Archive for July, 2013

James Beard Foundation

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

SPEX attended a fundraiser in support of the James Beard Foundation on Monday June 15, 2013. The function was held at the headquarters on West 12th street in the heart of the Village in New York City, which just happens to be where the culinary legend lived for many years. The foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.

The excellent wine tasting was hosted by Maynard James Keenan of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards of Jerome AZ. Mr. Keenan is, of course, a music icon as well.

Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan

The hors d’oeuvres followed by a great five course dinner were created by Chef Mike Carrino of the “Pig and the Prince” in Montclair, NJ. Chef Mike was assisted by his staff and several of the students from the James Beard Culinary Arts School.

Pickled Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions, Mushrooms… I call them Premium Pickled Stuff

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

I started pickling a few years back because so many peppers ripened all at once that I couldn’t keep up with them just through eating…. and I certainly was not going to let them go to waste. Initially I pickled just peppers, all different kinds together, but then I began adding onions. Then I tried small green tomatoes, then mushrooms and who knows what is next on the list. I found that the same basic method worked for just about anything I tried, so I decided to share it with you. By the way I have never pickled cucumbers.


Start by washing and cutting off the stems. You can remove most of the seeds from the peppers but if you want more heat then leave in more seeds. I use a food processor to slice the peppers and onions fairly fine. They make a great topping for sandwiches and salads. For the tomatoes and mushrooms I just cut them into bite size pieces.

Cut Peppers pickled-stuff

The basic recipe for the brine is always the same but I change the spices just about every time; guidelines:

  • 5 Cups white pickling vinegar
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 Cup pickling spice
    4 Teaspoons pickling/canning salt
  • 2 Teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 Teaspoons coarse, ground black pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon whole black/white peppercorns
  • 2 Teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 Teaspoons cumin
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Dill to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes


Place your canning jars and lids in simmering/boiling water for 5-10 minutes to sterilize them; remove and let cool until ready to fill. Stuff the jars to within ½ inch of the top with the cut up vegetables and press down slightly. Ladle the brine to fill the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace and make sure to get some of the pieces of spice in each jar. Put on the lids and screw the top on hand tight. Submerge the jars in boiling water for ten minutes. Remove the jars and set on a towel to cool making sure you hear a “ping” from each jar assuring a good seal.