Busy, busy week - I promised the Garden Pickle recipe last weekend and just haven't had a moment to think straight. On Sunday we were invited to a garden party at Barnsdale Gardens to commemorate World War !. We were to dress as Edwardians and croquet would be played and tea would be taken. It was a beautiful day and I have to say the Edwardians knew a thing or two about a relaxed way of life. Barnsdale looked immaculate as ever, and as people strolled amongst the hedges and borders it was easy to think you had been transported back through time.
Croquet is a fascinating game and to be recommended as it can be played by all age groups together and doesn't involve running - always a plus as far as I am concerned. It is very tactical with lots of ways to play almost every shot.
After a very pleasant afternoon, Nick Hamilton presented the cup to members of Stamford Tourist Information Centre who had romped away to a conclusive win.
Monday found us at Tolethorpe again for a performance of 'Alice in Wonderland' It was absolutely fitting as two of our group - twin bothers - had their birthday on that day. So I needed no encouragment to organise a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the picnic. All of the other friends that came with us joined in with the theme, daughter in law Tania made the decorations for the tea table cake I had made and a great time was had by all - until the thunder storm came! We had to run for cover with cries of 'save the cake' ringing out, but what's a little rain between friends. More like a deluge!
Giardiniere Pickles or Italian Garden Pickles
Firstly, this is a recipe I found in DeliaOnline so I lay no claims to having created it. I wanted to find a recipe that would incorporate an overflow from the veg box that we had delivered that week. We had aubergine, fennel bulb, courgette and cherry tomatoes. So I just had to find a few more ingredients to start the process. So, I will give the ingredients first and then take you through the process with the photographs I took along the way.
You will need 4 x 500ml clip top jars or similar
225g/8oz red onions, peeled
250g/8oz trimmed fennel bulb
2 medium red peppers or 1 red, 1 yellow
110g/4oz button mushrooms ( I didn't have any so they are not in the pictures! )
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
110g/4oz cherry tomatoes
7 tablespoons olive oil
725-850ml/11/4 to 11/2 pints white wine vinegar
8 fresh bay leaves
8 small sprigs each fresh rosemary and thyme
16 black peppercorns
175g/6oz sea salt
Making the pickles, as with most pickles, is a 2 day process. It may look a bit of a faff but the process is quite simple.The vegetables all need to be prepped, the onions cut into 8 wedges from the top down through the root end. Cut the courgettes and aubergine into short thick sticks. Cut the fennel into wedges and then de-seed the peppers and cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch squares - ish.
All of these vegetables, but not the garlic and tomatoes , should be layered in a large non-metallic bowl, sprinkling the salt generously as you build up the layers. Pour over 1.75 litres/3 pints of water then place a plate on top to keep the vegetables under the brine. Leave for 24 hours in a cool place.
Next day, sterilise the jars - remove the rubber seals and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water and leave until needed. Wash the glass in warm soapy water, rinse and place in a warm oven 50-100 deg C, to dry and sterilise.
Drain the vegetables in a large colander and rinse thoroughly with cold, running water. Drain in the colander, then in a clean tea towel and finally spread onto another clean tea towel for about 3 hours to dry thoroughly.
The pickles need to be stored for a month to mellow before eating - I haven't tried the ones I made yet but if they taste as good as they smell they will be amazing. The Italians traditionally like to eat these pickles with mixed meat anti pasti - salami, prosciutto, mortadella - that kind of thing. Sounds good to me.
Let me know if you get to make them and what you think.