Saturday, November 26, 2016


Holiday meals go better with pickles! Something tangy to prickle the taste buds and contrast with rich foods. I like to make small batches of pickles and relishes and keep them in the fridge, ready to accompany a special dinner.

Pickled onions and marinated mushrooms are good accompaniments to a selection of pâtés.

The mango chutney I made a few weeks ago was the perfect foil for turkey sandwiches. Thinking ahead to a drinks party—wine, cheese and pâté—I’m fixing some new pickled vegetables to go with it. One is marinated mushrooms. The other, scarlet-pickled onions, will also look festive with Christmas menus.

Pickled oyster mushrooms in the center and two kinds of pickled onions. These are not true conserves, meant for long keeping, but small-batch pickles to keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Bright flavors and colors provide contrast for holiday meals.

Mushrooms marinate with garlic, peppers, onion and herbs.

Red beets color the small onions.

Pickled Mushrooms
Setas en Escabeche

Pickled mushrooms go with grilled foods and make a tangy addition to salads.

Country folk who forage for wild mushrooms have various ways of preserving them, by drying, by pickling. This recipe is not a real preserve, but it keeps well, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Spoon the marinated mushrooms over grilled steak or add them to salads or soup.

Oyster mushrooms work especially well, but you can use any variety of wild or cultivated mushroom. Slice or pull apart large ones.

1 pound oyster mushrooms
¼ onion, sliced from stem to root
2 cloves garlic, slivered
¼ cup slivered red bell pepper
1-inch piece of dried red chile
Strip of lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch celery seeds
1 bay leaf
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt

Wipe the mushrooms to clean off any soil. Trim away hard stems. Cut large ones into 2 or 3 pieces.

Place in a pan onion, garlic, bell pepper, chile, lemon zest, peppercorns, thyme, celery seeds, bay, oil, vinegar, salt, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the pan. Bring again to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Let the mushrooms cool in the liquid 30 minutes. Ladle mushrooms into a glass jar or other non-reactive container. Add enough of the pickling liquid to completely cover them. Cover the container and allow to marinate, refrigerated, at least 24 hours. Keeps up to 2 weeks.

To serve, drain the mushrooms from liquid and serve at room temperature.

Scarlet-Pickled Onions
Cebolletas Escarlatas

Pickles complement rich pâté.

In La Mancha (central Spain) I enjoyed the partridge pâté, a regional specialty. There the pâté usually comes garnished with scarlet-pickled onions. Colored with red beets, the onions make a nice contrast to smooth and unctuous foods such as pâté, but they also add pizzazz to salads or burgers.

Soaking the whole onions in brine makes it easier to slip off the skins—and fewer tears, too.

1 ½ pounds small (1 ½-inch) yellow or white onions (about 32 onions)
1 ½ tablespoons coarse salt
1 medium beet (5 ounces), peeled and quartered
4 cloves
1 cup wine vinegar

Sprinkle the onions with ½ tablespoon salt and cover with water. Let soak for 3 hours. Drain the onions. Peel them, trim root ends, and cut a thin slice off tops.

Place onions in a non-reactive bowl and add water to cover. Sprinkle with ½ tablespoon of salt. Allow the onions to soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse them.

Combine in a saucepan the remaining ½ tablespoon salt, quartered beet, cloves, vinegar, and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Skim out the beets and reserve them for another use.

Ladle the onions into sterile jars and pour the pickling liquid over them. Allow the jars to cool.

Refrigerate the jars of pickled onions. The onions are ready to eat in 5 days. They keep, refrigerated, up to 3 months.

More recipes for pickles and relish:

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