The fruit of goddesses, wonder of wonders, the magical elixir of fruit which carries us through... the grape strikes again. With its depth of complexity, utility and finesse the grape can transform itself into so many elemental textures, flavors and shapes... how its possible, I've yet to understand, but I thank the gods for the grape daily (in my own way... in fact it may be time for a quick worship). Now we are of course talking about the table grape in the recipe that follows which, viticulturally speaking, is an entirely different animal than the Vinifera grape used for winemaking across the globe. But I'm going to put it up on a pedastel anyhow and after you taste your own pickled grapes, I think you'll do the same.
You may be wondering what the heck I'm doing with grapes in February and that's a darn good question. I don't want to encourage anyone else to rush out and buy grapes which have been trucked in from Mexico or some other far away place, but my friends left them in my fridge last week and what else could I do other than try out Molly Wizenberg's PickledGrapes recipe from her fabulous book and my bible of late, A Homemade Life. I'd been waiting with baited breath to try this and served with a excellent bottle of sparkling wine, this made for a happy kickstart to my birthday last night. (sorry for the pda... but we are horribly unphotogenic* and the pictures showing the least of our faces turned out the best). I modified her recipe just a scoach and served the grapes on toasted bread with goat cheese and splash of olive oil. Good luck and enjoy! *See below.
(adapted from Molly Winzenbergs, A Homemade Life)
-1 lb seedless red grapes
-1 cup white wine or regular white vinegar
-3/4 c sugar
-1 1/2 tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds -1 tsp red chili flakes
-1 cinnamon stick
-1/4 tsp sea salt
Rinse grapes thoroughly and pick over, composting any bruised fruit. Carefully pull off stems and gently trim away the stem mark from each grape with a sharp paring knife. Put grapes in large glass bowl.
Bring remaining six ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Pour over grapes, stir gently and let cool to room temp. Using a slotted spoon transfer grapes into two clean mason jars, dividing evenly. Pour remaining brine into both jars until full. (If your jars aren't quite full, don't worry about... there's plenty of brine to keep these grapes busy pickling.) Refrigerate over night. Dream of pickled grape tapas...
Pickled Grapes Tapas
-a loaf of good crusty bread, thinly sliced
-Fresh goat cheese
-1 jar homemade pickled grapes
-extra virgin olive oil
Slice baguette or loaf of your choice thinly. Arrange on baking sheet, dollop each slice with chevre and give each one a healthy dose of olive oil. Toast in the broiler of your oven, or even better in a toaster oven, for ten minutes. Set aside.
Using a slotted spoon, fish out several of your grapes. Dice with a large knife, doing so gently as these suckers have a tendency to squirt out from under your knife across the kitchen. Lucky Lula. Spread diced grapes over toasts and serve. Enjoy!
I almost forgot the Gruet! I bought it yesterday as a Happy Birthday to Me present and I couldn't have picked out a more thoughtful gift. I adore sparkling wine and I'm just beginning to forge into the world of bubbles beyond those named after the seal in that Disney film. So this was in the mid-special price range for me, 15 bones, and worth of every dime. This bottle is a non-vintage Blanc de Noirs, meaning it's made from red grapes which are undoubtedly Pinot Noir. What's fun about Gruet is that it hails from New Mexico, a state which boasts 42 wineries and three AVA's (American Viticultural Areas). Who knew?
Lula's really getting a sniffy sniff of bubbly here and I think she'd tell you she smells peaches and custard and loves the feel on the tiny, elegant bubbles on her palate.
I hope they'll be more Gruet next year and I think JJ hopes he'll stop making this face in pictures... Cheers!