Decorating the Christmas tree is always bittersweet. Many of the ornaments were either made by my children or include “growing up” photos of them. Each one is precious and triggers a memory and a few tears. A prominently displayed holiday card reminds me to choose happiness and so I do. Like every Christmas past I hide the pickle ornament and look forward to the fun of now watching Caitlin and Sam search for the prize. It’s important to keep some holiday traditions alive.
Last year at this time I wrote, “I don’t pickle anything”, but thanks to a dim sum dinner at a local restaurant with Caitlin and Sam that all has changed. Often inspired by restaurant dishes I was determined to re-create the most delicious Asian pickle presented to us that night. It’s fresh and tangy, sweet and crunchy; the perfect topper for your favorite burger or sandwich.
And as always my recipes are inspired by those I love. Here is one of the sweetest photos of William and the inspiration for Team Will-Bur.
My cooking contest buddies know I found myself in a real pickle at the World Food Championships held in Las Vegas last month. When Team Will-Bur stepped into the Kenmore kitchen arena we were face to face with an induction stove. Never ever having cooked with induction I was totally thrown for a loop and never quite recovered despite my sous chef’s best efforts to keep me on track. My non-stick skillet was rendered useless and so I was either burning something or it wasn’t cooking at all. Much to my surprise my first round recipe made the top 10. I am sure it did because the pickle is so darn tasty.
Round two dish was a total fiasco, but no matter. Sometimes the best thing about creating recipes and competing in cook-offs is the memories made with friends and family. Here are two versions of my pickle compliments of Team Will-Bur and friends…
1 daikon radish, julienned (2 cups)
1 cup shredded carrot
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
1/2-cup white vinegar
1-teaspoon kosher salt
Place vegetables in a heat proof bowl. Bring water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolve. Pour hot mixture over vegetables; let stand at least 30 minutes. Drain. Chill until ready to serve.
Quick Smoked Pickle
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, sliced
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
1-teaspoon kosher salt
2 drops liquid smoke
Place onion, jalapeno, and cucumber in a heatproof bowl. Bring water, vinegar, sugar, salt and liquid smoke to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt is dissolved. Immediately pour over vegetables. Let cool down at least 25 minutes. Drain before serving.