Pickled Cucumbers with Shiso

 

pickled-cukes-shiso

This is the time of year for serious pickling and canning. The farmers markets are approaching their peak and it’s easy to get your hands on a large bucket of cucumbers for a modest price. If you can find Japanese cucumbers even better, but the small to medium sized cucumbers sold for dill pickles are great when in season.

Tsukemono Recipe: Pickled Cucumbers with Shiso

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds of pickling cucumbers washed and sliced
kosher salt
1-2 inch strip of konbu
Brine:
2/3 cup shiso vinegar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Directions:
1. Weigh the cucumbers on a digital scale in grams. Multiply this number by .035. This is how much salt you will need. For example, 1000 grams of cucumbers will require 35 grams of kosher salt
2. Sprinkle the cucumbers evenly with salt and add konbu. Place the cucumbers in a large bowl and cover with a heavy plate. Store in the refrigerator overnight, and then gently squeeze and drain cucumbers of excess brine using a strainer.
3. Combine all brine ingredients in a sauce pan and heat up until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Let the brine cool.
4. Add brine to the cucumbers. You’ll need enough brine to cover the cucumbers. Let the pickles sit for a day in the refrigerator before serving.

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Red Shiso Vinegar

shiso-vinegar

Nice flavored vinegar for making pickled daikon and pickled cucumbers and more.

Shiso Vinegar Recipe
Ingredients:
3-4 cups rice vinegar
1 bunch red shiso leaves washed, trimmed and coarsely chopped
Directions:
1. Combine vinegar and shiso in a clean glass jar. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days until it reaches desired strength.
2. Strain and store. I usually keep it in the refrigerator.

Sources/Inspirations: The pickles you find at a Japanese grocery store.

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Brewing up A Brown Ale

brown-ale
At this moment of 2013 in Minneapolis and elsewhere I’m sure, it seems that everybody is brewing beer and I’m no exception.  About this time last summer, I got the bug.  I don’t why I didn’t start earlier. It’s much easier than it sounds and you probably already have most what you need ( stock pots, strainers, thermometer, scale,  stove, a cool basement) .

If your looking for some books on how to brew beer, check out the following:
How to Brew by John Palmer
Beer Craft
Brooklyn Brew Shop Book

Brown Ale Recipe
Batch Size: 3 Gallons
Grains:
5 lbs Maris Otter Malt
.25 lbs Caramel 40L
.25 lbs Caramel 80L
.25 lbs Chocolate Malt

Hops:
.3 ounces Perle  ( pellets )
.5 ounces East Kent Goldings ( pellets )

Yeast:
Safale S-04 English Dry Ale Yeast

The beer after primary fermentation.

The beer after primary fermentation is complete.

Notes:
Steep grains in 7 quarts water at 152 F for 1 hour
Sparge with 3 gallons of water at 165 – 170 F
60 minute boil, add .3 ounces perle hops at start of boil
and 2/3 east kent goldings at 30 minutes and 1/3 at 55 minutes.

Sources/Inspiratons: Based on the WGD brown ale recipe in the Brooklyn Brew Shop Book

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Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

A recipe for vanilla ice cream or to use as a base for other flavors.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole organic milk
2 cups organic heavy cream
1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
130 grams white sugar
18 grams invert sugar
2 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Combine milk, cream and sugars in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

heating ice cream

2. Lightly beat egg yolks.
3. While stirring constantly, add the egg yolks to the base and heat to 180 F.
4. Remove and immediately chill the hot ice cream base in an ice water bath.
cooling-ice-cream
5. Strain and refrigerate 12 – 14 hours.
6. Process in an ice cream machine, freeze and enjoy.

Sources/Inspirations:
CIA Baking and Pastry Book
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Recipe Book

 

 

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Invert Sugar

Invert sugar is sweeter and less prone to crystallization, so it’s good for desserts like ice cream.

Ingredients:
8 ounces  [ 226 grams ] fine sugar
3/4 cup water
juice from 1/2 lemon

Directions:
1. Simmer slowly until thick ( about 1 hour ).
2. Cool and store in the refrigerator. Will last a long time, but may pick up off flavors if kept in the refrigerator too long.

 

 

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Simple Fermented Nappa Cabbage

Real fermented pickles have almost evaporated from the modern diet. What was once a common home practice has become a something of a lost art. That’s a shame, because fermented pickles aren’t really hard to make, they are not dangerous, they taste great, last a long time, and are believed to be really good for your body ( see this and this ).

Equipment:
Some kind of crock/jar and a weight or pickle machine as pictured
Digital Kitchen Scale

Ingredients:
Nappa Cabbage, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
Coarse Kosher Salt .. regular table salt will not work for this recipe

Directions:
1. Weigh the cabbage, I prefer to use grams, on the scale. Also, be sure to reset the zero point on the scale using the empty bowl that will hold the cabbage.
2. Take the total weight of the cabbage and multiply it by 3.5%, For example, 1000 grams of cabbage will give you a value of: 1000 * .035 = 35 . This is the amount of salt required.
3. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the cabbage, and place a heavy plate/weight over the top. You want the vegetables to be submerged under the brine or the top parts exposed to air may start to go bad.
4. If you have cool basement you can ferment there, or place it in your refrigerators for about 3 weeks. By then it will start to get nice and tangy. Enjoy!

Note:
This is unlikely, but if your cabbage starts to get slimy, smells like a garbage can or anything like that , just throw it away. Something didn’t go right. A container with an airlock device is a good idea for fermenting larger quantities. You don’t have to be so concerned about keeping the vegetables submerged and nothing else can get inside of the container ( like fruit flies ). You can get a 2 gallon plastic fermentation bucket ( for beer and wine ) with an airlock from a home brew supply store like Midwest Supplies:

Bucket: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/2-gallon-plastic-fermenter-w-drilled-lid.html
Air Lock: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/airlock-3-piece-type.html

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Home Made Vanilla Extract

home made vanilla extract

Home-made extract is really easy to make. Just add vodka to vanilla beans and wait. You can find vanilla beans online. It also makes a really cool, personalized gift.

Ingredients:
Bottle of Medium Grade Vodka (best not to use your finest Scandinavian vodka for this one)
Handful of Vanilla Beans

Directions:
1. Use a small pairing knife to spilt the beans down the center while leaving the ends attached (so it does not spilt in half).
2. Put beans in a large glass container with a lid ( the one in the picture is from a Ikea and works great for this).
3. Store in a cool dark place for about 6 – 8 weeks.
5. Optional: Home-made extract makes a great gift. You can buy smaller amber glass jars (as shown) from Amazon or McMaster Carr.

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Braised Pork Belly, Grated Daikon & Scallions

This recipe will be sure to please any pork loving friends. Daikon and pork are a classic combination. You can adjust the amount of sugar up or down to suit your own preferences. Grate your daikon just before serving as it tends to get a little too pungent when left in the refrigerator too long. Most bigger Asain grocery stores will probably have fresh pork belly. It can be hard to find elsewhere, since almost all pork belly is used to make bacon. Itadakimasu!

Recipe for Braised Pork Belly with Grated Daikon and Scallions

Ingredients:
2 pounds of skinless pork belly
grated daikon ..as needed
grated ginger … as needed
finely cut green onions
braising liquid:
1 2/3 cups dashi
3/4 cup sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup mirin
1/3 cup soy sauce

Directions:
1. Remove skin (if necessary) and cut pork belly into 2 1/2 inch strips.

2. Heat heavy duty skillet with a small amount of oil until it begins to smoke. Quickly brown pork on each side in a frying pan.

3. Gently boil pork in about 6 cups water for about 1 hour.

4. Braise in sake and dashi for about 15-20 minutes.

5. Add soy sauce, sugar and mirin and gently simmer for another 30 minutes. Drain, separate and save both the broth and pork belly in the refrigerator until needed.

6. Heat skillet with and small amount of corking oil and re-heat pork belly. Turn up the heat add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of broth, grated ginger and reduce and until thickened. Plate with grated daikon, pork belly, sauce and finely cut green onions.

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