Cucumbers. Absolutely marvelous food. Or eye patches.
I often use cucumbers in dips where they are combined with yogurt or sour cream for a mellow treat. But, there are options. This recipe gives you fire on day one and a tumult of heat if you let it sit in the refrigerator.
I would normally say here to play with ingredients, but I suggest you follow this recipe meticulously. Get a sense of the heat and, if you have the courage, you can ramp it all up next time.
The flavors here layer. They do not clash. But like a spice symphony, they do come together for a grand finale.
[Oh, if you read the recipe, and compare the pictures, then you will see that, yes, I did peel the cucumbers.]
Nippy Cucumber Relish
Yield: 4 cups
- 4 large Kirby [pickling] cucumbers, each about 5 inches long [about 1 ¼ pounds]
- 1 medium carrot
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh red jalapeno, or other hot red pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Scrub the cucumbers and cut ½ inch off each end. Cut the cucumbers in large dice and place the diced pieces in a bowl.
Trim and peel the carrot. Grate it on the largest holes of your metal grater. Stir the carrots into the cucumbers.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve right away at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled. Keep chilled until almost ready to serve. The relish will last for 5 days in the refrigerator. However, do recall this: every day it sits there marinating, the relish gets hotter. Day 1 is fine. Day 5 requires a cold beer.
Source: Chutneys & Relishes by Lorraine Bodger
Last year I posted the lovely recipe below for Jalapeno Butter from Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid. It’s a perfect recipe for this 4th of July. Jalapeno Butter on corn or on barbequed steak turns goodness into greatness.
Lately I have seen some options and tried some extensions. So, while you can follow the recipe below, here are ideas to expand your flavor repertoire.
First, you can keep the garlic and parsley and/or add some scallions for a modest flavor shift.
Second, instead of mashing everything together, use a food processor to generate a very smooth texture. A few seconds with soft butter will do it. You’ll want to pulse to mix, not to complete obliterate the jalapenos. What you should end up with is a lovely light green butter with speckles of dark jalapeno green.
Third, of course, you’ll want to use unsalted butter, then taste test. Some salt will probably be needed but it’s a matter of your preferences and the nature of your salt. This is the perfect time to visit that new salt store down the block and try something wild. A smoked salt would be perfect here.
Fourth, take out the parsley and replace with cilantro. Even more Mexican.
Ah, finally, if you have jalapeno and cilantro, you could put in half a ripe avocado for a guacamole butter.
And, really, really finally, if you have some or all of these suggested additions, you can edge towards a margarita flavor. Tread carefully here. Use 1-3 teaspoons of lime juice and/or 1-3 teaspoons of tequila. In the food processor, life is easy. Remember, you can’t un-lime and you certainly can’t un-tequila so start small and add.
In our latest batch, Suzen did the two jalapenos and one stick of butter.
“It’s a little too subtle I …” I stopped talking and went in search of a beer. Particularly if you use a high quality butter, the butter flavor and smoothness may come forward. You are about to fooled. It can take a few seconds for the backend hit of the jalapeno to register. Oh, but it will! So when you make this, already have the beer cold, out, and open. You’ll need it for the corn and steak anyway.
Jalapeno Butter 2012
Yield: ½ cup
- 2 jalapeno chilies
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Grill the jalapenos, turning them occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes.
Using a small paring knife, peel the jalapenos. Scrape out the discard the seeds and veins. Coarsely chop the chiles and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the butter, garlic and parsley and mash together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the jalapeno butter onto the center of a square piece of plastic warp. Roll it up into a 1-inch diameter log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until set, or for up to 1 week.