How to Pickle Cucumbers

About 16 days ago I attended a class on pickling organised by Westfield Hurstville and run by the Sutherland Shire Cooking School.  We pickled some baby cucumbers (cukes). These were put into a pickle brine for about two weeks.

I took them out today and they had changed colour and were vinegary and crispy. They were also a bit too salty for my taste. Inspired by the recipe we used that day, I include a recipe for Pickled Cucumbers in this post.

Place pickling ingredients in a sterilised jar

Add baby cucumbers (cukes)

Add salt, water, vinegar and cover

After 2 weeks, they are ready!

Pickled Cucumber Recipe:

Place a few sprigs of dill and a crushed dried bay leaf into a sterilised 550ml jar (with lid).  Add 6 whole baby cukes (cut off the ends first). Add a few slices of mild pepper and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Some celery tops and chopped shallots are nice too.

Then add about 500ml water – up to about 5cm from the top of the jar. Add 1 level teaspoon rock salt (or 3/4 tsp cooking salt without iodine). Cover and shake the jar well.

Open the jar and add enough white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar to cover the cukes. Seal the jar with lid and keep in a cool place for about 2 weeks. Taste to see if they are ready, store in fridge after opening.

Photos & Text Sophia Poulos.

Advertisements

Speedy Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni are surprisingly easy to make.  Using store bought fresh lasagne sheets, some chopped spinach and creamy ricotta, and topped with a rich tomato sauce, they are ready to bake in no time.

Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni Recipe

Butter, for greasing baking dish

1 bunch Spinach, Swiss Chard or Silverbeet, stems reserved, leaves chopped finely,

250g ricotta

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 tablespoon chopped basil

1 tablespoon grated parmesan

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon chilli oil, optional

375g fresh lasagne sheets, cut in half, crossways

1 tablespoon grated parmesan, extra

Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red onion, chopped finely

Stems of spinach, chopped finely (optional)

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup red wine

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

400g canned chopped tomato

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Pinch cinnamon and pinch allspice

Method

Butter a large rectangular baking dish.

Prepare Tomato Sauce as detailed below.

Place about 1 cup of prepared sauce to cover the base of the baking dish.  This will prevent the cannelloni from sticking to the dish.  Set aside dish and reserve the rest of the sauce.

Mix remaining ingredients, except lasagne sheets and extra parmesan, thoroughly in a large bowl.

Take a lasagne sheet piece, place with the shortest side closest to you.  Add two heaped tablespoons of the spinach mixture along the centre of the sheet.  Brush top edge of sheet with water and roll up to enclose filling.

Place roll into prepared baking dish.  Repeat with remaining lasagne sheets and mixture.

Top the rolls with reserved tomato sauce and extra parmesan.

If the dish looks too dry, add some extra water.  Cover with a layer of baking paper and then a layer of foil.   You can refrigerate the dish at this point, if you wish, and cook it later.

Cook in a preheated moderate oven (180 deg Celsius), for approximately 1 hour.

Tomato Sauce

Heat oil in frypan.  Cook onion, spinach stems and garlic over medium heat until softened.

Add wine and cook about 2 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients and cook until thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

Add 2 cups water to thin out the sauce. Bring to boil.  Set aside.

[Copyright text and photos Sophia Poulos]