Il Teatro Ristorante

Karlsruhe, right by the Novotel, is a nice little Italian restaurant that I have somehow missed in my many times here. What a shame, as it was delightful.

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The meal started with a nice glass of red that carried through the rest of the meal. Nice and dry.

Then he brought out the Pumpkin Soup, and wow! I’ve had Pumpkin soup more than once Karlsruhe. And usually the spicing is reminiscent of Middle Eastern or Indian cuisine (both of which are delightful). But the soup here was delightfully savory, without much to distract from the pumpkin and goodness. Now, typically, I would make fun of the “everything pumpkin flavored” this time of year. However, this is how pumpkin should be consumed, no question.

Following that came the Bocconcini. Now, that name is apparently odd, seeing as Wikipedia thinks that is a mozzarella ball of a certain variety. There was definitely no mozzarella in sight. Instead, it was a delightful mix of veal and beef, noodles, cognac, Pilze (mushrooms) and Rahmsauce. With a delightful side of vegetables: broccoli, carrots, potatoes and cabbage (buttered, not kraut, yay!).

In any case, thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Passata

4 oz celery

4 lb tomatoes (assorted, ripe, from the garden)

2 green onions

bunch of fresh oregano, more fresh basil

simmer at low temp for 45 minutes (after bringing to a boil)

remove from heat, allow to cool for ten minutes.

use wand to pulse it evenly

tested, and per Kim added 1/2 tsp. of salt.

back on heat to simmer again, then jar

made total of 3 pints (1 quart jar, one pint jar) which I topped in-jar with some olive oil.

hot water bath for 20 min.

beautiful : http://silviascucina.net/2012/07/18/easy-home-made-tomato-passata/

Plenty Of Fig Leaves Means…

deviating from previous recipes (april 2013)

took seven large fig leaves and rinsed them off. added them to pan with 850 mL of water. bring to a boil

Mixed up solution of 400 mL everclear (190 proof) and 450 mL of water – for a total of ~850 mL at 89 proof. (done while it rose to a boil)

once at a boil, removed from heat and let seep for twenty minutes

add 850 mL of sugar to the pan and bring back to solution

mix alcohol and fig leaf tea, store in cool dark place

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

There’s a lot of recipes out there for pickled cherry tomatoes, although most are the quick variety adding vinegar, rather than fermented. And I definitely am shooting for fermented! Of all the recipes I saw, I saw various spices or additions. I also saw different salt to water ratios. So I can’t really say I am following any specific recipe, more just following some general principles.

One of the flavoring systems was a Thai spice mixture, and while intrigued, I am passing on that for now. I am looking more for just the savory sensations of peppercorn, basil and rosemary – so that is what I am going with. And, except for the peppercorns, those are herbs in my garden. That is all the better, in my mind.

My Recipe - Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

My Recipe – Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

My Recipe

I actually have both cherry tomatoes and some Yellow Pear Standard tomatoes, both up to now doing quite well in the garden. I had enough for a quart of each (or just shy, I suppose). We get more daily, though I think the vine for the Yellow Pear Standard is not doing as well. In any case, it only took a couple of days to build up enough for these quarts.

I made up a brine of 1 quart of purified water and about 2.5 Tbsp. of pickling salt. That ratio is a little bit more than my most recent pickles, but not as much as I saw in many other recipes for cherry tomato pickling. After mixing thoroughly, I then set it aside.

I added 6 peppercorns in each of two quart jars. I then filled each jar a third full with its respective tomatoes. Then I added two basil leaves to each, then another third of the jar I filled with tomatoes. Then, I added a short sprig of rosemary to each, followed by the remainder of the tomatoes.

Then, it was time to add the brine, which was easy enough. I then used half-pint jars to weigh down the fruit. There was just a little bit of the brine left, and this I placed in the half-pint jars as extra weight. Then, I rubber banded a wash-rag over each jar combo to keep critters off.

General consensus seems to be around 5 days of fermentation, then cool storage, just as with the pickled squash.

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Oops

What I forgot, until just a bit ago, was to use a toothpick to poke a hole in the tomatoes. This was suggested by almost all recipes I saw, to allow the fermentation to penetrate into the tomatoes better. So I washed up as much as possible, and one at a time emptied each jar into a large measuring  bowl, then skewered each tomato, trying to duplicate the placement of the herbs. What I could not do was get the peppercorns back at bottom.

Otherwise, everything ended back in the jars successfully, with a little bit of mess in the transfer of liquids.

As always, now we wait.

Testing The Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Ugh.

Nasty. I don’t have the heart to just toss it. But I don’t have the stomach to drink it. Kim found it equally (if not more) offensive. One more proof that not every recipe or modification I try turns out well!

Mid-Summer Non-Fermentation

Final Product: Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Final Product: Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

This evening, right on schedule (7 days melding), I finished making the Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe. All it took was straining the bulk of the fruit, letting the liquid drain off without any additional pressing. I did hem and haw about which container to put it in for storage, but ended up deciding on an old Stoli bottle (1.75 L). Little big for the job, but it seemed annoying to do 1 full screw-cap wine bottle (750 mL) plus a partially filled second. I have a few more of these old bottles, and they want to be filled.

I don’t know that I am fond of the smell, in all honesty. But then, cantaloupe is not my favorite melon, either. It isn’t offensive, just not pleasurable in the way the Rose Raspberry of Lemon Drop were, and nowhere near the pleasant smoothness (in smell or taste) of past years’ spiced apple liqueur. We’ll just have to see about the flavor later, as I’m going to give it a day or two off the fruit before sampling.

Cucumber Mint Liqueur

Cucumber Mint Liqueur

Mint, With a Healthy Does of Cucumber

Finishing with that, I then began on another recipe from the same book. I had originally thought to nearly double the recipe (to end up fitting  a 1.75L bottle), but was short on Vermouth. So, I relented and went with the recipe as is. Still was a little short on Vermouth!

The book called for 1.5 cups of 80-100 proof vodka mixed with 1.5 cups of Vermouth (18% ABV). I used an unremarkable vodka sitting in the pantry (80 proof, or 40% ABV), and an extra dry Vermouth. Turned out I had just under the expected amount of Vermouth, so I’ll be needing a new bottle.

My birthday is almost here [hint, hint…]

On a serious note, I just increased the amount of vodka to make a total of 3 cups of liquid. And I’m fully capable of purchasing Vermouth, if the need arises. Which it could.

To that I added one large (I mean really large) cucumber, grated. The recipe had called for 2 medium cucumbers, grated. I also added a half cup of chopped (apple) mint from the front garden, per the recipe, and the zest of 1 lemon (also per the recipe).

Then I mixed this all together, sealed the top and set in a cool, dark place. Give that a couple days, adding some simple syrup, and we’ll see what we’ve got.

Next Up

Need to get a ginger bug back operational. Been out of the regular ginger ale swing. Technically, that’s fermentation. And I did say this was a non-fermentation post. Ah, well. I have more lemons, so another Lemon Drop attempt could be possible – especially since the previous one was so well received by friends. A limecello is probably in order as well, before the purchased limes give up the ghost.

Oh, and it is high time for making some more fig leaf liqueur. I’m considering Everclear, as I have already tried it with both gin and vodka. Just for comparison, of course. the figs themselves aren’t quite ready for anything. But the tree can pass me a couple of leaves without too much harm.

Mid-Summer Fermentation

And other things, too! But more on that, later.

Pickles

The dill pickles turned out wonderfully. They are crisp outside, but a little softer inside. I could stand for more crunch, but am happy with what I have. Sean is not as thrilled with the flavor, exactly, as there is a quite sharp spice note; I think it is more the garlic than the black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, but could be wrong.

He still eats them, just making some funny faces as he does it. I think they are excellent, though eating a half of one on an empty stomach did make me wonder if that was the best idea. The unease passed quickly, though.

I think, but haven’t decided, that I may attempt to test out canning this batch, to see how it goes. While I like having fresh dill pickles on hand, that big of a container takes up a large space in our limited refrigerator. I get that that sort of kills all the “good” microbes that can help with digestion and such. But it also means I can store more of them, and for longer, potentially, with minimal effort into the future. Still thinking. May change my mind.

More Pickled Things

We came back from vacation to a garden gone wild. Kim made quick work of one (plus some) of the oversized zucchini, creating multiple loaves of zucchini bread. A perfect application of these hardened, oversized veggies. Equally hard, but with much less precedent, were the many crookneck squash sitting on our table. With the pickles a fair success, and some internet searching for examples, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to test out some pickled squash. Thus, I set about making four quarts of s lightly varying pickles.

For the most part things are similar among the jars. Each received a 1/4 of a small onion, thinly sliced, in the bottom. All received a pinch of black peppercorns, as well. I mentally numbered the jars 1 through 4, which aided in my decisions of how to distribute the rest of the flavoring and such.:

Ingredient Jar 1 Jar 2 Jar 3 Jar 4
Onion (sliced thin) 1/4 of a small onion 1/4 of a small onion 1/4 of a small onion 1/4 of a small onion
Garlic (cloves, crushed) 2 1 1 2
Coriander Seed a pinch a pinch
Cumin Seed a pinch a pinch
Black Peppercorns a pinch a pinch a pinch a pinch
Crookneck Squash (seeded, mostly) 3 large squash were divided between the 4 containers, with just a little bit of the last squash left over.
Mesilla(??) Pepper (seeded, chopped) 1/2 1/2
Rosemary (sprig) 1 sprig 1 sprig
Black Tea Leaves a small pinch in each
Brine a quart of water to 2 tbsp. of salt (more on that briefly) In total, it was 3 quarts of water and 6 tbsp. of pickling salt, with just a little leftover after topping the jars to 1.5 inches from the top

The Mesilla pepper and rosemary (and the squash, of course) were from our garden. Kim recorded that pepper plant being Mesilla, but looking Mesilla pepper up online gives something more like a thin and spicy pepper – almost like a cayenne. So not sure what it really is. We tasted it, and it was more sweet, not spicy.

The brine was a bit of a mess, as I misread, then had to go back and correct proportions. Originally I brined at a 1 Qt. to 2 tsp. ratio. Big mistake. Looks like all is fine now. The ferment is going strong and quite visibly active.

The black tea leaves seems to be a common addition to add tannins to the ferment, which should help keep things crisp. Didn’t sound like it should cause anything bad, no off tastes.

And Even More Pickles

With the squash taken care of, I then started working on some more of the cucumber. I placed 2 sprigs of fresh dill, 1/3 tsp. of fennel seed, 1/3 tsp. of peppercorn seed mélange, 3 crushed garlic cloves and 2 chopped up medusa peppers (ornamentals, pictured above) in the bottom of a quart mason jar. To that I added 2 decent sized, rather dense cucumbers as I thinly chopped them. I then topped with a brine at the proportions I was properly shooting for with the squash, 1 Qt. to 2 tbsp. pickling salt.

The end result looks beautiful, and is also fermenting visibly, though maybe not as powerfully as with the squash.

With all these pickled vegetables, I used sealed mason jars. So I do have to burp them occasionally, unlike the last pickle batch with the plastic water bag for a top. I’d rather not see any salty explosions above the refrigerator where they sit!

Plans For The Future

I’ve already culled the tomatoes we picked, and selected the cherry tomatoes and the small, yellow, pear-shaped tomatoes (forget the name) to make pickled tomatoes with. I don’t quite have enough set aside, to begin, but it won’t be long. Every day I collect more from the garden. Now, that just leaves the larger tomatoes needing a role assigned.

“Pickled tomatoes?” you say. Yeah, we’ll see. I hear they make a nice match to a martini, or in a salad. I’m withholding judgment for now.