Simple Sauerkraut

No doubt you’ve all heard by now how good fermented foods are for you, for your gut health, which science is now discovering plays an incredibly significant role in your overall health and wellbeing.
Looking into the types of fermented foods that are espoused by Those In The Know, I considered sauerkraut to be the easiest one to attempt myself (besides natural yoghurt… which I already make… But my sourdough bread attempts haven’t been ultra successful) :/
So, Googling in my usual style, I discovered the basic elements for homemade sauerkraut. And they are cabbage and salt. Yep, that’s all folks. Of course you can add things in for variety and taste – like other veggies, herbs and spices, even extra probiotic cultures – but on the whole I usually stick with the basics.
It’s ridiculously easy. The hardest part is waiting for it to become edible: waiting out the fermentation period.Food Fervour

You can buy special equipment for the process (this can ensure better success) but I literally began with a 1 litre glass jar. An ex-coconut oil jar (pictured right). No frills whosoever. (Except that it had to have a mouth that I could fit my hand into; that’s imperative …you’ll see why.) Food FervourIf, however, you end up liking and wanting to continue production after your first test batch, I’d highly recommend at the very least purchasing a jar with a proper rubber seal, such as the one pictured left.

Food FervourLuckily for me, a very inventive friend made a couple of purpose-built jars (equipped with beer brewing parts that allow oxygen to escape but not enter, for a more sterile environment) and gave them to me (pic right) so I can make ‘kraut til the cows come home 😛

For a 1 litre container you’ll need 1kg of cabbage (about half of a large head) and 1 tablespoon of salt (I opt for Celtic sea or Himalayan for the higher trace mineral content). When I remember, I pop a bay leaf in too. Note: if you’re trying this for the first time and fear failure (don’t worry, I often do too) simply halve the amounts and the jar size. That way there’ll be less to throw out if (1) it fails or (2) you decide you don’t like it!

Step One: Peel off some of the outer leaves of the cabbage and set them aside… don’t discard, we’ll be needing them later.

Step Two: Simply shred the cabbage and place into a very large bowl. You can finely chop with a large knife on a large chopping board, in batches. Or using a food processor if preferred, and also in batches (I have done it in my Thermomix, smaller batches, a few seconds on Speed 4-5)

Food Fervour

Yes, ALL of this does eventually fit in that jar…and easily!

Step Three: Add the salt (*and any other herbs or spices you’d like to include) and now you gotta git yer hands dirty! So make sure they’re clean. You need to get both hands into the bowl and massage the salt though the cabbage (et al). Really squeeze it, crush the life out of it! Food FervourThis is important to release the fluids (predominantly water) in the vegetable so that – combined with the salt you added – a brine can manifest. Give it a good couple of minutes… the longer, the better.

Step Four: Let it rest. Wash your hands, set the timer for 15 minutes and go have a cuppa or something. The magic happens here: the salt continues to draw the fluid from the cabbage, increasing the amount of all-important brine.

Step Five: Grab your jar and (with clean hands of course) begin stuffing the cabbage mixture in. Take a break when you think it’s lookin’ kinda full and start squashing the cabbage down to the bottom of the jar. As hard as you can. You are squeezing out as much air as possible and you’ll probably notice all of a sudden the brine is coming to the top. Food FervourYeah! Keep going! Chuck more of that stuff in and keep pressing it down. Eventually you’ll reach the end and you should be lucky enough to have all of the mixture well below the level of brine.

 

Step Six: Those spare outer cabbage leaves you kept at the start? This is where they come in. Choose one and push it in, down below the brine, as level as you can, across the top of your original ‘kraut mixture. Again, you’re trying to get as much of the air out from underneath that baby as possible. Food FervourI often do it with a couple of pieces to make well-and-sure that my mix is well under the waterline. When you’re satisfied, tightly cap the jar. (Professional home-sauerkraut makers buy special weights to ensure the sheltering cabbage leaf stays down but… I’ve never felt the need…)

Step Seven: Date your creation (I pop little stickers on the lid, see pic below) and store for at least one week, maximum two, in a cool dark place (the back of the pantry is ideal). Food FervourAfter one or two ‘explosive’ experiences (not really as scary as it sounds, just pressure build-up..) I decided to sit the jar in a little bowl just in case there’s a Great Brine Escape (leakage).

When you’re ready to open it, discard the top cabbage leaves (and the excess brine if you like) and keep refrigerated. I’ve had opened jars in the fridge for up to 4 months!

Now I must stress this is not the most hygienic way to make sauerkraut (as I said, there is proper equipment available out there in the marketplace) but of all the batches I’ve made (I’d guess nearly a dozen?) in the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had one batch that failed. And I knew it simply because it just didn’t smell right. Trust your nose, People. Science tells us there is no better apparatus to recognise bad food, than our own noses.

If you’re wondering whose sauerkraut recipe inspired me, take a look at The Healthy Chef (Teresa Cutter)’s Polish Sauerkraut. If you’re not exactly sure what to do with your sauerkraut once it’s ready open, check out some of the meals I’ve used it in:

https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/

https://foodfervour.com/2016/01/18/an-eclectic-rainbow-salad/

https://foodfervour.com/2014/12/11/asparagus-sprouted-lentils-with-avocado-sauerkraut-mash/

 

 

 

 

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Cauliflower Pizza Bases

Food FervourI was skeptical about this notion when I first heard of it. Could cauliflower really imitate a dough base and hold together under the weight of all those toppings? I had to try for myself. And I was completely surprised (and smitten) when I made my first one. Now I can’t look back. Whilst they’re neither a thin crunchy base, nor a thick chewy, doughy one, they do manage to hold together well enough to support all your toppings (and I usually pile on way more than you’d get in your typical takeaway pizza). They are…. amazeballs.

Why opt for cauliflower over grain-dough bases? My primary reason is because it’s a vegetable. Whilst I prefer not to demonise foods, I would choose a vegetable over a grain in this case purely for its nutritional content. In general veggies provide more nutrient density and variety. And then there’s the fact that cauliflower’s pretty much starch (complex carbohydrate) -free compared to dough, which matters if you are ‘watching your weight’. Finally, there’s the gluten issue: this is perfect for coeliacs or the gluten intolerant.

Food Fervour

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley features in this cauliflower pizza base

And best of all, you only need – at the very least – TWO ingredients: cauliflower and eggs. Many cauliflower pizza base recipes will include more than two, but they really are optional: the vegetable and eggs on their own will work just fine …but it is fun to play around with add-ins. I’ve experimented with a few of the following: obviously salt & pepper, but also chopped/dried herbs, grated cheese, tomato paste and I just LOVE nutritional yeast flakes (idea borrowed from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food).

It’s such a simple procedure, however the success of your base will be largely determined during one specific step. Here’s the method, based on 500gm cauliflower and 2 eggs:

Pre-heat Oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

Steam Cauliflower florets:

Manually: In a medium/large saucepan, bring add approx 2-3cm of water to the boil over high heat (cover with the lid to expediate this or better still, add boiling water from a freshly boiled electric jug to a large saucepan on the stovetop, on high heat). Add the florets, drop the heat back to simmer and keep the lid on the saucepan. Your cauliflower should cook in 4-5 minutes (check softness with a utensil). Thermomixers: Add 500gm of water to bowl then place cauliflower florets in basket. Programme 14 minutes, Varoma, speed 1-1.5.

Remove Excess fluid from the Cauliflower (this is the crucial step):

Allow cauliflower to cool (you can rinse under cold water to expediate this). Drain all excess water from the florets then roughly chop or mash the cauliflower (in the same saucepan …to save on dish-washing). Thermomixers can simply chop at Speed 5 or Turbo for a few seconds). Empty it all into the centre of a clean cotton tea towel, then, pulling the sides up, begin to squeeze out as much excess water as possible …into the sink for drainage (or over a bowl if you like to conserve your veggie water). The volume of cauliflower will pretty much halve in size. The more fluid you extract, the firmer your pizza base will be.

The Ingredient Mix:

Food Fervour

Tomato (paste) pizza base spread with fresh basil pesto, ready for toppings…

Manually: Return the mashed cauliflower to a bowl (scraping the veggie fibre from the tea towel – waste not, want not!) add the eggs and whatever else you’d like to add to the base, and mix thoroughly. Thermomixers: pop it all into the bowl and blend up to Speed 5 for about 10 seconds (you may want to scrape down the bowl down in between?)

Shape & Cook:

Tip the mixture into the centre of the paper-lined tray, and use a spatula to shape your pizza base. Aim for about ½-cm in thickness.

Pop into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, earmarking to turn the base over at about the halfway mark if possible.

Toppings:

Use the 20 minutes base cooking time to prepare your toppings. I’ll often fry up some mushrooms, preservative free bacon, capsicum and/or zucchini… I’ll boil the electric jug again and blanche some asparagus or broccoli… or make some basil pesto to use as the pizza base spread. You can grate your cheese now as well, so that you’re one hundred percent ready to dress the base.

Food Fervour

Leftover lunch slice of bacon & mushroom pizza

Once the base is done, and your toppings are spread, pop the pizza back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. It goes without saying, you need to serve immediately …but I have successfully refrigerated uneaten portions to enjoy for lunch the next day, just as you might do with a commercial pizza.

These really are the Bomb! If you are in the Gold Coast region, you can book a FoodPT with me to watch me demonstrate this procedure (it’s one of my most popular classes) and you get to eat the results. Find my contact details on the ‘Menu’ Page.

 

Avocado, Tomato & Cheddar Salad

As I’ve said before, salads are the quickest, easiest way to pack a wide variety of nutrients into one meal (see my ‘How To’ post, https://foodfervour.com/2015/12/01/the-quickest-easiest-nutrient-dense-meal/) and since it’s so humid today, I’m feeling lazier than usual. So salad for lunch it is. Cutting board, check. Knife, check. Bowl, check.

Food FervourCraving some cheese, (I’ve started buying vintage cheddars because I love the sharp saltiness of aged ‘tasties’) I decided to run with a traditional popular combo, cheese ‘n’ tomato. And since avocado is so good for you, as well as complementing both of these foods, it had to feature prominently too.

So, starting with a handful of watercress (you could use any green leaf you like) half a lebanese cucumber, quarter of a red capsicum, half a large avocado and 6 baby roma (or cherry) tomatoes, I roughly chopped them all ….chewing on a stick of celery at the same time… before gently tossing them in the bowl. Slicing about 40gms of vintage cheddar from the block, I used the wide-grater (see the photo) to ‘shave’ the cheese then, adding it to the bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and a dash of apple cider vinegar, I tossed the lot together with a little more gusto. A dash of ground black pepper and Himalayan salt and I was ready to dig in.

For something so simple, it’s a rich mix of flavour and texture: creamy, salty, moist and sweet all at once. But best of all, is it’s wonderfully filling thanks to the high fibre and healthy fat content.

Vegan Anzac Cheesecake

How the heck did I come up with this one?

Easy, really. While searching for a traditional Anzac biscuit recipe earlier in the week, I came across a recipe for an Anzac Cheesecake… a traditional, cheesy cheesecake. Since I love the raw cheesecake phenomenon, I instantly mulled over what ingredients I would use, to get the flavour of an Anzac biccie.

And what better tribute on this, the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli? (For anyone outside of Australia or New Zealand who may not know what this means to us, take a look at this postFood Fervour

So where to start? Well, the traditional biscuits are primarily comprised of oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup (‘treacle’), butter and the result is a wonderful ‘caramel’ flavour. I could envisage the oats & desiccated coconut in the cheesecake base (sorry, this isn’t gluten free people: but you could easily substitute almonds or buckwheat instead) but what about the cheesy filling?

Well, raw foodies know that nuts can make great dairy substitutes, and almost every raw cheesecake recipe you find will use cashews for the filling. I like to buck trends sometimes. And this HAD to be an Aussie recipe. There was no better option than our native nut, the macadamia. Coconut cream and/or oil would work because coconut figures in the original biscuit recipe. The ideas flowed from there…

There are three stages to the cheesecake’s creation, and since one does involve cooking, I can no longer claim this as ‘raw’. Firstly, I made a salted caramel sauce (recipe sourced from Quirky Cooking – see here) then created the base, and finally the macadamia/coconut cream/salted caramel filling. And I was blown away by the result!food fervour

Please note: using a standard springform cake tin, I found that my cheesecake was rather flat which indicates I my quantities were too few. Having said this, I’ve decided to supply my original amounts anyway but I highly recommend you used a smaller dish… or double all the ingredients! (If you do that, can you let me know how it works out please?)

For the caramel sauce I used 50gm coconut sugar, 50gm coconut cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract & a good pinch of Himalayan Salt.

I put all of these in the Thermomix for 3mins @ 100º, speed 2. For those without this piece of equipment, I apologise but I can only guess that you would add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir continuously (probably for more than 3 minutes I imagine) until the mixture thickens. (Be careful you don’t let it go too long, it will burn quickly. But then, burnt caramel is another flavour in itself, and maybe it could work?!) Empty into a jug or cup and set aside.

For the cheesecake base I blended 1 cup of dates, ½ cup oats and ½ cup of desiccated coconut until fully granulated (Thermies up to 15 seconds, speed 9-10). Grease your dish with coconut oil, tip the base mixture in and using a spatula (or clean hands?) press firmly and evenly across the base. Place it in the refrigerator.

For the filling I played around a fair bit! But in the end I used: ¼ cup of the prepared salted caramel sauce (that’ll be almost the whole lot), 1 heaped cup of (approx. 250gm) macadamia nuts, ½ cup coconut cream, ¼ cup coconut oil.

Firstly, I milled the macadamias (Thermies 10sec, speed 9-10) then added the sauce, blending for about 10secs, from speed 5 increasing to 9) Next add the coconut cream and Thermomix or not, you’ll need to blend a few times, stopping to scrape down the sides. My thought was, the more you blend, the better the aeration of the coconut cream, as well as further milling the macadamia particles. Finally add the (liquified) coconut oil, and I let this one go at speed 9 for almost 40 seconds.

Pour the thick filling into your prepared base dish, then simply freeze. I left mine overnight so I would highly recommend you leave it for at least one hour. It may stick fast to the base of the dish so gently warm the base (melting the coconut oil you greased the dish with) and it should come out with a little more ease.

food fervourI garnished the finished product with a crumbled Anzac biscuit (I also make vegan versions of those) but leftover salted caramel sauce drizzled over the top is divine!

 

 

Turmeric & Cumin Mushrooms

Food Fervour

These mushies are so addictive that I’ll eat them with my dinner as well as breakfast!

I have this ‘thing’ with turmeric: it’s so ridiculously good for you (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, anti-almost-every-disease-under-the-sun) that I’ve become quite motivated to find ways to get more of the stuff into me… without a huge deal of effort! In order to avoid cooking up a huge Indian curry every time I feel the ‘need’ for some, I started grating the bulb directly into and onto different foods.

Food Fervour

I originally liked grating turmeric over eggs

I find it quite enjoyable with egg, whether grated directly over poached or boiled, or added to a scramble or omelette mix. But one morning recently, whilst frying up some mushrooms to eat with some scramble, it dawned on me to try pairing them up with the turmeric instead. Since I usually always cook with coconut oil, and I tend to relate turmeric to Indian cuisine, I decided to try adding cumin as a balancing flavour.

Well, dang! I was blown away. Now maybe it’s just me, but the fact that I cooked and ate them twice in a space of 36 hours suggests that I was hooked!

It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. For a single serve you’ll need about a cup of roughly chopped button mushrooms, coconut oil, turmeric & cumin (fresh is best, but powdered will still do). Oh, and some (Celtic or Himalayan) salt to taste…

Whack a couple of tablespoons of the oil in a frypan over medium heat, then add about a teaspoon of each spice (more if you wish – especially the super-cool super-spice turmeric). Stir it up for a minute then throw in your mushies. Keep the coconut oil beside you, since they suck up the fat like there’s no tomorrow so you’ll more than likely need to add a bit more along the way. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, adding a good dash of Celtic or Himalayan salt to taste, and serve immediately, scraping as much of the flavour from the pan onto your plate as possible, too! Deeeelicious 😀

 

Raw Passionfruit Avocado Cheesecake

I’ve been admiring (& occasionally enjoying) the variety of raw cheesecakes that are slowly becoming more readily available at cafes and eateries, but had not bothered trying to make one even though I’ve been told many times that it’s ‘piece of cake’ (excuse the pun).

food fervourMy love of avocado has extended beyond its nutritional value because I’m now aware of its other ‘superpowers’! My first experience came with a green smoothie recipe. My how stuff ‘thickens up’ when you add this little dude to the mix! I noticed raw mousse recipes relied heavily upon avocado as well. That got me thinking about the texture and consistency of cheesecake.

Now I’m certainly by no means a pioneer in the avocado cheesecake world, but I can say it’s hard to find many raw cheesecake recipes on the net that employ ‘avos’ as the primary ingredient, which would indicate there’s heaps of room for experimentation. The vast majority use blended cashews as the ‘cream cheese’ base. I thought avocado would work because it’s naturally bland on the palate, but the PERFECT creamy texture.

Passionfruit isn’t necessarily a real favourite of mine, but they have been in season and moreover, they have a strong flavour …and a ‘tanginess’… which is what you find in an ordinary cheesecake. So I grabbed me some of ’em and got crackin’.

All 3 attempts were well received by a variety of tasters, but the last version was the best and it’s simply because I upped the amount of passionfruit. The stronger the fruit flavour, the better. But if you are going to play around here, I’ll just remind you that the more fruit, the more ‘wet’ the mixture = the less well the final product will set or hold together. (Think of fruit with maximum flavour, minimal moisture…)

I used macadamia nuts for the base (borrowing from a recipe from Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking blog) because I always associate them with the tropics (and passionfruit’s definitely tropical) but almonds worked fine in my initial experiment so be creative if you like!food fervour

For the Base you will need: 130gm macadamias, 70gm desiccated/shredded coconut, 8 dates & a pinch of Himalayan salt

Simply blend everything thoroughly in a high powered blender (Thermomixers 20 seconds @ Speed 9) then press the mix over the base of a well-oiled (coconut oil is best) springform cake tin. Note: this will make a thin base – if you like thick cheesecake bases I recommend you double the ingredients. Set aside (or refrigerate in warmer climates).

For the Filling, you will need: 2 large (or 3 small) avocados, 4-5 passionfruit (depending upon how strong you’d like the flavour) 4 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar, 4 tablespoons (approx 60 gm) coconut oil (melted), 2-3 teaspoons vanilla paste, optional 1 banana &/or ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger

Again, this is simply a blending exercise. (Even with a Thermomix I found myself stopping and starting, to check consistency & taste and scrape down the mixture) Start with the avocados, sugar/syrup, vanilla & if using, the banana/ginger. Blend well (Thermies approximately 20 seconds, Speed 5) Add the passionfruit pulp, blending until smooth (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 5 & you may use Reverse speed so the passionfruit seeds aren’t pulverised initially). Finally add the coconut oil blending well again (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 9 gradually)

Empty the filling over the base, smoothing off as evenly as possible, then allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or the freezer if you can’t wait that long!) Then serve and enjoy 🙂

 

Turmeric Egg on Toast

I just rushed in from a resistance training session, and had to rush out again in minutes, so how was I going to re-fuel? Since it’s winter here, I’m loathe to make a protein smoothie in my Thermomix because it’ll chill me from within.

The quickest, warmest, high protein, healthy fats replacement is a boiled egg on toast. I boiled the jug ala Jamie Oliver style, popped the egg and water in a small saucepan and let the stovetop catch up while I pulled out an avocado and the frozen (gluten free) bread slice ….when I saw it. The frozen Turmeric bulb. How would that go with egg? Turns out: ….brilliantly.food fervour

I smashed half an avocado on the toast, spread the egg over the top, then finely grated turmeric over all of that. With some Himalayan salt (I love salty eggs) & the slimmest drizzle of olive oil, it tasted DIVINE. And I just upped the nutrient density and anti-inflammatory properties of my post-training fuel, with minimal effort.

Up there for thinkin’, down there for dancin’!