Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mincemeat Kuchen

I used my usual sour dough starter, but added whey instead of water to make the dough. Also, I added more butter, nutmeg, a bit of sugar, all (unbleached) white flour, vanilla and lemon. Essentially, I just altered Nigella Lawson's kuchen to be a long-rise sourdough and lacto-fermented as well. I let it rise overnight at room temperature, instead of retarding in the refrigerator, as I would with commerical yeast. This morning, I started preparations to make it an apple chutney kuchen. At the last minute, I decided to make mincemeat kuchen instead of apple kuchen. The mincemeat is from before I started lacto-fermenting condiments this spring, but it is home made. Since it's not that different from the chutney, or indeed, Nigella's recipe for apple kuchen (just more spices and fat,) I'm optimistic. If it doesn't work so well, I'll try my apple chutney for kuchen next.

Friday, May 29, 2009



"Fajita" means belt in Spanish. Good to know how that makes "chicken fajitas" a bit nonsensical. It's one of the cheapest cuts of meat from the diaphram. It's Texan home food that somehow became restaurant food. The point is there really isn't a "recipe" for this type of cooking; it's too quick and easy for that.

Sear the meat over very high heat, quickly, either open flame or a scorching hot cast iron skillet. Slice the meat against the grain. Simple seasonings include salt, pepper and cumin. Goes well with post-cooking marinade, such as lime juice, or Korean marinades. Serve while hot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New Grill

Just in time for summer grilling season, we have a new backyard propane grill at the Cottage. It's a simple, pure blessing from my brother-in-law. They purchased a new one, and wanted to get rid of this one. Our outdoor grill was no longer serviceable. How happy we are to have this "new" one. I won't have to spent so much time in the hot kitchen this summer, nor do I have to build a charcoal fire in the rickety old one. It's time to dust off all my grilling ideas and recipes and get out there!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grilled Shrimp

Grilling season begins here at the Cottage! Since the old outdoor grill has past its usage, this will be an indoor meal. Even so, we'll enjoy the new season, just as much.

soak bamboo skewers in water for at least half an hour before grilling. Pierce the peeled shrimp with the skewers and grill for a couple of minutes until pink. Serve with dipping sauce. Hardly a recipe, right? Just a reminder how simple and easy it is to grill. It's time to relax and enjoy basic foods, in their natural state.

Dipping sauce

1 tbs East Asian fish sauce
1 tbs water
1 garlic clove
1 chili pepper
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
grated fresh ginger to taste

chop the garlic and the chili pepper and blend all the ingredients together.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taco Seasoning

When I was growing up, taco seasoning was something out of a packet. As a new bride, I thanked heaven for the seasoning packets at the supermarket. The Vintner was only familiar with those flavors, and didn't like my attempts. Now that I'm more confident in the kitchen, I season my own tacos. I can't imagine why so many people think these flavors are so complicated. I even feel silly posting how I do this. I don't follow a specific recipe or quantity. I do leave out MSG, however, and artificial preservatives and colors. Perhaps this is what the Vintner misses.

Taco Seasoning

sea salt
freshly ground pepper
coriander seed or leaf or both
hot paprika, or ground chili pepper
tomato sauce or organic ketchup
fresh garlic or garlic powder
fresh onion or onion powder

It's all to taste. I just sprinkle it over as I go. I never make it the same way twice, just until it tastes like tacos.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stocking Up on Mondays

Here at the Cottage, Monday is for stocking the kitchen. Not with shopping so much as turning the kitchen into our little factory. In cooler weather, it's the day to bubble a stock pot on the back burner. In the middle of summer, it's the day for pickling and canning. All year 'round, it's the day for making yogurt. Since, ahem, we haven't finished eating last week's yogurt, the yogurt container is still too full to fill again. However, I do have extra time to write about yogurt, so perhaps that counts for something.

The Vintner has requested a special meal for the season finale of his favorite show on television tonight. He had a rough week of extra work, so whatever he wishes is fine with me.

Thus, we have an unusual day of a quiet kitchen on a Monday at the Cottage. I'm enjoying it, along with the lovely weather. Busy summer days are just around the corner, so this won't be coming my way again any time soon. Since we did have an usually busy morning with the boys and extra errands, it's good luck to have the kitchen tasks happen to be quiet.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Feeding the Sourdough Starter

Today's kitchen task is feeding the sourdough starter. There are many recipes out there for beginning a starter, but caring for it tends to be neglected. Usually, the instructions are limited to, "don't forget to feed it weekly." I've found that nurturing it over time has been just as important. The quality of the starter I have now is far better than when it was young. I'll address how to catch a 100% wild starter at a future date.

First, bring the starter up to room temperature from the refrigerator. Once there are signs of activity - bubbling, color change, or the like - then empty into a clean bowl. Wash the jar in hot, soapy water, and allow to air dry. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and ¼ cup filtered water to the starter. Stir the flour and water until well blended, making sure to add as much air to the starter as possible during the feeding. Oxygenation is just as important to the feeding process as adding more flour and water. When the starter is a smooth consistency, then add it back to the clean jar, seal and refrigerate. Allow the starter to incorportate the new flour for at least a day before using it as leavening. Ideally, feed once a week.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recipe of the Day

Lacto-fermented Apple Chutney, or Nigella Lawson meets Sally Fallon

500g cooking apples
1 medium onion
2 chili peppers
250g unrefined sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp sea salt
black pepper
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
50ml live-culture, liquid whey

Peel and chop the apples, and finely chop the onion and chilis. Blend all the ingredients and place into canning jars. Allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 days, then refrigerate for up to several months. Lovely with pork chops.

This recipes blends some of the ingredients of Nigella Lawson's Spiced Apple Chutney with Sally Fallon's lacto-fermentation style of making condiments. They both make lovely chutneys on their own, but my style is to blend the best of both.

Welcome to the Cottage Vineyard Kitchen

Welcome to the extension of the Cottage Vineyard: our kitchen! Here's our space reserved for all the cooking and recipes I do. I devote so much energy to this, that I didn't want to clutter the Cottage Vineyard. Thus, the vineyard will be for our whole family, and this space will be just for my kitchen work. Enjoy!