Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clarified Butter - Home Made

I'm running out of time on every corner of my life. No it does not mean my life is passing by, it means I had and have a couple of very important things to do last week and the next days that I even do not know what my name is. But when I will work hard the next few days I will get the reward next weekend when I am leaving the country for a couple of days. I already booked the plane tickets and now I am trying to discharge the things I have to do. I have so many stuff I'd like to post, stuff of friends', stuff of mine but I have absolutely no time for it. So I'll start with the newest one - clarified butter. I see no reason to repeat the Wikipedia article here, so check it HERE. I use clarified butter for a better taste of some dishes - for example pancakes because of its' higher smoke point. It took me about 40 minutes to clarify and filter the butter. For sure it's possible to buy clarified butter in the grocery BUT (a) I am not sure what kind of low quality butter they use and melt, - I can decide myself which good quality butter I want to buy, (b) they add conservants, and finally (c) the price is too high for such a fast and easy thing to do at home.

I made clarified butter out of 1 kg (something more than 2 lbs) butter. It makes no sense to use a lower amount of butter. I put it to a pot with a thick bottom (my favourite Fissler pot) and I started to melt it on a small flame. After a while you will get some foam which I removed with a spoon. I kept cooking the butter for the next about 10 minutes on a small gas flame to get rid of the evaporating water. I agitated the butter from time to time. You will hear that specific sound of evaporating water. I knew that the butter was clarified and ready after the sound of evaporating water was gone and the melt stopped bubbling. It looked like cold oil which was put to pot. That happened exactly at minute 28 since I switched the stove on. The last thing was the filtering process. I took a sieve and cut a tea filter. Next time I will be smarter to take a coffee filter and some filter paper. It will be easier and faster. I pour the clarified butter to small jars and left it to cool down. Later I'll close the jars and keep the clarified butter in the fridge. You can keep it for a long time in the fridge - even more than two months and use the butter for cooking or baking. Wikipedia says: It has negligible amounts of lactose and casein and is, therefore, acceptable to most who have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy. Since I do not have the problem I do not care but it's interesting to know. Out of 35 oz (1 kg) butter I got exactly 29 US fl. oz (30 UK fl. oz / 850 ml) clarified butter. After a few hours it will lose the liquid consistency and look like "normal" butter. Read the Wikipedia article and watch the pictures of the process below - they speak their own language.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vegetables Tarte in Puff Pastry

I don't remember if I posted the recipe before - finally I couldn't find it so I'll post it again. It's one of those fast one-dish-meals which I totally love. I was invited to friends in the evening to spend the Shabbat (Wikipedia) with them so I knew the food for supper will be brilliant. I am not Jewish but I celebrate every festival when I know there will be great food, good and interesting conversations and nice people. And I do not care where I am praying, in a church, a synagogue or in the middle of a field as long as I keep doing it and it comes out of an honest heart. This time I really wanted to take part in a service because I have so much to be thankful for to the One over us - however He is named or who He is. The evening and the food were brilliant, so thank you very much to L. & A. for the hospitality and the nice time I had in your family. Knowing  that I'll get tasty food in the evening I went lazy and took a look into my fridge. The fastest and easiest possibility to get some food during the day was to make a tarte. I still had a package of puff pastry and I had some mozzarella and chopped cheese and vegetables.

The recipe is easy. Take a package of frozen vegetables (about 1 1/2 lbs.) and stew it with soy sauce for about 10 minutes until the water steams out. In the meantime butter a tarte baking pan and roll the puff pastry in the pan. Lay the baking paper the puff pastry was rolled in (at least in Germany it's always rolled in baking paper) over it, and pour beans or soy beans or something else you have over the baking paper. Put the baking pan to the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes. After the pastry is nearly ready, put it out of the oven, take the baking paper with the beans out and add the vegetables to the hole you got in the pastry. Add the mozzarella on the top and some chopped cheese, add pepper and herbs (basil oregano). Bake it again for about 10-12 minutes until the cheese melts. That's all. Enjoy the tarte with some tzatziki or yogurt. 

Advice: You can not use the beans for eating anymore, but keep them in a jar after they cool down and use them for the next "false baking" of a puff pastry. I think I use the same beans since more than three years.

I was so hungry and fixed on COOKING that I forgot to take some pictures while preparing the tarte. But I hope you got the point reading the preparing instructions.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sauerkraut - Home Made

Okay, I made it. I made Sauerkraut (Wikipedia). I mean come on, I am a Kraut, don't expect from me that I am not eating Sauerkraut even if my regular cuisine is a Meditteranean style. I'd like to share the recipe with you. It's a little bit of work you will have but believe me, it's worth. I am not going to repeat all the nutritional benefits of home made Sauerkraut you can read on Wikipedia but I'd like to show you a traditional way of making Sauerkraut

I got the recipe from my parents and I know it's exactly the way my ancestors made it for generations. I can follow my ancestral tree back to the 17th century and I know that all my folks lived in Central Europe (Austro-Hungary & Prussia). And I know that the generations before had not the benefits of fresh vegetables and fruit during the Winter time we have now. Winters in Central Europe were always brutal with low temperatures and lots of snow. People did what they could to preserve food, making pickles or Sauerkraut and get their vitamins between October and March. They also had no fridges or supermarkets to buy something. Imagine a life without shops and supermarkets? We wouldn't survive a month... 

Yes, you can buy canned Sauerkraut but to be honest I can not stand its' taste. It tastes so strange synthetic. So today I finally made the Sauerkraut. I bought the cabbage yesterday when I leased a car to make some shopping and handle some things in the city. I finally made Sauerkraut out of 26 pounds (11,6 kg) cabbage and something above 2 pounds of carrots. You can use other amounts but think about converting the amount of the salt and sugar. For the Sauerkraut I used a 4 gallons (16 litres) clay pot for preserving pickles or cabbage. It has a special collar where you pour some water after closing the pot's lid to avoid the influence of oxygen. You can take a normal clay pot or even a basket but you have to take care to weight the cabbage with a plate and a stone or a jar with water, so that the cabbage will always be covered with the juice. If the juice runs out you will have to add some water with salt to keep the cabbage covered. With my clay pot with the collar I can skip those steps and just close the lid, take care that there's always water in the collar and enjoy the fresh sour cabbage after 14 days. 

If you never made Sauerkraut and you don't want to make such huge amounts, just give it a try with a bigger cabbage in a 1/2 gallon jar. Just reduce the amount of sugar and salt referred to the proportions in the recipe and cabbage weight.

[cabbage weight = 100%; 2% of the cabbage weight = salt, some sugar; 10% of the cabbage weight = carrots. For an easier conversion I would use the metric system with grams, for example: 2 kg (2000 g) cabbage + 40g salt (2% of 2000 g) + 200 g carrots (10% of 2000 g) + some sugar]. 

Here's the ground recipe for the Sauerkraut I made:
  • 26 pounds (11,5 kg) cabbage
  • 2 1/8 lb (1 kg) carrots
  • 7 oz (200 g) salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Clean the clay pot with boiling water.
  2. Mix the salt with the sugar in a bowl
  3. Clean the cabbage, cut out the spadix and rasp it. You can use a food processor I did.
  4. Put one portion (about 5-6 pounds) to a basket or a huge bowl and spread some salt with sugar over it.
  5. Now the hardest part: usually I should take a traditional piece of wood we call a Krautstampfer (cabbage tamper) for tamping but because I had none I just used a washed in hot water wine bottle (I drunk the wine the other day ;)). Start tamping the cabbage until it starts watering. It took me about 20 minutes with the first portion (sorry to my neighbour in the flat below mine!!!).
  6. After you tamped the first portion, rasp the carrots, and add them to the bowl and tamp again.
  7. Rasp the next portion of a few pounds of cabbage, add it to the bowl, spread the salt-sugar mixture and start tamping again. Now it will take about 10 minutes.
  8. Agitate the cabbage in the bowl well and add some more rasped cabbage and salt-sugar. Tamp again. You will see every time it will take less time to tamp. The cabbage will start watering again.
  9. After you added the last portion of rasped cabbage and you used all the salt-sugar, tamp it again for a while.
  10. Put the cabbage and the cabbage water on the bottom of the bowl to a clay pot, tamp it a little bit. You will see when you tamp it well, the cabbage should be covered a little bit with its' water. Close the lid, and add some water to the collar. Leave the cabbage for the first week in a warm place and leave the bacilli make their job. Later you can/should put the pot to a colder place (under 15°C/60°F). After about two weeks you can try if the Sauerkraut is ready.
  11. You can keep the cabbage in the clay top for the Winter in a colder cellar.
  12. If you don't have a clay pot with a water collar or you want to use a normal clay pot, just after you put the cabbage to the pot, put a big plate over it and weight it with a big jar of water that the cabbage will be covered. Pay attention that after a few days there will be a lot of foam and water so leave some space left at the top of the pot. If you see the cabbage is not covered with water, add some saline. The cabbage has to be ALWAYS covered with water.
  13. You can also keep the Sauerkraut in jars (later when it's ready). Put some plastic film between the jar and the jar lid - otherwise the lid will start rusting if you use a metal one. Keep the cabbage in a cool cellar.
It seems to be complicated but it's not. I wanted to show you as much details as I could so that you won't be surprised during the souring process. Be aware that while keeping the cabbage in the first days in the warm flat, the whole flat will start smelling like Sauerkraut. I don't mind. I like this smell and I always know that when it smells this way, everything is going the right way during the souring process. In a two weeks I'll post some recipes for dishes with the home made Sauerkraut. And even my kitchen looks like a mess on the pictures, I cleaned it in 20 minutes. Without cleaning - it took me 2 hours to make it. Now enjoy the pictures.

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