Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Family Pickling Recipe From White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford

The Top Toque shares her recipe for "Easy Homemade Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles"...
With bounty from First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden available year round, the White House chefs are experts at pickling, canning and preserving.  President Obama and Mrs. Obama have presented White House pickles as gifts, and the recipe for these delights is here.  But Executive Chef Cris Comerford also pickles at home, and the Top Toque has shared her family recipe for "Easy Homemade Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles."  As the name suggests, the recipe is a snap, even for beginning picklers.  As a fun side note, Wednesday, Nov. 14 is National Pickle Day.  (Above: Comerford with a young helper in the Kitchen Garden)

A native of the Philippines, Comerford says the menus she creates at the White House are influenced and inspired by her heritage, and garlic is a favorite ingredient.  Her pickle recipe not only uses garlic, but Comerford suggests actually pickling garlic cloves, too, as well as cucumbers, onions and peppers--all of which grow in the Kitchen Garden.  Comerford also has her own vegetable garden at her home in Maryland, inspired, she says, by the First Lady's.

Comerford has been Executive Chef since 2005, after joining the White House kitchen in 1995 during the Clinton Administration.  But long before her family emigrated to America, Comerford learned to cook as a little girl, taught by her mother at home in Sampaloc, Manila.  With ten siblings, there was a lot to do, and Comerford recalls her mother as very talented in the kitchen, and credits her with the pickle recipe.  Comerford is now passing on her own family traditions to her daughter Danielle. 

The Top Toque's recipe calls for four cups of vegetables to make one quart of pickles, and Comerford suggests slicing the vegetables fairly thin.  Sanitizing the glass jar that will used for the pickles is a food-safety must, of course.

Red and green peppers in the Kitchen Garden
Executive Chef Cris Comerford's 
Easy Homemade Refrigerator  Bread and Butter Pickles

*Yield:  1 quart

4 Cups assorted pickling vegetables such as cucumber, onion,  garlic, peppers, sliced

6 garlic cloves

1/2 Cup kosher salt

3 Cup cider vinegar

5 Cups white sugar

2 Tbsp mustard seed

1 1/2 Tsp celery seed

1/2 Tsp whole cloves

1 Tbsp ground turmeric

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the garlic cloves,  kosher salt,  cider vinegar,  white sugar,  mustard seed,  cloves and turmeric.  Bring to a boil making sure the sugar has dissolved.

2.  Arrange the sliced pickling vegetables in a jar that  is clean and sanitized. Pour brine into the jar completely, making sure the vegetables are covered.  Tap to release air bubbles.

3.  Seal and steam bath for about half an hour.

4.  Cool before refrigerating.


*Check the sidebar of the site for all White House recipes.

Note:  If you've never pickled before, an excellent online resource is the National Center For Home Food Preservation, which has fact sheets on pickling. Another good resource is Canning Across America, which has plenty of pickling advice, too.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama