Saturday, November 4, 2017

(Jalapeno) Sauerkraut


I feared fermenting veggies for a long time. What if I give my family food poisoning? How will I know if something is fermented properly? Isn't it all too complicated? But now that I took the plunge, I wish I had done so earlier. This recipe, even though it has 8 steps, is utterly simplicity and produces a tender, tangy, and flavourful kraut. A chopped jalapeño only deepens the flavour without adding too much heat. Add two if you want more zip. I'm not a big fan of veggie dogs, but with a homemade bun and this kraut, I would eat them any day.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 head of cabbage
- 2-3 tbsp coarse salt (like pickling or kosher salt)--more as needed
- 1 chopped jalapeno pepper (including seeds)--optional

METHOD
1. Remove 2-3 outer leaves from the cabbage.
2. Core cabbage, and slice very thinly (a food processor works wonders here).
3. Woking in batches if necessary, place cabbage (and jalapeño, if using) in a large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt. Start mashing/squeezing the cabbage with your hands, or use a wooden sauerkraut pounder. This will force liquid from the cabbage. The cabbage will start to go translucent, and you should get a good amount of liquid from it. If not, use a little more salt.
4. Transfer the cabbage to a large glass jar. I use a big 56 oz jar. Tamp down the cabbage (here is where the sauerkraut pounder really comes in handy) so that the liquid covers the cabbage.
5. Cover the cabbage with the leaves your removed in step 1. Rip the leaves into small pieces if necessary. Fully cover the cabbage right to the edges of the jar. Use a knife to tuck the edges down a bit so that pieces of cabbage don't float tup during the ferment (see pic above).
6. Tamp the cabbage leaves down so that they are submerged.
7. Place a smaller jar (or something non-reactive) on top of the leaves. It needs to reach the top of the bigger jar.
Place the canning lid on upside down (i.e. rubber seal up), and then tighten on the metal ring. The idea here is to keep the kraut and leaves compressed and submerged throughout the ferment. The upside down lid will allow gas to escape during the ferment.
8. Place somewhere away from sunlight and direct heat (coolish room temp is great). Ferment away! I think 1.5 weeks makes for the perfect kraut. It will bubble and foam--this is what you want to see. Check every few days: remove the lid and take a sniff. It should not smell rotten or unpleasant. To my nose, kraut that has not fermented long enough has a slightly metallic air to it which mellows out after about 10 or 11 days.

Remove the cabbage leaves from the top and enjoy! Refrigerate until used up.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Spanish Style Tofu and Potatoes


This is a simple and tasty dish that is perfect for the end of summer when all your tomatoes are ripe. 

INGREDIENTS
Serves 6 to 8
- 2.5 lbs potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 large Spanish onion, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 pkg tofu, diced
- 6 cups tomato wedges
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley (optional)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Combine all ingredients (except parsley) in a large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer to a large baking dish with sides.
2. Bake for about an hour, stirring regularly after the first twenty minutes, until potatoes are tender. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pressure Canner Beans in Tomato Sauce

My kids like to take these beans in a thermos to school for lunch (often with veggie dogs cut up into them for what we call "Beans and Weens"). With a pressure canner you can easily make your own at home without having to soak a single bean.  Below is a basic recipe that you can adjust according to your size of jar, the number of jars you want to make, and your tastes.

When cooking dried beans in a jar in a pressure canner you want 1 part dried beans to 3 parts liquid. So, in the recipe below, 1 cup of beans is cooked in 3 cups of liquid in a 4 cup (1 quart) jar. If you are using pint jars (2 cup) then use 1/2 cup of dried beans to 1.5 cups of liquid.

As for the liquid/sauce, do whatever suits your tastes. If you are canning 7 one quart jars, you need 21  cups of liquid. It's best to have at least 8 cups of water so the beans cook properly, but you can play around with other ingredients. Less sugar, more tomato, for example. More sugar, less tomato sauce +  a cup or two of ketchup + mustard + chilli powder+ hot sauce = beans in BBQ sauce (as an example).

Making the liquid a little on the salty side is OK because the beans will soak it up. Have made a few batches of bland beans that needed salt when served, so I lean towards the 4 tbsp side of things now.

Finally, if you have ever canned before then you know that "leakage" can be a problem. I have found that this problem can be ameliorated by doing 2 things: 1. leaving enough headspace in your jar; 2. realizing that "fingertip tight" can be pretty darn tight. Inevitably, some sauce will leak out of the jars during processing. Not to worry. Take the rings off and wipe down the entire jar before storing. 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 7 quart (4 cup) jars
- 8oz/227g/1 cup dried navy beans x 7

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2  48 fl oz cans tomato juice
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- kosher salt to taste (2 to 4 tbsp)

METHOD
Sterilize your jars. Prepare your pressure canner.
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Saute onion for 5-7 mins, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 min.
2. Add tomato juice, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to boiling.
3. While sauce is heating, add 8oz/227g of dried beans to each sterilized jar.
4. Ladle hot sauce into the jars, leaving a good 1" of head space. If you are short on liquid, top up with boiling water. Top with lids and tighten the rings as much as you can with your fingertips.
5. Process the jars per your pressure canner's instructions at 11 lbs of pressure for 90 minutes. Remove canner from the heat and let pressure drop before removing the jars. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Indian Burgers


As promised, here is the burger recipe to go with the naan bun recipe. The burger is durable, but is better suited to the oven than the grill. 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 6 large burgers
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower (small pieces)
- 2 cups small diced potato
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour

METHOD
1. Mix together onion, zucchini, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Blanch cauliflower and potato in boiling salted water for 5 mins. Remove from boiling water and plunge into cold water. Drain. Rinse again with cold water and drain well.
3. By this time the onion and zucchini should have released a bunch of water. Squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands and place onion/zuke mixture in a new bowl.
4. Add 2/3 of the potato/cauliflower mixture. Mash the remaining 1/3 of the mixture with a fork, and add to the bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, cilantro, spices and salt and mix well.
5. Add the gluten and chickpea flours and mix well.
6. If necessary, mush/squeeze the mixture with your hands to bring it together.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil it.
8. Divide mixture into 6 and press into a ring mold to make the burgers. Mist with oil and place in the fridge to chill.
9. While burgers are chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake burgers for 10 mins, then flip, spray with oil, and bake for another 10 mins. Let stand for 5 mins before serving.

As you can see from the pic, I served these with with onion rings on top. I used this recipe, but cut the onions into rings and fried them separately. I dressed the burgers with vegan mayo, green tomato chutney, lettuce, and tomato.

Naan Buns


When we were in Quebec City last week vegan food for the entire family was pretty hard to come by. We ended up eating at a burger place that had some vegan options: tofu on a bun, or something they called L'Indien. It was more like a large falafel on a bun, but the kids were more or less pleased with it. The idea is a good one, so I made my own version when I got home (caveat: I did not actually eat the original burger because fried food and me don't get along. Thanks, Crohn's!). First up, the naan bun. Next, the burger.

INGREDIENTS
Makes one dozen buns
- 2 cups warm soy milk
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 775g/1lb 11oz all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp oil

METHOD
1. Whisk sugar and lemon juice into the soy milk. Whisk in yeast and set aside to fully dissolve and get frothy.
2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
3. Add oil and yeast mixture to the flour and bring together into a dough. Knead for about 5 mins, or until smooth. Shape into a ball and placed in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise for an hour.
4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into boules. Press each boule into a flat, puck shape with your finger tips. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or two, depending on the size of your oven and baking stone). Mist buns with oil, then cover. Place another baking sheet on top of the buns (this will let them rise but keep the puck shape) and let rise for about 45 mins, or until almost doubled in size.
5. While bread is rising, place a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
6. The buns work best if you bake them directly on the hot stone. I slide the parchment off the pan and on to the stone, but you could just put the pan right on the stone. In any event, brush the buns with water (top with poppy seeds if you want), and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 400 degrees.
7. Buns right on the stone will bake in 8-9 minutes. Buns on the sheet won't be far behind. Bake until buns are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
8. Cool on wire racks and enjoy!