As you can probably tell by now, I love making food from scratch. It's usually fairly easy to prepare, can be customized to your palate and tastes, and is better than anything you could buy at a store. I like to think of homemade food as the ultimate in Artisan craft.
So what's my latest project you ask? Pickles. My love of pickles goes way back to childhood, to the awesome bowls of sour dills that would grace the table at our local deli. I loved the crunch of these freshly pickled cukes, the salty yet lightly sour taste. These pickles bared no resemblance to the softer, vinegar-flavored pickles found in grocery stores. These were the real deal, true deli-style salt-brined Kosher dill pickles. It took me a long time to find a recipe that fit this bill. I am happy to say though that it was not in vain.
In the early 1990's a modern, hip-style deli opened in Santa Monica, California. The concept of the Broadway Deli was Jewish deli meets hip eatery. They had lots of inspired dishes on their menu, artisan breads and great desserts. In 1994, they came out with a cookbook, and right there in it's pages was the recipe that I had been searching for: true, salt-brined Kosher dills.
I don't think that the cookbook is any longer in print, so I'm going to post the recipe here. Feel free to add green tomatoes, lots of extra garlic and even dried or fresh chili peppers. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. They're really quick and easy to make, and can be stored in your fridge for quite a while. Plus, you should be able to find pickling cukes at your local farmer's market right now. If you have lots of green tomatoes on your tomato vines, which won't have a chance to ripen before the cooler Fall weather rolls in, this is a perfect thing to do with them.
Broadway Deli's Quick Dill Pickles
(makes 10 to 12 pickles)
These pickles taste just like the one's grandma used to make, only they're faster and easier to prepare. To transform bumpy little cucumbers into crisp, garlicky dill pickles, place all of the ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake. In four days you'll have the best dill pickles you've ever tasted.
4 quarts boiling water, for cleansing jar
3 tablespoons pickling spices
6 cloves garlic
10 to 12 firm, small pickling cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup Kosher salt (preferably Morton's brand, which is saltier than others)
1 bunch fresh dill
1. Pour boiling water into a 1-gallon canning jar and pour out. Drop pickling spices and 3 of the garlic cloves into the bottom of the jar. Arrange cucumbers in the jar to fill just up to the neck. Top with salt, remaining 3 garlic cloves, and dill. Add cold water to cover. Cover securely with the lid. Shake well and let stand for 3 to 4 days in a cool, dark place before serving.
2. Refrigerate after 4 days to stop the pickling process. The pickles will keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.
Variation: Replace cucumbers with green tomatoes.
Recipe adapted from Judy Zeidler's International Deli Cookbook; Great Recipes From The Broadway Deli, by Judy Zeidler, Chronicle Books, 1994
P.S. If you're wondering why there is a plate in my pickle jar (in the photo), it's because I doubled the recipe and topped the cukes with a plate. This helps to keep the pickles submerged in the brine.