Sprout Kraut

The last batch of sauerkraut I made is but a memory, the dilly beans are long gone and the escabeche is but a few pitiful carrots and jalapeno slices floating around in a jar.

Time for another ferment.

The idea for this came from a recipe for Brussels sprouts, halved and fermented with dill, garlic and chilies I found at Saveur.com.  I was tickled that it was actually fermented; most mainstream recipes I find for pickles (and that’s all a ferment really is) are made with vinegar.  But since Beloved has been asking me to make more ‘kraut – he loves it with the grass-fed beef hot dogs our butcher has begun making – I decided to see just how it would taste using my favorite cruciferous vegetable.

It’s interesting.  I tend to prefer ferments before they get too terribly sour (the exception to that was the dilly beans, which just got better the longer they fermented); not much of a problem because we eat them quickly once they make the transition from the counter to the refrigerator.  This particular ferment, however, is different.

Brussels sprouts have a much stronger flavor than cabbage and even a week after transferring the jar to fridge, the kraut still tasted overwhelmingly of garlic and Brussels sprouts.  The longer it cures, though, the more sour – and the tastier – it becomes; I’ve begun to wish I’d left it on the counter for at least a week before putting it in cold storage, which slows down the fermentation process (but does not stop it).

Again, it’s interesting; I pull the jar out of the fridge every day or two and eat a big forkful to see how it’s coming along.  I’m literally tasting it as it changes character from salty, garlicky Brussels sprouts to a sharp, sour kraut that makes my tastebuds tingle.  It’s going to be marvelous by the time we get to the end of our jar, and I’ll make it again.

I used celery seed in this instead of the fresh dill called for in the original recipe because, for one, I have a large jar of celery seed in my spice cabinet that should be used and because the fresh dill in the dilly beans, while delicious, was a bit of a mess at the end and I didn’t want to have to pick most of it out of the kraut in order to eat it.  It was a good choice; the celery flavor is subtle, but delicious.  You can leave out the red pepper flakes if you like, but they do a lot to tame the strong, cabbagey flavor of the sprouts.  The garlic is a must – don’t skip it.

Sprout Kraut. For a twist on traditional sauerkraut, shredded Brussels sprouts are fermented with celery seed, peppercorns and garlic.

Click  the image to enlarge

Sprout Kraut
Serves: 16
[i]Makes 1 quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Layer the shredded Brussels sprouts into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the sprouts begin to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the celery seed, a few peppercorns, a pinch of the red pepper flakes and a clove of garlic.
  3. Repeat the previous step, pounding the mixture between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add enough filtered water to cover the kraut. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
  4. Top off the kraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged, or use a [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]glass weight[/url]. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator and continue to cure for 3 to 4 weeks before eating.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 13 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 358.6mg sodium, 99.3mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Look – I’m here!

More importantly – I cooked!

It was a nice weekend; we finally got a little down time.  A good thing, too, because that won’t happen again until after Christmas.  I love the holidays, but the older I get the more I just don’t want to deal with it.

We are SO taking the week between Christmas and New Years off.

I’m also glad to report that my oven is back in working order, and this was the first thing I made once it was up and running again.  We have a ton of root vegetables in our fridge, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash on our counter, some from the farmer’s market and some from our own garden (we were surprised at the success we had at growing sweet potatoes; there will be more next year), so I decided to see what I could do with them.

This recipe makes a lot – 6 very generous servings – and is quite easy to make, if you discount all the peeling and dicing prep-work involved; fortunately for me, my better half has no problem helping out with such tasks.  And it is just delicious – Beloved not only wolfed down a second helping the evening I made it, but ate more the next morning with breakfast.

I think he’s hording what’s left in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge where I can’t find it.

I used a delicata squash in this, but you could use any winter squash you like, as well as just about any combination of root vegetables – a rutabaga would be nice thrown into the mix, as would some red-skinned potatoes if you’re so inclined.  But as written, the hash is Whole30 compliant as well as vegan-friendly, and would make a great addition to a real food holiday table.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash. This simple and colorful autumn hash can be made with any variety of squashes and root vegetables.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl; toss, making sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to finish browning if desired.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 164 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 547.1mg sodium, 583.7mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2.3g protein

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sunday morning I got up in the mood to cook.

And cook I did.

I don’t know what possessed me to make stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears to go with our over-easy pastured eggs and chocolate-laced coffee, other than the fact I had mushrooms and asparagus in the fridge (Beloved was bemused, as well – “My wife got up this morning and made appetizers for breakfast!”), but it was all really tasty, if a little odd.

I’m not a huge mushroom fan – they’re one of the few foods I have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about – but I have to say that these were absolutely delicious.  We enjoyed them so much that I am going to make them for our annual employee holiday party this year.  It helps that they’re just drop-dead easy, too, and can be assembled ahead of time and baked later.  They also reheat beautifully.

Note:  The chorizo I use is really a chorizo-spiced ground pork; we get it from our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  A traditional Mexian chorizo is going to be pretty fatty and probably won’t hold together very well as a stuffing.  However, making it yourself is really quite easy – this recipe is a good one.

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms. These tasty morsels can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked just before serving.

Click image to enlarge

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]homemade Mexican-style chorizo[/url]
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound large white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil.
  2. Gently but thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a damp towel. Remove and finely chop the stems; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped mushrooms stems until they have given off all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, about 7 to10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  5. In a large bowl, gently mix the chorizo and mushroom/onion mixture until well combined. Stuff each mushroom cap with the chorizo mixture, mounding it attractively, until all of the sausage has been used.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the mushrooms have softened and the chorizo stuffing is cooked through.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 250 calories, 21g total fat, 49.1mg cholesterol, 563.2mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 12.5g protein

Lamb Sausage

Here’s something for my non-pork eating readers.

This recipe is the result of an accident – I meant to take ground pork out of the freezer for some homemade sausage, and grabbed a package of ground lamb instead.

What can I say? They look a lot alike when raw.

At any rate, I decided to see how the lamb would do as breakfast sausage, and all I can say is I was not disappointed.  Lamb, especially ground lamb, has a pretty strong taste that carries bold flavors really well, so I spiced this up with some garlic, rosemary and roasted fennel seeds.  And since the lamb was a bit drier than ground pork, I added a little olive oil to the mix, as well.

I was really pleased with the results, and Beloved simply wolfed it down, he liked it so much.  It was a nice change from your standard pork or turkey sausage.

This mixture would work well as meatballs or as part of a nice Mediterranean meat sauce, too.

Lamb Sausage. Homemade sausage is so easy - why stick with pork and turkey?  Spice up some lamb with the bold flavors of rosemary and fennel.

Click the image to enlarge

Lamb Sausage
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, roasted and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  2. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the sausage into 8 patties of equal size, taking care not to overwork the mixture. Working in batches if necessary, cook the patties about 4 minutes per side or until the sausage is browned on the outside and just cooked through.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 262 calories, 18.8g total fat, 76mg cholesterol, 653mg sodium, 315.6mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21.3g protein

Jalapenos en Escabeche

Oh, look – another ferment.  What can I say?  I’ve come to love them and tend to have one in the fridge at all times.  Right now, I have three:  the small remains of our last batch of sauerkraut, the rapidly diminishing dilly beans, and now this.

The reason I made this is because in the comments of the dilly bean recipe, Lisa – one of the most stylish style bloggers you will ever find, to say nothing of being an incredibly beautiful,  intelligent and gracious woman – said, “The Mexican restaurants around here do a pickled jalapeno carrot that’s INCREDIBLE. Want to backwards engineer a recipe for me?”

Oh, that all requests should be so easy.

Those jalapeno carrots fall into a broad category of pickled vegetables known as escabeche (which literally translates to “pickle”), a common condiment in many Mexican kitchens and restaurants (meat-based escabeche – usually fish, poached or fried, and marinated in an acidic mixture before serving – is popular in many Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Spanish).  Almost all recipes include jalapenos or other hot chilies, carrots, onions and garlic, and many contain other vegetables; cauliflower is the most common.

The vast majority of commercially available escabeche is preserved in vinegar, making it shelf stable.  Not necessarily a bad route to go – I still have many, many jars of cucumber and watermelon pickles safely tucked away in my basement from last year’s canning frenzy.  However, this method cooks the vegetables, leaving them rather limp and, if you wish to make it at home, is a bit of a production.

Lacto-fermentation results in a tangy, fiery escabeche that is fresh, crisp, delicious and easy – not to mention oh, so good for you.

Note:  I did not seed the jalapenos at all; I simply sliced them.  This is quite spicy (10 jalapenos, after all) and will become more so as it continues to ferment.  If you or members of your family have a tender palate, you may want to halve the chilies lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins before adding them to the carrots and onions.  Also, according to most sources I’ve found, this will last many months in cold storage (one account cited it as still being good a year later), but I’d still probably eat this within 3 or 4 months.

Jalapenos en Escabeche. This classic Mexican condiment is naturally fermented and full of probiotic goodness.

Click the image to enlarge

Jalapenos en Escabeche
[i]It’s important that the vegetables be completely submerged beneath the liquid to avoid mold and promote the proliferation of the good bacteria. Pouring olive or coconut oil on top after adding the liquid is helpful, or Pickl-It sells [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]handy glass weights[/url] that fit inside the mouth of the jar. Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
  • 10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the water, in a large bowl and toss to distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pack the vegetables into a clean, wide-mouth quart jar. Add the water until the jar is filled to 1 inch below the rim.
  3. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the liquid in the jar beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 37 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 886.4mg sodium, 258.9mg potassium, 8.6g carbohydrates, 2.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 1g protein