Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles
(Zanahorias en escabeche)

I love the spicy carrots on the salsa bar when we go for tacos. So much so, a couple years back I asked The Google for some recipes. I found one that was okay at the time, but haven’t made it since.
We’re having a Fiesta Friday potluck at the office this week. (Because although we appreciate the alliteration of a Taco Tuesday, none of us has the time for an office party on a Tuesday.) I made carnitas and wanted some cebollas en escabeche to go along. That got me thinking about those carrots again. YouTube is overflowing with awesome home cooks making their zanahorias. I always wondered why there was a tiny bit of oil in the pickle juice – and now I know. The veg are lightly sauteed before adding the vinegar. Dur. Makes perfect sense.

My searches also garnered the Spanish dish by the same name, and it was interesting to see the differences – thyme and pimenton, cook the carrots a little longer. No hot peppers. I’m thinking the Mexican version is a post-colonial smoosh – but, hey. I am no food anthropologist. Anywho, this was maybe twenty minutes start to finish. I bet you have the ingredients already. These stay good a couple weeks in the fridge – if they last that long. Make some today to have ready for your Taco Tuesday. You can totally eat these the same day, but they certainly get better the longer they soak in that gorgeous escabeche.

Zanahorias en escabeche
Makes about 3 cups.
1# carrots, peeled and sliced in to ¼” thick diagonal ovals.
3 jalapenos, halved
½ large white onion, sliced in ¼” thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, slightly smooshed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp. black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano leaves
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. white vinegar
1 ½ c. water
(sal al gusto)

In a large non-reactive skillet on medium, heat the oil, pepppercorns, bay, oregano, and the garlic until you can smell the garlic. Then, add everything but the water and the vinegar. Stir around (you do not want this to brown) for a minute or two until you see the onions are starting to soften. Pour in the water and vinegar, and simmer until the jalapenos are done – they will change from a deep green to an olive green.
While that is simmering, prepare your container. You want something that can handle hot liquid – I used glass with those snappy silicone gasket lids. Just be sure to heat up the container with some hot water before you dump in your pickles. (Just imagine cold glass and hot liquid. Yeah.)
When the jalapenos are done, scoop all the veg in to your prepared container. Then, pour in just enough of the liquid to cover them. You will most likely have extra liquid at the end. Toss it. Or use it to make a vinaigrette.

That’s it. You’re done. Cool it. Label it & pop it in the fridge and enjoy.
PS – all the recipes I saw added salt to these puppies, but I think this is plenty flavorful without. But add some if you like!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the red onion and the chile de arbol in the knolled pic – I made some cebollas en escabeche at the same time. But those are already a blog post…

Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes

When I was growing up, mashed and vegetables together meant one thing: potatoes. Then I went to Paris – they call it a purée there. And you can purée lots besides potatoes – carrots were quite popular. Then I had a friend from New England tell me how her family always had mashed turnips instead of potatoes for the big feasts.  Food is so awesome – a virtual root cellar full of possible variations.

Take one bag of frozen cauliflower....
Take one bag of frozen cauliflower….

Forgoeing mashed potatoes when Himself had to change his diet was probably the most traumatic thing for me. Mashed potatoes are their own food group in my family. But, luckily there’s the interwebs. And friends.  Through some trial and error, I’ve come up with a great flavorful creamy purée that we look forward to at our house.  I’ve had a couple friends ask for the recipe, so here it is – Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes.  Although we just call this cauli mash at our house.  I was hoping if I fi-fi-chi-chi’d up the name a little, it would fancify things a bit.  Now, before you go any further please take heed: this is not mashed potatoes.  Let me repeat:  this. is. not. mashed. potatoes.  If you want something that tastes like mashed potatoes, you will need to actually eat mashed potatoes.

What this IS (caveat aside) is a delicious, rich, smooth purée that captures the slight sweetness of the cauliflower and garlic and which has a lovely creamy texture that goes great with roasted or grilled meats. 

CauliMash1MED
A little butter, a little garlic, a little sour cream, some herbs ….with and “h”.

 

Honestly, if we could eat real cheese in our house, I would totally put this in a buttered casserole and toss it in the oven with some cheddar on top. That would be freaking amazing. … …. if we could eat cheese. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Cheese. Damn my dairy-rejecting genes. Bastards.

CauliMash3MED
With a little daub of Kerrygold butter, of course. Because butter.

 

 

I really hope you try this one. If you like cauliflower, this is an awesome and fast side dish that will fill the craving for creamy spudnicks without a starchy overload. And remember it has herbs. With a fucking “H” in it. Try it!

Ingredients
1 20oz package generic frozen cauliflower
1 fat or 2 small cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sour cream or cream cheese (or, if you live at our house, Tofutti sour cream)
2 tsp. Penzey’s “Buttermilk” seasoning blend (or italian herbs if you don’t have Penzey’s lying about.)
Instructions
Put the cauliflower and the garlic in ‘wave safe bowl, covered, in the microwave on high until it’s quite soft and hot. That takes 9 minutes in my wave. Drain off any water that come out during cooking.
Put that and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor. (Or the kitchen robot, if we keep up our Frenchie trend.)
Pulse until it’s a delightful smooth concoction; you may need to stop and scrape down your sides. Don’t go too far, I’ve heard you wind up with a gluey mess. I’ve not experienced that, but best to stop before that happens

Servings 3
Calories 138
Fat 10 g
Sodium 66 mg
Carbs 11 g
Protein 4 g