Categories
Kitchen Basics Misc

Spiced Eggnog

As a child I carpooled to school with a very unusual girl named Danielle. A quarter century later, Danielle remains one of the most intriguing people I have ever met. She has the brain of an engineer, the heart of an experimental artist, the spirit of an old-timey woodsman, and the energy of a cartoon bunny. Several years ago for Christmas — right before she moved to Portland to explore her passion for pack goats —  she gifted me a small jar of her homemade eggnog. I was instructed to keep it in my fridge and take small sips of it over the course of the next year.

Eggnog, which is a concoction of eggs, dairy, sugar, and alcohol, did not strike me as something that would age well. Danielle assured me that the alcohol content was high enough to act as a preservative for the more susceptible-to-spoilage dairy and eggs. And she was right. I couldn’t make the nog last a whole year because I enjoyed it too much, treating myself to little tipples well into springtime.

I’ve been missing that creamy, comforting drink, so I decided to make my own. I checked in with internet food experts to make sure I wouldn’t poison myself, and learned that 20 percent of the total volume is the amount of alcohol needed to keep the eggnog safe. I also learned from Google that two or three weeks ageing in the fridge produces peak nog. I riffed off recipes from Kenji Lopez-Alt, Michael Ruhlman, and Alton Brown (the latter two of which had frat party-levels of alcohol) to create this spiced eggnog. Make a batch soon to enjoy over the holidays and beyond!

Makes: 2 quarts

Equipment

  • stand mixer or handheld electric mixer

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs (very fresh or pasteurized. No old eggs.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step-by-step

  • Separate egg yolks. Save whites for another use. (They freeze well.)
  • Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, and spices and mix with whisk attachment on medium speed for about a minute, until creamy.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for another minute or two, until well-combined.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a year!
Categories
Kitchen Basics

Fruit Shrub

Shrubs are a great old-timey way to beat the heat. This vinegar-based drink is puckery and refreshing, and a cool way to use up fruit scraps or preserve an abundance of ripe fruit. Concoct a summery cocktail that highlights the sour, fruity flavor of the shrub, or just pour some in your fizzy water of choice! We made ours this week with leftover pineapple skin and blackberries. Gotta eat up all those berries before Michaelmas!!

Shrub is an excellent way to showcase your homemade fruit scrap vinegar!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped fruit of choice (scraps are fine, but the more actual fruit, the stronger the fruity flavor)
  • 1 cup sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc)
  • 1 cup fruit vinegar (apple cider vinegar, or something homemade!)
  • optional: herbs, spices, citrus zest

Step-by-step

  • Add ingredients to a jar and stir it all together. Particularly if using berries or soft fruit, mash the fruit up a bit.
  • Seal jar and place in refrigerator for 2-4 weeks (or a couple days if you’re in a rush. The flavor just won’t be as fruity). Mix occasionally, especially if using sugar as the sweetener, which may need help dissolving.
  • Taste every so often. Once pleased with the flavor, strain the fruit out. The remaining syrupy liquid is the shrub. It will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely. Add it as a flavor booster to cocktails, fizzy water, kombucha, lemonade, iced tea, or whatever beverage your heart desires.
Categories
Kitchen Basics Recipes

Sourdough Flax Crackers

These crackers are based on a recipe I absolutely love from the Bar Tartine cookbook. They were our sometimes too popular gluten-free option for cheese boards at Ground Floor Farm. They also have about 3,000 ingredients. I created this much simpler version using sourdough starter, and I think it’s equally as lovely and endlessly adaptable. They do take awhile to prepare, but it’s mostly hands off time.

If you want to watch me demo how to make these crackers (and talk about other uses for sourdough discard), check out this video from last weekend’s Preserving Abundance Virtual Food Waste Fest:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup pickle brine, kombucha, or beer
  • 1/3 cup sourdough discard (optional)
  • 1/3 cup blended herbs or greens of choice (optional)
  • a handful of optional mix-ins: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chopped sundried tomatoes, minced olives, or whatever sounds nice to you!
  • salt and pepper, and whatever spices or herbs you’d like to sprinkle on top

Step-by-step

  • Mix flax seeds with pickle brine, loosely cover, and let hydrate at room temperature overnight for 12-16 hours.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, except salt, pepper, and spices.
  • On a baking sheet covered with parchment or a silicone baking mat, use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture out as thinly and evenly as possible. Or if you’re feeling fancy, portion individual crackers by making circles or other shapes.Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and spices.
  • Dry the crackers in an oven set to “low” or in the dehydrator set to 135 F. This step should take 6-8 hours. The crackers are ready when they’re completely dry (they should easily crack).
  • Using your hands, break into cracker-sized pieces. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 10 days.
Categories
Ferments Kitchen Basics

Whole Grain Mustard

Homemade mustard is infinitely more delicious than store bought. The end.

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup fruit vinegar (apple cider works great or try our fruit vinegar recipe!)
  • 1/3 cup beer of choice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs of choice
  • 2 tablespoons liquid fermentation starter (kombucha, water kefir, leftover brine from veggie ferment, etc)
  • Optional flavor add-ins: chipotle pepper, garlic, curry powder, kosho, smoked paprika, or whatever your heart desires

Step-by-step

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a container (I use a mason jar) and loosely cover. Let it sit undisturbed at room temperature, fermenting for 3 days to 2 weeks (the longer, the more sour). 
  • Blend until mustard seeds begin to break apart and a textured paste forms. The mixture will be a little thin initially but will firm up after a few hours in the fridge. Mustard keeps for months (or probably years) stored in the fridge.

Notes

adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from the Joe Beef cookbook
Categories
Ferments Kitchen Basics

Cultured Butter

Butter — called “coagulated sunlight” by the poet Seamus Heaney — is one life’s great luxuries. By fermenting cream before churning it, we can produce butter with an incredible depth of flavor, plus a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria. 

Making butter is easy peasy, but it’s useful to understand the science behind the transformation taking place in your food processor. Butter is the solid fat that separates from cream when it has been churned or agitated. By agitating the cream (basically just jostling everything around a bunch), the membranes of the butterfat are ruptured, allowing the butterfat to stick together and form large fat globules.

Equipment

  • food processor
  • mesh sieve
  • an incubator (Don’t be scared! This can be as simple as a thermos filled with warm water. See below for details)

Ingredients

  • heavy cream (the nicer the cream, the nicer the butter, so stick with local, pastured, or organic)
  • a small amount of yogurt
  • salt (optional, but you really should)

Step-by-step

Culturing the Cream
  • Mix together a tablespoon of yogurt for every 2 pints of cream in a glass jar. Thoroughly mix and incubate for 6-24 hours. (See instructions below.) The cream will thicken a bit and taste pleasingly sour. Stick it in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 12 hours before churning.
Incubation
  • In order for the cream to ferment, it must incubate at a steady temperature of 110 °F for 6-24 hours. There are several ways to do this. Here are a few:
    In an insulated cooler. Place container of cream in the cooler. Pour 110 °F water about 3/4 of the way up the jar. Close lid tightly and wrap the cooler in a blanket. Check every couple of hours, and replace the water if it gets too cool.
    In a slow cooker. Program a slow cooker to 110 °F. Place the container of cream inside. Wrap the slow cooker in a towel and let it incubate. Instant Pots also have an incubating function.
    In a gas oven with the pilot light lit. A gas oven, turned off but with the pilot light lit, maintains a temperature of approximately 110 °F. Also a fancy electric oven may be able to set the temperature to 110 °F.
Churning the Butter
  • Once cream is fully chilled, place in food processor and blend until the solid butter separates from the liquid buttermilk. The cream will go through several transformations, first rising and turning into whipped cream, and then sinking a bit and getting grainy, before fully separating into butter and buttermilk.
  • Place a mesh sieve over a bowl and pour in the contents of the food processor. The solid butter will remain in the sieve while the buttermilk will drain out into the bowl below.
    Over the sieve, knead the butter to remove as much liquid as possible. To do this, press a blob of butter between your flattened palms, fold butter in half, press again, repeat until little to no buttermilk weeps out. Repeat with remaining butter until everything looks smooth (like buttah!)
  • Mix in salt and other flavorings with the butter. Be sure to save buttermilk for cooking, baking (pancakes, biscuits, or DIY hair conditioner).

Notes

Don’t feel like fermenting the cream? Just use regular heavy cream and start at the churning the butter step. It won’t be quite as delicious, but it definitely works in a pinch!
Categories
Ferments Kitchen Basics

Sourdough Pizza

I’m mighty proud of this pizza dough. If your sourdough starter is bubbly and happy, get ready for some pizza bliss. This recipe can also be used for focaccia and even bread dough in a pinch.

Makes: 1 large pizza

Ingredients

  • 500 g flour (I use 100 g whole wheat flour and 400 g white bread flour, but feel free to play)
  • 10 g salt 
  • 350 g lukewarm water (around 90 °F, depending on factors like the weather and flour temp)
  • 75 g active sourdough starter
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

Step-by-step

  • Add all ingredients together and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Squish the dough between your hands and fold it over onto itself until there are no more bits of flour.
  • Place in an airtight container that’s large enough for the dough to roughly double in size. Place in fridge for 24-72 hours. 
  • Two to three hours before baking pizza, remove dough from fridge. Line a rimmed baking sheet* with parchment and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Fold the sides of the dough onto itself so it forms a little package, and place, smooth side up, on baking sheet. Coat dough with a bit more olive oil.  Every hour or so, gently and evenly press down the dough with your fingers until it fills the pan. 
  • Add toppings and bake in a screaming hot oven for 25 minutes. 

Notes

* For a thin crust pizza, I recommend using roughly 600 g of pizza dough on a half pan baking sheet. For smaller pans, use less dough.
 
Got a pizza stone or baking steel? Skip the pan and make a lovely crisp crust. YouTube has a million pizza shaping tutorials.
 
Need a great sauce? We got you.
Categories
Ferments Kitchen Basics

Fruit Scrap Vinegar

It’s summer in Florida and I’m in the middle of tropical fruit mayhem. Mangoes just let up, and now my starfruit tree is kicking into gear. Anyone with a starfruit tree knows how prolific those suckers are. A solution for those too-bountiful harvests: Make vinegar. It’s an excellent way to use up ugly or unwanted fruit — the peels, the pits, or bruised, mushy, or otherwise worse-for-wear produce. 

This is a two-stage fermentation process. First ferment alcohol, and then ferment the alcohol into vinegar. Vinegar is the perfect Florida ferment as it loves a hot environment.

Makes: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • Approximately 2 cups fruit scraps of any variety or quality (avoid anything that is actively moldy or dirt-covered. What I do is keep a Tupperware in the fridge and throw all my scraps into it. When I have enough I start a new batch of vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp sweetener of choice (brown or cane sugar, maple syrup, honey) or 5% of water weight, if you're fancy
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup unpasteurized vinegar (any apple cider vinegar that’s labeled “with the mother” will work, but eventually you can use previous homemade batches to culture the next one)

Step-by-step

  • Roughly chop any whole fruits or very large scraps. Place fruit in a wide mouth mason jar, or another vessel that is taller than it is wide. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix the sweetener into warmish water until it has dissolved, and pour the sugar solution over the fruit scraps. 
  • Weigh down the scraps so they are submerged in the brine. Find a small jar that fits inside of the larger jar is one option. Or press an open ziplock bag into the jar and fill it with water. The goal is to keep the scraps below the liquid and away from oxygen to prevent mold growth on the contents.
  • Cover the jar with a kitchen towel and allow to ferment for 5-7 days at room temperature. Check on the jar every couple days and make sure the scraps remain submerged in the brine.
  • After a week or so, the ferment will be active and bubbling. It will smell and taste like alcohol, and the color of the liquid may darken. Congratulations, you just brewed your own hooch! The sugar in the fruit attracted lactic acid bacteria, which found their way to the jar and went on a binge. They ate all the sugar they could find and converted it into alcohol. Give it a little taste at this point to make sure it worked ; )
  • To transform the alcohol into vinegar, use a fine mesh sieve and strain out the fruit scraps from the hooch. Press to get all the liquid out of the fruit. Pour the hooch in a bowl, or a vessel that is wider than it is tall. The surface of the alcohol should be exposed to as much oxygen as possible. Add the unpasteurized vinegar (the starter culture) to the hooch and whisk it it thoroughly. Incorporate as much oxygen into the ferment as possible. When exposed to oxygen, omnipresent acetobacter bacteria and aerobic yeasts consume the sugars in the alcohol and convert them to acetic acid aka vinegar. 
  • Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. This will keep bugs and dust out, but allow oxygen access to the ferment. Find a place in the kitchen for the ferment to live, ideally somewhere nice and warm.
  • Stir every day (or every day that you remember) to introduce more oxygen into the ferment. After 7 days begin to taste and smell. When the alcohol has transformed into vinegar it will taste pleasingly sour to you. In my hot kitchen, this generally happens after 7 to 10 days, depending on alcohol content, aeration, and temperature. 
  • After a week, taste the vinegar daily. Once it’s sour, move it to an airtight container for storage as the flavor will start to degrade. Think of it as a bell curve. The longer the vinegar is exposed to oxygen, the longer acetobacter will convert precious acetic acid into water and carbon dioxide, which doesn’t taste good

Notes

vinegar mother
Vinegar mother
  • Occasionally during the second fermentation stage (see step 5), a solid mass will form on the surface of the ferment. This is called the mother. Sometimes it’s a solid, gelatinous mat. Sometimes it’s little gooey wispy things. Solid mother formation is not particularly common in my experience, and it’s neither a good or bad sign. The vinegar can still ferment without the formation of a mother. If a mother does form, just strain it out before storing the vinegar away.
 
  • When it’s really hot out, I occasionally get a white film of kahm yeast (it looks like mold, but it’s not) on top of the vinegar. It’s a harmless yeast, and the worst thing it will do is make the flavor a bit cheesy. Not ideal, but not a deal-breaker. What I tend to do is skip these batches for culinary applications. I just strain out the kahm yeast using a kitchen towel and use the vinegar to make an all-purpose cleaner (see Cleaning Tips from a Dirty Hippie).
Categories
Kitchen Basics

Hummus

My work involves cooking elaborate meals for other people. So when I’m feeding myself, I tend to keep it simple. An apple with peanut butter is a common dinner; as is toast with hummus. I feel confident saying that my hummus recipe is flipping fabulous. I make a big batch every so often, portion it out into smaller containers and freeze, and then defrost as needed. 

Equipment

  • blender
  • food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup tahini (I like the brand Alkanater)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Spices, fresh herbs, preserved citrus to taste (optional)

Step-by-step

  • Soak chickpeas the night before making the hummus. Cover with double or triple the amount of water, as they will grow in size.
  • The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cover with fresh water at least 2 inches above the top of the beans. Throw in a small palmful of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the chickpeas are super soft — about 45 minutes. Soft, almost mushy beans produce a lovely smooth textured-hummus.
  • Drain chickpeas and place them in a food processor or powerful blender (Vitamix, Ninja, etc) with the other ingredients and blend. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. The hummus should be very smooth. If not, throw in a splash of water. Or if you’re a fan of chunky hummus, which is perfectly legitimate, blend until happy with the consistency.
Categories
Kitchen Basics

Really Good Granola

This is Really Good Granola. For real. We couldn’t make enough of it at Ground Floor Farm. Here at the residency, artists hoard it like…something that people hoard? The recipe is adapted from the 11 Madison Park cookbook, which is mostly too fancy to be practical. But this is a cinch and makes the dreamiest breakfast with some homemade yogurt and honey.

Makes: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups nuts (I like pistachios and almonds)
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup mixture of flax, hemp, and chia seeds
  • 1½ cups unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • ½ tablespoon cardamom
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½cup honey

Step-by-step

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix together oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, cardamom, and salt.
  • Combine brown sugar, olive oil, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients and mix.
  • Spread mixture into a thin layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden, about 40 minutes. Mix every 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven and add in dried cherries.
Categories
Kitchen Basics

Infused Salt & Sugar

Infusing salt and sugar with different flavors is a simple technique that can class up any meal. I love finishing a salad with a sprinkle of citrus salt, or dusting the top of cookies with vanilla-cardamom sugar. A jar also makes for a lovely (easy! cheap!) holiday gift. I’ve included some potential inspiration below, but let your own culinary creativity guide you.

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt or sugar (I recommend a nice quality granulated sugar or a course or flaky salt like Maldon. Something with a textural crunch.)
  • 2 tablespoons dry flavoring of choice 

Step-by-step

Prep flavoring
  • Fresh ingredients will need to be dried (spread on a baking sheet in an oven on the lowest temperature until dry to the touch). Large ingredients can be crumbled or blended (in a spice grinder or high-powered blender) so that they incorporate easily. 
    Powders and other smaller ingredients like crumbled dried herbs or fennel seeds do not need any additional prep. 
Mix it
  • Mix flavorings with salt or sugar. Can be stored in an airtight container in the cupboard indefinitely.

Notes

Flavor Combinations:
Citrus Salt: Use that fancy new microplane grater you got for Christmas to remove the zest or a variety of (preferably unwaxed) citrus
Chili Herb Salt. Mix in equal parts red pepper flakes and a variety of herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme
Mushroom Salt: Use dried porcini mushrooms (processed to a powder). Kick it up a notch with lime zest and black sesame seeds
Vanilla Salt: Perfect for topping chocolate chip cookies. Use a pairing knife to scrape out the black magic inside a vanilla bean.
Black Garlic Salt: Slice, dry, and powder black garlic, which can be found in specialty food shops (or made at home!)
Chai Sugar: Use a tablespoon each of cinnamon and ginger, teaspoon cardamom, pinch of clove, nutmeg, black pepper, and black tea leaves
Matcha Sugar: Use matcha powder. For additional nutrition and Florida foraging bonafides, blend in some dried and powdered moringa.
Rosemary Fennel Sugar: Use dried rosemary and fennel seeds. For the best shortbread cookies ?
Mexican Chocolate Sugar: Use a tablespoon high quality cocoa powder, teaspoon cinnamon, teaspoon chili powder (ancho or chipotle would be nice)
Grapefruit Mint Sugar: Use grapefruit zest and dried mint