Pickled Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Radishes with Anise Seed

Pickled vegetable salad is found in cuisines around the globe. I made the giardiniera from The Grand Central Market Cookbook the other day so it had a few days to marinate in brine for Thanksgiving. I decided to make a second salad to evangelize my love of anise with vegetables.  Believe me, anise seed does not make your food taste like licorice.

  • 2 tsp anise seed
  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar

To make this, I made the brine first because it must be cooled down before you add it to the veggies. I heated a saucepan over medium heat. I added anise seed and let it bloom a bit, heating it in the dry pan until the aroma scented the room. Then I added apple cider vinegar, a whole serrano chile with the stem removed, salt, and sugar. Heat this until the sugar dissolves, Remove from the heat and cool.

  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups of carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 cups of radish, trimmed and sliced.
  • Serrano chile, (removed from brine and chopped)

Chop the vegetables, add the brine. Let marinate for at least 12 hours. This is a crispy, crunchy salad with a bright flavor. This is my second pickled salad for Thanksgiving dinner and serves 8.




Pickled Strawberries

Pickled Strawberries

Pickled Strawberries with a few sliced almonds

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

I got 10 pounds of strawberries at Harvest Share and was trying to think how to use them quickly before they turned. I froze several packages, but ran out of freezer bags, so I was looking at all these strawberries that even if I ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I would not be able to eat them quickly enough. I had this wild idea of pickling them and googled for recipes to work from. I found one that sounded delicious, but I didn’t have mint or serrano chiles. So, I mailed it to a friend of mine who also went to Harvest Share and said, how about you make these and I will make some others and we can trade.

I decided to just run with a standard pickling brine with sugar and vinegar, adding some balsamic vinegar because I know strawberries and balsamic vinegar love each other. I tossed in some red pepper flakes because sweet and spicy make some of the most addictive flavors.

I cut off the tops of the strawberries and stuffed them in some jars with lids. I used old peanut butter jars. Meanwhile, on the stove I heared vinegar and sugar, adding red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar after the sugar dissolved. I let the brine cool completely before pouring over the strawberries. I made sure they were completely submerged in brine and stuck them in the fridge, turning a few times. The next day they were ready…

Wow! These are dangerously addictive. They are spicy, but not uncomfortably spicy. The sweet and spicy flavor is perfect. They would be great served with pork. A friend brought over some espresso brownies last night and I cut one in half, putting a strawberry on each half. It was fabulous.

Far from being a recipe you might want to use up strawberries before they spoil, this is a recipe that would justify going out and buying a flat of them.

Pickled Strawberries

Brussels Sprouts, Black Beans, and Carrots

This was a quick and easy supper.

  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut off the end and then halve or quarter depending on the size so they are all the same size.
  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed with water
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add anise seed until the aroma fills the room. Add carrots and salt and pepper. Sauté for about two minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until warmed through. Be sure you don’t overcook to the point they are softened. Add black beans, rinse thoroughly so the juice from the can does not color the veggies. Add salt and pepper. When they are warmed through, squeeze fresh lemong juice and cover for 1 minute.

I love the flavor of anise and vegetables. It really does not taste like licorice. It marries vegetables perfectly. The black beans adds a bit of protein to balance the dish and give it the carbs that really make it satisfying.

Peanut Slaw with Dried Dates


This was a quick and easy slaw using some Spicy Peanut Dressing I made the other day.


  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

So I sliced up  a salad bowl full of cabbage, diced up two dried figs. Tossed with the peanut dressing. Delicious.

The mix of spicy heat and sweetness and citrus tang make this a great salad dressing. Cabbage is friendly to just about any dressing and the dried figs add just a perfect contrast.

Three Cucumber Salads

Cucumber Salad

Why three cucumber salads in one post? Because I got 15 pounds of cucumbers from the Food Bank’s Harvest Share program and cucumbers do not keep that well without some vinegar. So, I spent a long time slicing and dicing and mixed up three huge salads. Two of them based on my mom’s delicious old-fashioned cucumber salad.

This is mom’s recipe. Slice your cucumbers no more than 1/4 inch thick. I used a mandoline and easily sliced wafer thin slices. Layer the slices in a container with high sides, lightly salting between layers. I used Glad’s 13 cup family size container which held about 8 -10 large cucumbers, sliced. I put a sheet of wax paper over the container and set my cast iron fry pan on top of the wax paper and then put my tea kettle on top of that so it was weighted down heavily. I left it for a few hours and came back to add the dressing.

After two hours, I dumped the cucumbers into a big colander and let them drain. Rinsing the Glad container to get the saltiness out, I mixed the dressing right in the container while the cukes drained. I used 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP of dill weed, 1 tsp of garlic salt, and 2 tsp of celery seed.  I squeezed the juice out of the cucumbers, added them back into the container with the dressing and refrigerated overnight so they absorbed back the fluid I had drawn out with salt. Now they are saturated with a fresh dill flavor that has a mild bite. Makes 10 cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

I only made about 7 cups of this salad because I used oil so it won’t last as long. To make it I cut the cucumbers into 4-6 inch long lengths that I shredded on the mandoline, making threads of cucumber. I also sliced and diced finely two purple onions. I salted and let rest for about an hour. Squeezing out the excess, I grated the zest of two limes over the salad, mixing it in. Then,  squeezed the lime juice into a sauce bowl for the dressing. I added 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 cup light olive oil, 2 TBSP of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I poured on top of the cucumber and onions, shook and let sit to absorb flavors for a few hours. This is a spicy, tangy salad with that delicious earthy tang of limes and the heat of peppers.  It’s delicious on a sandwich with pulled pork. Makes six cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

These are pepper-salted cucumber slices, also a recipe from my mom. As before, I sliced the cucumbers, layering with salt until I filled the 13 cup container. I added weight on top of them and let them sit for two hours to draw out the liquid. I drained them in a colander, squeezing out all the liquid I could.

In the 13 cup plastic container, I added 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 TBSP of pepper. I mixed together, Added the cucumber and let it soak up the vinegar overnight. This has a fresh vinegary taste with a bit of bite from the pepper, fresh and cool followed by just a bit of heat. Makes 10 cups.

Caraway Carrot Sticks

Caraway Carrot Sticks.png

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Smoky Split Pea Soup


So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar


Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.


Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw


Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Pear & Delicata Squash Soup

I have an abundance of pears so I decided on making a pear soup. One of my favorite soups is Pear & Parsnip Soup but I didn’t have any parsnips. I had a delicata squash though and thought it looked promising.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 3 small pears or 2 large pears
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

I put my soup kettle on a low medium with the olive oil. I added the diced onions and dried thyme, letting them slowly cook until transparent.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up the squash, reserving the seeds. It made about 2 cups of chopped up squash, perhaps a little bit over.  Adding the squash to the pot, I stirred and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes. While they cooked, I peeled and chopped up the pears and added them to the pot and let it cook a couple more minutes before tossing in the wine and the broth. I turned up the heat so it began to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.


While the soup was cooking, I rinsed the seeds in water and cleaned away the stringy pulp. Pushing the pulp against the strainer mesh helped in cleaning it away. I then heated a cast iron skillet in a dry pan with no oil to a notch above medium. I tossed the seeds in and toasted them with some kosher salt until toasty brown, stirring frequently so they did not burn. These I set aside for garnish.

I let the soup cook until the squash was tender and puréed with an immersion blender. Serving with a few squash seeds on top, it was a delicious soup. The flavor of the wine comes through without overpowering the soup. The sweetness of the pears and the squash make it lush and slightly sweet. It is a light and refreshing soup. This makes six servings.