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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Ritz-Carlton Dove MountainAs with any gathering of people, one of the highlights of the event I attended last week at the new Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, outside Tucson, Arizona, was the food. I was particularly happy to see that much of the focus at the resort was on sustainable seasonal (much of it local) produce -- from the farmers’ market-themed breakfast, with many of the local vendors in attendance, to the resort’s signature restaurant, Core Kitchen & Wine Bar, where Chef Joel Harrington has developed a close relationship with a local farmer (which we hope to highlight soon here).

For you "Top Chef" fans out there, the event also featured two finalists from the TV series: Jennifer Carroll, chef de cuisine at 10 Arts by Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia; and Jeff McInnis (pictured, above right), chef de cuisine at the DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. The two chefs participated in a series of “quick fire” challenges -- doing pretty miraculous things with watermelon and cactus, I have to say -- between courses at a gala dinner and then, the next day, each taught a workshop on food trends.

Because Chef Jeff’s workshop involved not only sliders (yum) but also recipes for pickling onions and cucumbers – and because we’re about to have an abundance of onions and cucumbers in our gardens that we might just want to pickle – I attended that one. And, because I did, am happy to pass along his pickle recipes here. Enjoy! (Click "read more" for the recipes.)

Pickled Red Onions

2 large red onions
3 cups red vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 cup red wine
1 cinnamon stick
4 Star Anise

Slice onions in thin rings, approximately 1/8 inches thick, and place in an airtight container. In sauce pot over high heat, bring wine to boil and then add remaining ingredients. Once the liquid comes to a boil pour over the onions, let cool and top with an airtight lid. These onions will keep in your refrigerator for several months.

Bread-and-Butter Cucumber Pickles

3 whole European cucumbers
2 tbsp Kosher salt
2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1 tbsp turmeric

Slice cucumbers in 1/8 inch slices (like coins). Place in a large bowl and toss with Kosher salt. Place these cucumbers in a perforated pan and let sit at room temperature for about four hours. The salt will make the cucumbers sweat, releasing the water. After sweating, place cucumbers in an airtight container. In a sauce pot, bring all remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour hot vinegar and spices over cucumbers, let cool and top with an airtight lid. These cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for several months.