Pass The Sour Stuff - Part II

Csalamádé (Chuh-luh-maa-DAY) - Mixed Sours

This was my first time experimenting with ferments and pickling and sours. And it was a success I am happy report. It took all in all about 7 days to get the sauers to my liking, then in the fridge they went, and were gobbled up in about a similar space of time. What a rip off. Next time I need to make much more of it.

It was all last minute, made from left over vegetables I needed to do something with. So pickled slaw it was. 

Method:

  • shredded Chinese white leaf cabbage
  • thinly sliced zucchini
  • thinly sliced carrots, in the round
  • thin strips of yellow bell pepper
  • salt

From Alex Lewin's informative book Real Food Fermentation I read that the basic recipe for lacto-fermented vegetables is as follows:

  • for every 2 lbs (900g) of vegetables use 4 teaspoons of salt

Easy. That's all there is to it. 

You take your thinly shredded and sliced vegetables (it matters how you cut it) and you mix it with the appropriate amount of salt in a large glass mixing bowl. Really take your time with this. You've got to MASSAGE it in. Give it some well needed attention. Talk to it. Tell it how much you're going to love it. Do this for about 5 minutes. Squeezing and rubbing and squishing it all together, but nice and gently. You don't want to break anything, just coat it and knead it and stroke the salt in.

Put your stuff in a large clean glass jar that is larger than the amount you have. Now squish it all down. Again, do this firmly, but tenderly. You're looking to squeeze out all of the juices so ideally it covers the top of the veg. Do this nice and gently for about another minute or so. You will see the juices releasing gradually even if you don't think they are at first. That is what salt does, it draws out moisture.

Pop your tightly fitted lid on the jar and place it in a safe out of the way spot at room temperature for 4 to 7 days. 

Check on it every day, stirring it up, moving things around, pushing it down and squeezing even more juice out. The pong is like no other. And I love it. By the 3rd day you should have a fair bit of juice  that will cover your sour stuff. This is what allows the vegetables to ferment nicely. Keep checking back and tasting.  Mine took 7 days to get it right, but I didn't have time to 'decant' it into a smaller jar on the 7th day, (on the sabbath upon which she rested?) so it was done on the 8th. Still, it was awesome. We had it with bean burgers and on some sort of chickpea wraps  (can't quite remember what)  and each bite was so-so yummy. Crunchy and sour and zesty and mighty damn tasty.

Use the bottom of another glass or smaller jar to squish your sour stuff down and get the juices flowing, or even your hand.

This is how much juice I got out of the first 'pressing', on the second day. Fermentation had begun:

This is what it looked like when it was ready:

Then you add some more juice to keep it cozy, and pop it in the fridge to stop the fermentation:

Tuck in! Jo étvágyat! 

Here's a little secret: For a sneaky late night snack,  I love to get a fork and raid the savanyusàg jar.  Standing there with the fridge door open, I gently tease forth wilted fronds of crunchy cabbage and peppers and zucchini. You know what Im talking about, you've done it yourself ;)

Dipping Into Dosas - The Rise and Rise of the Delicate Dosa

As the enthusiastic and devoted food lover that I am, I obligingly continue to play out my own little version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a true foodie classic), eating, blogging, writing, reviewing and sharing it all with you along the way. For after all, ¿ mi comida es tu comida, ?

Then every now and again something special hits the palate that really grabs me by the tastebud-balls and makes for an unforgettable experience. On our recent trip to WOMAD festival we had the great pleasure of one such flavour parade when we stopped for a quick bite of lunch at Dosa Deli.

THE DOSA. A fermented heavenly crêpe in Southern Indian cooking, made of rice flour (or gram or wheat) and black lentils, traditionally served with a spiced vegetable stuffing.  The perfect delicious gluten free vegetarian option, if you ask me. 

Where-oh-where have these delectable cripsy pancakes been all my life? I cannot believe I have gone 37 years without once experiencing the light, melt in the mouth miracle that is the dosa. Or perhaps, I just hadn’t had the right one.

From the first bite - we knew we were on to something BIG. Something new and exciting and interesting that made beautiful sweet music in my mouth.  Yes, it really did.  Winners of the WOMAD 2015 Peoples Choice Award for Best Food this crew smashed everyone else out of the muddy festival ball park winning not only our vote but a colossal tidal wave of raving punters, and so of course, I had to share the love with you guys.

Dosa Deli are doing tasty tasty dosa work. But if you don’t trust me, go ahead, be my guest and check them out for yourself. Appearing at cool London street food events, festivals and markets as well as catering for private parties and events YOU WILL LOVE WHAT YOU TASTE and go home dreaming of more for weeks to come. 

Following my roundup of food at the festival- Five Days and Four Nights of Food at WOMAD chronicles - I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Amy from Dosa Deli and ask her about the driving force and inspiration behind their terrific success.

Here’s what we talked about:

WTDY: Our relationship with food begins early on at a young age, I believe.  The ‘feeling’ and the ‘function’ (one might even go as far as saying the ‘meaning’) around meals, or food otherwise, when we are growing up is fairly influential. It provides for an integral component to our physical/ mental and even emotional health later on in life. Do you agree?

Amy: Yes, I agree.

WTDY: So what were your food/meal lessons growing up and how have they influenced your own attitude to food?

Amy: I am one of four children, my mum was a very traditional stay at home mum, she has always made meals from scratch, she was well known for her cakes, and always made a big effort to make meals tasty. I was a vegetarian for a while when I was younger and she made some amazing vegetarian meals for me. We often baked and cooked with her in the kitchen.

WTDY: How can we encourage others, who perhaps may not have had the support or tradition at an early age, to get more interested in their own health and well-being through the food they eat?

Amy: Through teaching them about healthy eating, and making food lables clearer. Also through food pricing, ensuring that fast food isn't cheaper than fresh healthy food.

WTDY: You can REALLY and TRULY taste the love coming through in your food.  How do you,  personally, stay inspired, passionate and committed to your work?

Amy: We are often blown away ourselves by dishes and flavours we eat and try in India each year, and we want to take our customers on the same experience with us. We want to show people that Indian cookery doesn't have to be complicated, and it can be healthy too. South Indian cuisine is very different to North Indian dishes which we see more commonly in the UK. South Indian food uses less chilli, less oil and embraces a lot of healthy eating practices.

WTDY: How do you then keep the recipes/dishes fresh and exciting?

Amy: By travelling to India regularly and eating new dishes. Last trip we went up into the Karnataka hills and tried some regional dishes which can only be found in the Coorg region of the Western Ghats. We bring these dishes back and make them vegetarian and then make them work in a dosa.

WTDY: Mmm sounds delicious. So, if someone is interested in adopting a more plant based diet like you say on your website i.e. ‘eat more veg and less meat’, where would you suggest they start?

Amy: We try to reduce the meat we eat, and make sure that when we do eat meat it's led a happy life, opting for organic where possible. Indian cuisine uses a lot of ingredients which are great at helping reduce the meat you eat. We often use soya chunks or mince in place of meat, this is great in a curry or chilli; it's dried soya and needs rehydrating, so different to quorn. It's also gluten free and vegan unlike quorn.

WTDY: What could you recommend as a typical well balanced meal plan for say breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Amy: I eat lots of fresh veg, and very little processed foods. I'm not an angel, I think a bit of what you fancy does you good.

WTDY: What does the future have in store for Dosa Deli?

Amy: More festivals in 2016.

WTDY: I always love asking this question because it takes everyone back to a place of healing, nurturing and rest.  What do you eat as comfort food, when you are feeling very poorly and you just crave that particular something that you know (even if only mentally) will make you feel better?

Amy: I suppose it's a curry with rice. The hotter the better.  A vindaloo is my favourite.

WTDY: Bonus question. What is your favourite ‘sneaky’ food?

Amy: A fish finger sandwich.

***

Follow Dosa Deli on Twitter @DosaDeli and check out upcoming events on their website www.dosadeli.co.uk or at www.kerbfood.com

Image courtesy of DosaDeli

Image courtesy of DosaDeli

Food Festival at Falmouth Week

Is it that time of year again already?!

I can hardly believe August has come around so quickly yet here we are soaking up the Summer and enjoying every minute of it I can assure you. 

The hot and sunny weather today kicks off a full week of celebrations, sailing events, parades, Red Arrow display, live music, art exhibitions, children's activities and all the rest to the tune of Falmouth Week. It's all happening down here in gorgeous Falmouth so making the most of the heat and sunshine we started our escapades where else other than by filling our tummies in the Moor at Outlaw's Falmouth Food Festival ?

Big Ripples from Cornish Tipple

Making our way around the market we stop to have a chat with Rubina from Curio Spirits Company.  Handcrafted in Cornwall, together with her husband William, their spirits are already causing a big stir.  Carving through the Cornish coast making waves further ashore with luxe lifestyle aficionados, Curio was recently featured in high-end editorial, Vogue magazine. It's no surprise either once you get a little taste of their tipple. These distillations are like none you have ever experienced before. Intriguing and wonderful fragrant botanical infusions such as Cardamom or Peruvian Cocoa Nib vodka and Rock Samphire gin will reeducate your palate and redefine your understanding of crystal clean spirits.  'I hadn't ever really tasted a gin that I liked' says Rubina 'so I decided to create my own' she adds with a beautiful smile. And a good thing too. Make sure you grab yourself a bottle or three.

Insider's Tip: Bookmark their website for your Christmas/Hanukkah shopping list. Curio is going to be rocking it hard this festive season. Fo' sho'.

Plant Power

Moving through what was now beginning to become a very hot and stuffy marquee  - we were drawn over to the lush green cool sanctuary at Petals and Peas. You guys know I am a massive Grown Your Own fan so coming across this little oasis was a complete treat. Ruth takes so much pride and joy in her work and you can not only see it in her happy plants, you can FEEL it too. The plantlings are brimming with a sweetness and a palpable love virtually waving hellos and yoo-hoos to all the passerbys with their friendly fronds.

Delicate pinks, bold oranges and stunning yellows splash against the vibrant chlorophyll haven in a garden of eden of edible flowers and decorative plants. You simply can't go wrong at Petals and Peas if you are looking for a special something for your budding 'plough to plate' enthusiast or just for fun, a little natural wonder for yourself.  Plant medicine is coming through fast and furious folks, in case you haven't been listening.  Whether you grow it, cook it, eat it or smoke it there is no denying the power plants have on brightening our moods and enhancing our environment.

Pick up a little bio flora for your home and garden every Thursday and Saturday through the summer at Falmouth Moor Market and follow Ruth online for upcoming events.

Taste Bomb

We were pretty peckish by now and after all, we had come down to grab a quick bite so on to the good eats. The menu board of The Salvador Thali Café (look them up on Facebook!) was enough to make our empty tummies grumble. Serving up Indian street food such as sensational samosas, delicious dosas and much more The Salvador Thali Café stole the show.  

We can't seem to get enough of dosas since WOMAD festival last month when we were introduced to the heady spin and flavour/texture combo at Dosa Deli. Incidentally they were also voted as The People's Food Choice Winners and if you missed it, you can catch my write up here

We order 2 putchkas  - accurately referred to as the 'flavour grenade' and the masala dosa with subzi aloo.  We're instructed that the putchka needs to be eaten immediately and being the good little children that we are, we obediently agree and...Whee! Away we go! 

Our lovely host Maddie talks us through the engineering of the putchka, hand preparing it before us. I LOVE a friendly and knowledgable food craftsman/woman, like a narrator, she tells us the story of the taste bomb we are soon to devour. She starts with a tender cupping of the putchka vessel in one hand and a gentle cracking and prying open of the top with the thumb of her other hand and begins stuffing the yummy layers of ingredients into the hollowed belly of the empty puri ball.  First, a light salad of tomatoes, red onion, parsley and chickpea. Then on to the popped rice (Bhel Puri) and bombay mixture and a dusting of chaat seasoning. Topping the filling with a healthy dollop of a silky mixture made of pureéd green chillies,  peanuts (to keep it oily) and coriander stems. Finally garnishing with some fried crispy chickpea noodles ( I think). And lastly, the mojo, the sweet tangy jeera or cumin water is squirted in, filling it right up to the top, and voilà, your putchka is done and delicately handed over to you.  

All in one, you pop the the little parcel in your mouth, crunch down on the delicate outer wafer and KAPOW Prepare for a total taste sensation. And I mean sensational in that EVERY sensation in your mouth is aroused and each taste bud tickled, puckered and teased with a burst of juicy, crispy, sweet, sour flavour explosion. These guys are good. Really good.  And so much fun. Because food should be fun. 

NOT TO BE MISSED. Follow The Salvador Thali Café on Facebook and check them out at your next local event. They do the rounds from festivals and interesting art gatherings in Penryn, to catering at beer tastings in Truro and pop-up restaurants in Falmouth. Keep an eye out for these guys, I'm telling you, you gotta get in on some of this. 

There were of course many other stalls available catering to all tastes, degrees of hunger and levels of thirst. It was really nice just sitting out on the deckchairs and outdoor sofas on the artificial astroturf listening to live music baking away in the sunshine and tucking into good grub. You felt as if you were transported elsewhere and not situated smack bang in the centre of town. A Falmouth foodie's haven.


Food Still Life

This is a simple dish.

Lightly toasted ciabatta.

Chopped tomatoes with glugs of olive oil, handful of flat leaf parsley, salt, pepper.

Dunk, dip, spread or spoon the velvety tomato mixture on and over the crusty bread.

Make sure you mop up the yummy juices with the ciabatta.  Or do as I do and just slurp it down. 

Enjoy.

Pass The Sour Stuff - Part I

My love for pickled, fermented and otherwise 'conserved' food in glass jars originates from my time spent living in Hungary. The gastronomy of the land of the Magyars is relatively varied although on the whole I think it could be settled that their delicious food is somewhat rather rich. Lots of pork. Lots of bread. Lots of sour cream. I love all three, preferably together like in a pörkölt (braised stew), but boy oh boy can it be a bit heavy on the digestion.

The clever magyars however are experts in having their cake and eating it too. Various digestive aids are consumed prior, during and after meals to reduce that horrible over stuffed feeling. Using caraway seeds, perhaps even just a teaspoon, scattered in a dish, is very beneficial for its soothing properties and helps lessen heartburn, gas, and bloating. Similar to indian 'mukwas' in a way I suppose but the seeds are added to the dish during cooking and not chewed after.

Another trick up their sleeve is liquor, of course. There are several aperitifs that boast to be post dinner digestive elixirs but none as much as Unicum. This stuff is bitter and it will put hairs on your chest. In other words, it works.  

But I am more interested in something tastier. The pickled stuff or 'savanyuság' (shah- vah-NYOO-shogge) in hungarian. It translates literally to 'sour stuff'. These people can pickle anything and make it taste delicious. It is customary with virtually any meal to have an array of savanyuság side dishes accompanying the main course. Often a small side plate is set at the table for each guest to place their selection of sour stuff in so the pickled juices don't meddle with the main course and ruin the taste. But at home, you slop it right onto your plate in and amongst the rest of your food, letting the sour brine trickle through the dish which actually tastes better for it. The array of savanyusag can vary tremendously from spicy pickled baby white peppers (that are actually a very pale yellow) stuffed with cabbage, to mixed vegetables, beets, fat cucumbers, traditional sauerkraut and even baby watermelon! As long as it is vinegary it's on the menu. You see, by pickling food we're transforming the environment into an acidic and inhospitable environment for most microbes. However the microbes that do survive in pickle juice are safe for us to eat and many of them actually enhance our digestion. Like I say, the hungarians can pickle anything. It's how they get through life. 

Most hungarians still grow their own something or other. They respect the purity of nature and make use of what they have, the remainder they share. One of my fondest memories as a kid in the summer time was helping our next door neighbour, a grandma named Jolánka, to pick our sun kissed fresh ripe apricots from our tree in the garden and make them into the most delicious jam I have ever tasted. Fact.

The fertile months of summer deliver a bumper crop of everything and anything and hungarians are not people to let food go to waste. So they save it for later.  For the long hard bitter cold winters. Pickle it. Ferment it. Stuff it. Jam it. Preserve it. Conserve it. Rows and rows of glistening glass jars all lined up neatly and stacked perfectly in the 'spejz' (larder pantry). By the end of the summer/ early fall walking in to a fully stocked fresh larder is truly a sight to behold. 

I am making my own sour stuff this summer and will be taking you through it step by step with a few variations on the technique. So go grab yourself a crunchy sour pickle and stay tuned.  


Images not my own, found on the following websites courtesy of: barnuczsavanyság.hu;  receptor.hu; receptoldal.hu; mindmegette.hu; szem-szajnak.reblog.hu; stukasavanyusag.hu.  

Everything Is Just Peachy

We got caught out in the rain walking bubba this afternoon. Pretty soaked in fact, but is was nice. When you're that wet, after a while you don't even mind. You slow down and listen to the tapping of the rain drops on the leaves, on the cement, on your hood, watch it ripple as they hit the puddles... 

 What else was there to do afterwards other than head in for a hot beverage?

hot chocolate

 First this, at Espressini. 60% cacao hand stirred hot chocolate. Downed in two minutes. We also had a custard tart that was devoured within seconds.  That place is so good.

flat peaches

Then these flat little organic Portuguese beauties from the Natural Store

I ponder: Some days are a tale of two halves. Getting completely drenched. Then getting completely lost in a luxurious swirl of creamy indulgent cocoa.  The best of both worlds.

Holding grace within your #SattvaSelf blossoms this peachy, warm and fuzzy type of freedom.  From within that free space, or knowing consciousness, we observe the infinite possibilities continuously unfolding for us. Life is always in full bloom.

Like standing at the edge of a spectacular cliff in your #creationcastle. You can see everything exists, purely for you.  It's where you decide what is yours and what is not. 

We All Scream for Ice Cream

It was a lovely hot sunny Sunday. We had opened up the tent for summer festival inspection. All was clear. Nothing rotten, torn, stinky or dead found in it.  Had taken the boppa out along the promenade for a beautiful walk. Returned home and sat in the garden reading and making crochet squares. 

Paul turns to me and says 'Fancy going out for some ice cream?'

I look at my watch.  It's just gone 3 in the afternoon.

'Perfect. PERFECT! What a suggestion. Hot day, lazy afternoon, BOOM, equals ice cream'.  I reply.

Down we stroll to Ciuri Ciuri, our local Italian ice cream parlour. 

Fresh & Premium 'CIURI CIURI' ICE CREAM PARLOUR, Falmouth

Fresh & Premium 'CIURI CIURI' ICE CREAM PARLOUR, Falmouth

The flavours we choose:

Paul, Tropical and Lemon Raspberry.

Me, Fruit Bomb: Green Apple, Melon, Pistachio, Lemon, Kiwi. You get as many flavours as you want in any size. 

Colourful fruity swirly goodness.

Colourful fruity swirly goodness.

They even have this pretty tile pattern around the shop front, you can't miss it. 

Sunny, bright, cheerful and delicious. Perfect Summer's day if you ask me.

Sunny, bright, cheerful and delicious. Perfect Summer's day if you ask me.

I was so busy taking pictures my ice cream started melting. But I'm a pro. No drips on my watch.

 

Next time you're in town and you fancy a super tasty treat, you've got to make your way down to this little gelatieria. It's on 44 Church Street in Falmouth. Use the map below and the link above to find it, or contact me and I'll drop everything to come and join you.

I never need an excuse for yummy goodness.


Stuffed Pepper Soup

I could hardly wait to put this recipe up. I literally sat down in front of the computer just as I was finishing up my last yummy spoonful. THIS SOUP IS INSANELY DELICIOUS. And it's so simple to make, it hurts. As far as one pot meals go, this baby is a winner.  

You probably have most of the ingredients left over in your larder anyway.  It's a total doddle to rustle up, cooks in no time at all and keeps for days.  If I could I would be shoving a small taster pot of this in your hand as we speak. I promise, you are going to love it. 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins (or until rice is cooked)


Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef (or use lentils if you are veggie)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced, I used yellow and orange
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1 - 1.5 cup rice, any kind, white, brown, short, long, basmati...whatever you've got
  • 3 level tablespoons brown sugar (trust me, it works)
  • 1 - 2 litres beef stock, plus water to taste
  • dried ground Mexican spice blend: cumin, oregano, garlic, chipotle pepper, paprika, coriander seed, etc
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method

Over a high heat brown the ground beef.  Add the spices, let the aromas release. To the beef mixture add the peppers and celery, then the onions and garlic. Reduce the heat. Keep stirring as the vegetables begin to soften. Tip in the passata, half the stock, the sugar, salt, black pepper and the rice. Put a lid on it. Bring to a boil and simmer. Keep tasting and stirring, adding more stock/ water to suit your taste. When your rice is cooked, your delicious stuffed pepper soup is ready to serve. Yumm.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream/ greek yoghurt/ crème fraîche, grated cheese, fresh coriander leaves, a squeeze of lime juice and tuck in with some lightly salted tortilla chips. 

Yeah. I know. It's so good. It's shut the f**k up good.  
 

This picture does not do it justice. I was just too hungry to stop and shoot. 

This picture does not do it justice. I was just too hungry to stop and shoot.