Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Killer Korma Sauce

I absolutely love Indian food but my dairy allergy and my aversion to overly rich foods really get in the way of a good Indian take-away.  I have spent a few years trying to nail a recipe that tasted as good as our favourite take-away and was healthier than most.  Dairy-free and delicious, I have shared my Killer Korma Sauce recipe with many friends and it is now a favourite curry staple in our house.

The kids can make this recipe with no problem.  Just add lamb, chicken, tofu, chickpeas, veggies-only or your favourite fish to the sauce and serve veggies on the side - or chuck them into the curry for a one-dish wonder!

  • 2 Tbsps. sunflower or 2 Tbsps. coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup ground almonds or (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, pureed
  • ½ cup carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1Tbsp. ginger, freshly grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. heaped, ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. heaped, ground coriander
  • 200g. diced fresh tomatoes
  • 400g. light canned coconut milk
  • fresh coriander
  • fresh/dried chilli to add a bit of heat (optional)
  • approximately 400g of your favourite protein or just add vegetables

Puree onion and then lightly saute onions and carrot with oil in large saucepan or tagine; add tomatoes and cook gently until softened. Add spices and a splash of water to help tomatoes soften and form a paste with the spices, onions and carrot. To prevent burning keep adding a splash of water but keep your paste soft but fairly dry. Cook paste slowly for about 10 - 15 minutes.

If using raw chicken or lamb then add to the pan to lightly cook. When chicken is browned add coconut milk with the almond meal. Simmer gently for 15 minutes to finish cooking and bring the flavours together. If using fish, then add the coconut milk to the tomato/onion mixture, simmer 10 minutes and then add fish and gently cook for a few minutes until cooked through. Serve over steamed basmati or cauliflower rice and season with chopped, fresh coriander leaves or parsley.

Use leftover almond pulp from homemade almond milk or vegetable pulp from juicing to act as a sauce thickener and add nutrition to this sauce.

 ~Serves 4-6 persons depending on serving sizes ~

Monday, 27 October 2014

Salsa Fresca

Salsa is one of the most delicious condiments ever!  We love it for eating with corn chips, as topping on scrambled eggs and heaping it on tortillas on movie night.  I used to make a cooked salsa and can it for our season's worth of salsa consumption but recently I have switched to fresh.

Eating fresh salsa makes me feel like I 'died and went to heaven' and I often catch my oldest daughter mixing it with Greek yogurt and eating it by the bowlful - so it is safe to say, I am not the only salsa fan in the house!.  This recipe was adapted from a Roberto Santibanez recipe in his cookbook Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales.  It is amazingly fresh and is great to eat immediately or ferment to keep longer for a healthy does of beneficial microbes.  If you want to kickstart your ferment then add 2 Tbsps. of whey or unpasteurized sauerkraut juice to get those bubbles going!

  • 9 medium sized tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Bird's eye/ Thai chillis fresh or dried,
  • 1 medium green pepper, finely diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. Celtic sea salt
Wash and chop all the vegetables and then add the salt, lemon zest and juice.  Mix thoroughly until combined.  Serve immediately or add to sterilized jars.  

If fermenting, let sit with the top of the jar covered with fabric a few hours.  This keeps the baddies out of the salsa while the vegetables release liquid. Ensure the veggies are completely submerged in liquid for fermentation.  If you don't have enough liquid after letting the salsa sit, then top up with a little non-chlorinated spring water and loosely screw the lid on  for about 3-4 days.  Check the ferment daily and unscrew to release any gasses.  After a few days on the counter, tighten jar lids and refrigerate.  The salsa will store indefinitely and will continue to ferment very slowly.

Yield - approximately 2 litres

Monday, 20 October 2014

Shredded Chicken or Pork Tortillas

Tortillas are very popular at our house.  We fill corn tortillas using this recipe made with chicken thighs or pork loins - both are equally delicious. This filling is a one dish wonder and is a regular weekend meal that we love to dig into while watching a movie.  Kid-friendly for taste buds and potential culinary expertise; this dish is often cooked by my kids on their 'K.P.' (Kitchen Patrol) night and it is a favourite when I am taking meal requests.  Double the recipe and freeze half for a future easy but delicious night off from cooking.

Serve  the corn tortillas, condiments and filling on a big tray with colourful dishes.  Everyone can 'dig in' to this communal meal to assemble their own tortillas - don't forget the napkins or ....you can just lick your fingers! 

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil 
  • 400g of chicken thighs or pork loin
  • 1 small diced medium onion
  • 1 small diced bell pepper - any colour
  • 1 tsp. natural sea salt
  • 1 heaping tsp. of ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp. of coriander
  • 1 heaping tsp. of sweet paprika
  • 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
  •  400g of fresh diced or canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 fresh chilli pepper (optional)
  • Corn tortillas (3-4 per person)
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Shredded lettuce

In a medium sized pot, saute onions and bell pepper until translucent.  Add chicken thighs or pork loins and brown for about two minutes.  Add remaining spices, tomatoes and water; gently stir to combine.  Cover and simmer mixture on low heat for about one hour - the pork loins may take a tick longer so they will shred easily.  Check periodically to ensure there is enough liquid so the mixture doesn't burn; evaporation depends on the heat and pot.  After an hour, use two forks and pull apart meat until all of it is shredded and then stir to combine.  If the mixture is still too runny simmer a bit more with the lid removed to let some of the juices evaporate further. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

Serve filling with tortillas piled with lettuce, salsa and guacamole.  I love to make my own corn tortillas but if you are in a pinch for time then go for the store-bought.  We also make our own guacamole and salsa.  Fresh salsa is simple to make and superior in taste; I usually make a big batch and ferment some of it for future use which is equally delicious.  Usually serves 4 - 5 depending on appetites.

~ Soft shelled tortillas, guacamole and fresh/fermented salsa recipes to come. ~

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cocoa Banana Oat Smoothie

In order to increase my number of leafy green vegetables and try to eat bananas - an important prebiotic, I started to make a smoothie each morning for breakfast.  I am not a big breakfast eater but I thought this might be fast, nutritious, and a good start to my day. I am now officially over my aversion to whizzed up bananas and find that this smoothie is great for breakfast on the run.  My kids, who regularly cut corners with breakfast, like this drink and will slurp it in the car before school drop off.  Our smoothie is always dairy-free but use whatever milk works for you.

  • 1 cup of almond, soy or cow's milk
  • 1 whole very ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups of spinach
  • 1/3 cup of whole rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps. rounded, Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 4 ice cubes or 4 cubes of frozen coconut water

In a high speed blender, add the above ingredients in the order that they are listed; blend for about 30 seconds.  This smoothie is best consumed right away rather than refrigerated for later.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Chocolate Pudding Pots

For a while, I have been wanting to incorporate a small amount of tofu into our diet.  Most of my tofu efforts have not been welcomed by my family.  I have made a tiny bit of progress with them accepting tofu in veggie stir fries or as a cream substitute in soup but I changed tactics when I bought a copy of Tess Master's "The Blender Girl".  In it, she has the most amazing recipe for Chocolate Chilli Pudding using tofu.  I decided to make this for the kids without the chilli pepper and see if I could sell it to them as an alternative to store bought pudding.

I think it is safe to say that it turned out to be a huge hit.  Over time, I have done some tweaking with the recipe and this is my kid friendly, no-nut, inspired version of Tess's amazing mousse.  The pudding takes minutes to whiz up in the blender and pour into little individual portions for school or for home. Yum!

  • 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1- 500 g package of organic medium firm tofu (roughly cubed)
  • 1/2 tsp of natural sea salt
  • 1 tsp. of instant decaffeinated coffee
  • 1 tsp. of natural vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of Dutch-processed cocoa powder

In a high speed blender, add the maple syrup, cubed tofu, sea salt, coffee and vanilla extract; blend on high for about 30 seconds.  With the blender still running add the cocoa powder by the teaspoonful until the cocoa is completely combined.  Stop the blender and taste before pouring it into individual containers.  It firms up a bit more after refrigeration.

Refrigerate up to 5-7 days if you don't eat it all before!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Awesome Almond Milk

Since my decade long sensitivity to dairy, I have tried the various dairy alternatives out there.  I can't say I hold a love for rice milk and soon settled for soy milk as a front running favourite.  There is conflicting opinion on whether or not soy is good for us but I have chosen to continue to consume it until there is a more definitive answer.

Nut and seed milks are now growing in popularity and almond milk is a 'go to' choice for many who want an alternative to dairy and soy.  I can't say that I love store bought almond milk but I do really like homemade in my daily smoothie - to mix up my choice of dairy alternative milks.

Don't be intimidated by making your own nut and seed milk.  It only takes a few minutes to blend the ingredients and then strain through a nut milk bag or a large square of cotton muslin cloth.  I soak my nuts overnight in order to break down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors to make them more easily digestible.

My recipe is similar to many circulating in cookbooks and on the net but this is the version that I like.
  • 1 cup of almonds (soaked overnight in the fridge)
  • 4 cups of unchlorinated spring water
  • 1 pinch of uniodized natural salt
  • 6 Medjool dates
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste or the paste of one vanilla bean

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender (mine is a cheap knock-off Vitamix from Aldi) and blend until the water, dates and almonds are a completely and smoothly blended - around 2 minutes.  Strain slowly through the cotton muslin and squeeze all the milk into a clean glass container; refrigerate.

I'm not sure how long the milk will keep in the fridge but I usually drink about a cup a day so it goes quickly.  I imagine 5 days is a good estimate for fridge life.  The milk will separate so just give it a gentle shake before drinking.  If you aren't keen on the vanilla, dates or salt then simply leave them out.  If you want a sweeter milk then add more.  While expensive, Medjool dates are high in vitamins and minerals and give the almond milk a gently sweet flavour.  Since I only use a few, I feel I can indulge when I make almond milk resulting in a superior milk than what I can buy commercially in the grocery store.

Leftover almond meal can be added to homemade muffins, porridge, smoothies, or cookies.  Enjoy this awesome almond milk!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Traditional Sauerkraut

After a few days of gazing at my fermenting crock, I purchased my cabbage and readied myself for action.  With a large bowl in hand; some natural, uniodized sea salt; spring water; and my handy dandy spurtle - my Scottish porridge stirrer that I was using as a tamper.  I was ready to go!  Here is my recipe for sauerkraut.
  • 3-5 kilograms of finely shredded cabbage (reserve some rinsed outer leaves to pack on the top of the cabbage to act as a seal and prevent the finely shredded cabbage from floating too much)
  • 3-5 Tbsps. uniodized sea salt (1 Tbsp of salt per kg of cabbage)
  • 2 tsps. whole black peppercorns
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • Unchlorinated spring water as needed
  • A suitable fermenting vessel(s)
  • A weight to hold the cabbage below the brine
Shred the cabbage and toss with salt.  This can be done in one large bowl, or a bit at a time.  I did about a half a kilogram at a time.  I tossed with fine sea salt and then packed it into my fermenting vessel - making sure that I distributed the peppercorns and bay leaves randomly throughout.

I used my spurtle to bruise the cabbage and my hands to pack it into the crock as tight as it would go.  When I had packed in all the cabbage, I waited about an hour to let the cabbage release as much water as possible.  Then, I tightly packed the outer leaves of the cabbage on top of my shredded cabbage and added a couple of weights on top of  the mixture.  You should be aiming for a half inch to an inch of brine to cover the cabbage leaves and/or the small weights within your crock.  If the cabbage has not released enough water then simply add a bit of unchlorinated spring water mixed with a bit more sea salt - maybe about 1 teaspoon per cup.   Pour this on top of your cabbage mixture with the idea that the cabbage is completely submerged in brine.

After all this I popped my lid on, filled the water reservoir and set a date on my calendar to open the
Kraut with weights in crock.
crock up and see how I had done.  Top up reservoir with water as needed to maintain the seal.  After about two weeks sitting on my counter, at temperatures of about 70-72 degrees F, the crock was pretty much done burping kraut gas.  I left my kraut another two weeks beyond this and then opened it up.  In cool weather you might need to leave it longer.

My sauerkraut was perfect after four weeks!  There was no mold in the crock or on the cabbage.  It was crunchy, tangy and with the perfect balance of salt and sour.  From here, I put the
Perfection after four weeks!
kraut in sterilized jars and put in the fridge.  We have been enjoying it ever since.

First batch of kraut all jarred and ready for eating!

 Click here for a recommended book on fermenting.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Memories of Tancook Island Sauerkraut

When I was a kid, one of my summertime favourites was Tancook sauerkraut on my hot dogs.  For non-sauerkraut connoisseurs,  it is hard to describe the sour and tangy goodness topped with sweet ketchup piled on a smoky hot dog aloft a fresh fluffy bun.  I think the hot dog was just an excuse to eat the sauerkraut and once the carton was opened, I loved to eat it strand by strand.

Over the years, I have moved far away from Nova Scotia but my treat box of sauerkraut has never been far from my food thoughts.   I've eaten versions of it here and there and found I never enjoyed it; figuring it must have been a childhood favourite that I had outgrown. When I arrived in Australia, I looked for sauerkraut and found that it wasn't a grocery store staple. I toyed with making it myself but worried it would be too complicated and worried about storage and mold issues.

I'm not sure when I got over my fear to ferment but I recently bought a fermenting book, read a few blogs, and then bought myself a fermenting crock with a cabbage slicer from ebay.  The crock is special because it provides an airlock seal to let the fermenting gasses out but no bad air in.  It is sealed with water that you add to the moat in which the lid sits.  Nothing stopping me now!

My pot arrived a few weeks later - packed in mountains of shredded styrofoam.  Pulling my crock from the box, it was like a snowstorm in August; a styrofoam static nightmare.  I think it took me longer to clean up the styrofoam packing then to wash and placed my fermenting crock in an honorary spot on the counter.  With a vacuum cleaner clogged with artificial 'snow' and the day gone, sauerkraut making had to wait another day. 

Read a bit more about Tancook sauerkraut :


Welcome to Slow My Goodness!

I've always loved to cook.  I fondly recall afternoons spent with my Holly Hobby oven; Sunday sessions gently melting chocolate over a double boiler; and lazy summer evenings cooking fresh seafood over an open fire pit at our cottage.  Our family has always adhered to mostly 'slow' food cooking but the prepackaged, fast and convenience meals do creep in from time to time.

Since having kids of my own, I have continued to grow into, raise my standards for, and perfect my home cooking.  After struggling with food sensitivities and a mounting allergy to dairy, I have kicked my dairy consumption to the curb, shunned fast food - well pretty much - and starting cooking more low grain, low sugar, and vegan meals along with starting to make fermented foods.  

With one large batch of sauerkraut down and a few successful jars of fermented salsa to go, I have decided lay down a record of my food failures and triumphs. Welcome to Slow My Goodness and my posts about cooking at home with health in mind.