Sriracha and Red Pepper Refrigerator Pickles

I frequently consumed my weight in pickles as a child, which probably explains why my father's side of the family gave me the nickname "Pickle". My love for vinegary vegetables even extends to our Christmas tree in the form of an adorable tin pickle ornament. I'm just your everyday pickle fangirl.

As much as I enjoy pickles, I haven't had much luck making them over the last couple of years. The recipes always seem relatively simple and yet the results are kind of flat and/or too vinegary. After having the Sriracha Pickles at Plan Check, I realized it was time I get it together and nail down my own version of brined cucumbers.

Blistered Padrón or Shishito Peppers with Chorizo and Smoked Sea Salt

The idea to pair blistered Padrón peppers with chorizo came from Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa. Rob and I stumbled across Willi's about 10 years ago and it has been one of our favorite restaurants ever since. The seasonal menu never disappoints and we always discover great new-to-us wineries on their tasting list. The meal we had at Willi's a few weeks ago was one of the best yet. I've already replicated the macaroni and cheese (yum!) and plan to post that recipe soon.

We were talking with our server, JC, during dinner and discovered that he actually grew the Padrón peppers we were eating. JC and his wife lease a small parcel of land from a larger farm and grow various crops in limited quantities. It makes me love Willi's even more knowing that they support the up and coming local farmers in Sonoma.

How to Peel, Roast, and Candy Hazelnuts

I tried to make candied hazelnuts a couple of years ago and it didn't go very well. The skins wouldn't come off and the finished product had a sandpaper texture and cloudy color. That hot mess was enough to make me abandon candy recipes altogether.

While the nuts were a sad affair, the ice cream dessert that they went with was delicious (post for the latter coming soon). Over the weekend, I decided to ask The Google for advice so I could give the candy process another go. I'm happy to say that this attempt was a big success thanks to some help from Julia. These candied hazelnuts are perfectly caramelized, crunchy, and glossy. I took notes as I went through the process and have included all of that info below.

Roasted Jalapeño and Heirloom Tomato Salsa - Method 4

My original salsa recipe already has three preparation methods, but a couple of months ago I decided to try a different approach for reducing the watery consistency that's inevitable with fresh tomatoes. Not only is this new salsa a success, but the flavor gets rave reviews. I still use the other three methods with a variety of dishes, but for beef nachos I'm sticking with method 4.

The original recipe is here, Roasted Jalapeño and Heirloom Tomato Salsa, but if you're already familiar with it I'm including the new method below.

  • Drain and Reduce - This is now my preparation of choice when using the salsa for nachos. (Notes also included in the original post.)
      • Follow the recipe through the purée step, then place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour everything into it. Gently move the mixture around to help remove the liquid. 
      • Let the strainer rest over the bowl for a few minutes and then gently move the tomatoes around one more time. Note: There will still be some liquid in the mixture and that's fine. You're not trying to dry out the tomatoes.
      • Transfer the rendered liquid to a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat until it equals about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
      • Let the liquid cool and add it back into the salsa. 

    That's it! If you can resist drinking the reduced juices (so concentrated and delicious) you'll be good to go.