Saturday, January 24, 2009

Storing the Surplus

Many times in the past I've made jars of pickled eggs. So easy to make, and they will keep for several months. If wishing to have 'white' pickled eggs, use the clear 'white' distilled vinegar, if using the brown vinegar this colours the eggs brown. They taste just the same, although I prefer them when white.
Only very fresh eggs should be pickled, although fine up to a week old, and in fact it is very difficult to shell really fresh eggs that have been hard-boiled. Ideally - once boiled - plunge the eggs in cold water, then very gently crack the shells all over, replacing into fresh cold water. With a little care, once a piece of the shell and inner membrane has been removed, the shells squeezed VERY gently, the water then seeps between the shell and the egg and after a few minutes the shell should slide off rather than have to be picked off bit by bit.
Put the bay leaves and cloves in the jar because as well as adding flavour, they also look pretty.
Good jars to use are the re-cycled wide-topped ones such as large mayo jars.
Pickled Eggs:
1 pint (500-600ml) spiced pickling vinegar
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
12 small hard-boiled eggs
Put the spiced vinegar into a pan with the bay leaves and cloves, cover and simmer for five minutes. Shell the eggs and place into a sterilised screwtop jar. Cool the vinegar slightly then pour the vinegar over the eggs and leave to cool. Cover jar with a piece of clingfilm, then screw on an airtight lid. Chill in the fridge for 2 - 3 days before eating.
If you prefer, no need to chill, just store the eggs in their jar in a cool part of the kitchen and eat sliced for sandwiches, with salads or a Ploughman's.

This next is a deli speciality. Worth making if you have occasion to be given a large piece of fresh salmon. Adjust the ingredients according to the weight of salmon you have.
Gravad Lax:
3 lb (1.5kg) fresh salmon
large bunch fresh dill or parsley
1 tblsp coarse (sea or rock) salt OR...
...1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp white pepper
Scrape the scales off the salmon, slice it in half along the length and remove the centre bone. Rinse both halves well, and pat dry.
Place one half, skin-side down in a deepish dish, wash, drain and and coarsely chop the chosen herb and sprinkle this on top of the salmon in the dish. Mix together the salt, sugar and pepper, then sprinkle this over the herbs, and top with remaining fillet, skin side up. Cover fish with cooking foil and weight it down with a board and two preserving jars filled with water (or preserves - or use any comparable weights). Place in the fridge and leave for 3 days, turning the fillets every 12 hours, and basting the fish with the juices collecting in the bottom of the dish.
To serve, place one salmon fillet on a wooden board, scraping off the herbs and seasonings. Serve cut into very thin slices with freshly toasted bread and a green salad.

Quite often butter is sold at reduced prices. It freezes well, but can also be 'improved' by adding savoury ingredients to softened butter, then reforming into blocks, rolls or balls. Herb and spice butters are normally sliced and added as a topping to a steak or chop (or similar) but can also be spread on canapes or on bread as the base for a sarnie. Some of the savoury butters would be excellent spread on toast. As they freeze well, they can also be made towards the end of the year to add to a Christmas Food hamper to give to a 'gourmet-style' cook.
The most economical way to make these flavoured butters is when you have surplus herbs, spices etc that can do with being used up. As the recipes all used 4 oz (100g) softened butter, am just giving the additional ingredients/method and variations.
Savoury Butters: based on 4 oz (100g) softend butter
garlic butter: nix in 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice and a pinch of white pepper.
mustard butter: beat in 1 tblsp English mustard, 4 drops Tabasco, and dash of Worcestershire sauce.
paprika butter: work in half tsp icing sugar, half tsp tomato puree, pinch cayenne pepper, and 1 tblsp paprika pepper.
red pepper butter: beat in pinch ground ginger, 4 drops Tabasco, then mix in 3 tblsp finely chopped red pepper. Form into a tube, chill then roll in finely chopped parsley.
horseradish butter: beat in 1 - 2 tblsp creamed horseradish and a pinch of sugar.
herb butter: beat in pinch each pepper and sugar. 1 tsp lemon juice, and 3 tblsp mixed chopped fresh herbs.