Mustard Pickled Cucumbers

If your cucumber plants are as prolific as ours then you might be looking just for this: mustard pickled cucumbers, or Senfgurken in German.

It will work best with pickling cucumbers, or Gewuerzgurken in German, in contrast to salad cucumbers. Them spiky ones, if you look out for them in the shops or in the market.

I take 5 large ones for 3 Kilner jars:

Peel and quarter the cucumbers lengthwise, remove the seeds. Trim to the inner height of the jars minus half an inch but keep the off-cuts. Toss with 75 g salt and leave in a bowl for 24 hours, then drain and dry with kitchen tissue or a clean tea towel.

Mix 500 ml white wine, fruit or cider vinegar with 500 ml water. Dissolve 200 g cane sugar, add a teaspoon of crushed mixed pepper corns, a few crushed allspice berries, a teaspoon of lightly crushed coriander seeds. A teaspoon of ground turmeric, 50 g slightly crushed yellow mustard seeds. Bring this to the boil.

Meanwhile, stack the cucumbers in the Kilner jars together with a sliced onion. Add a star anise, a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf or a few cloves if you are so inclined, then top up with the hot pickling liquor. Smaller off-cuts get the same treatment in a more chaotic order.

Seal the jar and put it away for four weeks, then enjoy the pickled cucumbers with cheese or cold meats.

Gravlax

DSC_1221Gravlax, or Graved Lax, is a dish made from raw cured salmon. It is very easy to make, and very delicious to eat. I find it is best enjoyed with horseradish or mustard sauce on a slice of flavoursome bread and with a little green side salad, but whether you have it for breakfast, for elevenses, for lunch, as a starter or for your supper is up to you.

It can also be used in most dishes that call for smoked salmon, like a salmon and goats cheese quiche.

Preparation takes only 30 minutes, but you should allow four days for the curing.

Go and buy two pieces of salmon filet, with skin. You don’t need to buy a whole side, all you need is two pieces of the same size and shape.

For 1 kg of raw salmon, mix 2 tablespoons of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, 2 teaspoons of crushed juniper berries, 2 teaspoons of crushed allspice and a large fresh bunch of Dill, very finely chopped.

Grate one raw beetroot into the mix for extra drama.

If you feel the urge to wash any of this, be sure to dry it well with a kitchen towel or a salad spinner.

Rub the spice and herb mix onto the meat side of the fillet pieces, then pile the remaining mix evenly on one of the fillets and place the second fillet on top.

If you have a vacuum sealing machine, that’s ideal as no juices seep out, but you must be careful that the two halves stay on top each other, herbs in the middle. You must also work very fast as salt and sugar draws liquid  out of the meat, which will very quickly prevent your vacuum machine from sealing the pouch.

Alternatively, wrap very firmly in cling film, then tin foil, then wrap one or two tea towels around firmly (to soak up what seeps out), then place into a reusable plastic container with a lid.

Put in the fridge and leave in peace for four days, except for one rotation each day.

When it is done, unwrap carefully, scrape off the loose herbs and spices, and cut into very thin slices.