Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick Pickles

I really love pickles and made some this weekend with the help of food and wine. They are delicious and very easy to make.

Spicy Dill Quick Pickles

*For each 1 qt jar, use 12 oz of veges*
Before pickling do:
Asparagus - blanch 1 min and cool
Broccoli stems - peel and cut into sticks

Carrots - cut into sticks; blanch 2 min and cool
Cauliflower florets - blanch 1 min and cool
Green beans - steam 2 min and cool

Cucumbers - quarter or thinly slice

*12 oz Veges (see above)*
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 c distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
6 large garlic cloves, halved
4 to 6 long red or green hot chilies, halved lengthwise
16 dill sprigs

Pack veges into 2 clean 1 qt glass jars; also add 3 of the cloves to each, 1 Tbsp of the coriander seeds, 8 sprigs of dill, and tuck 2 to 3 of the halved chilies in between the veges. In a separate jar combine the salt, sugar, and vinegar. Shake until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add 2 c water and pour the brine over the veges. Add enough water to keep the veges submerged. Close the jars and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Home Made Corn Meal

I wanted to make homemade corn meal for a while. I thought it would be simple enough and decided to do it without doing any online research. It's easy enough to make using some pretty basic supplies.

I started out by scraping the kernels from about 8 ears. I also scraped the pulp and put them onto my dehydrating trays. I dehydrated the kernels overnight at 105 degrees. The kernels seemed pretty dry so I processed them in the food processor only to find that there was still a lot of moisture. That's when I went online.

So, ideally you should dry the kernels still on the cob. Round 1 goes to the Internet, oops. Then once the kernels are dried it's best to use a grain mill to grind the corn into meal. The grinders are not expensive (I found a nicely reviewed one on Amazon for about $ 30), but I had already started down this path. I decided to continue taking the crazy train.

I lined my dehydrator panel with some parchment paper so I wouldn't lose any kernels and dehydrated them again at 105 degrees overnight again. SUCCESS! I ground the corn once again using my blender this time because it seems to do a better job than the processor. I got a nice meal that I used to make polenta for dinner. It made about 1 and 3/4 c of meal. I could also have used it to make cornbread, but I didn't. I'm still not a super fan of the consistency of polenta, but this polenta was truly delicious and it was really rewarding to know that I was able to do it. I may break down and buy the grain mill (yeah another gadget) knowing that I'll actually use it.

I just wanted to share because it made me feel accomplished. I think I'll just skip to step #2 next time and just start with mashed corn kernels. If you buy the corn I can always make you some meal.

1 Tbsp coarse salt
2 bay leaves
1 2/3 c coarse cornmeal (white or yellow; best if homemade)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Put 7 cups of cold water, salt, and bay leaves into a medium heavy bottomed pan. Stir in cornmeal.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then add oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until polenta thickens and pulls away from the bottom and sides of pot, 30 to 40 min. Season with salt and pepper and remove the bay leaves.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gadget whore

Well, as some of you may know I like to dehydrate food. I've dehydrated strawberries, cherries, apples, apricots, and peaches to name a few. Until recently I was using an Aroma brand dehydrator and after that broke I moved onto the Ronco that my mother in law gave me, until of coarse that one failed as well. I went online and researched and found Excalibur dehydrators.

I LOVE IT! Aside from being able to do my fruits I am now able to make jerky (I'm experimenting with tofu jerky as I write), raise bread, make yogurt, and fruit roll ups. It's awesome and the drying time is a fraction of what it was before. For out next book club, since it's Indian themed, I am planning on making curried mango jerky or fruit roll ups. My only complaint is that it is SO BIG. It cannibalizes so much of my counter space.

I was planning on learning how to can and to have a canning party with Ethan, but I think that I just won't go down that road. I've been reading some raw food blogs and they recommend dehydrating at 105 degrees in order to preserve the food and it's nutrients and enzymes. Canning doesn't seem to be in my future any time soon. I'll keep you posted about the dehydrator especially once the tomatoes start making their debut.

Extra sour - sour dough

I shared the cheese recipe so I thought I would share the bread that we find is a perfect companion. This also makes great cheese toast. I feed my starter every friday, so if you get a container to me by Thursday you could be baking this soon.

1 c "fed" sourdough starter
1 1/2 c lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
5 c all purpose flour

Pour the starter into a large mixing bowl and add the water with 3 c of flour. Beat vigorously. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest at cool room temp. (68 to 70 degrees) for 4 hours.

Then refrigerate overnight, or about 12 hours.

Add the remaining ingredients, kneading to form a smooth, soft dough. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, adn let it rise for about 5 hours.

Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 loaves ( I shape mine into rounds). Place onto a baking sheet, cover, and let it rise till doubled 2 to 3 hours.

Slash the tops and bake in pre-heated oven of 425 degrees for 30 min or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Cheese is Heaven!

I've been inspired lately (by Ethan mostly) and decided that I would start making our own cheese. So far I've made mozzarella, lemon cheese, and ricotta. Once my cultures and cheese press get here I will be making queso fresco, Gorgonzola, and cheddar among a few. It's really easy and we all love it. I've included the recipe for the easy version, which incidentally enough I made at my cooking class. We love it the best on some homemade sourdough bread with alaea finishing salt and some lemon zest.

Whole Milk Ricotta
1 gallon whole milk ( I use Raw Milk of course. In a pinch I use 1/2 gal raw milk and 1/2 gal whole; also be sure that it is pasteurized and not ultra-pasteurized.
1 tsp citric acid
1/4 c cool water (bottled water not from tap)
1 tsp salt, optional (cheese salt, however I use sel gris)
1-2 tbsp heavy cream (not needed if you are using raw milk, but highly recommended if using regular pasteurized milk.)

Add the citric acid into the water and stir until dissolved. Add this to your pot along with the salt and milk and mix thoroughly.

Heat the milk to 185 - 195 degrees (do not boil) . I have looked at my cheese log and found that I am most satisfied when my milk reaches 190 degrees. Stir often to prevent scorching.

As soon as the curds and whey separate (make sure whey is not milky), turn off the heat and leave undisturbed for 10 min. Be warned that if using Raw milk you won't see the curds until you let it rest, so don't panic.

Line a colander with butter muslin. Carefully ladle the curds into the muslin; once all curds are in tie the corners of muslin in knot and hang the bag to drain for 20 to 30 min (for raw milk ricotta you may need to leave undisturbed for 1 hour or more). The cheese is ready to eat once it is drained. For a creamier consistency, add the cream at the end and mix thoroughly.

Store in a covered container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Enjoy

We're Locavores

Ryan and I decided to become localvores this year. We are doing our best to get all of our food from the farmers market, a csa, and if we must go to the store, only purchase local products. This will mean a lot of extra work in food preparation, but this is a choice that we're willing to deal with. We are in a csa (community sustained agriculture) co-op and we got our first "box" this last Friday. Although we couldn't eat from it on Friday and Saturday, I did make soup on Sunday with some of the veges, and we're having soup and steamed artichokes for lunch/ dinner tonight. We really love abundant harvest organics and hope that some of you will decide to join. If you would like more information on our decision please visit their website at:
We'll let you know how it goes. So far our favorites are the raw milk, raw cream, organic butter, the veges of course, and the organic pistachios. It's a good way to ease some of the strain on the environment and get really nourishing food in our bodies.