Friday, November 21, 2014

Recipe: Sweet Potato Burger with Avocado and Feta Cream Sauce

I have been trying for over a year now to make a proper veggie burger. And by proper, I mean that I wanted it to be vegetarian, not processed, able to hold its shape, and filling. I experimented a lot with quinoa and black bean burgers, and I could never get it quite right when I realized that sweet potato burgers could be a thing. After all, why do sweet potatoes have to only be relegated to desserts?
With some inspiration from How Sweet Eats, I set out to make my own version. There are lots of fermented goodies in my toppings, but I have alternatives as well.

Boyfriend review: Wow, this could be in a restaurant! I mean, your stuff is good and you should open your own restaurant, but a lot of it is weird. But this, this could be on a menu.

3 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil
bread rolls (I used challah bread rolls - found in the bakery)
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
2-5 tbsps milk kefir (or yogurt)
1 tsp fermented garlic (or roasted garlic)
fermented onions and peppers (or regular onions and peppers)

Clean sweet potatoes and stab with a fork a couple of times before placing them in the oven. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Once they're finished, let them cool a bit before separating the skins. They should come right off - I sliced off an end and squeezed the innards into a mixing bowl. If you're having issues, feel free to toss into a blender (along with the beans) to speeds things up.

Add in the beans, bread crumbs, flour, egg, and spices and mix. Place in the freezer while you make the sauce: combine the crumbled feta and the fermented garlic. Pour just enough milk kefir (or yogurt) to cover. The sauce will still be chunky, as the cheese is chunky.

To cook the burgers, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Form patties with the mix - I take a large spoonful and put it in the skillet. Then, with my spoon, I flatten it out and, if necessary, correct the shape. Sometimes you may need to add a bit more; you should be able to judge the right size and shape of your own patty.

Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until browned.

While the patty is cooking, toast your burger buns.

After toasting, I took part of an avocado and spread it on like butter. The other side of the bun got a nice heaping of the sauce we made.

Add the burger when it's ready and top with your choice of veggies. I added fermented onions and jalapenos.

Serves 6.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Recipe: Apple Pie with Gruyere Crust

 One of the perks of living in the northeast are the amazing apple orchards that let you go in and pick apples each fall. It's become a fall tradition to rent a car and drive out to the countryside and return stuffed with apple cider, apple cider donuts, and lots and lost of apples.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
And, for me at least, whenever I get apples, I think of apple pie. Which makes me think of Pushing Daisies, a dark comedy with a silly premise. You know what pie is mentioned most on the show? (Or at least most in my memories?)

Apple pie with gruyere baked into the crust.

Typically something like this would be rather daunting, but at a book fair on the street, I found this wonderful book called How to Build a Better Pie, by Millicent Souris. While I tend to modify the recipes in her book (and I think there's a typo in the basic crust recipe about salt!), I absolutely love how down to earth the tone is.

I've always felt like pies were an undertaking, especially rolling out the dough, and something that should only be accomplished when you have lots of time and space - and maybe someone to clean up after you! But Millicent points out that pies were designed to be simple, and designed to be quickly made, without all the fancy gadgets we think of as necessary in today's kitchen.

Thinking about how many people have baked pies before me has really encouraged my pie baking, and it really shaped this recipe, as I made several attempts before finding one that I just loved. Luckily, I brought back plenty of apples from the orchard.

(Don't worry, no complaints were had as I tested out different recipes!)

Pie Crust
1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
12 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
cold water

Apple Filling
4-5 apples (I used braeburn)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp thickener (I use flour - but you can also use cornstarch or arrowroot)

Pie Crust
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Slice the cold butter into chunks and mix it into the flour with your hands, being careful not to let the butter break down too much. You want it to have larger chunks, as it will make the pie crust flakier. Add in the gruyere cheese and mix.

Slowly add cold water. There are always suggestions, but I always find myself going over. I add in cold water about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing carefully and thoroughly. Add in enough so that the dough sticks together, but you also don't want the dough to be too wet - so it shouldn't stick to your hands either. If you find that you added too much water, add more flour back in.

When you're satisfied with your dough, separate it into 2 flattened circles. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Apple Filling
Thinly slice the apples and add them in a large mixing bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and your choice of thickener and toss with the apples. If you're not making the pie right away, add some lemon juice to preserve the color of the apples, though that's completely unnecessary.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out one ball of dough and fit it to your pan. I tend to roll out the dough as flat as I want it to be, then place it carefully in my pan. I'll cut off the excess dough (and freeze and reserve for galettes) and crimp the edges of the pan. Place in the fridge for a bit if the dough becomes too warm.

Pour your apple filling into the pan.

Roll out the 2nd dough ball and place it on top. I made a lattice pie crust, but if you just want to place the entire thing on top, go ahead, but remember to cut in 3 or 4 ventilation slits.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for one hour.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bruschetta

I can't even tell you why I made this dish originally. I don't really care for tomatoes, nor do I like making side dishes. Or even flavorings. (Mostly, I'm just lazy.)

Spicy Bruschetta on toast, with cheese
But when I made the first batch, I had so much of it and it was so spicy that I had to do something with it to get rid of it. I then discovered that this is the most perfect addition to most meals, and as the recipe has evolved over the years, I've grown more and more attached to it. 

I try to keep some in the fridge at all times now, and if I do run out, it's a really quick recipe to make.

Side dish, with stuffed peppers
Mixed into pasta, with goat cheese sauce
Vegetable soup, with mung beans

3-4 large tomatoes
2-3 medium red onions
4 tbsps olive oil
2  tbsps dried thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the tomatoes and the red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Add in the olive oil, garlic, and spices. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oven safe pan, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stir the mixture, and then bake for another 15 minutes.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Fermented Potatoes

I am a huge fan of potatoes in all forms, and I think most people would agree with me. A few years ago I noticed that potatoes, again in all forms, began to upset my stomach and caused bloating. I was forced to limit my intake on that deliciousness.

However, I have found something that helps!

It's fermenting, of course.

(And no, we're not making vodka today.)

When you soak potatoes in salt water, you lower the starch in them considerably. You also lower the amount of acrylamide, which is a "heat reduced reaction between sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fuctose) and asparagine." This reaction causes the potatoes to brown, and also, just so you know, is a carcinogen. Fermenting can reduce the carginogen by up to 90% - you can read more about that here. (And on a more positive note, they're unlikely to burn in the oven!)

And apparently, the brine leftover is great for starching clothing, as reported over on the Pickl-It blog.

Of course, as you're typically going to be either baking or frying the potatoes, you'll lose a lot of the probiotic benefits due to the heat, but it will be easier to digest and you'll be less likely to have negative health risks so it's worth it.


Gently wash your fresh potatoes and cut them into the desired shape. As I was making french fries, I made sliced them, but you could leave them whole if you'd like.

Add your potatoes to your container.

Prepare a salt brine. I used a 2% brine. (If you're using unsure how much salt to use for your size container, the Probiotic Jar has an excellent chart at the bottom of this page.)

Add your salt brine to the container with the potatoes. Cover and let it sit for 1-3 days.

Once you're ready to use them, drain the potatoes from the brine and pat dry. Either fry or bake your potatoes, as you would normally.

I baked mine at 350 degress for 30 minutes. I then added a bit of Parmesan cheese and thyme for half. The other half just get my homemade ketchup. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recipe: Verde Sauce

I was first introduced to tomatillos a few years ago; before that I had never even heard of them!

In case you're new to them like me, tomatillos are small and green; they look sort of like tomatoes with a paper husk around them. If you're picking some up, make sure the husk is good quality, and make sure the tomatillo is firm when you give it a little squeeze.

Verde sauce is one of my favorite spicy sauces. It can be added to pretty much whatever you can think of in terms of meats, especially Mexican dishes, like enchiladas, etc - but sometimes I love to mix it with pasta and make a creamy pasta sauce.

This is pretty easy to make, and the recipe yields about 2 quarts of green sauce.

1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
6 tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 bunch cilantro
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp cumin
4 cups water

olive oil

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Saute onions until soft and lightly browned, about 3-6 minutes.

While onions and garlic are sauteing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in a blender. Process until smooth.

Add tomatillo mixture to onions. Add garlic, water, salt, pepper, and cumin.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down. Simmer for 45 minutes. 

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipe: Perfect Drop Biscuits

I have been working on perfecting this biscuit recipe. Every weekend, I make a slightly different version, and then I force my friends and family to eat it and tell me what they think. It's really hard work, but it's worth it. 

The good news is that this recipe is amazing! It's a bit rich because of the butter, and I thought about cutting a bit of the butter out, but then I came to senses.

This biscuit recipe is perfectly fluffy and practically melts in your mouth. I want to write more words and wonderful adjectives to describe how happy you'll be when you place this in your mouth, but I think that sentence says it all.

I cannot vouch for the recipe if you use margarine, as I think the butter plays a huge role. I use grass fed butter and it's incredible, though I understand not everyone has access to such deliciousness.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsps baking powder
1.5 sticks (or 12 tbsps) of butter
1 egg
1 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) together in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in with your dry ingredients. I prefer to use my hands to gently knead the butter in. As it melts with the dry ingredients, it creates clumps of flour. You want the butter mostly mixed in, but some larger pieces are okay as well.

Add the egg and the milk and mix well. You should have a wet mixture, but it should still be able to hold its form.

Knead a few times. (I'm lazy and like to just squish it a bit in the bowl so that I know it's been mixed really well.)

With a spoon, get a heaping amount of dough and plop it into your oven-safe pan. (I LOVE cooking mine in cast iron.) The dough makes about 7-8 large biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


(And if you want to add goat cheese and honey blueberries and syrup like I did - go right ahead, it's delicious!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Honey and Blueberry Ferment

I belong to quite a few fermenting groups online. It's where I get a lot of my ideas, inspiration, and support. Last year I started seeing blueberries fermented in honey, and I have to be honest: I was not totally on board.

In fact, this year, when it seemed everyone was trying it out, I still was not impressed.

But then an excess of blueberries changed my mind.

Blueberries fermenting in honey is probably one of the best ferments I've done this year. At least, it's the best ferment so far in the "new" category.

I took a pretty terrible video one morning BUT you can see the amazing bubblies doing their work.

The blueberries remain crispy, but get a bit sweeter than normal. The honey mixes with the blueberries and you get this amazing syrup that I drizzled onto my biscuits - but you can also use it in salad dressing or beverages.

raw honey

Gently rinse your blueberries before putting them in your fermenting container. I don't know if you can tell, but I recycled a salsa container and used that. (After cleaning and sterilizing it, of course.)

After a layer or two of blueberries, grab a spoon and drizzle in the raw honey. It's much easier to get the mixture evenly spread if you layer the honey.

Continue layering with the blueberries and raw honey.

Do not fill all the way to the top! I mean, you can, of course, but it gets messy. Did you notice my jar in the video above was sitting inside another container? That's because the honey oozed out as it mixed with the blueberries. It was delicious, and a tasty treat every time I checked on my ferment, but I'd probably avoid losing so much next time.

Let the mixture sit out for about 3-5 days.

Taste as you go - the longer you leave the ferment out, the more alcoholic it becomes. Feel free to taste as you go. When you think they're perfect, stick them in the fridge for storage. 

Just a warning: the blueberries will rise to the top. It's okay that they're not covered all the time - don't even both trying to submerge them with weights. I would push the ones on top down every morning, and that's it.