Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lunch! Czech wild rice soup, pickles, capresso salat and sandwich

Are you hungry?  Here a luncheon feast we served up last week.  As always, cooking here in the Czech Republic gets you into fusion of cuisines every time you head to the store.   After traveling in Moravia (those posts are coming soon), we thought let's make wild rice soup, Czech style. So....a bit or Moravian ham (smoked), wild rice from Minnesota that we'd brought along from our St. Paul kitchen, a few of those wild mushrooms from the Farmer's Market, cooked with caramelized onions and garlic, a bit of zucchini, and chicken stock and......voila!  Top it off with some roasted slivered almonds and....Byerly's  you don't have anything over Czech Wild Rice Soup!

Well, now that you're salivating with the starter, let's do lunch! How about a capresso salat with fresh tomatoes from the market (this one was the large, so-called 'ugly' tomatoes like they grow in Florida that can't be shipped out of that state due to either USDA or Floridian Dept. of Agriculture strict rules--crazy!), with thinly sliced fresh onions, thinly sliced paprika peppers (sweet, yellow ones), fresh basil (from our garden!), a bit of chopped chives, fresh mozzarella cheese sliced, rzor thin slices of burpless cucumber, and a dash of salt, fresh ground pepper, a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and.....dig right in!
Now for the main course....sandwiches and staring us in the face are Neil's new recipe of bread and butter pickles! Start with German roggenschotbrot (rye bread that is slowly cooked in the oven so that it caramelizes), more fresh tomatoes, cheese, and mayonnaise.
Here the simple recipe for the pickles....again, a fusion of ideas and cuisines. It all started when we could not, for the life of us find mustard seed anywhere! We asked around and everyone said.....oh, you will rarely ever find those. We knew they were sold here somewhere but to no avail that day and Neil just had all of these fresh cukes to make something out of.....what was Mother Neil to do?!  Hmmm.....looking through the refrigerator he discovers Grey Poupon mustard....why not?  But then, as ideas flourish when one creates he then added in freshly grated ginger and curry (couldn't find any pure tumeric either!).  Voila!  Something completely new and off the charts from all of his previous endeavors in the bread/butter pickle realm.  Here's the recipe if you're so inclined.
Neil's Czech Bread and Butter Pickles--Off the Charts Delicious
~30 small pickling cucumbers, sliced thickly
3 large onions, cored and sliced into wedges 1/4" thick
Put onions and cucumbers into a non-reactive metal pan, sprinkle in 3 teaspoons of salt and cover with ice. Let sit for 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well with water.
Make the brine with
1 teaspoon Poupon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder (Czech, of course!)
1 large thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and zested finely
2 cups sugar
8 cups water:vinegar (50:50 v/v if you're in the U.S. and using 3% vinegar; if you're using the Czech 8% vinegar adjust it down to 3% and then use the 50:50 ratio)
Bring the brine to a boil. Pack the cucumbers and onions into your pint canning jars (sterilized, of course); cover with hot brine. Attach the lids (easy here in the Czech Republic, just use the metal lid with a rubber ring already inside and push it on with the magical Czech lid crimper! These are awesome).
Process in a water bath canner for 5 more!  They have to be CRISP!!
Eat the pickles in a few days (they need to soak in the brine for a few days to get the full flavor). And then, presto!  For lunch....!  I'm thinking that Mark really likes them. He has the look of his Mother Paula saying 'Not bad'! (which is the highest compliment possible in Minnesota kitchens.

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