Mike’s Dastardly Dilly Beans


Mike's Pickled Dastardly Beans | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is my kicked-up version of the classic “Dilly Beans.” The brine recipe is exactly the same as the one I use for my Garlic Dill Pickles.

After sealing, be sure to leave them untouched in a cool, dark storage area for at least two months before opening so the flavors have time to set.  They will keep for at least one to two years if the seal is undamaged. Once opened, store in your fridge for up to six months. The natural tannins in the grape leaves will keep them super-crisp.

These spicy beans are amazing in my handcrafted Bloody Mary.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 quart 5% vinegar
3 quarts filtered water
1/2 cup canning salt
1 tsp. Alum (Pickle Crisp may be substituted; measure and use according to directions)

3 pounds fresh market green and yellow beans
1-2 heads fresh dill per jar
2 whole large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, per jar
1/4 cup sliced white onion, per jar
1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns, per jar
1/2 tsp. dry coriander or celery seed, per jar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard seed, per jar
1 large dry bay leaf, crumbled, per jar
1 fresh wild grape leaf, per jar (the tannins in the leaf act as a natural crisping agent)
1/4 garden habañero pepper, per jar (optional)

 

Hardware:
1 large canning kettle, with wire rack insert
10 large mouth glass canning pint jars with new lids and rings
Magnetic lid/ring lifter (used to remove from boiling water bath)
Canning tongs (used to remove hot pint jars from canning kettle)
Sharp paring knife

 

Directions:

The brine measurements indicated above will made about 5 pints of pickled beans, depending on volume packed in each jar. For the amount indicated, you will need to make a double-batch for 10 pints.

Prepare your ingredients and brine solution prior to final assembly so you have everything ready and at hand.

Wash the glass jars, rings and new lids in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

In a medium sauce pan, bring a quart of water to a rolling boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the jar rings and lids. Sterilize for two minutes. Turn off heat.

In a large, non-reactive 6-quart soup pot, add 1 quart of 5% distilled vinegar and 3 quarts of filtered water. Bring to a rolling boil and add the canning salt and alum. Stir well and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Wash and scrub the green and yellow beans in cold water. Trim 1/8″ off of each end. Cut the larger ones in half so they fit in the pint jars.

First, add the grape leaf, onion, crushed garlic, habanero (optional) and dill to each jar. Add the dry spices. Pack the beans tightly in the jar until filled up to the neck of the opening, leaving about 1/2″ headroom. Stuff any voids with more onion. Top off with dill. Wipe the jar rim with a clean damp cloth.  Fill carefully with brine 1/2″ to the rim. Gently tap jar to ensure any air pockets are removed. Center jar lid and screw down ring until only finger-tight, taking care to ensure that nothing blocks the contact point of the jar rim and lid.

Process in hot water bath according to directions (10 minutes rolling boil for pints) Water bath should reach the very top of the jar neck. Remove immediately with jar tongs and set aside on a towel until cool; about 6 hours. After ten minutes or so, the lid should pop down, forming a vacuum seal. When fully cool, inspect lids and ensure there is no play in the center of the lid.  If the lid pops or moves when pushed it is NOT sealed. Refrigerate any unsealed jars for future use. They will keep for up to six months chilled.

 

Helpful Tips:

Maintain a 10 minute rolling boil for pints, per directions.

Cut the tips off of the beans to avoid softening. There is an enzyme in the blossom end of the bean that must be removed by trimming. You only need to trim 1/8″.

Select only the freshest beans. Support your local farmer’s market if you cannot grow them yourself.

Ensure air pockets are removed from jars before sealing with lids by tapping the jar lightly on the counter.

Lids must be sterilized in boiling water for at least two minutes. Do not touch the contact seal on lids after sterilization. Use a magnetic lifter wand to handle lids and jar rings when removing from hot water.

Coriander seed, bay leaves (crumbled), mustard seed, dill seed and peppercorns may be added as a home prepared pickling spice.  DO NOT USE commercially prepared pickling spice as it may contain cinnamon or cloves. True “Kosher-style” brine ingredients do not have these two spices.

Use only pickling salt! Do not use regular table salt or kosher salt. Measure carefully according to directions based on volume.

If you notice a dark, cloudy discoloration in the brine, or your beans have an odd smell on opening, DO NOT USE.  Dispose of the contents without tasting. Food poisoning isn’t worth the risk.

Lids may only be used ONCE. Rings may be used every season, provided they are not rusty. Inspect glass jars for chips or cracks and discard if necessary. Glass jars may also be reused indefinitely.

NEVER set a hot glass jar that was just processed in boiling water on a cold counter. It will crack or explode. Always place on a thick dish towel or oven hot pad and allow to fully cool before handling.

Have fun and don’t burn yourself!

Mike's Pickled Dastardly Beans | Culinary Compost Recipes

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Mike’s Atomic Chicken Buffalo Tenders


This is a tried-and-true recipe that never fails to please. The secret is the second-run through the egg wash. It allows the breading to set up better. The result is a fantastically light, crunchy coating enhanced by the addition of corn starch which helps keep it from getting too dense, while locking in the juices.  You can use a digital meat probe to test for doneness. The chicken should be golden-brown and read 165° F in the thickest part. If you trim the pieces as indicated, you will not have any issues.  You’ll also get great results using wings — keep in mind they cook faster, so watch them carefully.

A note on the wing sauce — this is a favorite of mine from Buffalo, New York; the undisputed wing capitol of the United States. It is, however, by no means “suicidal.” It has plenty of heat and a lot of tang; the balance being just right for my taste. Try it. I think you’ll agree.

 

Ingredients:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 quarts peanut oil
Original Anchor Bar Suicidal Buffalo Wing Sauce

~For the Egg Wash:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 – 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbs. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

~For the Seasoned Flour Dredge:
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. garlic granules
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ancho chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

~For the Breading:
equal parts plain, unseasoned bread crumbs and Japanese Panko bread crumbs

~For the Sides:
Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dressing
Thinly sliced scallion as a garnish
4-inch celery stalk planks

 

Directions:

Using a large cutting board, lay out the chicken breasts and cover with a double-folded piece of plastic wrap. Pound flat with a meat mallet. This ensures even cooking with no underdone spots in the middle.

Cut the chicken into 1″ strips against the grain to ensure they are tender. Then trim the strips so they are about 3 to 4″ in length.

Prepare the egg wash mixture by whisking the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Whisk again. Add the chicken pieces. Coat well and set aside for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the flour dredge ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Prepare the breading mixture in another bowl.

Preheat 1.5 quarts of peanut oil in a heavy cast-iron 4-quart chicken fryer until the temperature reaches 375° F.

Using a tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the egg wash and dredge in the flour mixture until evenly coated. Shake off the excess flour and set them aside on another plate while you work. Then quickly dip the tenders back in the egg wash and roll in the breading.

Working in batches of 3 or 4 tenders, carefully dip them into the hot peanut oil. A Chinese spider-strainer works great for this. Cook for no more than two minutes per batch, turning once at one minute until golden-brown. Remove and set aside on paper towel.

Place the tenders in a large mixing bowl and add the wing sauce to taste. Carefully toss until evenly coated.

Serve with the Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dressing and celery planks.
Garnish with the green scallion, sprinkled over the top.

 

Serves 4 comfortably.
Each breast will yield about eight tenders.

Note: Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

Shakshouka – Middle-Eastern Egg Bake


Shakshouka Middle-Eastern Egg Bake

I stumbled on this recipe after a friend posted it on Facebook. I have adapted it from the original, featured on The New York Times.  It is a recipe that originated in Tunisia, North Africa, and remains very popular in Israel, due to cultural ties from the early 1950s.  The incredible, mind-numbing heat from the Berbere spice takes center stage, so use it sparingly.  I created this as a single-serving dish, as the rest of my family cannot tolerate the spice. Prepare it in a 5″ well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.

Serve on a cold winter morning — it is incredibly satisfying.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

2 tbs. XV olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium tomato, cored and finely diced
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. Berbere seasoning, to taste (use with reservation)
1 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and then ground in a mortar
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs
Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

 

Directions:

Prepare all of the ingredients and have them ready.  Preheat your oven to 375°.  Using a 5″ cast-iron skillet, add two tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onion and pepper over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat and add the minced garlic, taking care not to scorch it. Continue to saute for two minutes.

Add the diced tomato, smoked paprika, berbere, ground cumin, salt and pepper, and continue to saute for about 3 minutes until reduced.

Add the crumbled Feta cheese, then carefully crack two eggs and place on top. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the eggs have set. Carefully remove and place on a trivet. Allow to cool for two minutes, add the chopped cilantro and serve in the skillet.

 

 

Smoked Spanish paprika (L), Ethiopian Berbere (R) and whole cumin seed

Smoked Spanish paprika (L), Ethiopian Berbere (R) and whole cumin seed

shakshouka recipe | Culinary Compost

Saute the onion and pepper in olive oil. Then add the minced garlic.

Hot Oyster Snack Crackers


This is a snack recipe that was widely circulated on a number of foodie websites. It appears to have originated from Hidden Valley’s website. After trying a revved-up sample from a friend who put her own kick on it, I’ll share my version. I cannot stop eating them.

Ingredients:

1 packet (1 ounce) Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
1 16oz. bag premium Oyster crackers
1 cup canola or XV olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
Dash of Lawry’s seasoned salt, to taste
Dash of El Yucateca XXX Habañero hot sauce, to taste

Directions:

Whisk the canola oil, dressing mix and dry spice ingredients in a bowl until blended. Add the hot sauce to taste and stir well. Preheat your oven to 250° F. Pour the canola oil seasoning over the crackers in a larger mixing bowl and fold carefully until the crackers are well coated. Place evenly on a cookie sheet and warm in the oven for 15-20 minutes until just golden. Remove and serve.

Serves 6-8

Salsa Rojo Diablo


Salsa Rojo Diablo Recipe | Culinary Compost

Rojo Diablo means Red Devil. After trying this version, I think you’ll agree. This is my most popular salsa; people are always asking for the recipe when I serve it.

Ingredients:

4 fresh large tomatoes (8 Romas)
1 small spanish or red onion – minced
2-3 jalapeño peppers
2 cayenne peppers
1 hungarian yellow wax pepper
2 cloves fresh minced garlic (a clove is 1 section of the whole bulb)
2-3 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
dash of lemon or lime juice
1/2-1 tbs. salt

Preparation:

Roma or Beefmaster tomatoes are preferred. Fine chop the tomatoes and place in bowl. Add the fine chopped peppers and spices. Go easy on the salt, and taste often, keeping in mind that the ingredients will blend together over time – so do not overcompensate. Generally, the mix will become hotter if left to stand a bit.

Stir ingredients well and let stand for 1/2 hour. If the water content of the tomatoes separates out in the bowl after a while, drain the salsa by placing it in a fine screen basket or colander and then place back into bowl. This is normal. The water content will vary with different types of tomatoes. Romas on average have the lowest water content ratio.

Salsa best if used within two days. If you must put it in the fridge after use, let it warm up to room temperature again before serving.

Szechuan Chili Oil


Szechuan Chili Oil | Culinary Compost Recipes

Make your own Szechuan chili oil using garden-grown dried Thai bird chilis.

One of the things I love best about takeout Chinese food is the small condiment cup of fiery chili oil served with egg rolls. The spice-infused oil goes well with just about anything.

It is easy and economical to make your own in small quantities. Just be sure not to get your oil too hot and burn the chilis.

 

Ingredients:

10-12 dry red chili pods, each being about 2″ long
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 tbs. pure sesame oil (optional)
1 small chunk of crushed ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

 

Directions:

Cut the stems off the chilis and ensure they are clean and free of dust, or other debris. Crush them in a mortar or use a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds.

Place the crushed chili in a glass jar with a tight fitting cover, large enough to hold 1/2 cup. Add the salt.

Heat 1/2 cup peanut oil in a wok until it just starts to smoke. The temperature at this point will be about 300-320 degrees F. Remove from heat and let cool for three minutes, or until the temperature is between 225-240 degrees F. Pour over the chilies (add the optional spices if you like) and seal the jar. Let cool at room temperature for at least one hour, then place in your fridge.

Will store for one month refrigerated.
Great on spring rolls, egg rolls, dumplings or noodles.

Makes 3/4 cup. Portion what you need and allow to warm up to room temperature before serving.