Beet and Cabbage Burnip

In keeping with calling the fermented turnip (more usually called sauerruben) turnip burnip I am calling the fermented beet and cabbage (more usually called sauerkraut) burnip, too.  Several weeks ago I started a batch with grated green cabbage and assorted beets from the CSA.  It was done last week, and is delicious.  The color is gorgeous, think crystal clear ruby-pomegranate-pink.  The flavor is great, sauerkraut with a slightly sweet, earthy beet tone.  And the texture is wonderful – with enough body to have a little crunch but not hard.  And the nutritive value is very high – all the fiber and vitamins of fresh vegetables with the added benefit of probiotics.  Instead of heat canning it I am keeping it in the fridge, where it will last for many, many months.  It will keep more of its nutrients and the probiotics that way along with its texture.  If you have never made homemade fermented (salt brined) vegetables before I recommend you try it.  Here is an easy starter recipe that makes a this beautiful and yummy end result.

Beet and Cabbage Burnip aka Sauerkraut

  • 1 lb fresh beets, peeled
  • 4 lbs fresh green cabbage, trimmed
  • 3 Tbs pickling salt (which is just fine, pure salt – a word on salt below*)
  • water and more salt as needed for brine, at least 8 cups and 3 Tbs respectively

Either with  a sharp knife or the slicing blade of the food processor slice the cabbage.  Put in a large bowl.  Slice the beets then slice again (I ran mine through the food processor slicer 3 times so the pieces were not giant slabs.)  Put the beets with the cabbage.  Toss with the salt, mixing thoroughly.  Meanwhile, get your crock ready.  A crock should be a straight sided container with a flat bottom and should be either stoneware, plastic, or glass.  Never use metal.  Some people use (brand new) paint or hardware buckets when they are making a large quantity of pickles vegetables.  My crock is glass.  In any case, wash well and have crock ready to use.  Pack the beet and cabbage mix into the crock, pressing down as you put it in.  Make a batch of brine in a different container using 3 Tbs pickling salt to 2 quarts (8 cups) water, stir until salt is dissolved.  Add brine to the cabbage/beet blend as needed to make sure it is all covered with liquid but not in standing liquid.  Cover the whole surface area with a clean piece of damp cheesecloth (I have heard of people using a clean, old pillow case instead of the cheesecloth).  Then fill a gallon sized zip-close plastic bag about 3/4 of the way with the brine, get out all the air, seal closed and then seal that into a second bag.  (The second bag helps prevent leaking into your vegetables, the reason to use brine instead of plain water is in case of leaks your vegetables will still have the right salt to veggie ratio and properly ferment.  You can always dispose of or drink or cook with excess liquid later.)  Carefully place the plastic bag in the crock on top of the cheesecloth so none of the cloth, or the vegetables beneath it, are exposed to the air.  If you do this right the bag will “seal” the kraut and you will not have to worry about skimming it.  If you cannot air seal it then it might grow mold, scum, or bloom on the top.  Skim this off every day or two and throw it away, what is beneath will be fine.  If you are able to seal it with the bag (mine worked perfectly) you should not need to do anything to the kraut until you take it out of the crock to eat and store.  Place in a cool, dark place, preferably somewhere between 65-75 degrees.  Warmer and it will ferment faster and go off quicker.  Colder and it will take a very long time to ferment.  At ~65 degrees it takes around 4 weeks to be ready to eat, at 75 degrees about 2 weeks.  If you are using a glass crock, as I do, then wrap it in a tea towel or some other cloth so it isn’t exposed to light.  After a couple of weeks taste it.  If it is fermented as you like then either refrigerate in the crock or remove to clean glass storage jars and keep refrigerated.  Eat, enjoy, be healthy.

*The word about salt.  When you are making pickles, fermenting vegetables, canning anything you want to use pure salt without additives or extra ingredients.  Kosher salt, table salt, and sea salt are all not recommended as they contain ingredients other than salt.  Those other ingredients will not make your food bad for you but may discolor it or cloud the brine.  Brown sauerkraut in milky looking brine is not appealing.  Use pickling or pure salt, it is worth looking for it to get the most amazing looking end product.

The Best Ever Savory Zucchini Bread

Here’s a recipe for those who want a bread but not a sweet one (and are still using zucchini…)

Beer, Cheese, and Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup packed grated cheese (use something flavorful like smoked provolone or sharp cheddar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the middle then add in everything else.  Mix well, scraping to make sure all the flour gets mixed in.  Put in a well-greased Bundt pan or two well-greased bread pans.  Bake at 375 30-55 minutes – check with a knife inserted in the middle.  Cool, remove from pans, cool a little more before slicing.  Yum.  You can make the following variations:  add 1/2 cup corn kernels, use pepper jack, add 1 small can chopped green chiles; use parmesan cheese, add 1 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp dried basil;  use 1 1/ cups zucchini and 1/2 cup grated tart apple and use Swiss cheese; use half grated zucchini and half grated carrot; stir in 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds or roasted, chopped walnuts or pecans.

And More of the Green Stuff (Zucchini, that is.)

This dish is for the spicy/savory folks, as the zucchini bread was for the sweet folks.  In our house we like both so have some of each dish on the go right now.  More recipes for zucchini to come…keep reading.

Spicy Zucchini and Eggplant in Tomato Sauce with Olives

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 large white onion (or yellow)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or puree
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 cups green olives, to taste (you can use pimento-stuffed Spanish olives or any pitted green ones.  I use these http://www.halutza.com/2007/productsgreenpitted.html, which are from the kibbutz where Jim and I met and they are delicious on their own)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs ground cumin, to taste (I toast and grind my own seeds, the flavor difference is amazing)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1/4 makes it flavorful, 1/2 makes it spicy, more makes it fiery.  Substitute 1 tsp paprika instead if you don’t like the heat.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of vinegar – red wine, cider, balsamic, rice

Heat the oil in the bottom of a heavy pot over medium high while you chop the onion.  Put onion in pot and cook slightly (don’t brown) while you chop the eggplant and zucchini into 1″ chunks.  Add veggies to pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring so nothing sticks or burns.  Finely chop the garlic and add to the pot.  Add in the cumin, some black pepper, and cayenne, stir for a minute then add tomato sauce/puree, vinegar, and water.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Add in olives and simmer, covered, over lowish heat for at least an hour.  Check and stir every 10 minutes or so.  If it starts to stick, turn down heat.  If it looks like it getting dry, add water.  Taste and season with salt as needed.  Serve hot as a side dish or over rice as a main dish.  Serve cold as a salad or stuffed in a pita.

Best Zucchini Bread

You really know it’s summer when you start getting more zucchini than you can possibly eat plain.  Forget those adorable, skinny little courgettes – these are huge, dachshund size squash with their own zip codes and personality.  Of course you cannot throw them out and can’t pass them up – what do you do with them?  Here is the first of several recipes to come.  This is the perfect way to get more veggies into your diet, use up those green giants, and also have lovely cake/muffins/bread around for guests.  Enjoy!

Best Zucchini Bread Ever

for bread:
3 eggs
1 cup oil or melted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

for topping:
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Well grease either two bread pans or a baking dish (or muffin tins or Bundt pan – whatever you like). Beat eggs with a whisk until they are frothy. Beat in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Then stir in spices, salt, baking soda and powder, then flour. Pour into pans, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake 45 minutes then check with a knife. It might take as long as 60-65 minutes to bake, depending on pans.
Cool, remove from pans, cut and serve.

Variations:
-you can use grated carrot, apple, yellow squash instead of the zucchini or any combination of the four
-you can add nuts or raisins to the bread
-you can use ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce in place of 1 cup oil
-you can use the zest of an orange or lemon in the bread or as part of the topping
-you can substitute lemon or orange juice instead of vanilla
-you can add chopped candied ginger to the bread

Fennel?

We got fennel this week in our CSA share – as well as lots of questions on what to do with it.  Fennel is daunting to many cooks; that frondy top, the strange bulby bit, the slightly sweet licorice taste.  In all things culinary, be brave.  Be adventurous.  Here are a couple of ideas/recipes to get you started.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

This one doesn’t have any exact amounts or an exact recipe as so much depends on taste and what you have on hand.  Use a combination of the following vegetables:  fennel, jicama, carrots, white onion, bell peppers, cauliflower, celery, radishes, hakurei turnips, beets, chick peas, white beans to make 4 cups chopped.  Chop everything into large bite-sized chunks, prepping the veggies as follows.  Fennel: trim, chop the bulb.  Jicama:  peel and chop.  Carrots:  scrub or peel and chop.  Onion:  peel, trim, chop.  Bell peppers:  seed and chop.  Cauliflower:  chop, including the stems.  Celery:  trim and chop.  Radishes:  trim and chop.  Turnips:  trim and chop.  Beets:  trim, peel, and chop (and don’t use the red ones unless you want your whole salad to be pink.)  Chick peas and white beans:  use canned of cook first.  Put all your chopped vegetables in a mixing bowl together with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, a splash of either wine or cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste (don’t skimp on the salt), a sprinkle of crushed red chile flakes, and herbs as you like (fresh or dried oregano, basil, chopped fennel fronds.)  Marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours, overnight is fine.  Before serving bring to room temperature, stir and taste then adjust salt and pepper as needed. 

Filet of Sole Stuffed with Fennel and Lemon

  • 4-8 sole filets, depending on size (1-2 per person)
  • 1 small head of fennel
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (either make your own or buy unseasoned ones)
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Finely chop the fennel bulb and a tablespoon or two of the fronds, put into a mixing bowl.  Save whole a pretty frond for each piece of fish, set them aside.  Zest the lemons and add zest to fennel.  Mince or crush the garlic clove into the bowl then add the breadcrumbs.  Add 1 Tbs of the oil and toss all the ingredients together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste then squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon into the mix, toss to mix thoroughly.  Rinse and pat dry the filets.  Spread them flat then put a small heap of filling at one end of each.  Roll them up and place, seam side down, in a lightly oiled baking dish.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tops then decorate each roll with a lacy frond of fennel.  Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through.  Serve with wedges or slices of the zested lemon.  Keep in mind that sole is very delicate and needs to be handled carefully.  It has a very mild flavor and a light texture so this fish is good for fish lovers and those who aren’t sure of their affection for it. 

Braised Fennel With Gruyère or Almond Crust

  • 4 small or 2 large heads of fennel
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 cups milk (soy, cow, rice)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (white is best but black is ok)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère or 1 cup ground almonds (grind raw almonds in food processor, blender, or coffee grinder)

Cut the frondy tops off the fennel bulbs then trim the bulbs.  Cut them into slices.  Peel and slice the onions then toss with the fennel.  Meanwhile put the milk, garlic, salt, and pepper into a small saucepan and heat (do not boil!)  Put the fennel and onions in a baking dish, pour the hot milk mixture over it.  Make sure the fennel and onions are under the milk as much as possible.  Bake, covered, for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven.  Remove the cover, top the mixture with the cheese or almonds.  Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned or the almonds are lightly browned.  Serve warm.