Here's a terrific idea for an edible Christmas gift from Sydney's Good Food Guide Chef of the Year, Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room, Bridge St) - lightly pickled vegetables to accompany the Christmas turkey, beef or fish. Ross demonstrated how to make them at one of the Omnivore Master Classes during Good Food Month. Not only are they easy to prepare, they also look beautiful if you position them attractively in glass jars. It's something he learnt from a neighbour in the village of Cavtat, just south of Dubrovnik in Croatia, when working there a few years ago. "They pickle seasonal vegetables like this in Albania, Montenegro and all along the Adriatic coast. When wild asparagus is in season, people knock on your door and call out 'it's wild asparagus time." Years ago, it was the only way they could preserve the fresh flavour of vegetables for the long winter months - these have a lovely fresh flavour and aren't vinegary.
"They also preserve porcini, capers and anchovies like this. Hardy vegetables like jerusalem artichokes and carrots are ideal - and I love to use baby fennel because they sit in the jar like little soldiers."
At The Bridge Room, Ross serves them with a duck fat and sweet onion emulsion, black onion ash and anchovies.
Clean and peel all the vegetables. Place them in a glass jar with a spring top lid, and fill to capacity. Add the seasonings, sugar and oil and fill completely with filtered water. Close the lid and try minimize the amount of air in the jar. Place the jar in a large pot of water, ensuring it is completely submerged. Once the water in the pot comes to the boil, remove from the heat and allow the jar to stand and cool for two hours in the pot. Remove the jar from the pot, wipe it clean and store in the refrigerator. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.