Easy, Vietnamese-Style Pickles

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This past week was a total whirlwind. There was a lot of meeting and eating and Megan came to visit! Last week I mentioned we’d be attending a conference for food bloggers here in Portland. It was a really great time. Some really informative presentations were given, there was lots of great food, and a lot of connections were made. I can’t think of a better town that is more fit for a food blogger conference than Portland and it didn’t hurt that it was the one I live in! I got to meet so many bloggers that I have admired for a long time–and didn’t even get to meet everyone that I would have liked to. I always leave these sorts of events feeling inspired–as cheesy as that sounds–and the Indulge Conference was no different. I plan to recap all the food and stuff we did–in case you’re ever in Portland and want some recommendations on what to eat and do.

Anyway, as part of my prep for getting things ready for my blog-pal-house-guest, I made a big batch of these easy, Vietnamese-Style pickles. They’re a super simple ratio of 1:1 rice vinegar and water with a little salt and sugar. You could pretty much pickle any vegetable, but I’ve even been thinking some summer stone fruits would be interesting as well. I opted for red onion–which turns pink!–in addition to jalapeños & shallots, and classic carrots.  I figured between all the donuts that we’d be consuming…and pie, pizza, and ice cream…we might want to have a fresh, homemade dinner in there somewhere. We used these pickles in grilled pork summer rolls packed with green leaf lettuce, fresh herbs, chopped peanuts, and ripe avocado. I also threw together my favorite peanut sauce–which I will try to remember to share, soon! These pickles are so easy and good–it’s my goal to have them on hand all summer long for summer rolling and bahn mi making. #priorities.

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Easy Vietnamese-Style Pickles

Makes 4 cups pickling liquid.  About enough for 3, 24 ounce, jars of pickles.

You can pretty much pickle any vegetable in this brine–the classic carrots and daikon are obviously great, but cucumber, any sort of onion, and peppers are also excellent.

2 cups natural (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar

2 cups water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

6-8 tablespoons granulated sugar

approximately 6 cups finely sliced or julienned vegetables–I used jalapeños & shallots, red onion, and carrots

Heat the rice wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar (adjust to your taste) in a saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Turn off the heat. Pack the jars with the respective vegetables and pour the hot liquid over the top to cover–leaving about 1/2 inch head-room at the top of each jar. Fit with a lid and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator. You can eat these pickles after a few hours, but I think they are best after at least 2 days.

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Lemon Bar Ice Cream

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Are you guys watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? I’ve been trying not to burn through the episodes, but I mean…I love a good binge watching session and for the last 2 nights Sean and I have been watching after we put Casper down for the night. (Side-note: he’s sleeping through the night most nights now…HALLELUJAH! Queue the choir of angels)! Anyway, I kind of love it. It’s a little cheesy in my favorite way, the theme song includes the line “Females are strong as hell!” (TRUE), and I always loved Ellie Kemper as Erin in The Office, plus Tina Fey is amazing, so needless to say I’ve become a quick fan of the show. Anyway, I feel like this ice cream might be something that would blow Kimmy’s mind and definitely elicit one of her 90’s throwback exclamations (possibly my favorite thing about her character).

I mean, this ice cream has a lot of good, exciting things happening: Lemon-scented vanilla bean ice cream base, tart meyer lemon curd ripples, and crunchy, buttery shortbread cookie crumbles! I definitely used the homemade Meyer Lemon Curd I shared last week, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use store-bought. It’s creamy, rich, sweet, tangy, and has a ton of texture and totally tastes like the ice cream version of a classic lemon bar without making a batch of lemon bars and churning them into a batch of ice cream. So, “By the power vested in me as an adult who is a grown-up”, maybe have ice cream for dinner (PS, don’t ever tell my son I okay’ed that). #hasbrown-nofilter

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Lemon Bar Ice Cream

This ice cream is a riff on my favorite, easy ice cream base from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

If you don’t have a vanilla bean, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of extract and skip the steeping portion of the recipe.

2 cups whole milk

4 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup Meyer Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups crumbled, store-bought shortbread cookies

Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch, set slurry aside. Set the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the salt, place a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat remaining milk with the cream. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add both the scraped beans and pod to the milk and cream, as well as the lemon zest. Heat to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk mixture and add sugar and corn syrup, reheat to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, whisking, until thickened. Whisk a ladleful of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, before straining the remaining hot mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine. Prepare an ice bath and pour the hot ice cream base into a large plastic bag. Chill bag in ice bath until cooled and process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Once the ice cream is processed, layer 1/3 of the ice cream in the bottom of a lidded container, spoon 1/3 of the lemon curd over the top and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumbled shortbread cookies. Repeat these steps with the remaining ice cream, curd, and cookies. Fit the lid over the container and freeze for several hours, until set. Serve with additional cookies and lemon curd, if you want. [/recipe]

 

Meyer Lemon Curd

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This past summer, right after Casper was born, my mom bought me a couple of plants for the yard–a squat, red Japanese maple, a lilac, and two jasmine plants. It was our first trip out of the house and Casper was only a few days old. I wore him in my Solly wrap and wandered Portland Nursery in what I can only describe as a new-mom-haze–a mixture of emotions running from sentimental, to overwhelmed, to smitten. While we were there I spotted a wee Meyer lemon tree and always the giver, my mom bought it,  potted it, and popped in my house by our back door. It’s a glass slider door that gets a ton of afternoon light and my little citrus has been growing pretty well, I think. It sprouted a few little lemons, to our surprise, but it really won’t bear much fruit for a couple of years. Until then, I will prune the waxy leaves, try to keep Casper from eating the potting soil, and buy my Meyer lemons from the store and turn them into lemon curd until my home-grown citrus dreams come true.

Lemon curd is one if my favorite sweet-tart condiments. Meyer lemons have the faintest flavor of tangerine that balances the tartness, making this curd just a touch sweeter than traditional lemon curds. It’s amazing smeared onto a cream scone or biscuit, prefect In a pastry shell, and delicious with shortbread cookies. Next week I’ll be posting a frozen treat I swirled with this curd, so stay tuned!!

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Meyer Lemon Curd

about 2 cups curd

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (about 5 lemons)

zest of 1 meyer lemon

In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients, whisk to break up the eggs. Set the pan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. The curd is thick enough when it coats a spoon so when you run a finger over the back of the spoon the curd doesn’t run back together. Remove from the heat and scrape the curd into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and press it through to sieve out the zest. Pour the curd into a heatproof jar to cool. Cover and store the cooled curd in the refrigerator for 1 week.

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