14 June 2012

Pickled serranos


I recently discovered how hard it is to do home microbiology when the weather heats up. I wanted to try my hand at pickling a few other items, beyond sauerkraut, but sadly the heat led me to grow a lot of fungus. I'll have to wait until fall.

But dinner does not wait, and acidic condiments are the perfect counterpoint to greasy, smokey meat. Think coleslaw with pulled pork, and kimchi with bo ssäm.

So let's make a bright and spicy condiment, quick pickled serrano peppers.


I modified Lisa Fain's recipe, over at Homesick Texan. I substituted the vinegar in her recipe for sherry and rice vinegars. They make an uglier pickle (the vinegar is darker) but in my opinion and tastier one.
½ lb serranos, chopped
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp mustard seed
½ tsp whole cloves
½ tsp whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
Mix the vinegars and seasoning. Bring to a boil.

Pickling juice

Pack the peppers into the smallest non-reactive container you can fit them in.

Chopped serrano

Pour the hot pickle juice over the peppers, and allow to cool on the counter.

Pickling serrano

Then cover and place in the fridge. Serve as soon as 24 hours later. These quick pickles are bright, sweet and spicy. They are fantastic on sandwiches and on pizza, or next to a smoked brisket. And I'm trading them for some homemade Vietnamese hot oil. Not bad for 15 minutes of work.

Pickled serranos

Next time I'm throwing in a few spears of asparagus to soak up the pepper juice. Yum.


09 June 2012

A perfect gin for a perfect afternoon

Cold River gin

On a recent trip to Maine to visit friends we were fortunate to start the meal with Maine lobster, and end the meal with Maine gin. At a small distillery in Maine, they produce a gin using potatoes sourced from a nearby farm.
Cold River Gin is produced using alcohol made from Maine potatoes and a secret blend of seven traditional botanicals: juniper berries, coriander, lemon peel, orange peel, orris root, angelica root and cardamom. The recipe dates back to the early days of British gin.
The flavor is floral and bright, with a smoothness not found in other gins. Indeed, after a sip of Cold River gin, other gins seem metallic in comparison.

This gin has replaced all others for me for a gin and tonic. And on a beautiful day of barbecuing, nothing beats a nice cold beverage.


05 June 2012



Sometimes, a plan just doesn't work out. Our recent trip to Brooklyn was kind of a disaster. In addition to messed up dinner reservations (who knew that Fatty Cue had two locations? and that one of them was closed?), we also had the excitement of a surprise attack of strep throat half way through the trip. All of a sudden, Bbq Jr had a raging fever and was exhausted. (Pro tip for recognizing a fever in a little boy? When the armor section at the Met is uninteresting to him).

Right, so after some naps, and a fair amount of tylenol and advil for fever control, we traipsed out for dinner. I'd heard that Isa was good, and it was empty at 6 o'clock (early for New Yorkers, perfect for the fever family).

The menu at Isa is quite simple. Bread. Ham. Cheese. Yeah, that ham? It's La Quercia shaved prosciutto. No biggie. With a "Rhubix Cuke" (a rhubarb-cucumber-gin cocktail) it made for a promising start. I hadn't planned on blogging this meal, so there aren't many pictures. But by the end of the meal, it was clear that I should have been photographing dinner. Each dish was beautiful.

Isa inside

They've also got a fairly unusual wine list. This is the first place I'd ever tried an orange wine. Orange wine is when you start out making a white wine, but let the grapes sit on the skins to soak out the color. I found the flavor interesting, if a bit green tasting. Glad I tried it, but quickly switched to red.

Steak tartare on a sunchoke paste was easily the best tartare I've ever had. But this was the most beautiful dish of the night:
Isa squid

A whole roasted squid served with ink and sauce. I wish I had loved this dish, because it is so beautiful. But much like a whole roasted turkey, a whole grilled squid is a pretty silly thing to serve. Parts were beautifully cooked, and parts were overcooked. It was good, but not as good as it looks.

We ended the meal with a beautiful pork and blood sausage dish that was delicious. Followed by rhubarb with earl grey ice cream, this memorable meal was one of the best parts of our trip.

UPDATE: Isa just fired their kitchen staff. What a crying shame. This fantastic little restaurant won't be the same.

348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, New York
(347) 689-3594
Mon-Sat 6 pm - 11:30 pm
Sun 6 pm - 10 pm

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