Fermented Salsa

Well, it’s that time of the season when we suddenly have tomatoes coming out of our ears, and are constantly scheming ways to make our way through the growing pile of split and blemished tomatoes. So far we’ve made various tomato salads and platters (along with the classic caprese salad, I love mint and tomato together), cooked them into curries, simmered them with herbs and veggies to top pasta, baked them into quiche and fritatta, sliced them onto burgers and our morning eggs, and blended them into soup. They keep coming. For every two or three that we find a use for, at least that many more arrive at the doorstep. Since we don’t have a dehydrator, I think I will soon resort to freezing them to cook with or turn into sauce later in the season, when late blight finishes off the plants and we find ourselves hankering for tomato again. But first, I wanted to whip up a batch of fermented salsa.

We made a fermented tomato-peach salsa by the bucketful back at Chrysalis Earth last summer, and it was by far the most amazing salsa I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately, the recipe they had never quite worked as written, requiring a few adjustments of the proportions before it fermented properly, and was at a completely different scale than I was looking for. Thankfully, I was able to find great guidance online from Zero Waste Chef.

I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, as usual. I only had one stray jalapeño and garlic clove, only one quart jar free, all our cilantro is about one inch tall at the moment, and I didn’t have a lemon or a scale to measure out the tomatoes. Nonetheless, I appreciated the insight into the process and a rough sense of proportions, and to have discovered what looks to be a great resource not only for whole-foods cooking, but also sustainable living. Will have to peruse it more soon, with a bowl of chips and salsa in hand!

UPDATE (8/31/17): Made a second batch… this time I was able to scrounge up four jalapeños and a bolted cilantro plant. (The rest are still no taller than they have been for months, we finally realized a rabbit keeps munching on them!) I also left out the onion initially, so that I could add it already cooked once the fermentation period is over — I noticed with the last batch that while the fermentation helped make the onion more digestible, especially the longer it sat in the fridge, it still did bother my digestion some. I used about 6 medium tomatoes, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Yielded a full quart plus almost a pint. Pint was already a bit over-fermented for my taste after about 36 hours, despite the cool weather — I imagine the greater surface area and air space, since the smaller jar wasn’t filled to the brim, made it ferment more quickly and get away from me. It was still great cooked into eggs and beans and greens. And the quart was at the perfect stage! Yum!

Fermented Salsa
(Makes a little over a quart)
3 large tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds and veins removed,finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 large sprigs of oregano, leaves removed and finely minced
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked chili powder

Mix together in a bowl, then pour into a jar or another non-reactive container (glass, ceramic, or plastic) with a lid, leaving only a slight airspace at the top. Place in a tray or baking pan to catch any overflowing liquid and let sit out of direct sunlight for stirring and tasting it once or twice a day, until it reaches the flavor you like — usually this is within 2-4 days, though you can allow it to ferment for up to a week. Move it to the fridge and enjoy!

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Posted in Fermentation, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Sauces, Condiments, and Dips, Vegan | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sourdough Pancakes

I’ve been in a bit of a sourdough “rut” lately… haven’t had much time or motivation to dedicate to making bread (especially since I’ve found the gluten free sourdough loaves I’ve attempted disappointing so far.) For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeding my starter every day or two, then, when the jar gets full, whipping together a batch of sourdough pancakes. It’s the quickest, easiest way to enjoy the tang of sourdough while giving your starter a “fresh start.”

Honestly, as ruts go, this is a pretty darn delicious one. I’d even go so far to say that it’s worth keeping a jar of starter around, even if you don’t have the time or interest in sourdough baking, just to make these pancakes. Not sure how they have eluded this blog for so long.

I’m afraid I can’t offer much of a recipe, since I never measure anything when I make these. It’s funny to look back and remember how, when my father finally entrusted me with the recipe for his famous pancakes, he provided two full pages of instructions about how to tell when the pan was at the perfect temperature, how to test if the batter was at just the right consistency, and so on. Needless to say, I approached the fine art of pancake making with reverence, care, and a bit of trepidation. How far I’ve come, to where now I just scrape starter into a bowl (unless I am planning on baking soon, I generally leave just a couple spoonfuls at the bottom of the jar and use the rest), then add whatever flour(s) I fancy, enough liquid (usually yogurt thinned with water, stock or cooking liquid, or straight up water) to bring it to “batter” consistency, salt and whatever other spices or herbs or mix-ins I feel like. I usually add an egg as well to help it hold together. They never turn out quite the same twice, but somehow so far they have always turned out! Sourdough pancakes are incredibly forgiving, and the possibilities are endless!

If you’d like fluffier pancakes or to neutralize the sourdough tang, try adding a teaspoon or so of baking powder.

Here are some of my favorite variations so far:

Oatmeal: Mix in leftover oatmeal with starter and a little liquid, breaking up clumps with a fork as much as possible. Then add additional flour and liquid to bring it to the volume and consistency you want. Stir some cinnamon and cardamon into the batter, or whatever spices and mix-ins you like in your oatmeal, and top with tahini, jam, or yogurt.

Parsnip: Cook 1-2 parsnips until very tender (I recommend braising or roasting), then puree and mix with starter and additional flour, along with enough liquid to create a thin batter, as the parsnips will make it tend toward the thick, dense side of things. It’s worth a little extra trouble to enjoy the distinctive sweet and spunky flavor of this incredible root veggie. I’d also recommend at least one egg to help hold the batter together, and spices like cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves.

Turmeric, Black Pepper, and Garlic: Sourdough pancakes aren’t just for breakfast! They are the perfect “flat bread” for scooping up curries and stews, or dipping into soups. I particularly love the combination of turmeric, black pepper, and garlic to accompany mung bean deals. Cornmeal and tulsi basil are great additions.

Onion & Fennel: Possibly my favorite yet! Chopped onion, with minced fennel leaves (caraway or dill are also great) is amazing topped with yogurt as a side to soup or for a savory breakfast.

Other sweet and savory mix-and-match combos: Paprika or chili powder, anise seeds, ginger, cilantro, oregano, sage, grated summer squash… raid your spice cabinet, scope out your garden or the farmer’s market, and get creative!

Posted in Breads and Baked Goods, Breakfast, Fermentation, Garden Originals, Gluten Free, Out of the Frypan, Quick and easy, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Took almost a month to find a time that worked for everyone, but was finally able to have the whole crew over tonight… such a fun evening! Truly blessed to get to work with an awesome group of people who enjoy each other’s company. And this chocolate cake! I’m in love with this cake too — and I can’t even eat chocolate — because it is so ridiculously quick and simple to make. Thanks to King Arthur’s Flour for this gem of a recipe (which, of course, I couldn’t help but play with a little after reading Ali’s take at Gimme Some Oven.)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler (or a small pot or bowl that can stack on top of another pot of boiling water), stirring until smooth and glossy. Beat eggs until frothy, then gradually fold into the chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients, pour into a greased and floured 8″ cake pan (or pie pan in a pinch) and bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then loosen from pan, turn onto a large plate, and flip right side up again onto another plate. Perfect topped with fresh berries!

Posted in Breads and Baked Goods, Gluten Free, Snacks and Sweets | 1 Comment