yesterday morning sam and i rode our bikes over the manhattan bridge and down to the southside seaport, where the new amsterdam market is held every sunday. i have kind of a thing for farmer's markets, but somehow i'd never made it down to this one before - i guess i'm kind of lazy and generally just walk to the perfectly good market that's about 6 blocks from my apartment. since getting new bikes a couple weeks ago, though, i'm trying to force myself to make at least one long, tough ride per week, and it's much easier to motivate myself when i know there's a bunch of farm-fresh meat, veggies and cheese at the end of that ride. we packed sam's backpack until it was literally overflowing out the top, rode back home. . . and i basically collapsed in bed for an hour or two and watched back to back episodes of breaking bad. i just started watching it this weekend and it is (appropriately enough, considering the plot,) a terrible addiction that has me deep within its clutches. i snapped out of it sometime in the afternoon and decided to make some pickles.
we'd bought about a pound of misfit cucumbers, along with a couple kinds of onion, rainbow chard, 2 duck confit legs, a pig neck fillet, fennel, corn, and peaches. i grabbed a couple of jars, a handful of spices from the cabinet, and this book, and got to picklin'.
i adapted the recipe a bit - i only had 1/3 of the cucumbers it called for, and i didn't have any dill, so i subbed fennel - but the process and temperatures i used were the same, and i think that's very important if you're trying to make something shelf-stable. be careful and be sure to use a thermometer!
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spicy fennel pickles (makes 2 pint jars)
1 lb cucumbers, cut into 3-4" sections and then halved or quartered
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 T kosher salt
black pepper kernels
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
a few sprigs of fennel
boil a pot of water big enough to cover the jars with at least an inch of water and put the lids in a heatproof bowl. while waiting for the pot to boil, place cider vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring it up to 180 farenheit. (i used the pasteurizing method - bringing the jars up to 180 for a half hour - rather than the regular process, because it results in crisper pickles.) once your water is boiling, carefully use tongs to lift the jars out and pour the boiling water into the lid bowl. place jars on a paper towel and quickly dump in a little of everything - all spices, about 1 t of the dry mustard, 1/4 t of the cayenne, a couple garlic cloves, some fennel, and a bay leaf in each jar. now place the pickles in the jar, fitting them in as tightly as you can without totally squashing them. now, using a funnel, fill the jars with the cider liquid to about 1/2 inch from the top. remove the lids from their hot water, carefully wipe the lips of the jar with a paper towel, and fit each with a lid. now place them back in the water bath and bring the water up to 180, and make sure it stays that hot for a half hour before removing the jars. take them out, let them rest for an hour, and then check the seal on the lids - if they are both well sealed and not popped up, store them until you're ready to open them up, at which point you should refrigerate; if any of them didn't seal and the lid is popped up, refrigerate and eat them within a week or two.
ta-da! i'm going to give them a few days before testing them out - i'll let you know how they taste.
and for dinner i decided to go ahead and spoil us with some duck confit pasta. i think any long noodle will work well for this one - i used bucatini, which i like because it's like spaghetti with a more fun texture. like pasta straws!
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fennel & duck confit pasta
1 onion (i used a cippolini that we picked up from the farmers market - still with it's stalk attached, so i used a couple leek-like inches of that, too.)
1 bulb of fennel
1 duck confit leg
1/2 box of noodle pasta
1/4 cup of chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
drizzle of olive oil
handful of parmigiano-reggiano cheese
(optional) thinly sliced tomato
slice the onion and fennel as thin as you can. drizzle some olive oil in a sauce pan and turn it on medium; add the fennel and onion and let them saute for a good long while, until they are soft and beginning to caramelize. this'll take some time, so get a big pot of water boiling with a bit of salt, and get to shredding that duck confit leg. pull it apart as much as you can and just put it aside in a bowl, reserving all the nice fatty parts as they'll melt down and help make your pasta saucy.
your water is boiling? great! put the pasta in and keep an eye on it - let it be a leeeetle on the al dente side. i've been using a pot with a pasta strainer piece inside (this one) and it's kind of magic, since most of the time i make pasta i add the pasta and a bit of the pasta water to the sauce before serving.
add the duck to your onion/fennel mixture, and once it's starting to melt down, add the chicken broth, too. let most evaporate and then add half of the cream and stir until it reduces into a thick mixture. you can season some at this point; i used a smokey salt and freshly ground black pepper. once the pasta is ready, dump it in with a few tablespoons of its water and mix it up well with the duck mixture; add the remaining cream and stir until well coated, will mixed, and nice and thick. add cheese to your hearts desire and serve.
i swear i'm not shilling for crate and barrel (although if they wanted to sponsor me i wouldn't say no!) but the multi-cooker came in incredibly handy here because i was able to steam the 2 ears of corn while cooking the pasta, so everything was ready right on time without a bunch of extra mess. i served the corn simply, with kimchi butter.
voila! i served mine with a few slices of yellow tomato on top, partially because i wanted to use the damn thing before it went bad and partly for a little variation of temperature & texture. i think it worked well, but wasn't really necessary.
that's all from me today! i missed posting on hottest-day-ever friday, because i accidentally left my camera in the office thursday night; i'll do my best to get some good outfit shots up this week.
thanks for all the haircut love by the way! i've been cutting it myself in the mirror like a psycho so it's good to hear that it still looks okay, although i guess the scary part, if there is one, is in the back.