Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop is a self-proclaimed biography of honey. It’s full of a lot of interesting historical bits and a lot of modern-day honey-stuff as well. It also has a bunch of recipes that the author has uncovered in her search of all things bees and honey. One recipe she shares is for Braised Cucumbers which was found in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. He lived 23-79 A.D.
I was intrigued. I have a surfeit of cucumbers in my garden and I only ever eat them raw (gazpacho, salads, salads and more salads). Pliny apparently cooked his. I also have lots and lots of honey and want to find amazing things to do with it. Pliny believes it works well with the cucumbers. Here’s his “recipe”:
Peeled and cooked in olive oil, vinegar, and honey, cucumbers are without doubt more delicious.
Apparently in Pliny’s day recipes were very vague. Still, it seemed simple enough, and I like “delicious” so why not try?
Here’s how I made my braised cucumbers with honey:
1) I wasn’t sure whether thin slices or strips of cukes would work best so I both chopped and sliced a monster cucumber (this puppy was 680 grams).
2) Into a pan went:
- a drizzle (2 Tablespoons) of olive oil
- a smattering (1 Tablespoon) of apple cider vinegar (thinking this might be something Pliny would have had on hand)
- a bit (1 Tablespoon) of honey
3) I fried them until they started to brown
4) I removed them from the pan and placed them on a plate then I squirted more honey (another Tablespoon) on top
Frank and I sat and ate and agreed that braised cucumbers are indeed delicious (though I’m not sure about the “more” qualification Pliny added).
I would definitely make them again as a side dish. They were a bit oily for my taste so I may reduce the amount of oil I use. I really couldn’t taste any vinegar so I might add more of that. I would use the thinly sliced version as cucumbers hold heaps of water and the plate ended up with a lot of wet honey left after the cucumbers were gone. I suspect most of this is a taste thing – how sweet, how well done, how much vinegar – just like most recipes.