Olive Oil Pickles

Last summer I had a goal- I was going to learn how to can local produce so I could eat it throughout the year.  I bought some books with great excitement.  That’s about all I did.  I never bought any special canning equipment, and I’m not likely to buy it this year either.  Why?  Not because I’m lazy.  It’s because the first recipe I tried was for Olive Oil Pickles and they turned out so delicious that I olive-oil-pickled everything.  Best decision ever.

Here’s my favorite olive oil pickle recipe from the book The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.

  • Approximately 1 pound small or medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tsp pickling salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 2 TB whole yellow mustard seeds
  • Approximately 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • olive oil
If the cucumbers are 2-3 inches long, leave them whole. If they’re larger, slice them thinly.  In a large colander, toss the cucumbers and onions with the salt and let them sit a few hours at room temperature, draining out excess water.
Make sure you drain all of that cucumber water that is drawn out by the salt.  Then start layering cucumbers, onions, mustard seeds, and pepper flakes in sterilized jars.  Cover the cucumbers with vinegar and then pour some olive oil on top to coat the surface.  The olive oil provides a floating barrier against spoilage, so this step is important.  Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap and then seal it tightly with a lid. Store in a cool, dark place.
Wait a while.  The pickles will be ready in a few weeks, but let them sit a few months.  I’ll open my first jar later in the fall.

Row 14 Late Night Happy Hour

Don’t get me wrong… I’m a good, loyal Boulderite.  I love this town and I love the dining scene, but when it comes to late night food, there aren’t many options.  I wish we had kitchens open til midnight or later, and that food trucks could park downtown at night.  But no.  One must venture down to Denver to have such benefits.  So venture to Denver I did…
Row 14 is right downtown in The Spire building across from my favorite blue bear at the convention center.  Big bonus right there.  They also have a late night happy hour from 10pm-midnight, so walking in at 11:30 pm I sampled…
The Pickled Seasonal Vegetables.  I order this dish now at every single restaurant I visit that has pickles on the menu.  I’m a big seasonal pickler myself, so I am always interested in comparing professionally made pickles to my homemade pickles.  The beets, turnips, and onions were great. Crisp, balanced, delicious.

Hummus and Grilled Flatbread.  Yes, Please.  This is an ideal late night dish for me because it’s filling and healthy (remember I’m a Boulderite, so, health starts here…), and Row 14 makes a perfectly creamy chickpea hummus.  

Crispy Calamari… let’s just ignore the fact that I only had my handy iPhone with me, so we’re obviously not looking at the most amazing photo here.  But, yum. I scarfed it all down, and washed it down with a unique libation made by up-and-coming mixologist Tyler French.

I told Tyler I like Rye and he crafted something for me that was spirit forward.  I like it strong sometimes.
If Denver weren’t so far away from Boulder, and if I didn’t have to stop at a hotel over night to break up the drive, I’d go more often.  But seriously. Boulder needs to step it up with the late night food offerings.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy what Denver has to offer.

Fennel Pollen Grilled Tempeh

Since my spice cabinet is filled with Savory Spice Shop herbs and spices, it is always a fun endeavor creating something vegetarian for dinner. I’m interested in Fennel Pollen lately, so I thought I’d make a tempeh dish featuring this “spice of the angels.”
I didn’t really measure anything for my marinade, but it was basically
  • 1 TB dehydrated onion
  • 1/2 TB garlic powder
  • 1/2 TB dried parsley
  • 1/2 TB smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • a pinch of fennel pollen
  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • a splash of worcestershire
Mix that up, and pour it over some temepeh.
I let mine sit for an hour or so before grilling. Then, I opened my last jar of pickled onions from last summer’s crop. My pickled onions are so delicious- they’re not just any old pickled onions- they’re olive oil pickled onions, which means they have a coating of olive oil over the top which kept them from spoiling all winter (they did not withstand a boiling bath or any heated canning process). The olive oil mixes with the vinegar to create a salad-dressing-like flavor effect (or profile?).
I’ll be making twice as many pickled onions this year… But, first, back to my grilled tempeh. Grill it for a few minutes on each side. Easy.
I served mine with some grilled ciabatta, smoked provolone, olive oil pickled onions, and Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Ketchup, which is, quite frankly, the best ketchup.
So, go grill some tempeh and enjoy a meatless BBQ. Wash it down with a beer cocktail!

Fennel Pollen Turkey Burgers

The turkey burger. It’s become my spur-of-the-moment, don’t have dinner plans and don’t have 2 hours to cook, go-to guy. I’ve added all kinds of cheeses, herbs, spices, jalapeños… lots of stuff, and they usually come out great. But, I might have my new favorite here.
The secret ingredient? Fennel Pollen. All of you sausage lovers out there probably appreciate the flavor of fennel seeds. But have you tried fennel pollen? It is the pollen that comes from the tiny yellow flowers on the fennel plant and, according to the label, is sometimes called the “spice of the angels.” I must agree with that statement. And you’re probably asking yourself, “Where can I find this spice of the angels?” Well, Savory Spice Shop, of course. Where else would I get my secret ingredients?
Here’s how I made my new favorite burgers-
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey thigh
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a pinch of fennel pollen
  • ground black pepper
My least favorite part is mixing it with my hands and making the patties. I’ll admit it. But, I made 8 patties, grilled them for approximately 7 minutes on each side, and topped them with some Tillamook white cheddar cheese.
Left over ciabatta bread served as my bun, and homemade olive oil pickles from last summer’s crop added the perfect crunch to my spring-time, fennel pollen burger. Come to think of it, these will be great for grillin’ over Memorial weekend, and will pair well with my Honey Pepper Rascal Beer Cocktail.
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