Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bread and Butter Pickles

Based on a family recipe and the techniques demonstrated in the video recipe for "Bread and Butter Pickles -- One of the Great Depressions Greatest Hits" from Food Wishes, August 26, 2014. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two. Makes about 8 pints.

If you are going to can the pickles, review Internet sites with instructions on canning so you are familiar with the procedure and the precautions you need to take to prevent spoilage.


5 pounds pickling cucumbers
3 medium yellow onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
 ⅓ cup kosher salt

3 cups white (distilled) vinegar
5 cups sugar
1½  teaspoons turmeric
1½ teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed


  1. Rinse the cucumbers and slice into 3/16-inch thick slices. (Anywhere between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick should be fine.) You should have about 4 quarts of sliced cucumbers.
  2. Peel the onions and slice them parallel to the equators to the same thickness as the cucumbers. Cut the slices into sections so each onion segment is no more than an inch or so long.
  3. Rinse the peppers and remove the stem and core. Cut them into pieces about the same size as the onion pieces.
  4. Combine the cucumbers, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for three hours or cover with ice and leave on the counter.
  5. Rinse the vegetables well to remove excess salt.
  6. Place clean pint mason jars in a Dutch oven, open side down, with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a sub-simmer.
  7. Place jar lids in a small sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a sub-simmer.
  8. To make the pickling liquid, combine the remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat.
  9. Add the cucumber mixture to the hot pickling liquid and return to a boil, ensuring that the vegetables are all submerged. Add extra vinegar and sugar if needed.
  10. Turn the heat down so the mixture is at a slow simmer.
  11. Carefully remove a hot pint jar from the Dutch oven, drain, and fill with pickles using a canning funnel. Fill with pickling liquid to within ¼-inch of the top.
  12. Using a skewer or knife, poke down the pickles to remove air bubbles.
  13. Wipe the top of the jar and threads clean, carefully add a hot lid from the hot saucepan, close with a ring, and set aside to cool.
  14. You should hear each of the lids snap as they seal. When they have cooled, press down on each lid to ensure it has sealed. If it has the lid will not flex. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated.
Rinse pickling cucumbers.
Slice the cucumbers.
Slice the onions and quarter the slices.
Cut the peppers into pieces similar in size to the onion.
Combine the vegetables, add salt, and let sit (chilled) for 3 hours.
Rinse the salted vegetables to remove excess salt.
Combine ingredients for pickling liquid and bring to a boil.
Add vegetables, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
Sterilize canning lids in boiling water.

Sterilize pint mason jars in boiling water.
Fill the jar with pickles and liquid.
Remove air bubbles.
Clean the rim of the jar.

Add the rim, screw on the ring, and set aside to cool and seal.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

American Onion Soup

Based on a video recipe for "American French Onion Soup—Easy Just Got Easier" from Food Wishes, April 24, 2012. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.

Notes: Chef John, in the original recipe, used a mixture of Monterey Jack and Sharp Cheddar cheeses. I chose to go traditional and use Gruyere. If you don't have a broiler-safe soup bowl you can create the raft of cheesy toast by toasting the bread in your toaster, covering it with grated cheese, and melting the cheese in the microwave. Use high quality, low sodium broths. Makes about 2½ quarts soup.



6 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Table salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
4 cups beef broth
4 cups chicken broth
Gruyere cheese


  1. Peel the onions and cut into large dice (½- to 1-inch).
  2. Heat oven to 425° with a rack in the middle position.
  3. In a large oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt.
  5. Stir to coat all of the onion in the melted butter.
  6. Move the onions to the oven and cook until well caramelized, soft, and sweet, stirring every 15 minutes.  About 90 minutes.
  7. Move the pan to stove over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and brown fond forms on the bottom of the pan, about 30 minutes.
  8. Add the sherry and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  9. When the liquid has almost all evaporated transfer the onions to a large sauce pan.
  10. Add the thyme, chicken broth, and beef broth, 
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, skimming and discarding any fat or foam that rises to the surface.
  12. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 1 hour.
  13. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  14. Remove the thyme stems from the soup and discard.
  15. Slice some hearty white bread, coat it with butter, and toast under the broiler.
  16. Fill a heat-proof bowl or ramekin with soup, top with the toast and ⅓ cup shredded cheese.
  17. Place under the broiler (about 6 inches away) and cook about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  18. Serve and enjoy.

Peel 6 large yellow onions then cut into large dice.
Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet, add onion, and stir to coat.
Cook the onion in the oven until soft and well caramelized.
Cook the caramelized onion on the stove until browned and a fond has formed.
Deglaze with sherry and combine onions with broths and thyme.
Bring to a boil then simmer.
Serve in bowls topped with toast and cheese which has melted under the broiler.