Pickled pea frittata

The Modern Preserver’s Kitchen: 3 delicious recipes that put homemade pickles to good use

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Simple, sustainable and unquestionably good fun, pickling is the culinary trend picking up pace for autumn – so grab your glass jars and get ready to transform everyday ingredients into something special.

We’ll be the first ones to admit that we were a little surprised when we heard that pickling was having a renaissance. After all, jam jars full of cabbage are more of a throwback to WI fairs and Sunday afternoons spent with our grandparents; not a culinary pursuit that has quite the same level of glamour, for instance, as the trays of artfully decorated focaccia or stacks of glossy brownies we baked during lockdown.

And yet, pickling has become the pandemic trend that’s proving to have surprising longevity. Perhaps it’s because we’re fed up with obstinate sourdough starters, or feeling the urge to preserve everything in sight now that autumn has officially arrived. Maybe it’s got something to do with rediscovering simple pleasures, or because we’ll never tire of eating pickled onions with crumbly cheese and fresh crusty bread.

Or, perhaps it’s the fact that pickling is just so deliciously easy. You don’t need fancy equipment or technical nous – all that’s required is for you to chop your ingredients, chuck them into a glass jar (bonus points for a recycled one) and let them do their own thing. Whatever happens next between the veggies and the vinegar-based brine is in the realm of the gods – but what we do know is that the resulting flavour is utterly sublime.

Not only is preserving food a way to keep in touch with culinary tradition and find community, but as Kylee Newton notes in her forthcoming cookbook, The Modern Preserver’s Kitchen, it’s also a great way of practising food sustainability. “It makes the most of each season’s offering, giving yield longevity and creating a type of edible time capsule,” she observes. “All of this is good for the planet.”

The Modern Preserver's Kitchen
The Modern Preserver's Kitchen by Kylee Newton

With that in mind, we’ve three delicious recipes, courtesy of Newton, that transform everyday ingredients into something truly special. Whether you opt for the smoked trout salad with pickled radish, ruby grapefruit and almonds, the Kiwi burger with pickled beetroot and a fried egg, or the pickled pea frittata, all three recipes give you hands-on experience with preserving food – and if you start now, you’ll have irresistible homemade gifts for Christmas hampers…

  • Smoked trout salad with pickled radish, ruby grapefruit and almonds

    Smoked trout salad with pickled radish, ruby grapefruit and almonds
    Pickled recipes: smoked trout salad with pickled radish, ruby grapefruit and almonds

    Kylee says: “I first smoked fish with my dad in New Plymouth, New Zealand, about 15 years ago. I was visiting from London and we had been shopping at a bargain department store called “The Warehouse” where we came across a small, domestic, outdoor smoker. We decided to give it a go. My dad lives for the sea. As a fisherman, fishing is in his heart and if he could be out on a boat every morning at 4am, he would. So, fishing is in my blood and I have lots of blissful memories (and some rather nausea-tainted ones) of being out at sea with him on his fishing boat. It makes you more aware of what you eat when you have hunted and gathered it yourself.”

    Serves 2–4

    Ingredients

    • 1½ tsp white balsamic vinegar, or rice wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
    • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • ½ tsp honey
    • ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
    • 80g baby leaf watercress, lamb’s lettuce or pea shoots
    • 2 fillets of smoked trout (250–350g) (homemade, recipe below)
    • 4–6 pickled radishes (recipe below), sliced
    • 3–4 ruby grapefruit segments, cut into 1–2cm cubes
    • 20g flaked (slivered) almonds, lightly toasted
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    For the pickled radish/mooli

    Makes a 500ml jar

    • 225g radishes, thinly sliced into discs, quartered or pricked whole or 1 medium mooli, thinly sliced, ribboned or cut into batons
    • 240ml cider vinegar
    • 80ml filtered water
    • 40g white/golden granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
    • ½ tsp mustard seeds
    • 2 bay leaves
    • finely grated zest of ½ lime
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1 bird’s-eye chilli, halved (optional)

    For the home-cured and smoked fish

    To cure

    Makes about 250g

    • 80g caster sugar
    • 80g sea salt
    • 1–2 fillets of trout, salmon or mackerel (about 250–300g)

    Optional flavourings: tea leaves, beetroot juice, dried herbs, gin

    To smoke

    Makes about 250g

    • 1–2 fillets of trout, salmon or mackerel (about 250–300g), fresh or cured as above
    • 1 tbsp oak or hickory chips

    To sterilise jars and lids

    First, wash them in hot soapy water, then rinse in hot water and drip-dry upside down. Next, place them right-side up in a 100°C (gas mark ¼) oven for at least 20 minutes. Do this before you start cooking. Bacteria dies at temperatures of over 100°C, so if the jars are filled with hot jam and chutney while everything is at or slightly over this temperature, when you seal the jars nothing should survive.

    For fermentation and pickling, cool your sterilised jars before filling.

    The salts and vinegars in the recipe should provide the correct adverse environment for unwanted bacteria.

    You can put your jars and lids into a dishwasher; however, they will still need to be rinsed with hot water afterwards as dishwasher rinse aid can leave a residue that can act as a possible contaminant.

    Method

    In a large bowl, make a dressing by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, honey and mustard until it becomes lighter in appearance. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add the watercress and toss with your hands so that the dressing coats all the leaves.

    Break up the smoked trout in your hands into long strips. Place the pickled radishes on some paper towels and pat dry.

    To serve, dress one large or 2–4 individual plates with a generous handful of watercress, equally distributing pieces of grapefruit and trout among them. Sprinkle over the radish slices and toasted almonds and season again, to taste, if necessary.

    Pickled radish/mooli

    Notes

    The method for making up each brine is the same, although you can experiment with different spice and vinegar combinations. 

    Quick pickles can be put into any sealed airtight container – ensure the produce is completely covered by the brine – and stored in the fridge.

    They will be ready to eat in 1–2 hours. Use within 2–4 weeks.

    The preserved pickles will need to be stored unopened in a cool, dark place for about 3–4 weeks before opening. Once opened, store in the fridge for greater longevity.

    Different vegetables differ in freshness over time, generally 6–18 months, so keep an eye on them and open a test jar to try.

    Vinegar brine process

    Referring to your individual recipe for quantities, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices in a large, non-reactive pan, keeping any fresh herbs or garlic cloves to one side until the jarring stage. Place over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve and the spices infuse. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then allow the brine to cool slightly (or completely if using more porous produce, such as cucumber).

    Pack your prepped produce into appropriately sized, clean (or sterilised), cool jars. Try to fit in as much as possible without squashing or forcing too tightly, leaving a gap of about 1cm from the top rim.

    Pour the brine over the fruit or veg. Gently tap out any trapped bubbles, or use a chopstick to manoeuvre the bubbles out, making sure you get out as many as you can (this trapped air can encourage fermentation). Top up with brine again so the produce is entirely covered, up to 2–3mm from the very top, and seal with a sterilised dry lid.

    Some preservers use a canning bath or heat process after sealing, where the jars are brought to a gentle boil in a bath of water covering them entirely for 10–15 minutes. This can add to the longevity of your preserves and ensure a secure seal, but it can also cook the produce, making it mushier. I always think vinegar and salt should be enough for longevity, as they create a sterile environment where unwanted bacteria don’t choose to reside, so I tend not to “can” my pickles.

    Home-cured and smoked fish

    Mix together the sugar and salt in a bowl and pour half evenly over the bottom of a Tupperware container or dish that will snugly fit the fish. Place the fish, skin-side down, onto the sugar/salt bed and evenly sprinkle the remaining mixture over the flesh so that it’s completely covered.

    Cover and refrigerate for at least 4–8 hours (depending on the thickness of your fish, it may need longer; however, you don’t want it to be too salty).

    Once cured, thoroughly wash off all of the sugar/salt under very cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.

    You can leave the cured fish like this and slice very finely or go on to smoke it.

    Slice off thin slivers with a sharp knife when you are ready to serve.

    Note

    Experiment with the optional flavourings by adding them to the sugar/salt mix at the beginning.

    To smoke

    Put the wood chips in the middle of an outdoor smoker, spray or drizzle with very little water and light the chips.

    When you see smoke appear, cover with foil and place the fish fillets, skin-side down, onto the grate. Smoke for 8–10 minutes if using cured fillets and for 10–15 minutes if fresh.

    If you have a stovetop smoker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You may not need to drizzle the chips with water. Smoke over a medium-low heat for the same amount of time as above.

    Note

    If you haven’t got a smoker, you can fashion one. Line a steel baking sheet or a large pot with some foil. Add the chips, put another layer of foil on top of the chips and place a wire grate/rack, sieve or steamer that will fit inside. Place the fish, skin-side down, on this. Cover with a lid, sealing off any gaps with extra foil, and place on the stove top over a medium-low heat. Allow to smoke for 10–15 minutes.

  • Kiwi burger with pickled beetroot and a fried egg

    Kiwi burger with pickled beetroot and a fried egg
    Pickled recipes: Kiwi burger with pickled beetroot and a fried egg

    Kylee says: “New Zealanders like to put beetroot and a fried egg into a burger. When I was a kid, we would get fish ‘n’ chips every Friday night from the local fish ‘n’ chip shop – there was one in every neighbourhood. This is where you could buy such “Kiwi” burgers, along with battered fish burgers, paua fritters (a type of abalone) and battered deep-fried oysters. The burgers were stacked high with an abundance of ingredients: lettuce, beetroot, eggs and sometimes even pineapple. These early experiences informed my philosophy on food. Whether it be fast or slow food, the ingredients should be fresh, seasonal and well sourced.”

    Makes 4 burgers

    Ingredients

    • 400g minced beef (good quality, locally sourced), at room temperature
    • 4 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil (or 3 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter)
    • 1 large red onion, finely sliced into discs or semi-circles
    • 4 very thin slices of emmenthal, gouda or Jarlsberg cheese
    • 4 free-range eggs
    • 4 burger buns, or brioche/milk buns (homemade, recipe below)
    • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup or tomato chutney
    • 4 tbsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard
    • 1–2 large tomatoes, sliced
    • 8–12 slices of pickled beetroot (recipe below)
    • 4 large iceberg or round lettuce leaves
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Hokkaido milk burger buns/Japanese brioche

    For the tangzhong

    • 20g (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp) strong bread flour
    • 4 tbsp milk
    • 2 tbsp water

    For the buns/loaf

    • 9g fast-action dried yeast
    • 120ml lukewarm milk, 30–40˚C
    • 325g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
    • ½ tsp sea salt
    • 45g white or golden caster sugar
    • 1 large free-range egg plus 1 large yolk
    • 55g butter, at room temperature, cubed
    • vegetable oil, for greasing

    To finish

    • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash
    • 2–3 tsp sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)

    For the pickled beetroot

    • 450–500g beetroot, peeled, thinly sliced/diced (blanched in boiling water) or grated
    • 450ml white wine vinegar
    • 100ml filtered water
    • 50g white sugar
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 8 cloves, gently toasted
    • 3 green cardamom pods, gently smashed
    • 2–3 pared strips of lemon zest

    Method

    Divide the meat into 4 equal amounts and roll each into a ball. Sandwich each ball between 2 pieces of baking paper, and using a rolling pin, roll them out into patties about 1cm smaller than your burger buns. Set aside.

    Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5–6 minutes, until soft and a little charred. Remove from the pan and set aside. Keeping a medium–high heat, add the patties, two at a time. Generously season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then gently squash the patties down with a fish slice to the diameter of your burger buns and cook for a further 1½ minutes. Flip the patties, season again, and place a slice of cheese on top of each patty so it gently hugs when melted. Cook for 1 minute for medium rare, or 2 minutes for medium. Remove the patties and set aside to rest while you cook the next batch.

    Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, fry your eggs with the remaining tablespoon of oil.

    When the patties are cooked, gently toast the burger buns in the same pan, pressing the sliced sides into the pan for 20–30 seconds.

    To stack your burgers, spread ketchup on the bottom buns and mustard on the tops. Place each cheese-coated patty on a bottom bun, then top with the fried egg, 1–3 slices of tomato, 2–3 slices of pickled beetroot, lettuce and lastly some of the fried onions, before finishing with the bun tops.

    Note

    Some New Zealanders will say it’s not a Kiwi burger without a pineapple ring. If you want to try this sweeter version, char some pineapple slices in a griddle pan or under the grill and add to the stack in place of the tomato.

    Hokkaido milk burger buns/ Japanese brioche

    Kylee says: “I have to thank one of my favourite London chefs for sharing this Japanese milk bread recipe with me, when I was struggling to find the perfect burger bun for my Kiwi burgers. Chris Leach, thank you for sharing your knowledge. This milk bread is a type of Japanese brioche, but less buttery. You make up a roux called a tangzhong, which is then added to the yeasted dough, making for a very light, fluffy, milky bread.”

    Makes 6 buns (or 1 loaf)

    First, make the tangzhong. Whisk the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat for 2–3 minutes until it thickens, like a roux might, without any lumps.

    Allow to cool to room temperature.

    For the buns/loaf, add the yeast to the lukewarm milk and leave to activate for 5–6 minutes, then gently stir to dissolve.

    In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Slowly add the yeasted milk, then the tangzhong and the egg and yolk. Mix at a low speed for about 4–5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time. When the butter is fully incorporated, reduce the speed to low and knead for about 8 minutes. If doing by hand, knead the butter into the dough on a lightly dusted work surface for 10–15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    Scrape the dough into a large bowl very lightly greased with oil, cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 60–90 minutes until the dough has puffed up and doubled in size.

    Punch down into the middle of the raised dough and portion into about 6 pieces (about 110g each). Roll the balls under a cupped hand, making swift circular motions to create perfectly round buns. Place the buns, 5cm apart, on a lightly floured large baking sheet, cover and leave to prove for 40–60 minutes until they have puffed up to the desired shape and size.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/gas mark 6).

    Brush the buns with egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame or poppy seeds, if using. Bake in the middle of the oven for 16–20 minutes until golden on top and cooked through.

    Best eaten within 2 days, but can be frozen and defrosted for later use.

    Notes

    Perfect as a bun for Kiwi burgers, or made into a loaf for slicing for a PBJ or bread and butter pudding.

    To make this into a loaf, after the first prove, mould the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

    Cut down 3 slits and braid the strands before placing it into a lightly greased loaf pan to prove for the second time. The loaf will need 18–22 minutes of baking time.

    Vinegar brine pickled vegetables

    Kylee says: “Almost all vegetables can be pickled with a spiced vinegar brine, although I generally stay away from starchy vegetables (that said, I have eaten pickled potatoes in restaurants). Restaurant pickle brines often differ from preserving pickle brines. Chefs tend to pickle for a day and up to a week, making a “quick pickle”. These pickles work on a 3:2:1 ratio of vinegar:water:sugar.

    This extra water and sugar makes it palatable quicker compared to a “preserving pickle” where the higher acidity from the extra vinegar creates longevity.

    Opposite are two brine recipes for these two types of pickle, plus some of my favourite pickled vegetable recipes. The sugar and salt contents change to adapt to the type of vegetable used, tweaked according to how sweet the produce is naturally. Try mixing and matching different spices with vinegars or omitting any added water and replacing it with distilled alcohols.

    Peel, slice, dice, cut, disc, baton and grate your vegetables as you wish them to be presented on your plate. Think about the absorbency of the vegetables, as this can determine the thickness of your cut. Some, like cucumber, shouldn’t be cut too thin as they can turn soft and mushy.”

    Pickled beetroot

    Makes a 750ml jar

    Vinegar brine process

    Referring to your individual recipe for quantities, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices in a large, non-reactive pan, keeping any fresh herbs or garlic cloves to one side until the jarring stage. Place over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve and the spices infuse. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then allow the brine to cool slightly (or completely if using more porous produce, such as cucumber).

    Pack your prepped produce into appropriately sized, clean (or sterilised), cool jars. Try to fit in as much as possible without squashing or forcing too tightly, leaving a gap of about 1cm from the top rim.

    Pour the brine over the fruit or veg. Gently tap out any trapped bubbles, or use a chopstick to manoeuvre the bubbles out, making sure you get out as many as you can (this trapped air can encourage fermentation). Top up with brine again so the produce is entirely covered, up to 2–3mm from the very top, and seal with a sterilised dry lid.

    Some preservers use a canning bath or heat process after sealing, where the jars are brought to a gentle boil in a bath of water covering them entirely for 10–15 minutes. This can add to the longevity of your preserves and ensure a secure seal, but it can also cook the produce, making it mushier. I always think vinegar and salt should be enough for longevity, as they create a sterile environment where unwanted bacteria don’t choose to reside, so I tend not to “can” my pickles.

  • Pickled pea frittata

    Pickled pea frittata
    Pickled recipes: pickled pea frittata

    Kylee says: “I love to share what I’ve learnt in preserving, so I teach my skills to others. I feel that in addition to teaching how to pickle or ferment there is also a lesson in the ethics that surround food preservation, our relationship to food, where it comes from and how to actually engage in using/eating your preserves. One Sunday a month, I hold an intensive, six-hour class where I cook lunch, each dish incorporating some type of preserve. This frittata is a common occurrence in these classes, served with a freshly made chutney from that day, thereby incorporating a pickle and a chutney into an everyday meal.”

    Serves 8–10

    Ingredients

    • 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp light olive oil, or rapeseed or vegetable oil
    • 2 large onions, diced
    • 200g pea and mint pickle (recipe below)
    • 120g mixed fresh herbs (mint, flat-leaf parsley, basil, coriander, chives), roughly chopped
    • 12 large free-range eggs, whisked
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Pea and mint pickle

    • 500g fresh peas (podded weight)
    • 350ml cider vinegar
    • 80ml filtered water
    • 30g white sugar
    • 1½ tsp sea salt
    • 1–2 bird’s-eye chillies, roughly chopped
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
    • 6–8 fresh mint leaves

    Notes

    If you only have a smaller pan or are cooking for just one or two people, you can reduce this recipe to make 4–6 slices. Use 8 eggs and reduce the cooking time to 4–5 minutes followed by 3–4 minutes to finish the top.

    Substitute the pickled peas for pickled carrots, pickled peppers, pickled fennel or pickled corn kernels.

    Add crumbled feta, goats’ cheese or ricotta, or slice some cherry tomatoes in half and gently push into the top of the frittata while it is cooking on the stove top.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/gas mark 6), placing a rack in the grill position.

    Warm the butter and oil in a large non-stick, oven-safe frying pan (about 26–28cm) over a medium heat. Add the onions, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook the onions for 10–15 minutes, stirring until they are caramelised, glossy, sticky and sweet.

    Reduce the heat slightly, add the pickled peas and cook for about 30 seconds, then stir through the herbs and arrange the ingredients equally around the pan. Pour in the whisked eggs and use a wooden spoon to move the ingredients around to distribute everything evenly. Cook for 5–6 minutes until the egg starts to set on the bottom of the frittata. Run a spatula around the edge of the frittata for ease of flipping it out later.

    Switch the oven to grilling and slide the frittata pan onto the rack. Cook with the oven door closed for a further 4–5 minutes, or until the top of the frittata is golden brown and it has cooked through.

    Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then carefully flip the frittata onto a large board or plate. Sandwich another plate on top of the frittata and flip again, so that you have the pretty golden side facing up.

    Slice into 8–10 wedges and serve with a chutney of your choice, if you like.

    Pea and mint pickle

    Makes a 750ml jar

    Vinegar brine process

    Referring to your individual recipe for quantities, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices in a large, non-reactive pan, keeping any fresh herbs or garlic cloves to one side until the jarring stage. Place over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve and the spices infuse. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then allow the brine to cool slightly (or completely if using more porous produce, such as cucumber).

    Pack your prepped produce into appropriately sized, clean (or sterilised), cool jars. Try to fit in as much as possible without squashing or forcing too tightly, leaving a gap of about 1cm from the top rim.

    Pour the brine over the fruit or veg. Gently tap out any trapped bubbles, or use a chopstick to manoeuvre the bubbles out, making sure you get out as many as you can (this trapped air can encourage fermentation). Top up with brine again so the produce is entirely covered, up to 2–3mm from the very top, and seal with a sterilised dry lid.

    Some preservers use a canning bath or heat process after sealing, where the jars are brought to a gentle boil in a bath of water covering them entirely for 10–15 minutes. This can add to the longevity of your preserves and ensure a secure seal, but it can also cook the produce, making it mushier. I always think vinegar and salt should be enough for longevity, as they create a sterile environment where unwanted bacteria don’t choose to reside, so I tend not to “can” my pickles.

    The Modern Preserver’s Kitchen: Cooking with Jam, Chutney, Pickles and Ferments by Kylee Newton (£22, Quadrille) is published on 30 September

Photography: Laura Edwards

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.