This past weekend, a group of cooks joined me for my Summer Grill class. This is a class I would normally offer in June, but with other catering events along with the Covid resurgence, late August was my first chance.
The menu included the old (Vivian Howard’s BBQ Blueberry Chicken and Corn-Jalapeno Hushpuppies) and new (Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, Quick Pickled Fennel, and Coconut Cream Pie).
Even CDC protocols couldn’t dampen our spirit with weather in the low 80s with low humidity, a gentle breeze off the lake, grilling and chatting while drinking glasses of tea. Ah, this is what I call “the good life.”
These past few weeks, I have been looking to the past to regain stability and a sense of normalcy. For some reason, this recent Covid surge and my recent surgery has left me feeling a bit unsteady. Watching BBC shows, including vintage Miss Marple series, as well as my mother’s favorite series: “All Creatures Great and Small.” Listening to Tennessee and Texas country classics by Johnny Cash and the Mavericks. Preparing home-made tacos and escabeche to remind me of (THE BEST) Mexican tostados offered every Wednesday night at the United Pentecostal Church in Livingston, Texas. Anything to help me steer my ship through impending stormy seas with the threat of a resurgence of covid.
After picking 3 lbs. of jalapenos from my garden, which is currently in its death throws, I canned Escabeche. Back in Texas in the 1950s-60s, if you went to a Mexican or Seafood restaurant, you didn’t receive salsa. Instead, you were presented with crackers and a small bowl of Escabeche, which consisted of pickled pearl onions, carrots, cauliflower, and jalapenos. Spicy—but so good and goes with everything.
Unlike my friend Jo Parker, I am not a canner by trade. I freeze my marinara sauce, pesto, and soups; however, I can manage 5-pepper pepper jelly, apple sauce, and pumpkin butter.
If you enjoy spicy food, I think you might enjoy this escabeche. Serve it in a small bowl placed in the center of the table the next time you fry fish or grill steaks or roast a chicken, Peruvian style, or prepare Mexican food.
Escabeche Recipe: In a non-reactive pot, put 1 C apple cider vinegar, 1 C white vinegar, 4 C water, and 2 tsp. salt. Add 3 bay leaves, 5 whole cloves, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 4 allspice berries, 1 tsp. dried oregano, and 1 tsp. mustard seeds, and bring to a simmer.
Next, add 3-4 medium carrots (peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices), 9 large jalapeños (sliced into ¼ inch rings and seeded), 4 cloves of garlic, minced, 20 pearl onions or 2-3 vidalia onions, cut in wedges, and 1/2 medium cauliflower (cut into small florets), and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, leaving vegetables slightly firm.