I am back! First off, sorry for my longer than expected absence. I had the opportunity of staying at the in-laws' for an extra week and jumped at it. I mean, a long lie in, fresh squeezed orange juice and perfectly brewed coffee, homemade marmalade on beautifully toasted bread doesn't come my way often... and a full week of this was too good to pass up! Yes, my in-laws rock!
I had a blast in Terrace with my friend and family and wanted to take the opportunity to relax and recharge completely. But now its back to the real world again, and its catching up quickly. Aditi starts Junior Kindergarten early September, and its left me scratching my head as to where the time has gone. It feels like only yesterday I was toting around a 7 lb baby, and now I can barely pick her up without throwing my back out :-) So for the first time, I am back-to-school shopping, and I can tell you, this is one chore I will happily cross off my list of favourite things to do. Who knew there were so many people in Edmonton? And that they are all in South Common shopping? And they all have the kids in tow? Online shopping, here I come!
So I decided to hide at home for a few days. Kay's been away on conference for a few days, and I decided to take the opportunity to tackle the steadily growing mound of courgettes, or zucchini as they are known here.
When Kay planted that plant, I expected a couple of courgettes perhaps every a fortnight. The reality has been that I have been harvesting one every two days. Thank heavens we only have the one plant! You can practically watch these things grow, they are so quick and prolific.
We've had everything from vegetarian chili to courgette pakoras. I grated and froze some, so I could use them to make zucchini bread in the winter. The neighbours are getting sick of them too! But I hate wasting any food, so I had to figure out what to do with the steadily growing pile in my fridge.
Then Kay suggested pickling them. And I was like, why not? I mean, courgettes are pretty close to cucumbers, so if cukes can make dill pickles, why not courgettes? I looked up some recipes, and one of the concerns seemed to be that they would get mushy if pickled. But then I stumbled upon Judy Rodger's recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. And that sealed it for me, really. The Zuni Cafe roast chicken is simply the best thing I've ever eaten. So of course, I was quite keen to try out the courgette pickle recipe too. Plus, these were refrigerator pickles, so I wouldn't have to faff about with sterilizing and processing the pickles.
So I made them. Now when I make pickles, I always pop a few slices into a small container, so I can sneak a taste before opening up a full jar. I cannot tell you how delighted I was with the taste of these pickles! And I am not even the pickle fiend in the family. The pickles were crisp as can be, to boot. I can see these going on everything from roasts to burgers. And I cannot wait.
I adapted the recipe a little bit as I had more courgettes than the recipe asked for. Plus, I made a few more modifications, so I am posting it up here. The actual recipe is in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook that I had borrowed from the library, but I think I will have to invest in my own copy very soon, I love the recipes that much.
Adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Preparing the courgettes:
2 lbs (roughly 1 kg) courgettes (zucchini)
1 large onion
3 tbsp kosher salt
Cold water and ice cubes
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1½ cups sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
3 tsp dried mustard powder
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds, crushed lightly
Around 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Thinly slice the courgettes into rounds. Ideally they would be sliced with a mandoline, but I don't have one. I was extra careful, and the courgettes were neatly sliced using a small serrated vegetable knife.
Cut the onion in half and thinly slice it.
Place the sliced onion and courgettes in a large bowl. Whisk the salt with some cold water, and pour it over the courgettes, gently stirring it in using your fingers or a spatula. Place the ice cubes in the bowl with the courgettes, then pour over enough cold water to cover the onion and courgettes completely. Keep aside for an hour.
To make the pickling brine, put the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard powder and seeds and turmeric in a large pot. Whisk together, and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for about 3 minutes. Keep a sharp eye on this mixture as it can boil over very quickly (yes, I found this out from experience) One simmered, place aside to let it cool down until lukewarm.
Drain the courgettes and onion, and dry them as thoroughly as you can using kitchen paper or dish towels. The less water on the courgettes, the crisper they will remain.
Carefully transfer the courgettes and onions into jars that have been washed with hot water and dried well. I stuffed two 500ml Bernardin Mason jars + a little was left over that I put into a small Glad container. Very carefully pour the just warm brine into the jars over the courgettes and onions, shaking the jars ocasionally to make sure the brine covers the vegetables completely. Screw on lids, and let cool completely before placing them in the refrigerator. Let them mature for a couple days before eating.
The pickles should keep for at least three months in the fridge (I doubt they will last that long here though!)