Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bread & Butter Pickles – One of the Great Depression’s Greatest Hits

During the Great Depression, sandwiches weren’t quite what they are today. Forget about choice of aioli, or did you want roast tri tip or smoked turkey; back then it was more like, “Did you want cucumbers in your sandwich, or nothing in your sandwich?” Okay, cucumbers it is.

At the end of summer, the excess "cuc" crop was sliced, salted, pickled, and put up in jars for the cold, lean months ahead. If you thought summer Depression-era sandwiches sucked, it was much worse in winter, when you couldn’t even find a bland vegetable to slap between your slices of buttered bread.

I can just imagine what a treat it must have been to fill a sandwich with these sweet crunchy coins, or "bread and butter pickles," as they came to be known. I’m sure it was a wonderful break from what must have been a fairly flavorless existence. Happily, times are a bit better now, and we only make these because they taste really good.

So, make a batch, experience a little piece of American culinary history, and as you’re tossing them on that burger, think back to what those days must have been like. I mean, especially with no YouTube! I hope you give these bread & butter pickles  a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 2 pints:
2 lbs pickling or other firm, little cucumbers
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 red jalapeno pepper, sliced
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lattice Top Peach Pie – How to Weave Dough Like a Dream

We are right in the middle of peach season, and what better way to show them off, than in this classic, lattice-top pie? And by classic, I mean the peek-a-boo crust design, not the filling, which has a few ingredients that are definitely not classic.

By the way, if you’re peaches are too ripe to peel, then you can remove the skin by cutting an “X” on the bottom and dipping in boiling water. Of course, if they’re really ripe and juicy, you probably shouldn’t be making pie with them anyway. Those are the kind of peaches where you take off your shirt and just eat them over the sink.

Above and beyond beautiful, this lattice design is also very practical. When you’re making pie with something like peaches, the relatively open top allows for lots of moisture to evaporate, which helps prevent the dreaded “watery pie syndrome.” That’s also the reason we boil the excess juices down to a syrup. 

So, whether you use this lattice-top technique for a peach pie, or other juicy fruits, I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for One 10-inch Pie:
about 3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2 lbs 12 oz once trimmed)
1 cup white sugar, divided
tiny pinch of salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of cinnamon
enough pie dough for a double crust pie (get recipe here)
- Bake at 350 F. until browned and bubbling. Mine took about 1 hour 15 minutes, but I peek a lot)