Bread and butter pickles recipe

This is an adaption of the recipe from Simply Recipes

Ingredients
4 punnets (about 1,5kg) of gherkins (pickling cucumbers)
2 white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 heaped tsp himalayan rock salt (can use Kosher salt as a substitute, regular table salt has additives in it that will turn the pickles dark and muddy the color of the pickle juice)
1 1/4 cup white grape vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
6 allspice berries plus a pinch of ground allspice
6 whole cloves plus a pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Method

Sterilise your pickling jars
Clean the cucumbers well and slice into wafer thin slices with a mandolin
Finely slice the onion with a mandolin
Mix the onions and cucumbers together until they are evenly distributed. I didn’t sweat my cucumbers with salt and ice as they were sweet and didn’t have the slightest bit of bitterness to them. If you’re using heirloom cucumbers they can tend to be a bit bitter, in which case follow the instructions on the Simply Recipes page to remove some of the bitter liquid from the pickles before continuing, and leave the salt out of the pickling liquid.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and spices in a non reactive pot and bring to the boil
Scoop out a half ladle of the pickling liquid into your canning jars making sure to distribute the whole spices evenly between the jars
Fill the jars with cucumbers and onion
Fill the jars to the brim with the boiling pickling liquid, and seal immediately.
They will be ready to eat withing 48 hrs, but give 2 weeks for the flavours to properly develop
Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a month

This recipe made 8 x 375ml jars.

My family have already put in their orders and will be getting pickles in their Christmas gifts.

Bread and Butter pickles

Bread and Butter pickles

Advertisements

Kombucha… it’s like tea but not quite

Of all the info about me in my Twitter and Instagram profiles, the thing that gets the most interest is the fact that I brew my own kombucha.

My love affair with kombucha goes way back to when I was small and living with my grandmother. I remember her brewing all sorts of odd things on top of the cupboards in the kitchen including a very potent alcoholic ginger beer. Now you may be rolling your eyes and thinking “ah she comes from a long line of hippies” but you couldn’t be more mistaken. My granny was an old-school, British school ma’am. She was a teacher and at one of the schools she taught at the kids had, not so subtly, given her the nickname “The Dragon”.

To me though she was just my granny, and also one of the most magical people I know. My love of cooking was nurtured in her kitchen from the time I could barely reach the stove top while standing on a chair. She let me make scrambled eggs and help with food prep. We would also bake together, filling endless tins with a variety of cookies. My favourite were the ones with raisins in them that had been rolled in cornflakes, and jam tarts filled with apricot jam. I would bite the jam tarts open and then dip them in my tea, the tea would melt the jam and I would drink the sugary concoction out with the unadulterated glee that only a 5 year old can possess, hoping that I could eat the tart before the whole mess fell apart in my hand.

Now as an adult, going back into those memories of childhood, I remember my granny having a bucket with a weird rubber thing in it that she made a weird fizzy drink with. A couple months ago it hit me with lightning clarity that it had been kombucha that she had been brewing.

I wish I could have asked her about it. Sadly she passed away and with her went a lifetime of knowledge. The loss of her still catches me unawares in moments like this, wanting to ask her about her kombucha instead of finding all the info online.

 

So, nostalgia aside, what the is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea. It can be made with any assortment of teas and herbal infusions. I have even had coffee kombucha which blew my mind and left my taste buds tingling with delight. My own preference is for rooibos (red tea) kombucha but you can make it from black teas like a nice smoky oolong, green teas, your stock standard Ceylon tea, or even an herbal infusion like mint or Echinacea.

All you need to get started is a SCOBY.

 

What the hell is a SCOBY?

SCOBY is an acronym for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Basically it is a rubbery white to cream coloured fungus-like thing. Sounds grand doesn’t it? Don’t worry it is really rather innocuous and not at all gross.

 

Where to get a scoby:

If you live in the USA you’re in luck because you can buy a scoby easily online.

Here in the RSA though it is a bit more challenging. I got mine from a farmers market in Pretoria. Any foodie worth their salt will know of The Boeremark in Silverton. There is a woman there who sells scobys and kefir granules. Otherwise, find a friend who brews kombucha and beg a scoby off of them, with each brew cycle your mother scoby forms a new child scoby and thus you will eventually be inundated with the things. It is apparently also possible to grow a scoby from unpasteurised kombucha but this has varying success rates, we might be a bit more successful with this in SA as we don’t have the same food regulations as the USA and our commercial kombuchas are still alive.

 

What you need to make kombucha:

A fairly large (preferably glass) container

A scoby

3L of tea

2 cups of sugar

Half a cup of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar or 1 cup of your previous batch of kombucha

 

How to:

Thoroughly clean your glassware and anything else which will come into contact with your tea. You can use a mild solution of Milton’s and water, just make sure to leave everything to properly dry afterwards. I use hot soapy water and then rinse everything with apple cider vinegar as the acidity of the vinegar kills most nasties that could contaminate your kombucha. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER USE ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP, it will kill your scoby!

You can wash your hands well with a mild soap and then rinse with apple cider vinegar too. Just remember that the vinegar can be quite corrosive and if in doubt rather buy a box of non-latex gloves for food prep.

Boil water in a large, non reactive pot for 5min, allow to cool to 70’C, add the tea, allow it to steep for 5 min (or longer if you like a stronger tea), add sugar and then let the whole lot cool to room temperature.

Add your tea, and cup of kombucha or vinegar to your glassware and then gently try floating your scoby on top. Some scobys float, some sink, don’t worry too much as a new scoby will form on the top of your liquid but ideally you want your scoby to float as it protects your kombucha from nasties like aspergillus. The kombucha or vinegar makes the tea acidic and this helps to prevent bacteria from growing in your kombucha and makes a happy environment for your scoby to live in.

The next part is the hardest part, cover the glassware with muslin or cheesecloth (folded double), put in a cool dark place and ignore for 2-3 weeks. With it being winter here in the southern hemisphere I find brewing takes a little longer because it is cold. You can get fancy-pants heaters for your kombucha but I don’t bother, it will brew in its own good time.

To tell if it is ready, you can get fancy and test with pH testing kits and stuff or you can do like I do and use a clean straw to sample out a little liquid (use your finger to trap a little liquid in a straw and transfer to a tot glass) and have a taste. If it is still too sweet, leave it a while longer. So easy really.

Pour off your kombucha into a clean bottle with a tight fitting lid (you can use beer brewing bottles or be pleb like me and use an old Coke bottle or two) leave it in the fridge for a week and it will develop a nice fizz.

You can either store your scoby in the fridge in a cup of kombucha or immediately refill the glassware with new tea. Continuous brewing works a charm and leaves you with a steady supply of kombucha.

 

There is a lot of info about flavouring your kombucha, using alternative things to sweeten your kombucha and other methods over at www.kombuchakamp.com

 

A couple things to remember:

If you see mould, it looks like bread mould, growing on you kombucha you will need to throw the lot away and start again with a new scoby

The scoby lives off of the sugar in the tea and will use most of it up, as a result kombucha can have a slight alcohol content and also artificial sweeteners will not work for brewing kombucha.

It isn’t advised to drink more than a cup of kombucha a day as it is quite acidic

 

Sorry for the quality of the photos but it is almost impossible to take good photos of a dark liquid in a dark place.

Kombucha in a dark(ish) place in my kitchen

The mother scoby at the bottom and a new scoby growing on top

Thick child scoby disturbed after sampling the kombucha recently

 

 

 

Water Buffeltjies (Souskluitjies in a chocolate sauce) Diabetic-friendly

This recipe was created over a fire in Moremi, Botswana in 2009. We were camping and roughing it. Being a foodie family “roughing it” is no excuse for bad food. We decided to make souskluitjies with a twist for dessert one evening and it worked out better than I expected. my mother-in-law is diabetic so the recipe was adjusted to have less sugar in it.

(Serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients:
500 ml self-raising flour
60 g butter or margarine
2 ml salt
2 extra large eggs
60 ml milk
750 ml water

Sauce
about 1l water
8 tablespoons of Nomu sugar free hot chocolate powder
30 ml butter or margarine
2 ml salt

1. Sift dry ingredients together. Rub butter into mixture, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Whisk egg and milk cut into dry mixture, to form a stiff dough.
3. Heat water in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Take spoonfuls of dumplings and spoon into water. Place lid on. Boil for 10 – 12 minutes, without removing lid.
4. Take dumplings out of and place in bowl. Repeat with remaining dumplings in saucepan.
5. Sauce: Mix all sauce ingredients, add to heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the dumpling to the sauce and boil for a futher 10 min or pour the sauce over the dumplings and leave for 20min in a warm oven.
(the souskluitjies can be made ahead of time and warmed up before serving. The longer they sit in the sauce the better)
6. We made diabetic friendly souskluitjies but if you have more of a sweet tooth then you can add a couple tablespoons of sugar to the sauce.

Left overs freeze well but must be covered completely with sauce to stop them drying out.

The perfect baby/toddler lunch – Macaroni cheese-ish

This is a go-to standby when I need a quick and easy dinner for the boys. I cook the tomato sauce in bulk and freeze it in cubes.

The boys love it and it is so easy to make.

Tomato Sauce:

Yield 1 cup

10-15 Roma cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 a small onion chopped
1 small carrot finely grated
1 tablespoon pickled beetroot
Fresh basil
1 clove garlic minced
1 heaped teaspoon of tomato paste

Fry the onion in a little olive oil until just golden, add carrot and garlic and saute until softened. Add tomatoes, beetroot, basil, tomato paste and cover with a lid. Allow to simmer on a low heat until the tomatoes are falling apart.

Liquidise with a hand blender. The carrot and beetroot give it a beautiful neon, bright red colour. You would never believe it is healthy and 100% natural.

Macaroni:

Since my boys are still small and have no teeth I use tubetti pasta which is small toddler bite size pasta. You can really use anything though. There are all sorts of fun shaped pastas for kids.

1/2 cup of pasta
Matchbox size block of mild cheddar or gouda grated

Boil the crap out of the pasta until it is super soft. Drain. Add 2-3 tablespoons of sauce until pasta is well coated. Stir through most of the cheese leaving a little to sprinkle on top.

Et voila! Yummy macaroni cheese with hidden veggies.

This recipe makes enough for my 9 month old twins for 2 meals.

Linguine al limone

Lemons

Last night DW (after picking a last couple strands of pasta out of the pot) asked me if I have decided that she needs to eat more, because she is finding it really hard not to over-eat with the food I’ve been cooking lately.

Cooking is an expression of love for me. I love nothing better than having DW and Angel Nanny compliment me on a meal.

Food is part of my heritage as my dad is Jewish, so celebrations often occur around a table. We joke and say my mom always cooks for the entire lost tribe of Israel.

Heritage aside, feeding my family is nurturing. As the adage goes “you are what you eat”, so then all the more reason to feed the people I love food that has love and care infused in every bite.

Last night I felt like making something special for DW. I was inspired by my Foxy friend’s upcoming trip to Italy. When DW asked for pasta for dinner I remembered when we were on honeymoon; we took a roadtrip with our first and last stop was a little town outside of Bloemfontein called Smithfield. There are two restaurants in Smithfield, Pig Out and Luigi’s. The first night we ate at Pig Out and on the return journey we ate at Luigi’s. I remember DW ordered Linguine al limone and raved about it. She enjoyed it so much that when we got home she tried to make a lemon risotto. It was a disaster! We threw the risotto away and laughed it off as an experiment gone horribly wrong.

And so the Linguine al limone faded into the haze of memory. Until last night that is.

After doing a little Google research I found this recipe. Again it is one of those ridiculously easy but amazingly delicious recipes.

I served it with some grilled hake, but I think salmon would be sublime with this. Or you could just have it by itself in all its glory.

So without further ado… Linguine al limone

Ingredients:

Salt

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided (or more to taste)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried linguine

Chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Set a covered large pot of salted water over high heat.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk 3/4 cup of the cheese and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice to make a paste. Gradually add the oil while whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest, salt and pepper.

When the water boils, add the linguine and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining. Return the linguine to the pot. Add the lemon sauce. Toss to coat. Taste and add as much of the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice as desired to taste. Add a few tablespoons of reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce if needed. Allow to sit for a few minutes for the linguine to absorb some of the sauce. Toss in some torn basil or chopped parsley if desired. Pass the additional 1/4 cup (or more to taste) Parmigiano at the table.

Makes 8 first course servings

Recipe from SimpleItaly.