced a few baby cucumbers into spears and packed those along with a couple of those dried apple slices as well as the cinnamon bark strips and another julienned Thai pepper leaving that 3/4 in. head space here as well.
Both jars each then get their spices.
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger pulp
1 tsp. Malaysian sambal olek (Totally optional… but it will make this really zippy!)
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seed
1 tsp. whole coriander seed
1 tbsp. regular ol’ curry powder
1 tsp. good garam masala
1 tbsp. Hot curry paste. (Or mild paste if you are less a fan of the heat…)
1 tsp. Mexican ground annato powder (A yellow/ orange food colorant used in Mexican saffron rice. Optional, but nice… as my pictures show you. 🙂 )
Yep… I know that’s a whole lotta spice… but trust me, it’ll be worth it. 😉
Then take a saucepan and we’ll make our pickling brine. Start with 2 cups of cider vinegar and the next crazy dream idea…. 2 cups of a good apple cider. Add 2 tsp. of coarse salt and 2 tbsp. of brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a light boil, stirring as you do to dissolve all the salt and sugar. Turn it off and then ladle the piping hot brine into the jars to fill them to within 1/2 an inch of the top. Screw on the lids and band and after inverting the jars once or twice to mix and distribute all that spice, slip them into the fridge to chill. You should have just enough brine if you’ve packed your jars well, but if needed, just make a little more to top them off if you have to.
The jars will actually seal as they cool, and the lids will pop down nicely. All that’s left is to let them hang out in the fridge for about two weeks (or three, if you really want the spices to work their wonders) reaching in and gently inverting the jars now and again to remix that spice every day or so before you crack them open for crunchy curried goodness. Mmmmmm!!!
I just opened mine this week, and they turned out just as yummy as my dream suggested they would be. Sweet and exotically hot with that nice sour pickly taste I was looking for. The make really great appetizers and sides for some of my Indian cooking. Heck… I just like sneaking a little dish for nibbling on Movie Nite along with a wine cooler.
The veggies will be fairly crisp in texture, but if you like your pickles a little softer, give the veggies a short boil before draining them and packing them in the jars. They’ll absorb more brine and spice that way making them spicier quicker, but even with that, this wee lady prefers the crispness and crunch of them when you start with them raw. A personal thing I guess. 🙂
Carolyn finds them interesting but a bit hotter than she prefers… although Sam absolutely loved the jar I brought to work to share. They were a big hit at the restaurant, and it’s looking like I might be able to use them as a side dish for a broiled fish entrée I’m planning for next month.
And…. I’ve a notion for trying to make a version with a slightly different spice profile featuring Moroccan harissa in place of curry. Hehehe…. see… Dreams really are the gift that keeps on giving.
Well. That’s it for this time out. Hopefully I’ll get the ambition to get back to Reviews soon, as I’ve more than a few in rough draft. It’s just a matter of me settling down and actually finish them. Till then, “Meow, meow for now!”