Gingery Pickled Beets

My husband has slowly started clearing out our winter vegetables to make room for his spring planting.  A few weeks ago he decided it was time for the beets to go. So I got out my “Food in Jars” cookbook that my sister gave me as a present after my first canning adventure and found a recipe for Gingery Pickled Beets.

Food in Jars

My friends, Jenny and Vickie, came over to see how the process works and to help me out with the mountain of beets. Well, it turns out there wasn’t a mountain but definitely enough to keep us busy.

I did some of the prep before they arrived – boiling and peeling the beets.  The colors of these beets are so intense and beautiful.

Beets boiled & peeled Beets boiled & peeled

Once they arrived, wine was opened (of course) and then it was a fury of sterilizing the jars, cutting the beets and preparing the brine.

Ready for the brine Ready for the brine Ready for the brine

I will say that the hardest part of this process was filling the jars with the liquid.  So far I have only preserved tomatoes, tomato sauce and red onion marmalade – all of which you cook in one pot and add to the jars.  This calls for placing the beets in the jars first, then adding the preserving brine.  After a few spills over the top, I finally got the hang of it.  We had a little over two pounds of beets, but I only made one batch of brine so it was a mad scramble to make a bit more to fill the last of the jars.

Ready for the brine Adding the brine Adding the brine

We had a lot of fun and this executive canner couldn’t have done it (well, wouldn’t have wanted to do it) without my two sous canners.  They each got to take home a jar as a parting gift for their efforts.

Processed Processed Good to the last drop

Epilogue:  Over a week has passed since I made this recipe so last night we decide to open a jar to taste.  So delicious.  I had to stop my husband from eating the whole jar since we all wanted to try them. I will definitely be making this again.

Pickled & Delicious


Gingery Pickled Beets

Adapted from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

(if you are at all interested in canning, seriously – buy this book.  It is amazing)


2 pounds beets (I used mix of red, golden & chioggia beets)

2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons pickling salt (I substituted kosher salt and it worked fine)

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 (2 inch / 5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced


Scrub the beets and remove the greens and roots.  Put beets in a pot and cover with water.  Simmer over medium heat until the beets are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, you want them to be firm so they are still a bit crunchy once they are pickled.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Once they are cool, rub the skins off with your fingers.  Beets stain so wear plastic gloves!  Cut the beets into wedges and set aside.

Sterilize 4 regular-mouth 1-pint jars in a boiling water bath. Place the lids in a saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over low heat.

Combine vinegar, 2 cups of water, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick and ginger slices in a pot and bring to a boil.

While the brine is boiling, pack the beets into your sterilized jars and slowly pour the hot brine over the beets.  Make sure to include a few ginger slices in each jar.  Leave about 1/2 inch space from the top.  Gently tap the jars on the countertop to loosen the bubbles or use a wooden chopstick to dislodge the bubbles. Add more brine if necessary.

Wipe the rims, put on the lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Let them cure for at least a week before eating.


Cooks County

My yet-to-be-named restaurant club dined at Cook’s County recently.  Circle of Trust is the unofficial name that seems to have stuck since we eat freely, drink freely and talk freely at our dinners, but only the food and wine talk is shared beyond the table.

Cooks County is another restaurant that serves small plates.  I know Evan Kleiman and Jonathan Gold often discuss on “Good Food” how every restaurant these days seem to specialize in this.  I am not sure if they think it is a good thing or a bad thing.  But I think it is a very good thing indeed.  If I could spend my life just eating appetizers, that would make me happy.

Cooks County Menu

We wanted to order a nice wine but couldn’t decide on the bottle.  Our waitress brought over several tasters to help us and we chose the 2007 Muga Rioja. I think this is an incredible thing that restaurants will do.  My husband’s best friend was visiting from the UK and we went to a restaurant that has an enormous, eclectic beer selection.  He was shocked when the waiter brought over several small tasters to help him make up his mind.  “That would never happen in the UK, mate.”


We started with the “Snacks” portion of the menu:  Cast Iron Bread & Farmhouse Butter, Fried Cardoons with Parmesan, Sage & Spicy Aioli, Market Radishes & Lemon Meyer Butter and Braised Local Squid with Red Wine & Cannellini Beans.  I know some people balk at paying for bread & butter but when it’s this good, it’s worth it.  So worth it we got a second order!  Cardoons, for those of you who don’t know – including us because we had to ask our waitress – are artichoke thistles. Butter on anything makes it better but, butter on radishes is divine.  The squid was perfectly cooked, tender and flavorful.

Then we ordered off the “Appetizers” and “Sides” menu.  We never even got to the “Mains”.  See, my kind of meal.  The Cauliflower & Romanesco Salad with Fingerling Potatoes, Hard Cooked Eggs & Mustard was as flavorful as it was beautiful.  Same could be said for the Grilled Eggplant, Fire Roasted Nardello peppers, Sheep’s Milk Ricotta & Pomegranate Vinaigrette.  Cooks County supports local farms and ranches, and we could taste this freshness in their dishes.  To see these purveyors listed at the bottom of their daily menu is really impressive.

The last small plate to arrive was the Pan-Roasted Clams, Shaved Fennel, Pickled Chili & Garlic Rubbed Toast.  This was one of those dishes where you wanted to spoon up the incredible broth as soup.  This dish is why we ordered that second round of Cast Iron Bread.  We had to have something to soak it all up.

Pan Roasted Clams with Garlic Rubbed Toast

We had a big debate over the dessert but since it was close to Jenny’s birthday, she got to choose – Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Butter Sugar Cream & Pumpkin Seed Brittle.  I had my doubts but this dessert was delicious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

However, looking back over the dessert menu now, I am sad we didn’t throw caution to the wind and also order the Sugar & Spice Donuts with Sour Plum Jam & Muscovado Sugar Ice Cream as well as the Apple Turnover with Huckleberry Compote & Brown Butter Ice Cream.

Another incredible evening dining out in LA.

Our Table

Gifts from the heart, or at least from your own kitchen

I decided this past Christmas that I was going to try my hand at homemade gifts. Now I certainly couldn’t post this before Christmas for fear that it might spoil the surprise for those receiving my homemade goods. But I was so pleased with how they turned out that I now will be giving them as hostess, birthday, cheer up or just because gifts. So I suppose this is the spoiler alert for any of my friends who plan on inviting me to a dinner party.

It started out with a simple idea.  I cut a basil salt recipe out of Food Network Magazine and it had been sitting in my stack of recipes for months, along with the kosher salt and sweet little glass salt shakers from Cost Plus collecting dust in my pantry. One Saturday when my basil plant was overflowing I just picked off all the leaves, threw them in the food processor with the salt and baked the mixture.  It came out the most amazing green color. It was electric.

Basil Salt fresh out of the oven

Basil Salt fresh out of the oven

I poured it into the jars, made my own labels, tied on an old-fashioned Christmas tag with twine and that was that.

Basil Salt Jars by Jules

Basil Salt Jars by Jules


adapted from Food Network Magazine

Pulse ½ cup kosher salt with 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves in a food processor.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees F until dry, about 45 minutes, tossing halfway through. Let cool and pulse again for a fine powder.  I skipped the second pulse because I liked the coarse grainy look and feel.

I decided my next food gift was going to be my sister’s delicious red onion marmalade.  It is always a favorite and now that I know how to can, I was able to make several to take with us to London for Christmas.

Double the recipe if you can, but you will need a very large sauté pan.  This batch only produced 3 full jars (plus some extra as a nice treat with aged gouda that night)

Red Onion Marmalade Label

Click the label for the recipe on my sister’s blog

The last gift I made was Jamie’s Epic Hot Chocolate.  As I might have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and spent the months leading up to Christmas watching all of his past Channel 4 Christmas specials over and over.  He makes this incredibly rich hot chocolate and griddle pan waffles outside on a cold winter’s day over an open fire.  It was the perfect gift for my husband’s best friend’s three girls, or young ladies as I should now call them.  The only thing I didn’t add was the malt powder.  I couldn’t find it anywhere here in Los Angeles.

The best part of this gift was that I had been racking my brain to come up with a nice gift for my son’s preschool teachers and this was it. It was perfect because my son could help make it, which I think makes it more special.


adapted from “Jamie’s Christmas With Bells On”


4 heaped tbsp. cocoa powder

3 heaped tbsp. powdered sugar

2 heaped tbsp. of malt powder (optional)

2 heaped tbsp. corn flower

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cinnamon

3.5 – 4 oz. quality dark chocolate (70%), finely grated (plus a little extra coarsely grated to add to the top)


Add the above ingredients (except the coarsely grated chocolate) into a large jar and shake to mix up.  Once mixed, spoon into gift jars and add a sprinkle of the coarsely grated chocolate on top.

Use 5 heaped tbsp. to 1 pint steaming milk.