Sunday, 25 September 2011

Beet kvass and herby yogurt cheese

So today I felt inspired to try something new for two reasons. One, because the weather really has turned and it is pretty chilly and miserable, (which is a very good excuse to seek the warm comfort of the kitchen), and two, because an amazing cookbook and nutritional guide has arrived that I have been pining after for a long time! It is called 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon, and I really couldn't wait to try the first of the recipes in it.

While many of her recipes are meat, fish and dairy based, even if you are a vegetarian or vegan, I would recommend it (I'm not mad honest) as it really gets back to simple, wholesome nourishing foods and processes. She recommends not using refined sugars and to use alternate grains and flours (with the exception of white unbleached flour in a pie crust). Not only are the recipes inspiring, she also gives plenty of 'how to's' for traditional fermented, soaked and cultured grains, dairy and vegetables, which I truly believe are the way forward to a healthier lifestyle and one we are aspiring to!

So, in a bid to make my first chosen recipe, beet kvass; last night I set about collecting whey from half a tub of organic natural yogurt. I put the yogurt in a piece of muslin, tied it to a skewer and hung it over a bowl and left it overnight to work it's magic....

The next morning all the delicious whey had collected in the bowl and I was left with a beautiful fresh and tangy yogurt cheese in the muslin! We set the cheese aside to make a herby cheese later with, and Dorrie and I got to work making the beet kvass with the whey.

Beet Kvass is a traditional fermented drink which can be used as a condiment too. It is popular in the Ukraine, and like most fermented foods, has a whole range of benefits attributed to it such as being a blood cleansing tonic, alkalising the blood, great for digestion and an all round pick me up! I haven't altered any of the recipe from the Nourishing Traditions book, I have simply halved the amount.

Beet Kvass
1 large organic beetroot, peeled and chopped roughly
1/8 cup of whey
1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
filtered water

Place beets, whey and salt into a 1 litre glass container, give a good stir, seal tightly and leave on the work surface for 2 days. After 2 days, pop it in the fridge. It is then ready to go! Drink a very small glass morning and night as a tonic.
Sally Fallon also adds a note to not grate the beetroot or chop them too small, as this makes the fermentation process to quick (beetroot is very high in sugar) and will produce alcohol rather than lactic acid. I also believe it will be more prone to mould this way too!

** To make this Veganized, Beet kvass can be made without a whey starter and just with sea salt and filtered water. Although this is something I haven't yet done, it is on my to do list for sure and I promise to let you guys know when I do!

Fingers crossed my beet kvass doesn't go mouldy as my beetroot had started to go a little soft, will keep you posted!

Garlic yogurt Cheese
Dorrie and I made this with the cheese left over from my whey production! We added a large tablespoon of mixed chopped fresh parsley,tarragon and thyme, 1/4 of a garlic clove very finely chopped and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. It was delicious and unfortunately did not last long- poor Will missed out on this experiment!

Dorrie eating all the herb cheese....
Beet Kvass

Monday, 19 September 2011

The sauerkraut post!

We adore sauerkraut at home. My husband (Will) really enjoys making it and has taken over the making of all the sauerkraut at home, though, I have a few ideas I'd like to experiment with so will let you know how they go!

Sauerkraut is one of the most beneficial foods you can eat. It is raw, so retains the nutrients in the vegetables, but even more important than that, the fermenting process means that it is absolutely packed with the amazing bacteria lactobacillus which keeps our guts healthy, it is full of enzymes to aid digestion, and high in vitamin C to give our immune systems a boost! How about that for a super food?!

 You can make a basic sauerkraut recipe with just cabbage and salt, but all sorts of vegetables can be added such as beetroot, carrot, kale, ginger, garlic, herbs and spices. As long as the majority of the mix is cabbage, you can really experiment with it.

It tastes delicious as a side with meats, fish and potatoes, on salad or as a topping on crackers and bread. Both the girls often ask for it on it's own as a snack and adore it in multi grain flat breads with houmus and salad, this is a popular packed lunch option for school and pre-school!

Here is a basic recipe from Will's blog 'culture THIS' for you to start with!

2 cabbages
1 tablespoon of decent sea salt (assuming 2 small cabbages weighing about 500 g each - see salt guide for more information on salt quantities)
a large bowl (preferably made from glass or ceramic)
a suitable jar (see container guide for more information)
a pair of clean hands

  1. First, take the outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside, we will use these later. Then cut in half and remove the cores - also set these aside as they are also useful later on.
  2. Next shred the cabbage using a knife or food processor. It is best to shred it quite fine (no need to be obsessive about it though) as this will make it easier to make the brine later.
  3. Once the cabbage is shredded, place in the bowl, add the salt and start crushing the cabbage until it goes soft and wet (this will take a few minutes).
  4. After the cabbage has become quite wet, leave it for half an hour or so, and the salt will continue to extract more water, creating more brine. In the meantime this is a good time to sterilise your containers with boiling water and have them ready to place the cabbage into.
  5. After the half hour start stuffing the jar with the cabbage. As you place the cabbage in, press down quite hard, which will eliminate air bubbles and you should also notice that enough brine will rise up and more or less cover the cabbage. Keep filling the jar until you get to about one inch from the top (don't worry, this doesn't need to be millimetric).
  6. At this stage you should be able to press down on the top of the cabbage and the brine will cover it - we need to keep it that way (submerged) while it ferments. For this, use the cabbage leaves and cores you set aside at the beginning: wash them thoroughly, create a 'cap' with the leaves to put on top of the cabbage, and use the core (shaped as appropriate) to keep it pressed down when you shut the lid.
There, you should have a jar of soon to be sauerkraut ready to store. Store it at room temperature, preferably out of direct sunlight for about two weeks, then open and enjoy!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Raw birthday feast for my two little girls!

Well it's been quite a manic few of weeks for us! First of all our poor cat Jaguarundi got hit by a car.... Luckily he is OK, he spent 8 days at the vet hospital and has wire in his jaw but he's home and doing well. It was a bit of a trauma for everyone poor boy.

On top of that, we had two very special birthday girls! Dorrie's birthday was the end of august and Fia's is the start of September, so the weekend in between I wanted to do something for them to celebrate!

We thought about throwing them a party, we have never done that before preferring to spend a special day together as a family, however I was beginning to feel the pressure a bit that they should be having some form of a gathering involving their friends. Problem is, to me, they still feel too young for proper parties. I have memories from when I was even older than they, where the whole occasion of a birthday and celebration totally overwhelmed me! It was all a bit much; and anyway, there are plenty of years for parties, especially now Fia has started school (eeeeek).

But of course we really wanted to do something for them, so I asked Fia and Dorrie what they wanted to do for their birthdays. It was (predictably being my daughters) mainly about the food, Fia wanting a raw food 'feast' with all sorts of delights mentioned, and Dorrie wanting a raw chocolate tart!
This was music to my ears, how could I say no? My Mum (Nanny) was here for the weekend too so the girls were super excited, and we had our very good friends come round with their daughters and also another awesome friend with her son, come to enjoy the food with us! Not a party, but an afternoon with friends who they see regularly (so it was special without being overwhelming). Kind of like a sophisticated play date really, with wine for the grown ups! 

Here are some photos of the feast, many of the ideas were Fia's! It was only possible with help from our friends and my Mum so thanks guys for helping in the Kitchen in both preparing the food and clearing up, you all are awesome! :)

 Sofia and Dorrie's (mostly) raw feast (we got away with a few cooked, but still totally healthy treats)!
We have;
Fruit skewers with a raw chocolate sauce, plums, raw kale salad, raw chocolate brownies, fairy shoot salad with edible flowers, raw apple pie, olives, kale crisps, red peppers, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, ricotta-kamut gnocchi with a raw 'pasta sauce', olive and spelt crackers, humous, raw almond humous, root vegetable crisps, avocado boats with carrot spoons, unpasteurised ewe's milk cheese and grapes on sticks and raw vegan 'sushi'! PHEW!

 Close up of the pretty fairy shoot salad and my raw apple pie which I'm totally proud of! :)

 Close up of the delicious semi-raw gnocchi!

 Fia eating the raw chocolate tart (with edible flowers on the top) which I forgot to photograph in its entirety!! Silly me!!

I will be posting the gnocchi recipe soon so please watch this space!