Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lean Lukewarm Burnt Cloves of Carrots

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tuesday night cooking club with Laura, Emily and Miles, another Laura and Jess, Harley, Tom Biscotti, Andy, Ryan and Hilary

The theme was Breakfast for Dinner.

Red Flame Carrots
Laura cut them and we ate them raw. You know the texture of a young carrot. Orange inside and red outside, 6 or 8 inches long. We served the carrots from a handmade Black Walnut wood plate that is smooth and light in weight.

Breakfast Carrots
This idea is based on Ed Brown’s directions in Tassajara Cooking. Didn’t adding ketchup turn them into Dinner Carrots? Most important is eating cooked carrots in the morning.

10 carrots, or how many you want to cook
2 Tablespoons canola oil
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup raisins, chopped into bits

Clean the carrots and chop them into medium sized pieces with the skin on. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or frying pan and add the carrots, sprinkling them with salt. Cook the carrots over medium to high heat, stirring often enough to prevent burning, until they begin to caramelize.
When the carrots are as brown as you wish, add the raisins and a splash of water and continue cooking until the raisins are plump and the carrots soft.

Ginger Soy Tempeh or Breakfast Sausage
It is obviously not sausage. Everyone seems to love tempeh.

2, 8 oz. packages soy tempeh
3-4 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon soy sauce, more to taste

Crumble the tempeh into course chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the crumbled tempeh. Cook over medium high, stirring enough until the tempeh is browning.
Add the ginger and soy sauce along with a few tablespoons of water to the browned tempeh. The water will help gather up the browned tempeh that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add enough water to make all of the tempeh moist. Season to taste with soy sauce. I haven’t tried forming it into patties.

Buckwheat Waffles
Aveline Kushi’s Buckwheat Pancakes recipe adapted as waffles. Until amazake becomes more available commercially, or until we learn to make our own, we will have to use the EdenBlend amazake and soymilk drink from the aseptic packages. This double batch made one waffle each for ten of us.

2 cups buckwheat flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
2 cups EdenBlend, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
water, as needed

Combine all of the ingredients, adding more EdenBlend or water to thin to the desired consistency. Try not to stir any more than you have to. Cook it in the waffle iron or in an oiled frying pan. To keep the waffles from getting soggy while you cook the rest, stack them on a rack instead of on a plate.

Serve the waffles with button mushrooms chopped and sauteed, and sprouts or, even better; mushrooms, arugula and sour cream if you wish.

Kasha (Roasted Buckwheat Cereal) with Scallions
More buckwheat, Kushi-style.

2 cups whole buckwheat
6 cups water, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
6 scallions, sliced

Dry roast the buckwheat in a heavy pan until it is dark brown but not burned. Add the water and salt and bring to boiling. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the buckwheat is soft like porridge. Add more water if it gets too thick.
Serve small portions in bowls, garnished with sliced scallions.

Roasted Squash with What You Like
Jess and Laura work on the farm and brought some squash to cook!

1 medium Delicata squash
1 medium Butternut squash
canola oil
sea salt

raisins, or baby onions, or what you like

Heat the oven at 350 degrees or higher.
Peel the squash and cut them into chips. Clean the seeds. Oil the squash and spread them out on a baking sheet. Oil the seeds and put them off to one side of the baking sheet. Sprinkle all with salt.
Roast the squash and seeds in the preheated oven until the squash is soft and the seeds are crisp.
Add raisins, if you like, or sliced baby onions to the roasted squash and put it under the broiler at the end to brown a little bit.

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Sourdough Starter

For Those Who Want to Make Naturally Leavened Bread

In order to make naturally leavened bread (also known as sourdough or simply levain), you will first have to catch or acquire a colony of wild yeasts.
Wild yeasts are different from ‘commercial’ yeasts (Active Dry, or Quick Rise, or even the fresh moist cakes used in bakeries). You will not find them granulated in the baking section, but invisibly in the air and upon the grain itself.
If none of your friends has a sourdough starter to share, how best to colonize these yeasts you cannot even see? Actually it’s as simple as remembering where they lurk and what they eat.

Ripe Sourdough Starter From the 'Fridge

Home For a Yeast

Attracting wild yeasts with a flour and water paste is something like attracting your own nest of birds by building them a house. The main difference is that yeasts are gluttonous and don’t know how to go out and find worms, moths or caterpillars. So you have to feed them often, especially while your colony is growing. The other difference is, no matter how light the chirping baby birds may seem, you will not be able to use birds to raise a loaf of bread.

Developing a Practical Sourdough Method

My current advice on sourdough starters comes from combined experience and the teachings of various bakers. I have followed Peter Reinhardt’s and Jeffrey Hamelman’s methods, more or less precisely, for building sourdough starters. During my Advanced Bread course at Johnson & Wales, my group kept and baked with both rye and wheat starters. Perhaps most influential, though, were the big buckets of sourdough starters I saw in bakeries where I worked, kept by bakers either totally ignorant or particularly aware of just how much neglect wild yeasts will tolerate.

Professional baking authors typically instruct their readers to toss out a portion of starter and replenish with fresh flour and water daily, although it is sad throwing out that much flour. The more practical method, of using what starter you need, storing the rest in the refrigerator and replenishing when it gets low, eliminates the problem of waste. Also, you don’t have to spend time feeding your starter on days you don’t plan to bake.

Choosing an Organic Whole Grain Flour

Sourdough starters for bread-making are made from rye or wheat flour. Using a large percentage of rye starter, or experimenting with wheat starters made with varying amounts of water, will produce different distinct varieties of bread.

For simple leavening purposes (making your loaf of bread rise), either rye or wheat will work. It may be easier to get a sourdough culture going using rye flour, but wheat flour may be easier to find.
Certainly, it is best to use whole grain flour rather than refined white flour. Whole grain wheat flour is sold as Whole Wheat Flour, while whole rye flour is usually called Dark Rye.
Organic flours do not contain genetically modified grains, and you may even be able to find a source of organic whole grain flour milled locally from grains grown in your region. Some bakers are enthusiastic enough to buy grain mills and mill their own flour.
At any rate, choose a flour that appeals to you and keep a few pounds on hand as you get your starter going and bake your first loaves of flavorful sourdough bread.

How to Begin

Building a healthy sourdough starter requires from a few days to just around a week of consistent feedings, and minimal simple kitchen tools.

Leave a vent so the yeast can breath

It is important to use a glass, plastic or ceramic container. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to develop a sourdough culture in a metal container. I cannot remember why, but I can remember how disappointing it is to feed and feed a starter and to never have it grow. Since you will need to loosely cover the container, it may be easiest to find a 2-quart glass or plastic food storage container with a lid that can be placed over it but not sealed. One other warning regarding the storage container; do not use ‘self-sealing’ plastic wrap to cover the bowl. There is some kind of chemical on the self-sealing surface that effects the health of sourdough. Any kind of spoon or mixing utensil, including your hands, will be fine for making the paste.

Once you have chosen a flour and found a good container, stir together about a cup of flour with enough water to make a thick paste. Place the lid or another loose cover over the container and leave it at room temperature for about 24 hours.

Feed the Starter Regularly Until it is Doubling Between Feedings

Next day, you will not see much, if any, difference in the appearance of the flour paste. That is OK. Remove about half of it and throw it in the compost (or garbage). Add enough flour and water to double the portion of paste that is left. Remember, you will only have to toss out starter for the first few days, so don’t resist.

It is important to add enough fresh flour and water to match the amount of paste you are leaving. That gives the growing yeast plenty of food. Loosely cover the replenished starter and leave for another 24 hours.

Next day, toss out half and add another portion of flour and water to match the amount of paste you have. This time, leave for only 12 hours before repeating the feeding procedure.

After a few days of consistent feedings, your starter will begin to bubble and grow

Continue to toss half and feed the starter with fresh flour and water every 12 hours until it shows signs of life. After 3-5 days you should have a pretty healthy sourdough starter. Soon it will be growing to double its size between feedings, and is ready to use for leavening bread. If you have a clear container, you will see bubbles in the starter. Sprinkle flour on the surface of the starter before leaving it to rise, and you will see cracks in the flour as the starter expands.

Cracked surface of a ripe rye sourdough starter, sprinkled with flour


Naturally Leavened Bread Requires Only Patience

When your starter is healthy and has doubled in size, mix it into a batch of bread dough in place of commercial yeast. Wait long enough and the dough, like your starter, will double. Form loaves, let them double again, and bake.
Sourdough is less consistent in the amount of time it takes to rise, when compared with commercial yeast. The longer rising time, however, gives the dough a chance to develop more complex flavors. If bread does not rise long enough, it may be dense and heavy. Be plenty patient and the bread should turn out good and light.

Between Loaves

When you use your starter to make bread, be sure to reserve a small amount to perpetuate it. A tablespoon or two is usually plenty.
Add fresh flour and water, allow the sourdough to ripen at room temperature until it is nearly doubled, then loosely cover it and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake again.

When using starter directly from the refrigerator, your loaves may take longer to rise. For a faster rise, remove the starter and give it one feeding the day before you plan to bake. This is also a good idea if you go 2-3 weeks between batches of bread.

Always, always remember to keep and replenish a small portion of the starter so that you do not have to start from scratch!

Sesame Sourdough

Please Learn How to Make Bread
Anyone can make piles of homemade bread that will far surpass the quality of store bought loaves. Once you learn this simple skill you will see how ridiculously complicated most bread has become.
Cooks and bakers who are afraid of yeast are simply forgetting its nature; yeast is not a precise chemical leavening agent but a living thing. Commercial (Active Dry) and Wild (sourdough) yeasts all consume sugars and oxygen, creating various acids and carbon dioxide. The acids provide flavor while the carbon dioxide, trapped within the structure of the dough, causes the bread to rise. The warmer the room, and the dough, the quicker the yeast multiplies. The more yeast there is in the dough, the more carbon dioxide there will be to raise a loaf of bread. With less yeast or in a colder room, the dough will take much longer to rise. Be patient. The dough will rise eventually.
So, with the simple distinction of Living Thing vs. Chemical leavening agent, one can be quite comfortable working with yeasts to make bread. Now please learn to make your own bread.

Whole Wheat Sesame Sourdough
This is my approximation of the bread served at Souen, the great macrobiotic restaurant off Union Square in New York City. Actually I am pretty sure they didn’t make the bread in-house. The flour:water ratio and dry yeast measurements are based loosely on a scaled down version of Ed Brown’s Tassajara Yeasted Bread. He taught me how to make bread in the first place. The idea for baking bread in a Dutch oven came from my dad who learned it from the famous no-knead bread recipe. I learned this killer method of making sesame crust when I trailed the bakers at Grandaisy (formerly Sullivan Street) Bakery also in New York. They had a big soggy sponge the size of a half-sheet pan that they’d roll the loaf around on before rolling it in another pan full of sesame seeds to coat.

3 cups water
1/2 cup to 2 cups rye sourdough starter, OR 1 Tablespoon dry yeast
6-7 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
sesame seeds, about 2 cups, spread out in a wide dish

Mixing:
If you want the bread to rise faster, use warmer water. Make sure it isn’t too hot; you should be able to easily hold your hand in there.
Add the yeast or starter to the water. Make sure the yeast dissolves, if you’re using dry yeast.
Add 5 cups of flour and the salt to the water and yeast and mix with a sturdy wooden spoon. Once it gets too thick to mix with the spoon, use your hand. I find it easiest to hold onto the bowl with my left hand and use my right hand to knead the dough.
Kneading:
There is nothing complicated about kneading the dough. You just want to make a nice soft dough. Quit thinking about how long it is going to take and concentrate on what you’re doing. Add enough more flour so that the dough is not too sticky, but not too dry. Six and 1/4 cups seemed about right when Ryan was learning to make the bread but who knows. If you accidentally add too much flour then add more water. Keep on kneading it until it is nice and soft and smooth.
Rising:
Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, and wrap it with a plastic bag. Leave it alone until you can see it is swelling. Remember you’re not looking what time it is, you’re looking at the dough. It might take an hour or three. When it is definitely swelling but not huge yet, put the wrapped bowl of dough in the refrigerator to rest overnight. This makes it all the more flavorful and gives you a chance to do something else for a while.
THE NEXT DAY:
In the morning, pull out the dough for an hour before you want to shape the loaves.
Shaping and Rising Again:
After an hour, cut the dough into 2-3 pieces and shape them into rounds. A good bread book or website will teach you how, or improvise. Get your hands under the faucet and rub down the outside of each dough round with water, then roll it around in sesame seeds to coat it. Place it into an oiled bowl and wrap again with plastic.

Heat the oven as high as it will go. Do you have a heavy, oven-proof Dutch oven type pan? Put that into the oven, including the lid, while the oven heats.
You can tell that the bread is ready to bake when you poke it and the indentation is slow to disappear. At first, the indentation will pop right back out. You will eventually be very good at telling when it is ready to bake but at first you just have to trust your gut instinct and accept the fact that you may not bake the loaves at exactly the right time. Just don’t bake them too early because you are impatient.
Baking:
Get a knife ready, pull out the hot dutch oven and carefully get the risen loaf in there. Be careful. You don’t want the loaf to deflate and you certainly don’t want to burn your damn hands.
Once the loaf is in there make some quick cuts on the top of it. Put the lid on the dutch oven and get that hot thing back in the oven for 25 minutes or half an hour (depending on whether you made 2 loaves or 3; larger loaves will obviously take longer to bake).
Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and bake it another 10 minutes or so straight on the oven rack. You can put the second loaf in at this point. It will sound hollow if you tap it. Bake it until the bottom is pretty dark. Sometimes it is nearly black.

Let the bread cool a few hours or overnight before you slice it. It makes a difference.

Recently I have been making three loaves; freezing two in tightly sealed bags to have fresh bread all week.

…and Nightshades

Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Barry, Kim, Laura, Emily, Miles, Ryan and Hilary cooked it off.

What Little We Know About Nightshades
I am still trying to develop a stance on the use of nightshade vegetables. As far as I can tell, the nightshade vegetables (eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and all kinds of peppers) are the least poisonous parts of a large family of toxic plants. You will almost certainly not get sick from eating a potato or two, but I do believe in the potential of nightshade vegetables to have a mild and cumulative effect on health. Plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family contain the alkaloid nicotine as well as the glycoalkaloid solanine. Solanine is reported to, among other things, contribute to arthritis and reduce calcium absorption or leech calcium from the body. Nicotine (the drug in cigarettes–tobacco is also in the nightshade family) is clearly not desirable to someone following a strict macrobiotic diet. However, there are just as many reasons why you should include the nightshades in your diet. Potatoes, for example, have been a staple food for thousands of years, and Colorado grown potatoes are abundantly available most of the year. Therefore, while you may not feel it necessary to avoid nightshade vegetables altogether, it is important to be aware of them when planning a macrobiotic meal or menu.

Pickled Peppers with Olives and Capers
Despite their classification as nightshade vegetables, we enjoyed the strong taste of these crunchy pickled peppers stuffed with soft, salty olives and capers. Perhaps they fueled the cockrings conversation!

1 cup pickled sweet banana peppers
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup red Alfonso olives
2 Tablespoons capers

Make a slice, lengthwise, down one side only of each pickled pepper. Leave the stems on. Shake out any pickling juice that may be caught in the pepper, and stuff each pepper with the pitted Kalamata olives. One to three olives per pepper.
Add capers to some or all of the olive-stuffed peppers. Arrange the peppers with the Alfonso olives and any remaining Kalamata olives on a serving tray and get after them while the dinner simmers.

Basic Millet
Birds like it raw, but millet is one grain that I typically toast in the pan before adding water to steam it. The cooked millet comes out very fluffy, quite dry and not as sweet as rice. Millet and winter squash are a classic combination. If you become interested in cooking with millet, you will want to experiment with many variations on Aveline Kushi’s Millet and Squash Loaf, in which diced winter squash is cooked with the Basic Millet and the mixture is then transferred to a covered baking dish and baked in the oven into a firm, slice-able but crumbly loaf which you can toast like bread. I suspect Souen’s ‘Cornbread’ is actually more technically something of a millet loaf with whole kernels of corn added to give the illusion that more corn’s involved.

2 cups millet
3 cups water
pinch, or two, of salt

Rinse the millet well using your favorite method for rinsing small irritating grains. I like to rinse mine in the cooking pot to minimize dirty dishes.
Place the rinsed and drained millet in the cooking pot over medium heat and stir continuously until it dries out and toasts to a golden color. Be careful it doesn’t burn around the edges of the pan where you aren’t stirring thoroughly enough. Turn down the heat if it does start to burn.
Add the water (any temperature) and salt to the toasted millet and bring to the boil over high heat. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat as far as it will go without turning off and cook undisturbed for half an hour. Off the heat and allow the millet to sit, still covered, for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Red Lentil Dahl
Well worth the time we waited for the Yellow Split Pea Dahl that it replaced. Red lentils cook so quickly. Maybe they will be done in less than half an hour.

2 cups red lentils
olive or canola oil, as needed
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1, 1 1/2″ piece fresh ginger root, grated
6 cups water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup, approximately, shoyu soy sauce
5 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Rinse the lentils and set them aside. Heat a little bit of oil in the dahl pot and saute the onion, adding the celery and ginger after a few minutes and cooking until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the lentils and water to the pot and bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, covered until the lentils are cooked to a soft, smooth puree. Beating them with the wooden spoon helps to smooth the dahl near the end.
Once the lentils are soft, season to taste with the shoyu. Start with maybe 2-3 Tablespoons and increase as needed. Top each bowl of dahl with a few slices of scallion.

Carrots and Kombu
It sounds attractive. Once you soak the seaweed it gets slimy and slippery and is not so easy to make look good. Cutting the carrots into thinner pieces makes it easier to tie the seaweed around them but sacrifices the simplicity of plain round carrots. Two things might satisfy the high hopes I had for this dish: wrapping the carrots in wakame (a thinner seaweed than kombu), and, tying them with the dried gourd strips as Aveline Kushi recommended in the original recipe for Carrot Kombu Rolls.

photo by Barry

1, 2 oz. package dried Kombu seaweed
5 medium-large carrots
water, as needed

This whole recipe is easier said than done. Soak the kombu in water until it is pliable and easy to slice. Cut the carrots into manageable lengths. Wrap kombu around the carrots and secure it with more kombu, cut into thin strips for tying. There very well may be carrots left over after all of the kombu is used. Put the plain carrots, the wrapped carrots and the seaweed soaking water into a cooking pot with enough additional water to cover all of the carrots. Simmer, covered until the carrots and kombu are tender. Save the cooking water; you can make it into miso soup.

Pear Crisp
Another winning dessert from Aveline Kushi’s cookbook. Did she mistakenly title the breakfast foods chapter as desserts? The topping tastes like granola. We were not quite sure what kind of rolled grain was in Mother’s cupboard but it turned out good!

2 Tablespoons arrowroot flour
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup spring water
6 ripe pears, washed, sliced and cored
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup rolled grain flakes (what you have) or just rolled oats
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup

It is important to only use 5 pears in the recipe so that everyone can have a taste of the sixth pear raw.
Grease a baking dish with canola oil and heat the oven up to 375 degrees.
Toast the walnuts and the grain flakes, separately, in a small skillet on the stove top. Stir them often or continuously so that they do not burn. Set them aside to cool a bit while you prepare the pears.
Combine the arrowroot, salt and water in a bowl and toss the 5 sliced or chopped pears in that. Spread the coated pears into an even layer in the prepared baking dish.
Chop the walnuts and combine them with the grains and the rice syrup to make a crumbly mixture. Distribute the crumb dough evenly over the pears in the baking dish. Cover the dish and bake 20 minutes. Bake 5-10 minutes more once you remove the cover in order to brown and crisp the top.

We accompanied this meal with fresh Spiced Apple Cider that Emily and Miles brought, red and white wine and beer.

Who Wants Cook’s Temperament?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A possibly chaotic cooking club meeting. Carrie and Tyler showed up. Kim and Barry with the squash. Emily, Miles, Laura, Ryan and Hilary.

One idea of Macrobiotics is cooking (and eating) in harmony with your surroundings. Sometimes the kitchen appears more chaotic than it is. Our food turned out pretty good, if a little chaotic. The mood at the dinner table was equally so. What does one expect with such a high ratio of Beards? We made the following:

Brown Rice with Farro
Farro is an ancient type of wheat (more accurately called Emmer). There was a little bit of organic farro left from my grain splurge at Kalustyan’s in New York City clear last February so I mixed it with the rice. When mixing different types of grains with rice, use about 2-3 parts rice for 1 part other grain. Short grain brown rice is good with all sorts of other whole grains, including barley, wheat berries, rye and wild rice. I use the same ratio of water as for plain rice, but sometimes cook the grains a little longer (especially with wild rice). It helps to soak the rinsed grains in the cooking water for a few hours before cooking them.

1/2 cup farro
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
pinch salt

Combine the farro and rice in the cooking pot and rinse several times with cold water. My farro was pretty dusty so it took a while. I don’t know how yours is. Drain the grains and add the cooking water. If you have time, leave them to soak for a few hours before cooking.
Place the grain pot over high heat and bring to boiling. Add the salt, cover the pot and reduce heat to lowest possible. Simmer, covered for about an hour without lifting the lid. Off the heat and allow the grain to rest ten minutes, covered before serving.

Roasted Acorn Squash in Rings
Squash addiction suspicions confirmed by Mother’s choice of vegetable.

2-3 medium acorn squashes
olive oil
sea salt

Heat the oven at 400 degrees while you prepare the squash. Slice the squash into rings and scrape out the pulp and seeds. Rub them down with olive oil and oil a baking pan too. Arrange the squash rings in a single layer on the baking pan and sprinkle on some salt. If the salt if course, crunch it up with a mortar and pestle. Roast the squash until soft, flipping them half-way so that they are evenly browned on both sides.

Mushrooms with Onion
When we found out about Mother’s squash, Emily decided to bring mushrooms. Fucking fiends. Apparently cremini mushrooms are the same variety as white button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms; they are between those two in maturity.

3 cups, approximately, fresh cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
olive oil
salt

Slice the mushrooms and onion. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil followed directly by the onion. Cook the onion for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Add some salt and cook the mushrooms on low heat until they begin to release moisture so that they will not burn. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft and browned. Serve with squash, obviously.

Oatmeal Cookies
Should be served for breakfast. Based on Aveline Kushi’s recipe.

1 1/2 cups instant oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons walnut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients to form a sticky dough. Allow the dough to rest for a half hour or more before baking. It will thicken to a good cookie dough texture. Heat the oven at 350 degrees. Oil the cookie tray and spoon out 12-15 cookies in even rows. Bake about 15 minutes. They will just begin to brown but you probably don’t want them too crispy. If they are smaller you may want to check at 10 minutes. Allow them to cool a bit before eating.

The above dishes served with Carrot Greens Condiment that Emily made and Seitan ‘Dumplings’ with Gravy Experiment by Ryan and Hilary, red wine and bancha to drink and for the appetizer Laura brought black radishes with Japanese peppered sea salt.

carrot

Next week: Yellow Split Pea Dahl with Carrots, Celery, Onion and Ginger, and What else?

Buttercup Squash Pie

chopping up buttercup

This is what squash looks like through mate vision

If you are going to replace your Thanksgiving turkey with Stuffed Hubbard Squash, then what about the pie? Happily you do not have to choose between the two.
The concept of Balance is central to the macrobiotic diet and philosophy, but macrobiotic cooks and eaters are excessively obsessed with the bright orange, Round vegetable called a Buttercup (or Kabocha). Whatever. A squash addiction thinly veiled behind the macrobiotic principles of seasonality and local eating is simply more dignified than squash gluttony.

Garden Buttercup

Use a cleaver or large, sharp chef's knife to halve the squash

Don’t Fuck It Up!
Winter squash may be compared to ripe summer tomatoes. The cook with much more than a good sharp knife will almost certainly disguise or degrade the vegetables’ inherent perfection. Still, you can’t serve steamed squash for dessert, and so I performed once so far

The Squash Pie Experiment:

squash pie

Don't be fooled by the appearance; you will definitely wish there was more filling if you make these miniature pies.

Aveline Kushi’s Basic Crust or preferably Crackers
It is a respectable crust made with whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour recommended but all I had was whole wheat flour). The crust is not sweet. I baked the scraps sprinkled with salt and they made fine crackers for lunch.

3 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup + additional cold water

Combine the flour and salt, and mix in the oil until it is the texture of sand. Add the cold water, using as much as is necessary to form dough. Mix minimally once the water is added to keep the gluten from forming. If you use the pastry flour this is less of a worry. Either way, it is difficult or impossible to make a flaky crust with oil.
I chilled the dough for a half hour or so before rolling it out, and used an empty jar instead of a rolling pin. Sprinkle the cutting board or counter with flour, press out half of the dough at once and roll it about 1/8″ thin. Place it in your pie plate and finish the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to keep it from puffing up. Bake ten minutes, empty, in a pre-heated 350 degree oven before filling it up. Crusts are most definitely not my strong point or my specialty. I don’t recommend making miniature pies in the muffin tin with this because there is way too much crust-to-filling. The filling is the good part here. You might enjoy making the entire batch (or a half batch) of this crust into crackers and eating the filling cold with a spoon.

Buttercup Squash Pie Filling
(Speechless)

1 buttercup squash, 2-3 pounds or part of a bigger squash
1 cup water
pinch salt
1/2 cup barley malt syrup
1 Tablespoon kuzu dissolved in a little cold water
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped

peeling

Because I know you wondered what this woman's hand looks like


Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into chunks.
squashpot

It doesn't matter how course you chop the squash. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.

The amount of squash does not have to be exact; you might just wind up with extra filling if you use too much. Make sure you have enough. Place the squash chunks in a pot with the water and pinch of salt. Bring to boiling then lower heat and simmer until tender enough to puree; maybe half an hour.
Use a spoon followed by a whisk to smash up the squash and whip it to a smooth puree. Add the barley malt and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved kuzu and simmer another few minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth. Let it cool slightly before filling the crust.

Top the pie with walnuts and bake until the crust is browned around the edges and the walnuts are toasted. Be careful they don’t burn.

squash pie 3As with pumpkin pie, this is better cold, so make it ahead. Alternatively, chill the filling and eat it like pudding. Damn.
You could probably use maple syrup if your teeth are particularly sweet that day, although the barley syrup does just right for the flavor of the squash.

Saeurkraut’s Ready

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Laura and Kraut

Dividing up the Week-old Sauerkraut

We tasted the fruits of last week’s laborious cabbage-boxing. The sauerkraut did get a few specks of mold on the top, which were easy enough to pick off. The top layers were lighter in color and tasted more salty than those below. The more or less salty sauerkraut was good for topping Whole Grain Crackers with Tofu Spread and snacking on while we cooked. Why would saltier kraut mold more than less salty kraut? Perhaps the ‘friendly bacteria’ (lactobacilli) are even better than salt at preventing spoilage. The four little cabbages we krauted made about 8 pints of dark magenta sauerkraut.

Autumn, Kim and Barry joined Laura, Ryan and Hilary to make the following cabbage accompaniments (all based on recipes from Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace):

Creamy Onion Miso Soup
Ms. Kushi slices her onions to delicate lotus effect and recommends cooking them until they are not yet falling apart. The onions are happily forgiving even if halved and cooked a good long while. The quart of water in this recipe will make enough broth for six small bowls of soup, with onions to spare. Should we increase the water for more broth next time?

7 onions
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups water plus 1 cup additional water
3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
3-4 Tablespoons white miso or to taste
1-2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

-trim the ends of the onions, peel and halve them; dice half of one onion and set aside
-slice once vertically not-quite-through each half of onion (this will not produce the elusive lotus blossom onions but will make it easier to fit them on a soup spoon)
-heat half of the sesame oil in a soup pot and saute the diced onion until lightly browned; place the onion halves, cut-side-down on top of the browned onion and add three cups of water. Bring to boiling then reduce heat and simmer until soft or falling apart as you like.
-meanwhile, toast the flour in the remaining oil to brown it; it will smell toasty but be careful not to burn it. Allow to cool slightly before adding the reserved one cup of water and combining until smooth (I used a fork to mix it in a small soup bowl)
-add the flour mixture to the soup pot and keep it simmering to thicken
-soften the miso in a small bowl with some of the soup broth, and add it to the pot just before serving; garnish each bowl with chopped parsley

Whole Grain Crackers
The idea of homemade crackers makes people repeat or exclaim the title of this recipe out loud.

1 cup course bulgur/cracked wheat
water, as needed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted
zest of one orange
1 teaspoon salt

-soak the bulgur for an hour or more, adding a little more water if you don’t add enough at first
-mix the flour, sesame seeds, zest and salt with the bulgur and more water as needed to make a spreadable dough
-dust a jelly-roll type pan with cornmeal and overturn the dough bowl to deposit the entire wad of dough onto the pan. Our pan must have been about 9×13” or a little bigger.
-spread the dough into an even layer, dipping your hands into a bowl of water to prevent sticking
-use a butter knife to score the dough and punch holes into each cracker with the tines of a fork
-bake for 20 minutes or so at 450 degrees; check every five minutes after the first ten and bake them until they are browning and they seem crispy, remembering that they will get more crispy as they cool and they are good softish too

Tofu Spread
Sort of the consistency of ricotta. Ms. Kushi calls it ‘Dressing’ but I don’t think so.

2 cakes firm tofu
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons tahini, or to taste
2 Tablespoons grated onion

-boil the tofu for around 5 minutes; it is supposed to float to the surface of the water when it is done but it may or may not
-grind the tofu in batches in the suribachi until it is very smooth. Be patient
-combine all of the ingredients, adding salt to taste. It is fairly salty. Sometimes we have added fresh dill

Boiled Collard Greens with Ginger-Tamari Sauce
We couldn’t find mustard greens but the collards were good this way too. It is a really simple sauce to pour over greens cooked how you like. The thing about greens is, they are just so good. You really don’t have to do much. This large batch served six.

3 bunches collard greens
½ cup tamari
½ cup water
1 -2 teaspoons grated ginger, or more to taste

-remove the stems from the greens; wash and slice the leaves
-cook the greens in a little boiling water until they are bright green and tender
-combine the tamari with the water and ginger and spoon this sauce over each serving of greens

Above dishes served with bancha, red wine and homemade red sauerkraut. We ate the flesh of that sweet orange while we cooked.