Tuesday, August 26, 2008

do you relish relish?

it is "open" week at the everyday food and away to garden weekly produce fest. so far, we have covered zucchinis/cucumbers, tomatoes, string beans and corn...this week we can use whatever we want...so i thought i would try to accomplish two objectives at the same time #1..complete this blog post #2..figure out a strategy to ensure i have an easy, relaxing labor day holiday weekend because we have different friends visiting each day...and their plans are really flexible with no set times for arrival. i know that i want to visit the farmer's market at copia here in napa on saturday morning..and i want my weekend recipe planning to allow a lot of options based on what looks best that day.the perfect solution is relishes. now, most people, when they hear the word "relish", think of the relishes they grew up with. the yellow one for hot dogs..and the green one for hamburgers....that is not what i am talking about.... fresh, homemade relish is a completely different thing...and a terrific item to have on hand to dress up grilled chicken or fish or meat.
so what exactly is relish? i decided to post a definition and googled the word..my favorite result was from msn encarta..because all four answers describe my reasons for picking this topic for today's post.

noun (plural rel·ish·es)
1. enjoyment: a liking or appreciation of food or of an experience, e.g. a relish for Spanish food
2. spicy side dish or accompaniment: a spiced side dish or accompaniment to food, e.g. pickled or fresh vegetables with chili
3. strong taste: a pleasing sensation of strong taste or flavor
4. interest or excitement: interest or excitement, especially when it makes something more enjoyable. The incident added relish to an otherwise dull weekend.
the cool thing about relishes is their versatility. in addition to serving alongside grilled meats, they work well as part of an appetizer menu.... i serve them all with with bruschetta and assorted cheeses.. the cucumber and chilies relish is terrific as a side salad or spooned on top of a sandwich..try the roasted pepper relish as an omelet filling, or mix with hot pasta and grated parmesan, or make a panini with the peppers and your favorite cheese.... the tomatoes are delicious on their own eaten with tortilla chips, used as part of a pasta salad or added to a corn and black bean salad..get creative..there are countless uses.
i plan to make a relish each morning of the holiday weekend and then let them sit all day... i will decide how to use them later each afternoon..the good news is that they keep for 2-3 days so i can get creative throughout the weekend. give them a try..and please let me know the interesting ways you incorporate the relishes into your recipes...oh..one more thing..relishes traditionally call for their ingredients to be chopped...i like the vegetables cut in larger pieces..either way works really well..so make them however you like...i think that is the beauty of cooking..learning a technique and then adjusting to make it your own...happy labor day everyone...rest up, relax and have fun!!

cucumber & chilies relish
8 oz. cucumber (i use an english cucumber)
coarse kosher salt
2 jalapeno chilies
1 red chili
3 tbsp champagne or sparkling wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp organic sugar

thinly slice cucumber and place in a colander. sprinkle with the kosher salt. let sit for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with cold water. pat dry and arrange 1/2 of cucumber on a platter. seed and remove membranes from jalapeno and red chilies. (follow tips from tomato fest post on pico de gallo). cut peppers in half lengthwise and then very thinly slice. sprinkle 1/2 of sliced chilies on top of platter of cucumbers. cover with the remaining cukes and arrange remaining chilies on top. place vinegar and sugar in small bowl and whisk together until sugar is dissolved. pour dressing over cucumbers, cover platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. serve really cold.

note...to make even spicier...do not remove membranes from the peppers..to make insanely hot..keep some, if not all, of the seeds...

roasted pepper relish
3 red bell peppers (or 2 red and 1 yellow)
1 red onion (peeled, cut in 1/2 and then thinly slice)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice from one lemon (approx 2 tbsp)
3/4 tsp superfine dry mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp grey sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 1/2 tsp organic sugar

char peppers over gas flame until blackened on all sides. place in paper bag and let cool. remove skins. cut in half and then slice lengthwise into thin strips. place on serving platter and arrange red onions on top of peppers. combine remaining ingredients in a mason jar and shake well until thoroughly combined. pour dressing over onion/pepper mixture and refrigerate for several hours. serve cold or at room temperature. will keep in refrigerator up to 3 days..cover well..

fresh tomato relish
12 oz cherry tomatoes
5 green onions
1 jalapeno chili pepper(seed, remove membranes, cut in half lengthwise and thinly slice)--see cucumber relish for tip)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp grey sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup cilantro plus 1 tbsp
additional salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste
cut tomatoes in half (qtr if large) and place in medium bowl. slice green onions lengthwise into thin strips. finely chop green onion leaves. add green onion slices, chopped green onion leaves and jalapeno to tomato bowl and combine. add lemon juice, sea salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper and 1/4 cup cilantro to bowl and mix well. cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. sprinkle remaining cilantro over top and serve.
so..about the relish definition?? i hope these recipes fulfill all four examples..that you will enjoy the tastes, you have three spiced side dish recipes, that they each have a "pleasing sensation of strong taste or flavor"..and that they add interest or excitement to your weekend!! enjoy your holiday everyone...
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™


Anonymous said...

These relishes look delish! I will have to try some of them. This is the perfect time of year, too. Thanks for posting those!

Anonymous said...

Is that your dog swimming in a pool? I guess he will really have the fun on Labor Day.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome gari-ann and mike and thanks for your comments. gari-ann, please let me know how you like the relishes..and how you use them... mike, yes, that is mose..he swims almost every day in summer..way more than we do..he swims while we work in the garden..what's wrong with that picture??

Anonymous said...

Yum! I am going to make the cuke recipe this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I relish your site and thank you for the link.

Best wishes, Sally

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

any time sally..i thoroughly enjoy your site...