Ethiopian cuisine is one of my absolute favourites. I love everything about it. I love the wonderful flavours, and the fact that it is a sharing meal so I can try many different dishes. I even love the fact that you basically get to use the pancake to eat with instead of a fork. -Eating with my fingers is always fun.-…
This is my kids’ favourite bread because it is soft, rich and flavourful. I like it because it is a quick to make flatbread that would work as a pizza or focaccia base, as a naan bread, or a pita. We also love to use it for wrapping hotdogs and dipping in soups.
It’s Fermenting For Foodies third birthday! And I wanted to celebrate with a fiesta inspired cupcake worthy of all Cinco de Mayo celebrations….
Fermented snacking vegetables are the one thing that I always have bubbling away on my kitchen counters. I love them for so many reasons.
I actually created this recipe as a way to convince kids to eat more greens and protein. But it seems like a fitting recipe to post just before Earth Day, because of the groovy green hue to these pancakes.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of kefir cheese
- 2 tbsp oil
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 bunch of greens (chard, kale or spinach)
- 3 tbsp of diced onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Warm a frying pan on medium heat. Then pour in ¼ cup of the batter.
- The pancake will be ready to flip when it is bubbling in the middle and dry around the edges. Flip, then cook the other side for about 1 minute.
- Serve with butter, cheese, yogourt, sour cream, sliced tomatoes or humus. If you omit the onion and garlic, then you could even serve it with the usual sweet toppings.
-You could pre-ferment the chickpea flour with the kefir cheese, depending on how dry your kefir cheese is.
-If you don’t have kefir cheese, use ricotta or cottage cheese instead.
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest things to ferment. It is a wonderfully reliable ferment, and can sit in a closet for several months without a problem. It is a great source of probiotics. But the biggest reason to DIY some sauerkraut is that homemade sauerkraut is so much BETTER than the stuff you find in a jar at your local grocery store.
Sauerkraut is a good go-to ferment for any fermentation newbie because cabbage naturally has lactic bacteria on it, so all that you need to do to make sauerkraut is to grate it! Luckily I have a pretty good mandolin and a food processor with a grating attachment. A box grater would work too, though it would take more time.
I often make sauerkraut in a mason jar with a weight but it does have a risk of contamination from free range molds, yeasts and bacteria (it’s only happened to me twice in the past 3 years, and I’ve made a LOT of sauerkraut). If you are concerned about spoilage, use fido jars or airlocks instead. If this is your first time fermenting something I recommend reading the Basic Fermentation Rules.
- 1 head of cabbage (approx. 2 lbs.)
- 1-2 tsp pickling salt (to taste)
- flavours (see note)
- Grate the cabbage and any other vegetable or fruit additions.
- Toss it with spices and salt.
- Pack it into a wide mouth mason jar(s) leaving at least 2" of head room. Use a spoon to really pound all the cabbage into the jar. If you pack it down enough, liquid will be pressed out of the cabbage, and you want enough to cover the cabbage. It's important to fully pack the cabbage into the jar, air bubbles increase the risk of contamination. Don't worry if you don't have enough liquid right away, it should produce it within 24 hours. So you can to leave your cabbage to sweat a bit then pack it down again.
- Leave the jar to ferment at room temperature (around 18 C if possible) and out of the sun. The goal is to have the cabbage kept from the air (by weights, fido or airlock), but still allow for the release of CO2. Even if I am using a weight I keep my jars loosely covered to prevent bugs from getting in.
- The first three days the cabbage will bubble and liquid may over flow from the jar (so put a tray underneath).
- Sauerkraut is ready when you decide it is done (anywhere between 5 days to 7 weeks, though I often just permanently leave my kraut in a cupboard since I'm short on space in my fridge).
- Store it in the fridge to stop the fermentation.
-Adding a cup of grated apple, fennel, cranberries or carrot will sweeten the kraut. Onion and garlic are savory additions. For a spicy kraut add hot pepper slices.
-Whole spices are another way to change the flavour. My favourite is: 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp mustard seed and 10 juniper berries. Some other popular combos include: 2 bay leaves and 5 black peppercorns; 2 tsp of mixed Indian curry spices; 1 tsp dill seed (for a pickle flavour).
-There’s a whole science to how the “flora” in sauerkraut changes over time. However, it should never be moldy, yeasty or smelly. Keeping everything clean is necessary for a good ferment.
The purple kraut in the photo is 3 weeks old, and the green kraut is in the first few days. The little pieces of cabbage are being pushed up around the sides of my weight by the carbon dioxide bubbles, and I have them sitting in bowls in case of overflow.
I am forever working on my gluten free bread. Mostly because bread is meant to be chewy and flavourful, not dense, bland or sweet. I miss sandwiches so much… I often walk by a local deli and wonder if I could get away with eating one of their fully loaded paninis. But instead I’m stuck with delicious flavourful fillings nested between two pieces of styrofoam…
Now I have a bread that even wheat-lovers seem to enjoy! (Note: I’m not claiming that it’s as good as a proper sourdough wheat bread… but it’s good as a grainy sandwich loaf!)
The secret to a full-flavoured, non-crumbly, not too eggy bread is… PSYLLIUM HUSKS! And here is my newest, bestest, gluten free bread recipe!
- 3 cups filtered water (chlorine free)
- 3 cups whole grain gluten free flour (see notes)
- 1 cup starch (see notes)
- ½ cup bean flour (see notes)
- Remaining Ingredients
- ¼ cup psyllium husk (whole or powdered)
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 eggs
- Mix 2 cups of the whole grain gluten free flour and water in a glass container. Place somewhere warm for 24-72 hours to ferment. It should have bubbles developing and be foaming on top.
- Add the remaining flours and allow to ferment for a further 4-12 hours.
- When ready to make the bread, mix psyllium husk in ¼ cup of water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Add psyllium husk mixture along with the remaining ingredients into the sourdough flour mix and stir until it's well combined.It helps to beat the eggs fully before mixing them in.
- Pour into 2 well oiled loaf pans.
- The acidic sourdough flour will cause the baking soda to start acting immediately, so allow to rise for only 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake at 400F for 60-75 min (until cooked through and browning).
-Wholegrain Flours: include brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, millet flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, sorghum flour, teff flour. I usually use oat flour.
-Starches: potato starch, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, cornstarch. I usually use tapioca flour
-Bean Flours: chickpea flour, urad flour, fava bean flour, soy flour, lentil flour. I usually use chickpea or garfava flour.
-If psyillum husks don’t work for you, try ground flax seed or chia seeds. Though these won’t have quite the same binding properties. You could also add 2 tsp of xantham gum to the recipe and skip the second round of water. Add the xantham gum with the eggs rather than the flour or it will all become too sticky to work with.
If you are uncertain about making dairy cultures, or fermenting in general, I recommend starting with yogurt (and sauerkraut… but that’s a different topic).
I currently make 4 liters (gallon jug) nearly every other week! It is not as thick as store bought yogurts, but it doesn’t contain any of the additives (guar gum, pectin, gelatin, milk powder, etc.). Also, it is much cheaper than store bought, and considering how much we eat, that is a good thing.
Here are the top reasons to make yogurt:
1. It’s delicious!
2. It can be made without any special ingredients or kitchen tools.
3. It can be used to make of all sort of other cultured foods!
You don’t need a yogurt maker to make yogurt. Currently I use a Brød & Taylor Bread Proofer & Yogurt Maker so that I can make a large volume of yogurt at once. Before I had my bread proofer I just wrapped my jars of yogurt up in a warm wool sweaters and left them in a hot part of my house (above the fridge, or on the shelf above my hot water heater). It took a little longer, but it always worked.
There are also all sorts of “kitchen hacks” that you can do to keep your yogurt warm. Including using a slow cooker, or putting in the oven with the door light on. Frankly the hot water tank hack is all I’ve ever used.
- 2 Tbsp yogurt with live culture
- 2 cups of milk
- Slowly heat your milk to 180 F (80 C), whisking occasionally to keep the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pot. (Heating the milk causes the proteins to denature making for thicker yogurt. You could skip this step, but your yogurt won't be as much fun).
- Pour the milk into the final culturing containers and cool to 105 F (40C).
- Stir culture into the yogurt. (If you are using store bought yogurt you may want to up to 6 Tbsp yogurt as they tend to have weaker cultures).
- Maintain at around 110F (40 C) until it is set to a pudding like consistency (for at least 4 hours, or if you like a sour yogurt with more bacteria then you can leave your yogurt for up to 24 hours).
-If you don’t have a thermometer, then heat your yogurt until it whisks up nice and frothy, then cool it to just above room temperature. However, I recommend getting a thermometer if you want to make nice thick yogurt.
-Homemade yogurt can be flavoured, just like store bought yogurt. Add jam or fresh fruit, vanilla, or cinnamon. Delicious.
-Here’s my recipe for Greek yogurt or labneh. It just requires straining the yogurt to thicken it. The whey then can be used as a starter culture for other ferments.
If you don’t have yogurt after 8 hours then it’s likely due to one of the following common problems:
-your yogurt starter didn’t actually have enough live bacteria in it (a possibility with a supermarket yogurt)
-you added the yogurt starter before the milk cooled and accidentally cooked the culture, killing all the bacteria
-you didn’t keep it warm enough (unlikely).
Halloumi is delicious grilled or fried for a sandwich. It is so salty and rich tasting, best of all, it doesn’t melt allowing it to sit next to its more meaty neighbours on the barbecue.
It is also great diced up and fried for a warm salad. It provides a nice salty flavour in any hearty salad, and it is able to stand up to the sweetness of beets, the acidic tang of tomatoes and the full mouth flavour of roasted vegetables. Here is a salad that turns into a complete meal with the addition of lentils and walnuts. In fact, it’s more similar to a Buddha bowl than a salad, regardless, it’s the sort of salad that everyone would love finding on a potluck table. Crispy cheese is yummy!
- 2 bunches of broccoli
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 fresh bay leaf and sprig of thyme
- 2 chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup of walnuts (toasted)
- ½ batch of halloumi cheese (about 250g)
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp mustard
- salt and pepper
- Cut the broccoli into even-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, diced garlic and a sprinkling of salt and black pepper.
- Spread out in a single layer in a roasting tray. Roast at 400C for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is cooked through and starting to brown on the outside.
- Boil the lentils with the bay leaf and thyme until cooked (about 20 to 30 minutes). You want them to be cooked, but still a bit firm.
- While the lentils and broccoli are cooking, make the dressing. Combine ½ cup olive oil, cider vinegar and mustard in a large salad bowl. Add ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp ground pepper.
- When the lentils are done toss them into the salad bowl with the dressing. along with the broccoli and the walnuts.
- Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a medium-sized, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Chop the halloumi into small cubes and fry until golden.
- Scatter the halloumi and diced tomatoes over the salad and serve immediately.
-I don’t have tomatoes in my picture because I just can’t stomach buying a rubber ball masquerading as a tomato (it is winter at my house). But I definitely recommend adding a tomato.
-Thanks to Jamie Oliver for the original inspiration for this salad.
Milk kefir is a cultured dairy drink that is made from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It is traditionally used as a drink, but it’s also great for smoothies and as a buttermilk substitute.
It doesn’t thicken like yogurt, though you can get it to be as thick as a loose custard. It also tends to have a stronger flavour than yogurt, and can even be sparkling when fresh.
However, it is much easier to maintain then yogurt. It ferments at room temperature, and you don’t need to preheat the milk before culturing. I always have a jar of kefir on my counter. I use it for culturing whipping cream and as a starter culture (either as whey or straight kefir) for most everything I ferment in my kitchen.
The most difficult part of making kefir is finding the culture. Most health food stores carry a powdered “kefir” starter which isn’t actually real kefir, it’s just some of the bacteria strains found in kefir, and may not be robust enough to culture over and over again. If you want to maintain your own colony of kefir grains then you need to either buy freeze dried grains or make friends with someone who has them.
- 1-2 tbsp of kefir grains
- 1 liter of milk or cream
- Put the milk and kefir grains into a glass jar.
- Leave in a warm location for a minimum of 8 hours, and up to 48 hours depending on how strongly flavoured you want your kefir to be.
- Remove the grains and reserve for future use.
-My kefir culture usually floats, so I simply scoop it out with a spoon. If it sinks, then I pour slowly. It’s a well-formed mass that is easy to remove as I pour out the milk.
-If you have too many grains, or you leave your kefir out on the counter too long you will end up curdling your milk. This is perfectly good to eat! Read up on kefir cheese to know how to use your over-cultured milk.
Like all living beings, kefir does require a bit of TLC. Here’s how to care for your new “pet”:
-Kefir is happiest in fresh milk at room temperature. Try to pace your culturing with your consumption so that you can keep your kefir out of the fridge. If you only use a little bit of kefir, then just culture 2 cups with 1 tbsp of grains.
-Alternatively, you can store your kefir in the fridge with lots of milk for 1-3 weeks. I’ve even left it for up to 4 weeks while we were on vacation. It wasn’t happy. But a few batches of milk later we were back in business.
-Happy kefir will keep multiplying, so you’ll quickly end up with more grains then you’ll need. Though the grains are edible, I would recommend passing them along to a friend instead (or otherwise disposing of them).
-If your grains turn a funny colour, then it’s likely that they’ve picked up some invasive mold/bacteria. Unfortunately the best way to fix this is to throw them out and start anew. (I’ve had my grains go pink on me. Luckily I have lots of culturing friends!)
-Kefir can cross contaminate with other cultures (yogurt, sourdough, etc) so it’s best to culture them in a separate rooms of your house. I do all my kefir culturing in the kitchen, sourdough in the living room, yogurt in the dining room (I’ve had kefir grow in my yogurt before) and other ferments in the bedrooms.
Weird, Wonderful and Completely Untrue Kefir Tales
There are a lot of stories going around about how to care for your kefir, that are just not true. I’ve had the same culture kicking along for the past 4 years so I’m pretty sure I know my stuff:
-You don’t need to wash your grains. They just need fresh milk to keep them healthy and strong. Water is unnecessary and probably not beneficial considering the potential risks of chlorine for our little friends.
-You can use metal utensils… unless you use really old-school copper or iron utensils… then the latic acid of the milk might damage your utensils.