Katy Lauzon was working as the chef at Stopsky’s Delicatessen on Mercer Island in 2014 when she got the bad news: the Jewish deli (tagline “tradition updated”) was shuttering. But as the restaurant closed, the proverbial other door opened: owner Jeff Sanderson asked her to stay on to helm an offshoot business selling the company’s pickles at retail stores. Despite having never pickled professionally before her gig at the deli, Lauzon went for it.
Lauzon loves their smoked olives. The key, she says, is the type of olive: Castelvetranos, because of the firm texture and buttery flavor. “They’re good in martinis,” she says, and they’re on the drinks menu at the local Metropolitan Grill, the Pink Door, and Aqua by El Gaucho.
In the winter, when the cucumbers Stopsky’s uses for pickles and the cherries they use for brandied cherries aren’t in season, she churns out huge quantities of the smoked giardiniera olives and pickled red beets. Come June she dives into producing the company’s signature dill pickles — making as many as they can to keep them supplied throughout the year — until the season ends in December. The brandied cherries are similar, starting in May. “Summers are busy,” Lauzon says with a laugh. But it’s worth it: the hard work pays off when she bites into a brandied cherry in the middle of December.
Spicy Summer Squash Refrigerator Pickles
Yield: 6 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus 24 hours for maximum flavor)
- 3 large cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 tsp black peppercorns
- 1½ tsp coriander seeds
- 3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ lbs yellow squash and zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin slices
- ½ sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1¼ c apple cider vinegar
- 1¼ c water
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2½ T honey
1. Divide the garlic, peppercorns, coriander, red pepper flakes, squash, and onion equally among three pint-size glass jars. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring vinegar, water, salt, and honey to a boil. Pour hot mixture over contents in the jars, pressing down on the vegetables so that brine covers them completely. Let cool on the counter to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate. They will be ready to eat in four hours, but wait at least 24 hours for maximum flavor. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Tips From Katy
1. Don’t stick with the standards. Incorporate whatever spices you have or love. “If you like garlic, add a ton of garlic!”
2. Make sure everything is as fresh as possible. “What you start with is what you end up with,” Lauzon says.
Anything pickled pairs wonderfully with hummus. Spread hummus on a small round plate in a circular motion. Pour olive oil on top and sprinkle za’atar and paprika for color. Use small round dishes to serve the pickled vegetables. Cut pita into triangle wedges, brush each slice with olive oil and za’atar, and toast in the oven. – Keren Brown, the “Frantic Foodie”