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sauerkraut_5172

 

Makes 1 quart or as much as you like

Fermented foods seem to be headed into becoming the next big culinary trend.  This is truly a case of everything old is new again as fermenting was one of the earliest methods of food preservation.  For years, once fall comes I have made sauerkraut as one of Steve’s favorite cold weather dishes is pork roast braised in white wine with sauerkraut, onions, and potatoes.  Sauerkraut is easy to make and keeps almost forever.  So, if you haven’t experienced fermenting in your kitchen here is an easy recipe to get started.  Later, I’ll give you the recipe for the braised pork.
You can use the sauerkraut at any point in the fermentation process.  Early in the process it will be more cabbage-like and crunchy; later it will be softer and have a stronger, more sour flavored. To add different flavor, add caraway, dill, or mustard seeds or chopped fresh dill to the fermenting mix.
Cabbage ferments very quickly at room temperature (about 70°F) and is usually ready to eat in a week.  You can also refrigerate it from the start, but fermentation will occur very slowly; however, the end result will be crisper.  If kept at a temperature over 80°F, it will quickly turn dark brown and spoil.  If this occurs, discard the sauerkraut and start again.

2 ½ pounds cabbage (preferably organic), cored with any wilted or damaged outer leaves removed
3 teaspoons sea salt

Shred the cabbage into coarse threads using either a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, the large holes of a hand-held box grater, a mandoline, or by hand with a large, sharp chef’s knife.  To ensure correct fermentation I recommend that you weigh the cabbage after you have removed the core and any wilted or damaged outer leaves.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top.  Using your hands, begin massaging the salt into the cabbage working until the cabbage exudes a substantial amount of liquid.  The time required will be dependent upon the freshness of the cabbage and the strength of your massage and can range from a couple of minutes to 30 or so.
Pack the cabbage and the liquid into a clean, sterilized container, such as a 1-quart glass canning jar with a clean, unused lid.  Using your fingertips, a smaller jar or glass that will fit down into the larger jar, or a potato masher, press down as firmly as you can to allow the liquid to rise up and cover the shredded cabbage.  You should leave about 1- to 2-inches of space between the cabbage and the top of the jar to give the cabbage space to expand as it ferments.  If the mixture has not created enough liquid to cover add enough cool distilled water to completely cover.
Place a bit of cool water into a small resealable plastic bag, pushing to eliminate all air.  You need just enough water to create a weight to keep the cabbage under the liquid.  Seal the bag and place it on top of the cabbage, pushing down to insure that the water-bag is serving as a weight.  Place the lid on the container and seal tightly.
Set aside in a cool, dark spot for 5 days.  Check the fermentation process daily to make sure that the cabbage has remained covered with liquid.  If not, add distilled water to cover.
After 2 days, begin tasting the sauerkraut.   Remove the water-bag and set it aside.  Remove and discard any scum or mold that has formed, noting that it is not harmful, just unappetizing.   Using a clean fork, poke around in the jar and pull out a small taste.  This allows you to follow the fermentation process and determine when the cabbage has reached the point that is most desirable to your taste.  Just be sure to push the sauerkraut back down into the liquid, place the water-bag on top to press it down, tightly seal, and set aside as before.
Depending upon the temperature in its resting place, after one week the sauerkraut should be a bit bubbly and have a tart, sour aroma.  Whenever the sauerkraut has reached the flavor and texture you desire, transfer the jar to the refrigerator to impede the fermentation process.  The kraut will continue to ferment, but at a much slower pace.

Macaroon

 

Makes About 3½ dozen

3 large egg whites
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup superfine sugar
One 14-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.
Place the eggs whites in the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle.  Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until foamy.   Add the vanilla, and cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
With the motor running, slowly add the sugar and beat for about 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and stiff peaks form.  Add the coconut and beat on low to just combine.  Do not over-beat or the coconut will begin to disintegrate.
Using a medium melon baller or small ice cream scoop, drop about 1 tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 1-inch between each cookie.  When all of the cookies have been formed, transfer to the preheated oven and bake, rotating the cookie sheets about halfway through the baking time, for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool completely on the cookie sheets.
Serve or store, airtight, in single layers separated by waxed paper for up to 1 week.

NOTE:  If desired, you can dip one side of each macaroon into melted bittersweet chocolate and garnish with a toasted coconut chip.

AFC_Turkey

 

I send wishes that your Thanksgiving be filled with great food, loving family, and wonderful friends.  So many of us have so much and so many more have so little; this is the time to cherish our blessings and share our bounty.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

NewGift_Beans

 

You will be hearing more about this but I just had to show you my newest toy.  My very special buddies, Stuart and Dean, took a cooking class in Italy this past summer where the instructor used a glass beaker to cook his beans.  Stuart knew that I would love to experience this so, once home, went on a hunt to find the glass.  And last week he surprised me with the gift.  I researched this cooking method and found that it has evolved from hearth cooking whereby a bean-filled crock was placed in the embers at the end of the evening so that the beans would slowly cook all night in the warmth of the ash and hearth.  As years passed and cooks abandoned the hearth for the stovetop, this glass beaker took the place of the crock.  I couldn’t wait to try my Tuscan bean cooker although I couldn’t believe that the glass would not break on the stovetop.  I soaked some dried red beans that I had on hand for the trial and then put them to cook with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and water.  It took a few hours over very low heat, but the glass didn’t break and the beans were soft and creamy.  I can’t wait to begin cooking white beans in the Tuscan manner this coming week.  I will keep you posted on how my recipes work.

Kale Salad_DSC_3373

I know, I know everyone is getting tired of being bombarded by kale, but it is so good for you, filled with vitamins and minerals, inexpensive, and versatile that I just have to add my voice.  At the moment, kale is high on our list because of its cancer-fighting properties.  My son, Mickey, is fighting lung cancer (no he never smoked, was a runner in the best of health until now) and kale contains sulforaphane which offers strong anti-cancer qualities as well as indole-3-carbinal, a chemical which seems to help in blocking the growth of cancer cells.  I’m not crazy about it raw, but to retain its amazing strength I often just wilt it by adding something hot to it as I did in this salad.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup quinoa (plain or multi-colored)
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Salt
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and finely chopped
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Citrus Dressing (recipe follows)

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.  Set aside to drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until just beginning to color.  Stir in the quinoa and then add the broth and season with salt to taste.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and set aside to steam for about 5 minutes.
Place the kale in a large salad bowl.  Pour the hot quinoa over the kale and, using your hands (I use thick rubber gloves to keep my hands from burning) toss the quinoa along with the pumpkin seeds into the kale.  When just about totally combined, add just enough vinaigrette to season nicely and continue to toss and blend.  Taste and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature.

 

Citrus Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon mirin
½ tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon ginger juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons white miso paste
6 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the vinegar, orange juice, mirin, tamari, and ginger juice in a jar with a lid.  Cover and shake to blend.  Uncover, add the orange zest and miso and, again, shake to blend.  Open, add the canola oil, recover, and shake and shake to emulsify.  Taste and, if desired, season with salt and pepper.

vegetable-chili

 

Everybody seems to have a favorite chili recipe, but I generally just wing it.  I do from time to time stick to my mom’s method (see a post from November 13, 2012) but as often as not I do some type of vegetarian chili.  Since the weather had cooled and I had a mess of cooked red beans on hand, I decided it was going to be easy to put dinner together.  I sautéed a big chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic in a little canola oil.  I added a large can of plum tomatoes (that I had squished), a medium can of tomato puree, a couple of dollops of tomato paste along with 4 chopped carrots, 2 chopped zucchini, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 minced jalapeño, and some mushrooms that were needing to be cooked.  To be honest the additions were based solely on what I had on hand.  Seasoned the mix with a good amount of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and, of course, salt and pepper.  Had I had some winter squash or sweet potatoes on hand I would have added either of those also.   I added the cooking liquid from the beans and then let the vegetable mix cook for a while before adding the cooked beans as they were already pretty soft and didn’t really need much more cooking.  I baked some corn muffins, quickly tossed a green salad, and Eh! Voila! dinner was on the table and we had lunch ready to go to our besties at Loupe Digital.

©StephenKolyer_CountryHam

 

Once again we are moving into that time of year when entertaining and traditional meet hand in hand.  If you have followed my ramblings or have read my most recent cookbook, An American Family Cooks, you know how much a traditional country ham is part of our holiday season.  Our holiday ham of choice is Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Ham which comes from Newsom’s Old Mill Store in Princeton, Kentucky (www.newsomsham@yahoo.com).  Touted by James Beard and Julia Child when they discovered them in the 1970s, these spectacular hams are now high on the list of many famous cooks.  Col. Newsom was a cousin of my Uncle News so I always consider his daughter Nancy (who now runs the store) to be a kissin’ cousin.    The hams are authentically cured and are sodium nitrate and nitrate free.  You can order free-range, naturally cured or the regular, ambient weather cured.  Whichever you choose, they are the product of treasured tradition.  These hams do take a bit of work to prepare, but I guarantee the end result will thrill.  While ordering your holiday ham be sure to add some bacon and sausage to your list– you won’t believe their smoky goodness.

 

Newsoms Country Ham_DSC_3377

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