Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Week 4, Day 2: Sloppy Joes, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Butternut Squash Slaw

Tonight's dinner comes from someone very special, someone who probably has influenced my cooking (well, everything in my life) more than anyone: my mom. She is an amazingly strong woman who raised me mostly on her own, and is just as wonderful a grandma as she is a mom. My kids love her and look forward to spending time with her, and I'm so grateful for all she does for us and with us. Love you, Mom!

Sloppy Joes, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Butternut Squash Slaw

Homemade Bread and Butter Pickles

5 pickling cucumbers (about 4 inches long)
4 slices fresh horseradish, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 C white vinegar
1 C sugar
3 C water
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp pickling spice
2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper
one quart mason jar, sterilized (I think two is more like it! I found 5 cucumbers and the amount of brine are way too much for one mason jar. But the pickles are addicting!) *Rachel's note: I halved this recipe and fit it into one jar.

Wash cucumbers, slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds, and place in a heated, sterilized mason jar with horseradish and fresh dill weed. Set a large pot over medium heat and add vinegar, sugar, water, garlic and pickling spices. bring the brine to a boil then pour over cucumbers and horseradish in still-hot mason jar and seal lid. Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. You can serve once chilled, but for best flavor serve after the pickles have been left overnight, at least.

Butternut Squash Coleslaw with Honey Goat Cheese Dressing

4 oz creamy goat cheese, room temperature
1-1/2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/2 C toasted walnuts
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
special equipment: mandolin (I think a shredder makes the coleslaw easier to eat)

In a large mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and plenty of pepper. Stir well with a whisk until fully combined and creamy. Cut off the top narrow portion of the butternut squash (**Rachel's note: below is a recipe to use this portion, which I haven't tested, but sounds delish). Peel and remove seeds inside of the bulb portion. Then using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut the peeled portion into fine, long matchstick (julienne). (I shredded it with a cheese grater and it worked wonderfully, except being awkward to hold.) This should yield about 4 cups. (Mom, do you remember me complaining that I didn't know how much it was supposed to make? If I wasn't blind I would have known!) Fold into the cheese dressing along with dried cranberries, walnuts and chopped parsley.

Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1-1/2 lbs ground turkey
salt and pepper
2 C ketchup
1/4 C mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Parker house rolls
Bread and butter pickles (can add them on the buns or on the side)

Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add ground turkey, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon (about 7-10 minutes). Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Finish with a splash of red wine vinegar and season it once more before serving.

The Verdict: 2 thumbs up, 3 thumbs medium. You can tell what a good grandma my mom is by the kid-friendliness of the recipe (what kid doesn't like sloppy joes!). The kids liked the sloppy joes, but they were a bit spicy. Next time I would tone them down a bit by halving the mustard. I really liked the dressing on the coleslaw, but next time I would do it with cabbage; the squash had a texture that wasn't my favorite. The pickles . . . well, surprisingly, since we all know how much our family loves vegetables (!), the pickles were not a hit. It may have been my own failings, though since I didn't have dill weed and I only chilled them for a few hours instead of overnight. I kind of liked them, and it's intrigued me enough to consider pickling when I put up jam, etc, this year. But I won't do more than a jar or so for myself.

**Crispy Parmesan Butternut Squash Chips

1 medium butternut squash
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 springs rosemary
2 sprigs sage
1/4 C grated parmigiano-reggiano (I just used grated Parmesan cheese)
Special equipment: deep-fryer, thermometer, mandolin

Remove the top cylinder portion of the butternut squash and peel. Using a mandolin, finely slide round ships from the peeled cylinder and hold in ice water for 30 minutes to chill. Preheat 2-3 inches of oil in a heavy-based pot to 320 degrees F. Add the fresh herbs and fry until they stop sizzling. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dry chips between paper towels, then fry in small batches for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and crispy. Season with salt and shower with fresh grated Parmesan and crumbled herbs.


Becky said...

So I am curious (not that it would effect my making of this meal as I am a Veggi Fanatic) how much did the squash coleslaw affect the voting? Even though you say the sloppy joes are a little spicy, I wonder if voting on just the sloppy joes would improve the votes. Do you vote on the entire meal or just the main course?

Molly said...

I hate to be a downer all the time, but my kids don't like Sloppy Joes. Isn't that weird?

Rachel said...

Actually, I only counted the sloppy joe votes. And Molly, my kids have only started to like sloppy joes since Isaiah started eating school lunch--now they are "cool."