Archives for posts with tag: kvass

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Fortunate am I to receive occasional parcels of unsold bread from a friend who runs a really top quality bakery here in mid-Wales, Andy’s Bread. A few months back he gave me several loaves of pumpernickel, a dark, dense and sweet rye bread.  His version includes whole rye grain, rye chops, rye, sourdough, molasses,  and old pumpernickel. The loaf is coated in rye chops (and baked in a hot oven which is then turned off overnight); a “lid” is placed on top of the tins to “steam” the loaves and prevent their drying out.  Andy’s pumpernickel is something special– and not so dissimilar from his Borodinski breads which contain coriander seeds and powder, malt extract and molasses.  These are true artisan breads in that they come from long and varied traditions and are expertly crafted in particular, local conditions.

Andy’s pumpernickel makes great croutons for leek and potato, and split pea soup; I will be using some from another batch tomorrow for chocolate Christmas bark as per Claire Ptak’s wonderful recipe here.

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Being gifted with food that is “surplus” or “waste” anyway is really freeing, and allowed me to feel I could experiment.  I’d long been curious to try Bread Kvass, so in the absence of any planned trips to Russia or Russian communities elsewhere, I knew I’d have to try to make it. I also wanted to reproduce an effort from a while earlier in which I made a sourdough cake from recycled bread.  And I sadly found out that the friend who taught me her resourceful and roughshod approach to bread had died– so I was of a rare mind to bake bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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Custardy Squash Prune Barberry Squares

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Custardy Quince Squares

Gratitude to the culinary grace of cookery writer Dorie Greenspan for these wonderful Custardy Apple Squares. She writes that she sees the recipe in the link as a “back-pocket recipe.” In the few weeks this recipe has been in my life, I’ve come to consider it a “back-pack” for the ways that it can travel, light and flexibly, be adapted to ingredients on hand, rise to an attitude of perfection or laziness as befits one’s mood, and sit somewhere on a continuum of cake, tea time snack, and pudding (in the various British senses).  And it doesn’t seem to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beautiful in its knobby hairy tentacled-rootletted glory, the celeriac is an autumn root with the flavour of a spring leaf.  Ish.

Perhaps you find yourself in its company (a veg box, a farmer’s market) and are unsure what direction to take the conversation? It’s wonderful roasted, in soups and gratins, and alone or mixed with potatoes or other roots in mash.  Or, if you’ve read about the collapse of ocean eco-systems, you might want to bookmark the delicious vegetarian kedgeree Anna Jones calls Vegeree.

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And of course there’s the famous French salad Celeri Remoulade, which has been inspiring me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Well, maybe you feel a little longing when you look at photos of lots of your friends in a city where you used to live. You see their beautiful children, and the making an event of a day pressing apples, fruit that they’ve grown in orchards they’ve planted with love.  Everybody’s pitching in and working toge ther and it’s a productive food-preparation idyll there in suburban Oxford.

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Pear Kvass: bubbly, light, perhaps the slightest bit alcoholic, totally refreshing– not perry, not pear juice, more like a “Pear Appletiser®”, with cheerful pro-biotic bacteria.  Very natural tasting, not over-sweet but hits the spot that is delighted with sweetness.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I had the good luck to pop into a charity shop at the end of a day when these two bags cost £1 each, together weighing 3.25kg,

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If you are able to grow gooseberries, you’ll know they are very prolific if protected from berry-loving birds.

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Lately I’ve been having fun with simple, quick, refreshing and naturally bubbly drinks. These “pops” or “sodas” are inspired by fruit and vegetable versions of  Kvass as a kind of fermented infusion, traditional to Eastern Europe and Russia, which uses rye bread as its most basic component. But the name has come to be inclusive of many delicious home-made soft-drinks. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m on a kick to simplify, and Kvass in its method seems to be the simplest fermented drink possible.  Kvass just happens, really. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kimchi-Love here, maybe addictive passion, but I am not alone. Variations are fun and endless and you will be rewarded for experimenting with what you have. Read the rest of this entry »

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A link for you: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

I wrote this article a while back, though it’s quite heavily edited, and the photo in it is not mine (and not what my borschts look like) but hey ho.  It appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Permaculture Magazine.  I’m linking to it here because it’s just been put on that wonderful website which makes me happy: people-scale solutions, positivity, DIY, community, openness…

I would nowadays describe making Beet Kvass this way:  Finely chop a few beets, add a teeny bit of salt for taste, and whatever flavours you like: ginger, garlic, orange, clove, fennel seed, lovage, nettle — whatevs!  Cover with water, and weight down the solids to be completely under the liquid. Watch for a few days as the liquid gets pinker, more and more gorgeous a colour, and more viscous and velvety.   At some point it’s nicely tangy, strain out the solids, and if you bottle and cap the drink, which I now see as a fermented infusion, and drink it soon, can be pleasantly effervescent.  (Let the gas out now and then to prevent an explosion– but you’ll probably drink it first.)

The solids that remain in the sieve: yes you can pickle in apple cider vinegar for a soft, traditional British style pickle, or you can grate in a salad. Or add to soups.  Or re-ferment, doing all of the above, again.  I have even used these semi-tired beetroot shreds to make vinegar, by adding a little sugar and water and inviting the alcohol that develops to morph into a wild vinegar, as discussed earlier in this blog.  The vinegar that’s resulted has been a beautiful ingredient to deglaze pans of sautéed bitter greens, and also in soups.

I would no longer suggest grating the beetroot for fermentation purposes, because the slow development of nice souring lactic-acid bacteria is often trumped by all the sugars released this way, and shredding beets can create an unwanted gloopiness.  Chop finely instead.   (I do love raw grated beetroot one way: in a lemony vinaigrette; the sweetness really shines this way.)

And Borscht.  So very much to say.  My mother taught me to make a recipe I now look at askance– lots of vegetables like carrots, onions, beetroot, so it would be that gorgeous purple, but soured with vinegar not by fermentation….   Some people make very beety soups, pureed or not, and call them borscht. I don’t know what technically defines the category of soup referred by this name, but I would not personally consider a soup to be one if it were not sour, and to me it’s more of one if it’s soured with fermented beets.  So I would now always use my “kvass” as the souring agent at the end— maybe it would begin with chicken or beef stock, or veg stock, have many vegetables including cabbage, and maybe even sauerkraut, but be finished with chopped or shredded beets.  Hot and sour is a very bright and healing combination for soup.  Cold and sour too.   I’ve seen versions bright pepto-bismol pink with cream or sour cream, and sometimes chopped hard-boiled eggs.  Potatoes are welcome, and carrots.  I like adding the beet greens too.  There’s a huge range of soups across Eastern European traditions.  It would be a fun anthropological exercise to collect and categorise all that variation and diversity.

I have a wonderful 1956 cookbook which I treasure: Love and Knishes: An Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking, by Sara Kasdan.  It was 20pence at a charity shop! (I am proud to say that I edited the Wikipedia entry on the illustrator Louis Slobodkin to include mention of his drawings which are charming, light-weight line drawings of big breasted women cooking and serving steaming portions to skinny men.)   Kasdan writes about “Russel,” or “sour beet juice” which is basically beetroots fermented in water for four weeks to become the basis of a soup.  I knew a Polish person who described this same method, with a hunk of sourdough bread and garlic– all variations of what we are nowadays as fermenters talking about as Kvass.

Since writing the piece linked above,  I’ve made so many bottles of this beetroot kvass, with various spices (favourite: cloves and ginger and maybe orange peel) — and poured it in so many soups, I still believe in this idea of a continuum between the tonic, health giving beverage, as Kvass has come to be thought about, and the soup.  I’ve also become intensely interested in the idea and practice of the sour soup, which I will write about on this blog some day soonish. No colour is more alluring than these purply pinks that one gets from various intensities of beet-in-water.  Elixer conjures a magic I still stand by.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

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