30 July 2008

mixed vegatable kimchi

This is a kimchi inspired by, — once again — by Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. This is a cross between baechu (cabbage, as in napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage) and a mixed-vegetable ferment.

Take one small head cabbage, sliced in ribbons, toss it with two thinly sliced carrots, a sliced onion and two of those thin, long eggplants, also sliced. (Radish is nice, I'm out):

Cover with a brine of 4 tbs sea salt to one quart water. Let rest a few hours. (Or overnight):

Make a paste of ginger (a decent knob), maybe 7 cloves garlic, a small onion, two anchovies and 1 ½ tbs Korean hot chili pepper (my past experience shows this to be a must — you can buy it by the pound in a Korean market):

Drain the vegetables. Taste for salt. Usually should be fine. Add the ginger-garlic paste:

Mix very well:

Pack into a crock:

Cover with a saucer or some other non-reactive object of the right diameter:

Place a heavy object (like a Ball jar filled with water) on the saucer, and cover with a cloth to allow air (but not bugs) to circulate:

Taste after a few days. Then each day after. Make sure the saucer is covered in 24 hours by liquid. If not, add brine.

Refrigerate when it's crispy and sour and all stained with chili pepper. This won't take long in the summer. If you have a cool place (or want to bury it in the ground, which I hear is traditional), it can age for months.

I'll post the results. (Nota bene: as this was a small head of cabbage, and I used a lot of garlic and ginger, this'll be more of a condiment than the last kimchi that I made that I devoured simply sautéed with rice.)

(see my first, second and third attempts at kimchi)

pickle project 2008

(I sprinkled salt on the sides to help keep it from inviting the wrong flora)

I haven't had pickles since finishing of last year's this winter. The CSA had a good deal of pickles this week so I chose some pickles in lieu of eggplant or extra carrots (you get a ½ bag of vegetables, a full of greens, etc.). Using Sandor Katz's recipe from Wild Fermentation as a guide, I started my first of the season with dill, yellow and brown mustard seeds, garlic and peppercorns. I almost added a hot pepper, but I'll wait. Maybe I'll pickle peppers next week?

And finally, tomatoes are in season. These orange-fleshed tomatoes were incredible with olive oil and fleur de sel. First fresh tomatoes I've had in 2008, I think!

27 July 2008

ginger-melon jam

I got two wonderful, striped, orange-fleshed (and still unidentified* — I should have taken a photo) melons from the CSA this week. I ate the first one in about twenty-four hours it was so good. Looking through Jane Grigson's Fruit Book, I found a recipe for Melon and Ginger Jam. A very simple recipe, adapted from hers:

For each 2lbs cubed, peeled, melon (about one melon):
  • 2lbs sugar (I use organic in preserves, usually)
  • Rind and juice of 3 lemons
  • Ginger, grated fine (maybe 5-7 inches?) (Grigson uses preserved ginger)

The fruit sits overnight with the sugar at room temperature (first picture). I then added the ginger and lemon and cooked it until it started to set when cooled on a small dish. I mashed the fruit with a potato masher for a more even consistency (melon holds up quite well to cooking, which surprised me).

The lemon flavor mellows and mostly highlights the melon flavor and the ginger gives it a wonderful kick. I am very happy with the results.

2 lbs fruit yielded 3 pints (3 half-pint and six quarter-pint jars).

* n.b. (13 August) : The melons have been identified as "Early Queen".

26 July 2008


At the end of a long day (week, month, year, actually), I was in need of some comforting food. I didn't want to go shopping. I had eggs, some Finlandia cheese, some canned salmon, and a Julia Child book. I decided to make my first soufflé — a traditional soufflé au fromage. I made the base, a béchamel with yolks added and then cooked again, half of which I reserved for a chard-salmon gratin, and whipped the whites. I folded the whites in with the cheese. I baked that and the gratin until it seemed just right. It it was. It was the ultimate comfort food: cheese and eggs elegantly preserved — for a fleeting moment, it seemed — in air.

The soufflé seems so démodé, but it's really easy, and really good. Melt-in-your-mouth good.

strawberry ale

The last week of June, with strawberries abound and more coming, I decided to try a go at making a strawberry wheatbeer. I started with a 2 gallon batch of wheat beer (in a 3 gallon carboy). It included: 1 pound Munton's light malted barley, 2 pounds Munton's wheat malt and a pound of unmalted wheat flakes. It is lightly hopped. I let it cool, overnight, protected by cheesecloth — hoping to excite and invite the various microflora of my neighborhood.

I've read that strawberry ales need to be enjoyed young, and that strawberries do poorly with fermentation — with all that activity and release of CO2 the strawberryness escapes. So I brewed that for a week and then added maybe 4 pounds of strawberries — whole and crushed — for a second fermentation for two-and-a-half weeks.

It then spent a week in the bottle with some more light malt for a final fermentation/conditioning.

And it's wonderful. It has a nice berry tartness with a slight acetic tartness — nothing overwhelming, nowhere near a wild-fermented cider —, it's light and it has an aroma that really is of fresh strawberries. The carbonation is light and has the fine bubbles of a sparling wine. And the tartness with that is magnificent.

17 July 2008

kohlrabi and other csa vegtables

I began to lose my patience for salads and uncooked meals. With kohlrabi, zucchini and spring onion waiting to be used, I decided upon two things. First, zucchini strips sautéed quick with garlic and almonds. Second — and yes, this spikes the temperature in your kitchen by a good twenty-five degrees — gratin of kohlrabi, spring onions and fennel.

Take one decent sized kohlrabi bulb, one onion and one small fennel bulb. Slice all very thin (a mandoline, one of those compact Japanese ones, is perfect for this. Or a sharp knife). Blanch the kohlrabi in salted water. Drain, toss with other vegetables and a dose of cream. Season. Place in a gratin dish, cover with a bit of cheese (maybe something Swiss — this was that aged "Finlandia" cheese) and some fresh breadcrumbs. Bake at 300º until bubbly, then pass under the broiler for a minute. It'll still have a nice crunch to it.

Then sauté some almonds and garlic in olive oil and butter, add zucchini in spaghetti-like strips. You want to just heat this through. Season. The zucchini should be just warmed. Use maybe one small zucchini per person, one large for two, etc. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon. Or maybe thyme.

Perfect with bitter greens (such as mizuna, tatsoi and mustard greens) tossed with nothing more than oil and vinegar.

14 July 2008

currant jelly

I planted a red currant bush at my parents' house when I was a kid. Naturally, its most fruitful time has been since I've no longer been there. My parents dropped off about two pounds, so I made jelly (referring to Jane Grigson's Fruit Book as well as the preserving manual Putting Food By) :

Ingredients: just equal parts (weight) currants and sugar.

Grigson says to boil hard, then boil for 8 minutes. Sounds vague. I do like that she leaves the fruit whole (even suggests not taking out stalks) and then straining it. Putting Food By suggests making currants juice, then making jelly. That seemed to troublesome. But they direct one to boil until 8ºF above boiling.

I boiled the currants and sugar until they were at 220ºF, whisking at one point to make sure that the fruit was all broken. I strained it through a sieve and got 5 ½ pint jars. [n.b.: hot water bath for 6 mins.] It's tart and deep, deep red.

08 July 2008


An entirely homegrown salad: Alissa's escarole, cucumber and baby summer squash with my nasturtiums. A perfectly bitter early summer salad: the sharp escarole was offset by the sweetness of raw squash and cucumbers while the nasturtiums' sweetness pairs with escarole's bite and its pepperyness goes well with a spicy mustard vinaigrette.

And then cauliflower (from the CSA), tossed with nutmeg and olive oil and grilled. Simple; very, very good:

And mackerel, one of my favorite fish, stuffed with thyme, preserved lemons and garlic, grilled:

And the last of my many strawberries, all tarted up.

05 July 2008

ravioli with tarragon beurre noisette

I started with three cloves garlic, a small onion, a small carrot and lots of greens (more than shown, in fact, I probably doubled that) : mizuna, komatsuna, kabura turnip greens ans mustard greens, all chopped very fine.

Make your pasta: 1 2/3 - 1 3/4 cups semolina, 2 eggs, salt. Cover with a damp towel.

Sauté the garlic, onions and carrots until slightly translucent in 2 tbs butter/1tbs olive oil. Add the greens, cook until they've lost a good deal of moisture. Add 1 tbs cream and season with salt and pepper.

Roll the pasta out until its pretty thin. Shape ravioli free form (like I did) for large ones or use a mold.

While prepping the beurre noisette, let the ravioli rest on a grate to dry slightly.

Heat 6 tbs butter, skim. Cook until it starts to brown (it will get darker even once poured out)., then pour into another container. Add 2 tbs fresh tarragon. Deglaze the pan with 1½ - 2 tbs vinegar and reduce to 1½ tsp. Pour butter back into pan, turn off heat.

Meanwhile, poach the ravioli.

Top with the beurre noisette.

Very very good. And pretty simple. The idea came from sorrel-turnip green raviolis with beurre noisette that I had once. Tarragon makes it even better.

(nota bene: At $7.99 a bottle, the wine in one of those photos, La Poule blanche, is great. It's Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier: a little minetally — not much — with fruit and a nice finish. Perfect for summer.)

03 July 2008

small projects

Garlic scapes are on a "as you can use them" basis at the CSA, so I've grabed a few bunches each week. I made a pesto last week with one part garlic scapes to one part basil plus walnuts, cheese, olive oil, salt. That was quite good. I've also made a vegan version of that.

Even better:
• handful of garlic scapes
• quart of snap peas (whole)
• ½ cup walnuts
• ¼ - ½ cup olive oil
• salt, pepper to taste

Puréed and tossed with pasta (aim for as mush bean-scape mix as pasta and it's real good).

Also, small, but timely: I'm making a lambic-ish beer. I made a wheat beer (one part light barley malt, one part flaked wheat, two parts wheat malt) that sat out overnight, covered in cheesecloth to invite wild yeast, added ale yeast and then added strawberries after the first week. Could be terrible. Could be amazing. Yes, it's an amateur attempt at best (hoping to have more research done come raspberry time).


These may have been tedious to pick — they're all small, miniatures: the plants' last efforts at turning their berries red before the heat overwhelms — but these are the sweetest, brightest, most delicious strawberries that I have ever had.