Aleppo Pepper Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons have a few different aliases: you may know them as lemon pickle or lemon confit (though I tend to think of lemon confit as something else entirely). Whatever you call them, making at least one jar of these has become a favorite yearly tradition of mine, using some of Karen’s wonderful meyers. I love the yearly splurge so – no other time of the year is it more appreciated and so needed. February is tough – the cold around here really starts to get old, record-breaking snowfall wears you out and your bones themselves begin to crave spring. Warm sunny says seem so long ago they become the stuff of legend.

Preserved Lemons by Snowflake Kitchen

Luckily, meyer lemons cure all ills. And preserving them in salt captures their brightness for year-round use. I make a different batch each year. The first year I made them, I used equal parts pimentón and cayenne. They were nothing if not LOUD. The flavor mellowed towards the end of the jar, but in 2012, I veered in a different direction and used curry spices – cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander and cumin seeds. A nice change, but I find myself longing for some heat. Some – in no way shape or form am I anywhere close to becoming a chile head, but I do find myself appreciating some lower-end Scoville units in my preserved lemons.

This year, I went with aleppo pepper. It’s recent arrival bought from a new year spice binge from Whole Spice (PS: they might be having a 30% off sale right now – use the code “spice.” I’m sorry for your wallet/You’re welcome.) I find myself reaching for it when I want to add some subtle heat to savory dishes. Nothing could ever replace the pimentón I remain practically wedded to, but aleppo chiles bring something else the to table. The more I find myself drawn to it, the more I find my thoughts with the city that shares its name. As this batch lasts through the year, I hope by the time I finish it some peace has come to Syria.

Aleppo Preserved Lemons by Snowflake Kitchen

Aleppo Pepper Preserved Lemons
5-6 meyer lemons, ends removed and quartered
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons crushed aleppo pepper
2 bay leaves
Coarse salt to cover, approximately 1 1/2 cups

Remove both ends of your lemons and quarter them, reserving any juice. Take a wide mouth quart jar and cover the bottom with salt. Mix the remainder of salt with the aleppo and black pepper. Tilt the jar at an angle, careful not to spill any salt, an add quartered lemon slices in one even layer. Tuck your bay leaves on each side, between the lemons and the edge of the jar. Add enough peppered salt to cover, and then add another layer of lemons. Repeat until you are almost out of room in the jar. Top with the remaining salt and reserved lemon juice. Shake on your counter about once a day for a week or so, and then place in a darker spot in your pantry.

To use, strip off the lemon flesh and discard. Chop the peel and add to soup, tagines or even preserves.

Advertisements

Bacon Fried Rice and the Art of Getting Snowed In

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Northeast got hit with a record-making blizzard last weekend. Connecticut in particular, won the highest snow totals – the New Haven area received 40 inches. Won being a relative term. Yes, I know this is SNOWFLAKE Kitchen… but even I don’t know a single person in this universe that is happy to clean up after a 40 inch storm. Or 35 inches or however much my ‘hood actually got. It was pretty impossible to tell with the wind and drifting. I do know that I spent way too much time dually glued to the Connecticut Light and Power outage map and our Governor’s Twitter feed – which seems to become my m.o. for dealing with these ever-more-frequent natural disasters. And only because we were fortunate enough to keep our power. All of my loved ones stayed lit and warm this storm, but many Nutmeggers spent a cold, cold night in the dark in the howling wind.

snow_collage

Oh well, climate change is just a theory, right? Moving on.

Despite the cleanup, it was gorgeous outside. For a while, anyway. And as I reflect on it, the more I realize there is an art to getting snowed in. Part cliché, part doomsday prepper – anyone can hoard stuff. So why is it that when there is a forecast of impending doom, most people rush to the store to buy eggs, bread and milk? I never understood that. What are you going to make, endless french toast? While there used be forced inspiration in chest freezer triage, admittedly, our storm prep has changed quite a bit with the acquisition of a generator. We always buy plenty of things to eat and it doesn’t matter too much about its shelf-stability.

But oftentimes, you find yourself stuck inside with plenty to eat, but no fun food. A friend said it best this week – when you are snowed in you don’t want the same old thing to munch on with your newly purchased booze. (What – isn’t the first stop on everyone’s storm prep list the liquor store? I thought that one went without saying. Ahem.) I cooked half a package of Terra Firma Farm bacon Saturday morning – part of a late brunch to say THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to my guy for beginning the long process of shoveling us out. Still – half a package for two people = leftovers. And wanting something warm, comforting and fun while Nemo or Charlotte or whatever-its-name-was raged outside. I looked in the fridge and after surveying all of the options, wanted none of them. My careful storm prep and planned meals aside – it was time for something different. And I daresay no one would call bacon fried rice unfun, especially during Mardi Gras season. Laissez les bacon temps rouler!

Bacon Fried Rice by Snowflake Kitchen

Bacon Fried Rice
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 quart leftover Chinese takeout white rice
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, scrambled
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

First and foremost – mise en place. This recipe comes together quickly. Place a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. In another small non-stick skillet, add your scrambled eggs. Do not stir – your goal is to make an egg pancake. Flip if necessary. Once solid, chop into small chunks and set aside. In the large skillet, add the oils and once shimmering, throw in the peas and bell pepper. Add the garlic to the peas and pepper and cook for a minute, then add the rice to your vegetables.

Quickly realize the fridge has dried out your takeout rice, stand back and add the half cup of water. Top steaming skillet with a lid and let the rice steam for a minute or so. Throw in chopped bacon and egg. You may need to add a little more oil to get the rice to fry – err on the side of less sesame oil.  Fry to the texture of your liking and top with toasted sesame seeds.

There are definite modifications to be made depending on what you have on hand and – full disclosure – how much you care. Fried rice is about making something delicious out of leftovers. Make it your own. And definitely make enough for breakfast the next day.

Bacon Fried Rice for Breakfast by Snowflake Kitchen