Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sourdough Pasta

As the week of all things sourdough winds to an end, I managed to squeeze in a quick attempt at sourdough pasta.  I have made pasta before but never with sourdough so I started by substituting the starter for a couple of eggs and then adding the flour slowly to see how much it would take.

Pasta ready for cooking and a
dressing of fresh pesto.
The pasta turned out amazing and although it smelled quite sour while I was rolling it out, the sour flavour was almost negligible after cooking. My noodles were light and delicious topped with a thick sauce of tomato, garlic and sausage. Despite my hurry, everyone loved the pasta.  One batch served the four of us so double the recipe should you eat large portions or have extra people.  

Once dried a bit, I store extra pasta in my freezer and drop in salted boiling water straight from frozen.  Alternatively, thoroughly dry and store in an airtight container.  An old friend from my Calgary days had grandparents who made all their own pasta and dried it laid out on towels and on clothes racks in their spare room.

I have a proper pasta drying rack but am thinking I will try my food dehydrator and store it super dry.  Homemade pasta is really so much better than store bought so I hope you give this one a try!

Dried pasta ready for an
airtight container.

  • 1/4 cup of active sourdough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups of white flour suitable for pasta

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sourdough starter, eggs, and oil.  Slowly add in the flour and with one hand, knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  The dough should form a firm but flexible ball.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap to rest for at least thirty minutes but I left my dough to rest/ ferment on the counter for an hour - as long as it is reasonably cool.

With a pasta machine, gently knead the dough slowly on the widest settings a few times and gradually roll to the desired thickness adjusting your machine as you go.  I cut my pasta as fettuccine and hung to dry until stiff to the touch.  

Drop the pasta in boiling water for a couple of minutes.  I simply cook the pasta to taste.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster than store-bought.  

Feel free to add herbs or cracked pepper and lemon zest to your dough at the mixing stage for something a little different. 

Serves 4.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Meatball Flatbread Sandwich

Asian Meatballs on a sourdough pita with fermented
 daikon pickle, carrot, lettuce, and sriracha mayo.

I think I mentioned in my last post that my Asian Meatballs are pretty tasty on sourdough pitas.  I am usually pretty busy so I often just have a banana smoothie for my lunch.  Today, I treated myself and enjoyed a meatball sandwich.  It was so ~nom, nom~ good!  

I freeze the individually portioned meatballs topped with a splash of hoisin sauce so they can be taken out and defrosted at any time - it truly was the quickest lunch ever!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Seriously Delicious Sourdough Pita

Sourdough starter - Day 9
Who doesn't love a good flatbread?  The Italians serve focaccia; naan bread is enjoyed with a good Indian takeaway; Arabic bread is available daily in every Middle Eastern grocery store; and warm pita bread can be found on virtually every Greek restaurant menu.

Pita and hummus are especially a favourite in our family; I prefer a pita stuffed with hummus and veggies over a luncheon meat sandwich any day.  I am also partial to my Asian Beef & Veggie Meatballs with a bit of crunchy lettuce & daikon fermented pickle laced with a slather of sriracha mayo - all rolled up in a pita for a flatbread Bahn Mi-type sandwich.  Nom, nom!

My sourdough pita dough ready to be covered
 and set aside for proofing.

Since starting my sourdough adventure, I have been faithfully feeding my sourdough starter pet beastie each day.  On day nine of beastie's life it was bubbling and boozy, so I thought it was okay to use the discarded portion of my sourdough after the feed.

This week, I made pita bread as we are clean out of bread and we need something for lunch tomorrow. Mixing up pita dough is pretty easy.  This recipe takes about 10 minutes to mix up including kneading time.  After proofing for a couple of hours to a day, give yourself another 10 minutes to shape into disks and then while the dough is resting, heat your oven or barbecue.

Cooking the pita on the barbecue cast iron griddle or pizza stone was my first choice since my oven heats our kitchen up to boiling; but a cast iron skillet on the stove top or a pizza stone in a super hot oven also will also get the job done.  I think I like the pizza stone, inside or out, the best but the griddle will work too.

I used unbleached all-purpose flour and feel free to use half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour if you are aiming for more fibre.  My first batch of pitas were whole wheat.  They puffed up really nicely on the barbecue but got gobbled up before I could take a picture!

The pitas will keep in the freezer for a month or two and are good stored on the counter top for a couple of days. I prefer to make this recipe in small batches and eat them up fresh and I doubt they will last long after you plate them hot out of the oven or off the barbecue!

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsps. filtered water

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sourdough starter, coconut oil, and sea salt.  Add flour and water; using one hand, mix to combine.  Turn the dough out on counter; knead for five minutes.  The dough should be stiff and shouldn't need any additional flour to prevent sticking.  Don't skip the kneading step as the texture of the dough will change and become more elastic within this five minute knead.

Shape, place in greased bowl, and slash with serrated knife for expansion; cover with plastic wrap in a warm draft-free spot to proof until doubled - a couple of hours should be enough but you can mix it up in the morning and leave for the day if you need more time.

When dough has risen, divide into 8 balls and roll out very thinly into 15 cm disks.  Let rest for 15 minutes and then cook on a hot pizza stone at about 500 degrees Fahrenheit or 250 Celsius ~ or on a smoking hot cast iron griddle.  With the griddle, I usually cook on one side until the pita puffs up and then flip it and brown lightly on the other side.  You have to eyeball the cooking time folks...you will know when they are done.

Store in the freezer for a month or on the counter for about three days.  Makes about 8 pitas.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Raging Raw Sriracha

After saying goodbye to successful chilli growing in our last home state, I was excited to discover a couple of well established chilli bushes in the otherwise empty garden of our new home.

With a little tender loving care, chillies have flowed steadily all summer and I wanted to try my hand at chilli sauce - which is a favourite of my husband.

Finally, after spending some time doing a little research I patched together this recipe that makes a pretty nice tasting hot sauce.  I can't say how it compares to the popular commercial brands of sriracha but it has passed the husband test so that is enough for me.

Use it sparingly or stand back for the fire to blow out your ears!

  • 2 medium sized red capsicum, coarsely chopped
  • 100g red jalapenos chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 30g Bird's eye chillies, stem removed
  • 7 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. uniodised salt
  • 3 Tbsps. honey or maple syrup for vegans
  • 1/4 cup of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with 'Mother'
  • 3 Tbsps. of raw unpasteurized sauerkraut juice (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. of guar gum (optional)

Wash, deseed, and coarsely chop capsicum; destem chillies and peel garlic - place everything in a high speed blender.  Add salt and honey to the the ingredients and pulse until chillies start to liquefy.  Blend mixture until smooth.  I added three tablespoons of my homemade sauerkraut juice to kick start the ferment but this is not necessary.

Pour mixture into clean jars with a good few inches of space at the top to allow for expansion and loosely screw on cap.  Place jar in darkened cupboard at room temperature to ferment for 5 days; open and stir each day.  Fermentation takes place when bubbles start to form.  

Taste after day 5 and transfer sauce back to blender, add cider vinegar, guar gum and puree until blended. The guar gum acts as an emulsifier and keeps the sauce from separating but is unnecessary if you don't want to add it.

Transfer sauce to sterilized jars or bottle and refrigerate.  The sauce should last quite some time if fermented successfully.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

'You-Won't-Believe-There's-No-Butter' Chicken

I love Butter Chicken but as my decade long dairy allergy strengthens, all the butter and cream in this popular Indian dish doesn't love me.  With the cost of eating out on the rise and the struggle to find good dairy-free dishes, I experimented for months on this recipe until I got the quantities right for a tasty version of Butter Chicken without any dairy.

This dish takes literally minutes to make and no skills are required.  My kids love it and it owes its gentle balance of flavors to amazing spices, good quality coconut milk, the sweetness of the carrot contrasted with the tanginess of the tomato paste.

I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breast because they are more tender and are a more flavorful part of the chicken so there is no need to marinate before cooking - a real time saver!  This sauce is so great that you can just add veggies and/or chickpeas for a meat-free curry. 

I'm pretty proud of this recipe and I hope you enjoy it!

  • 2 Tbsps. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsps. sweet paprika
  • 500g. chicken thighs, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup of carrot, grated
  • 50 g. of tomato paste
  • 1 - 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • chopped fresh coriander or parsley to garnish (optional)

In a medium-sized pot, heat the coconut oil; add spices and chunks of chicken. Cook for two minutes until the chicken is lightly browned. Next add the grated carrot and sauté for another two minutes. Finally, add the coconut milk, tomato paste and salt; stir.  Simmer gently for five to ten minutes until all the flavors have combined.

Serve over basmati or cauliflower rice.  Garnish with fresh chopped coriander or parsley.  Serves four.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dream Cup Recipe put me in Heaven

A couple of Sunday's ago, it was supposed to be a day of cooking rest for me but I decided that I would try out a new recipe from Angela Liddon's Oh She Glows blog.  

For those who don't know Angela, she is a Canadian vegan who started out blogging and has published a successful, bestselling, and delicious vegan cookbook - with another on
the way.

I have been following her blog for the last year and also bought her cookbook a while back.  Her recipes are delicious and simple.  Her recent post for 3-Layer Nut-Free Dream Cups were super good.  I only had a square chocolate mold to make her Dream Cups, so I made mini sized squares that would be yummy on any dessert plate.  These sweets are dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and totally vegan.  Yum, yum!

Healthy Bubbles Sourdough Starter ~Updated~

Saturday was sourdough starter day and I finally began a batch of wild yeast sourdough starter. Sourdough contains naturally occurring lactobacilli and wild yeasts - found in the air and in the flour used in the starter.  It's the lactic acid from the lactobacilli bacteria that gives sourdough bread its sour taste.
Sourdough starter - Day 3

The starter is pretty simple to make.  I just mixed together three Tablespoons of white flour and three Tablespoons of whole wheat flour with enough filtered water to make it into a cake mix consistency and covered it to sit on my counter for a day or two.  Once I started to see some bubbling action, I mixed in another 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour into my mixture and added just enough water to maintain that cake mix consistency.  I covered it and awoke to see bubbling goodness! 

Each day, I discarded half my starter and added another 1/4 of a cup of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup of white flour and enough water to maintain a cake mix-like consistency - for a total of ten days.

I think I was a bit ambitious with my sourdough dreams and tried bread too soon.  I achieved amazing flavour in my early loaves but I didn't get the ultimate rise I was looking for and felt a bit discouraged.  Make sure your starter is able to double on the counter after feeding or it won't have the strength to make your bread rise.

Eventually, I started feeding my sourdough starter with some organic rye flour.  Rye is supposed to promote hearty microbial growth in starters and I must admit that once I switched it helped a lot.   After multiple successful batches of English muffins, cake, pasta, pizza dough and pita bread, I think my starter has enough microbial activity to start the bread making process again.

Continue to use at least some rye flour as food for your sourdough or a combination of whole wheat, rye and white as a food once the microbial activity is truly established. So far, I have the most active and healthiest starter when I add a tablespoon or two of rye to my starter now and again.

I store my sourdough starter in my fridge and feed it with flour and water to form a thick paste rather than a runny batter.  It should have lots of bubbles and deflate when you spoon it out to use it or feed it.  I feed mine whenever I use it or once a week ~ whichever comes first.  If it smells like nail varnish then don't worry.  Give the starter a stir and feed it a couple of times before using; the smell just means it is very hungry!

The day before you use your starter, take it out of the fridge.  I take half of the starter, place it in a separate bowl, and feed it equal weights of water and flour; leave this starter on the counter.  I then feed the remaining amount of starter from the fridge and return it to the fridge for later use.

In the morning, I either discard half of the fed counter top starter and then feed it the same amount again; or I keep the whole amount and feed it double the amount of flour and water that I did the day before.  I mix my bread within four hours of this feeding.  If I double the amount of fed starter then I am usually baking a double batch of bread.

I have had lots of success with this method and hopefully you will too!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Freestyle Fresh Plum & Fig Frangipane

It is plum season in my neck of the woods.  A few days ago, my husband surprised me with a 10kg box of huge juicy plums and we have been eating them everyday. Today when I went out to harvest some more basil from my garden, I was surprised to find our figs from our fig tree were finally starting to ripen.  

Since I am only getting a handful of ripened figs at a time, I decided to combine the plums and figs together for frangipane awesomeness!
This freestyle plum & fresh fig frangipane is adapted from the recipe found at Gourmande in the Kitchen.  

A pretty pie dish would make this dessert a bedazzler but unfortunately all I had was a plain utilitarian glass pie plate; pretty presentation dish or not, this dessert is still a treat!  Divide into small ramekins for a more formal individual experience.

                       Printer Version

  • 4 large plums. halved and sliced
  • 4 fresh figs, sliced
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a greased 8-9 inch glass pie dish, evenly spread the sliced plums and figs over the bottom.  In a separate bowl, whisk the honey, oil and egg together and then add the almond meal, spices, and salt; stir to combine.  Spoon the almond mixture over the fruit as evenly as possible and bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and serve warm with a dollop of coconut whipped cream, cashew cream, or dairy-free ice cream.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sensational Sausage Rolls

Ahh the humble sausage roll...we can buy them as a quick meal or snack at every sporting venue in this great land.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of this national snack as they are usually cheaply made with gristly pork; most often frozen; and wrapped in perforated plastic for commercial pie warmer readiness.

Still, the sausage roll is not to be ignored when homemade and enjoyed by children - young and old.  For this reason, I make my own version of a sausage roll and pop them in the freezer to be taken out the night before for my kids' lunches.  

My recipe has amazing flavour and smells out of this world when baking in the oven.  Sadly, I can't eat them due to the copious amounts of butter used to make puff pastry but they don't last long on a plate with dairy lovers.  For those of you faced with this butter dilemma then simply make the pork filling into a meatball to take for a cold lunch or to add to a pasta salad or zucchini noodle salad. I add the buckwheat flour to absorb the juices that would otherwise bubble out of the yummy filling.

  • 1 kg. good quality pork mince
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, grated
  • 2 small onions, minced
  • 4 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small Bird's eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsps. buckwheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsps. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsps. fennel seed
  • 5 - 6 sheets of puff pastry, cut in half
  • 1 egg, beaten

Peel and grate the veggies.  Roughly peel and chop onion and garlic; in a food processor; mince with chillies and fennel seed.  Add all the ingredients to the large bowl with the pork mince and mix thoroughly to combine.  

Defrost puff pastry and slice 5-6 sheets in half.  Evenly apply the sausage roll filling, lengthwise, across the middle of the pastry sheet. Roll and seal with beaten egg where the two edges meet.  Cut roll into four even pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper; repeat until remaining filling is used.

Brush all the uncooked sausage rolls with remaining beaten egg and place in preheated oven.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit/ 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Makes approximately 40-48 mini sausage rolls.