Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fermented Red Cabbage Kraut

Fermented Red Cabbage Kraut with Beet
Since this past June when I started fermenting foods, I have discovered a lot of flavors heretofore missing from my taste repertoire. Each one is an experiment, and I never know what will be great or what will fall flat. My original sauerkraut recipe was delicious, and I truly thought nothing could beat it. Then I made a Lacto-Fermented Picalilli and my taste buds really took notice. Since those initial ferments I have made a lot of different things, some great and a couple that were certainly not to my taste.

Not too long ago I started a red cabbage ferment with some red beet grated in. I do not like raw beets. I absolutely love cooked beets, just about any way. Making this red kraut , which I hoped to enhance color-wise with the beet, was a total experiment. This time it was a tremendously successful experiment. I cannot taste the beet at all, and the color is lovely. The overall flavor is far better than the green cabbage kraut. I just love it!

Fermented Red Cabbage Kraut with Beet

Red Cabbage Kraut with Beet

Fermented Red Cabbage Kraut with Beet

1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, finely shredded
1 beet, about 5.5 ounces, peeled and shredded
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1 large red onion, cut in thin slivers
2 red Fresno chilies, sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried hibiscus flower tea 
1/4 cup liquid from a previous ferment, as a starter
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries

4 - 5 teaspoons coarse sea salt 

2 - 4 cabbage leaves for covering the final mixture

BRINE, if needed:

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, dissolved in:
1 cup water

Place all the ingredients into a very large bowl with the salt. Use hands to squeeze the mixture or some implement to smash down the mixture and break down the cell walls of the vegetables (such as a meat tenderizer or a heavy rolling pin). The goal is to break down the vegetables enough so that the overall size and amount shrinks to about half the original bulk. This can be done in short bursts, allowing the mixture to rest for an hour in between and form its juices. It is preferable to have the cabbage make its own juice, but if there is not enough juice to cover the mixture when the vegetables are pressed down, then the added brine may be needed.

Pack the mixture into one very large or two smaller bail-wire jars (Fido) fitted with an airlock. Allow about 1/3 empty jar space above the vegetables. Press the mixture into the jars very tightly, ensuring that the juices completely cover the vegetables. Cover with the reserved cabbage leaves and weight the vegetables with glass weights or zip-top baggies of water. The goal is to keep everything submerged. Close the lid and have the airlock in place. Set the jar in a dark corner to ferment for 2 to 4 weeks. This time will depend on how warm or cool the room temperature is. Cooler will take longer fermenting time. Warmer will ferment more rapidly. 

Once fermented to your taste (or when all bubbling stops), re-pack the ferment into jars with a plastic lid and refrigerate.  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

A New and Delightful Cranberry Relish

I had guests with us for much of November, with only a brief hiatus between. While I cooked a lot, I went for the tried and true recipes, rather than invent new ones. Still, in planning for Thanksgiving dinner I was thinking ahead. I wanted to try a type of fermented food I hadn't yet gotten to, namely a Cranberry and Honey Ferment.
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

Cardamom pods and seeds
I had seen things fermented with honey, though adding honey to most ferments will stop any fermentation from occurring. Honey is antibacterial, after all. Still, I know that Mead is made with honey, so obviously it will ferment. My understanding is that some sort of water-based food needs to be added to get the fermenting action started, but once started, it does ferment well. Getting the fermentation started takes a little while, so I started it out in October, giving my cranberry ferment a little over 6 weeks fermentation time. I read that in this type of ferment, one should stir the mixture daily until the fermentation begins. Even still, and with the use of an airlock valve, it started to develop Kahm yeast. I intensely dislike the flavor this yeast gives the foods, so I meticulously wiped off the inside jar and carefully skimmed off the white yeast from the top of the ferment. After a couple more days, fermentation took over and there was no more yeast problem.

I happened to have some fresh blueberries on hand when I started this ferment, so I opted to add some in with the cranberries. I also used fresh ginger, which became a quite prominent flavor, so if you really love ginger (which I do), then the recipe will be just fine. If you do not care for ginger, lessen the amount used in this recipe, or omit it altogether.
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

Other flavors I used were whole cardamom seeds, pecans and orange peel. I always add orange peel and orange juice to my cooked cranberry sauce, and I love that mixture, so I kept it in this recipe also. It took no time at all to combine these ingredients, and outside of the Kahm yeast developing, with the need for a little cleanup, it sat happily bubbling on the counter for 6 weeks. I bottled it and refrigerated it the Friday before Thanksgiving.

I absolutely love, love, love this particular ferment! It was well worth the wait. I would have given it more time to ferment (it was till bubbling actively) if I'd had more time, but it got started late, so I live with these results, which are spectacular. The outcome is plenty sweet, despite the fact that no cooking took place. The main difference is that the fermented cranberries are not thickened. Cranberries have natural pectin, so cooking them and with the berries bursting in the pan, the pectin goes to work and this thickens a cooked cranberry sauce. Not so here. This fermented sauce is a bit runnier, but just as sweet.

Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Sauce 

Makes about 4 cups
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

4 cups fresh cranberries (about 14 ounces)
4 ounces fresh blueberries 
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, in thin matchsticks
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (2.25 ounces)
1 1/4 cups raw, organic honey

freshly mixed and set to ferment
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries and blueberries to roughly chop. Pour into a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into one large (1.5 - 2 liter) wire bail jar (Fido) with an airlock in place. Open the jar once a day and stir down the mixture, for about a week. Once it begins to bubble on its own, leave off stirring and allow the fermentation to run its course. This will take a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 3 months. Once fermented, pour into smaller jars and refrigerate.

While on the topic of cranberry relish, this is the recipe I use every year for Thanksgiving, and I also made it this year, for those who preferred a more traditional taste and feel. Last year I altered it slightly, using Port wine and dried cherries and it was also spectacular, but this one has been my preferred recipe for many many years now.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Makes about 4 cups

10 - 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, freshly grated
1/2 cup slivered almonds, optional

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered for about 10 to 20 minutes or until the berries have popped and thickened. The mixture will thicken more as it cools. If desired, mash the berries while they cook, to release the insides, which thickens even more. If desired, add in the almonds. Remove from heat and cool before storing in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two Recipes from Magazines

I generally do not make things directly from a magazine, but alter them in some way - sometimes a lot. I had guests for a couple of weeks, and it seemed just easier to revisit some old tried and true recipes, or ones that were requested. Our friend Rich was visiting when pheasant hunting season started, and when he came home with 3 pheasants the first evening, he specifically requested the Pheasant Alfredo we thought up last year. To pair with it, I also made the Fall Fruit Compote, although this year I could not find quinces, so I substituted slightly green pears instead.

Pumpkin Caramel Tart
As I said, I usually do not make a recipe straight from a magazine, but I did receive my latest Bon Appetit magazine, the November / Thanksgiving issue. In general, Bon Appetit is my least favorite of all the cooking magazines out there. I am not dissing the magazine per se, but everyone has a cooking style of some sort, and some things they prefer or not. This November issue however, just had one recipe after another jump out at me. I rarely find really interesting recipes in the Thanksgiving issue, because we have a menu, and my husband prefers not to deviate from that menu. When he finds something he likes - that's it! Most times I flip through the November issues of any cooking magazine, note all the strange ways to prepare a turkey, remark on all the side dishes my husband would never touch, and set the magazine aside.

Pumpkin Caramel Tart sliced
This time, there were so many recipes I wanted to try I was all agog. Now, with Rich - our all-things-pumpkin-but-particularly-pumpkin-pie fanatic - visiting, I especially took note of a recipe for a Pumpkin Caramel Tart with Toasted Hazelnut Crust (find the recipe online here). The tart called my attention because of the fact that it used very little liquid, so instead of a custardy pumpkin pie, it looked denser and richer. Granted, it called for making your own caramel first, but I was game. The hazelnuts in the crust did not call my attention at all, and because the recipe also called for roasting, then caramelizing extra hazelnuts to strew over top, I would really need to love hazelnuts. As they are just not my favorite nut by a long shot, I switched the nuts used to pecans. 

Outside of that, I made no changes at all. To me, it was heavenly. The crust was okay. I might tweak that part next time. Despite the fact that the only spice in this tart was cinnamon, and not even all that much cinnamon, the spice seemed extra concentrated. My guys were divided on it. My husband loved it and preferred it over pumpkin pie. Rich loved it, but preferred pumpkin pie when push came to shove. For me, the filling was marvelous, and on a special occasion I would make it again, in a different crust. But the real reason I would only make it for a special occasion is that it took so many gadgets and utensils to accomplish. I had my sink piled precariously high with pots, food processor pieces, bowls, baking sheets, spatulas, spoons and you-name-it that I just don't want to do it often, despite the wonderful flavors. I would still recommend it!

The other recipe I made a few days ago came from a brand-new publication called "Bake from Scratch" (check it out here). It apparently is a quarterly magazine, with no ads. It is absolutely stunning in its look and feel, with smooth, heavy pages and gorgeous photography. The recipes sound scrumptious, too. It is pricey, but it caught my eye while looking for something else entirely in the grocery store, so I bought it on a whim. Many recipes are calling to me, but it has been a while since I made scones, and this magazine had recipes for EIGHT kinds of scones. Scone heaven, for sure. Most of the recipes absolutely call me to make them, and I started off this little journey with Cranberry Pistachio Scones. By the way, I am not affiliated in any way with this magazine, not being paid for promoting it. It is just too gorgeous a windfall not to share!
Cranberry Pistachio Scones

As for the scone recipes, I have made scones lots of times, and my go-to method is using at least 1 whole stick of butter and then buttermilk as the liquid. I like my old scone recipes just fine. But the scones in this magazine all called for less butter and a cup of heavy cream instead of buttermilk. I must say that for scones made without any egg (which I prefer, as it seems most authentic), these scones came out quite moist - much more than mine! I generally do not use icing or glaze on scones. I did make a quick glaze out of some leftover browned butter icing with orange juice added to thin it down to pouring consistency. This was for my husband, as he selected this particular recipe for me to try first, based solely on the fact that it showed the most frosting in the magazine photo! What a great criteria!

If you can still get your hands on this magazine, while it is expensive, is one of those "you-get-what-you-pay-for" things. And I highly recommend the scones! Next up are the Cheddar and Black Pepper - or maybe the Fig, Thyme and Goat Cheese, or maybe . . . . 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.