Posted in Product Reviews

Aurora Brand Giardiniera

Aurora Giardiniera 1

Giardiniera is an Italian mixed pickle that I have been long been meaning to try making for myself, but which, alas, remains one of the many projects still on my to-do-someday list. The version you see here is a product of the United States made available in Canada by Aurora Importing and Distributing. This company lists quite a wide range of products on their Website, and I have often purchased their Anchovy Paste in a tube.

The basic Giardiniera consists of a melange of cut vegetables that are first brined and then pickled in a seasoned oil and vinegar mix. Sometimes the vegetables are cut quite large and the result is consumed as ‘bite-size’ pickles, and in other cases, as here, the pieces are quite fine and the product is more of a relish used as a condiment on things like sandwiches, or burgers, and so forth.

Olive tends to the olive oil of choice but, here, soybean oil is used. The mix contains sweet peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery and gherkins (which is a pretty common sort of blend), but hot peppers are included in many versions. The ingredients merely list ‘spices’ for the seasoning, but it does add (a bit ominously) ‘MAY CONTAIN: Mustard’.

This particular product is very well brined and the first impression of is a definite, but not unpleasant saltiness. The vinegar is used fairly lightly, and the original taste of the vegetables is still ‘somewhat’ apparent, but what I found curious is that there is actually a rather sharp bite here that suggests hot peppers were used, if only sparingly. Perhaps this is the mustard they warned as about…

Anyway, I quite liked this and, after the initial taste test, I used it as a jazzy condiment on a vegetarian pizza, and also on a series of sandwiches. The one sort of ‘failing’ here is that the colors are a bit muted and not as vibrant as would more likely be the case in a homemade, short pickle version. In less than two weeks from the date of writing this, I shall be in Ottawa and may well try a different brand or two from one of the excellent Italian food shops there…. I will report 😊

Posted in Recipes

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

Ratatouille has its roots in Provence, and commonly associated with Nice. It is something of a melange of vegetables, stewed or braised with the seasonings of the region… Thyme, Garlic, Basil, etc. … but there are many variations. The main ingredients typically include Eggplant, tomato, onion, and bell pepper, but zucchini and fennel often appear, with mushrooms and black olives being added in some recipes.

Most traditionally, the main ingredients are individually sautéed with a little olive oil, and then finally cooked together until everything gets nicely blended with a rich ‘creaminess’. These days, Balsamic vinegar is often added, with white wine also being used in some cases. The dish could be served hot, as a side dish, but it is often served at room temperature, on its own, or with other foods, essentially in the manner of a relish.

For today’s recipe, I am also doing a two stage cooking but, here, I am roasting some of the vegetables before-hand and then letting them sit overnight with some aromatics to develop flavor before finishing with  the ‘saucier’ portion of the recipe … Continue reading “Ratatouille”

Posted in Recipes

Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter

Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter 01

The above pictured preparation was a side dish I put together as a side for steak. I most commonly roast parsnips and glaze them with a little butter but, on this occasion, I decided to use parsnip batons in a melange with red bell pepper and some onion. I would have liked to use a splash of sherry here but I didn’t have any and the improvisation with lemon butter worked very nicely… Continue reading “Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter”

Posted in Recipes

Braised Lettuce

Braised Lettuce 1

Lettuce, in the west, is pretty much exclusively thought of as a salad vegetable and always eaten cold. In Chinese cookery, however, it most commonly appears cooked and, indeed, has, traditionally at least, never been eaten raw. It is a bit unfortunate, really, that we haven’t cottoned on to the idea of cooking our lettuce once in a while as the process actually brings out flavors that are often missed. Today, I am showing you a simple preparation illustrating a common sort of dish… Continue reading “Braised Lettuce”

Posted in Ingredients

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe 1

Broccoli Rabe has an appearance somewhat resembling regular broccoli, but it is actually more close related to turnips and, indeed, in norther Italy, it’s name ‘cime de rapa’ means ‘turnip tops’. Outside of North America, it is also known as ‘Rapini’.

Sometime ago, I did a post featuring Broccolini and I described it as being something of a cross between Broccoli and Gai Lan. Broccoli Rabe, however, is, in my opinion, more like a cross between broccoli and kale. In addtion to being much leafier than regular broccoli, it also has a much stronger bitterness than broccoli. I don’t find regular broccoli all that bitter myself but some people do and I rather suspect they won’t be all that partial to this particular green…  Continue reading “Broccoli Rabe”

Posted in Product Reviews

Superior Quality Brand Preserved Radish

Preserved Radish 1

The radish in this particular case is the large variety most commonly known by the Japanese name Daikon. This very versatile vegetable is preserved by a variety of different techniques all across Asia, especially by lactic acid fermentation, but the most basic method is by salt curing the flesh to dehydrate it and prevent microbial spoilage. The Chinese were probably the first to treat the vegetable this way but the technique is widely used elsewhere, especially in Korea and Thailand. Indeed, the product pictured above is of Thai manufacture… Continue reading “Superior Quality Brand Preserved Radish”

Posted in Ingredients

Foodstuff: Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root 1

This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but rather is the root vegetable that is the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. Most people are well familiar with the commercial product as an especially good accompaniment to roast beef, but it does have other uses as well. It is sometimes used in ‘Bloody Mary’ concoctions, it works well as a sandwich spread for all sorts of creations (and not just those using cold beef), and it is very commonly used to provide the sharp bite of the standard seafood cocktail sauce. Quite a few Cole-slaw sauces also use it too. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Horseradish Root”