Fermentation - Valarie O'Connor
Basic fermented veggies
You will need one 2 litre sterilised jar or any decent sized jar to get started
One cauliflower, broken into small florets
2-3 large carrots, washed and scraped/peeled and cut into sticks of about 1/2 inch thick
1-3 tsp sea salt OR 1 tsp sea salt and 1 tblsp whey ( a by product of cheese making
1 litre spring/filtered/boiled water
- Prepare and wash your veg in clean, ideally filtered or boiled water
- In a clean jug dissolve the salt or salt and whey in the water
- Layer the veggies tightly in your jar, leaving a space of about one inch at the top of the jar
- Pour over the water mixture and press them down with a small jar/weight, and close the jar. Put the jar on a plate and leave it at room temperature for 3-4 days, letting the gasses escape once a day. Once the gasses have subsided you can remove the weight in the jar and transfer it to cold storage.
As this is made with whey from your cheese or yogurt making, Kvass is practically a free drink that’s fantastic for promoting good digestive health. It’s a tonic for the blood, liver and kidneys and helps regularity. It’s also quite tasty as the fermentation brings out the sweetness of the beetroot and it becomes slightly effervescent. If you’re planning a big night out on the town where you know you will be drinking, having a glass of this in the morning and evening will have a notable strengthening effect on your liver and a reduction in hangover symptoms. So look after your liver, it goes through hell for you!
You will need 1 x 2-3 litre glass jar - sterilised
1 large beetroot, organic will work best here
1 cup/ whey
1 tblsp sea salt
- Simply peel and slice the beetroot into thin pieces and place them in the jar, topping up with the whey, salt and water until the jar is full.
- Keep the jar at room temperature for 2-3 days and then transfer somewhere cool, ideally the fridge but if you live in Ireland, any storage that’s unheated in winter will do.
- Drink a glass in the morning, diluted with water 50/50, and one in the evening. Depending on your usual bodily functions, you should notice a difference in your digestion and therefore your energy levels in a few days.
- When the jar is almost empty of liquid, top it up again with fresh water and leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days and repeat the process until the colour goes out of the water. Then begin a new batch from scratch.
2 napa or Chinese cabbages - cut into quarters lengthways and then into chunks
8 tblsp sea salt
4 spring onions - cut into pieces about 3cm/1inch long
4 tblsp Korean chilli powder
4 tblsp fish sauce
100g/4oz fresh ginger - peeled and grated
6-8 medium garlic gloves finely chopped
Wash the cabbage and discard the middle spine, place it in a large plastic bowl and sprinkle over the sea salt. Cover with water until the cabbage is submerged and weigh it down with a dinner plate, leave at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours to soak.
Strain off the water and rinse the cabbage under cold, running water, squeeze out as much excess water as you can and return the cabbage to the rinsed bowl.
In another bowl mix the remaining ingredients and pour this over the cabbage, mix everything well to combine it and now pack it into your clean jar, pressing it all down as you go.
Get you small jar or weight and pop it on top of the cabbage, you should be able to slowly lever the jar closed. It’s important that the cabbage remains submerged under the liquid. Place the jar on a plate and leave at room temperature.
After 2-3 days you should see some activity in the form of bubbles, open the jar to let any gasses out and close it again, repeat this for up to six days when the Kimchi should ready to put in the fridge.
The fridge will stop the fermentation process and make your snack even tastier. It will keep for ages in the fridge but becomes addictive once you start eating it.
Sauerkraut and other krauts
The lactobilli (good bacteria) present in all vegetables is activated by the fermenting process. Sauerkraut is a staple in German homes and has been adapted the world over as a miraculous, health giving food that is easy and cheap to make. If you are vegan or if you simply don’t have whey to use in this recipe, simply use 2 tsp sea salt instead of one. Eating sauerkraut is a habit that grows on you, it’s so refreshing compared to shop bought versions and goes well with cheese and cold meats or just to grab a mouth-full whenever you are passing the fridge, better than a donut!
Equipment needed: 1 x 1litre mason jar, 1 instrument for ‘pounding’ the cabbage like a flat ended rolling pin, a very clean, large plastic basin or bowl, a small jar or stone for weighing the cabbage down in the jar, this will also have to be sterilised.
Makes one 1litre jar
1 head organic cabbage, red or white
1 tsp sea salt
4 tblsp whey (this is a bi-product of cheese making and can be bought from health food stores) if you are not using whey just use an extra tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds or other flavourings like star anise or black peppercorns
- Shred the cabbage with a large knife, you can use a food processor but it tends to chops the cabbage too finely.
- Put the cabbage into the bowl with the salt and whey, if using. Mix everything together with your hands and then get your rolling pin and begin pounding the cabbage, keep going for 10 minutes until some of the juices are being released, just think of the toned arms your getting!
- Sprinkle on the caraway seeds or other flavourings, or leave it plain.
- Get your sterile jar and pack the cabbage in with the juices, press in down and pop in a jar/weight or stone that’s big enough to put pressure on the cabbage when you close the lid down. You want it to be submerged in the juices. Place the jar on a plate to catch any juices that overflow.
- Leave the jar at room temperature for 4 days, you should see bubbles happening in the jar, this means it’s working! In a cold winter maybe put it in the airing cupboard, the ideal temperature is 2-22 Degrees C. Open the jar every day to release the gasses. You can refrigerate the sauerkraut after this time, this will stop the fermentation process, you can also let go of the weight in the jar.
An Irish Kraut
Once you do one sauerkraut, your culinary brain tends to engage and you think, why not mix things up? There are, quite simply no hard and fast rules and different types of vegetables are prolific in different countries at different times. The colours of the Irish flag go so well together that it made sense to make this delicious Irish Kraut. Now you might think that a green cabbage would bring more green and you would be right, but then I’d want t do it in three stripes and it’s just too fiddly, but if I was making a batch, then maybe. Spring onions bring a lovely mild onioniness to this, not too strong, just right. It’s just like coleslaw without mayo.
Makes one x 1 litre jar
1/2 head white cabbage - shredded
2 large carrots - coarsely grated
3-4 spring onions roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt and 2 tblsp whey
OR 2 tsp sea salt
- In a large bowl mix everything together until well combined. Either massage the veggies until they release their juices or pound them with your big stick for 10 minutes.
- Pack everything into your jar and follow the instructions for all krauts.
- Leave to ferment and then refrigerate
6 large beetroot/12 medium
1 litre/ 2 pints filtered water
2 tsp sea salt OR
1 tsp sea salt and 2 tblsp whey
Preheat the oven to 150C/320F
- Place the unpeeled beetroot on a roasting tray and bake them for 3 hours until a knife goes in easily. remove the tray from the oven and leave them to cool.
- Slice them into slices or sticks about 1/2 inch thick and place the beets in your clean jar, leaving a space of about 1 inch from the top. Press the down firmly with your hanMix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the beets, giving the liquid time to mingle through all the spaces. Make sure the beets are just covered and seal your jar.
- Place it in a warm spot, ideally 20-22 degrees and leave it for 4-5 days, checking once a day and releasing the gasses by opening the jar. When the bubbles have subsided pop the jar in the fridge and enjoy with your retro summer salads.
HOW LONG DOES FERMENTED FOOD LAST
Properly stored, and ideally packed into sterile jars and bottles, fermented foods last for months or even years.
Valerie’s Upcoming Workshops on Fermentation
Airfield on Saturday next, Oct 31st
Hook and Ladder, Limerick, Saturday 5th November
Winter Warming Food - Lynda Booth
Lynda Booth of the Dublin Cookery School joins Marian in studio to talk about winter warming food.
As a general guideline, use 80-100g/3-3 ½ oz of rice for a main course, 60g/2 ½ oz for a starter. For the mushrooms, you can reckon on about 5g/ ¼ oz dried mushrooms and 50g/1 ½ oz fresh mushrooms per 100g/3 ½ oz of rice.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter
400g/14oz arborio or carnaroli rice
20g/ ¾ oz dried porcini mushrooms
200g/7oz shitake mushrooms, sliced – or use a combination of wild mushrooms depending on what is available
1 onion, finely chopped
4 fl.oz/125ml dry white wine
2 tabsps olive oil
A bunch of flat leafed parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tabsps finely chopped onion
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
40g/1 ½ oz freshly grated parmesan, or more to taste
60g/2oz marscapone, to finish
Place the porcini in a small bowl or jug and cover with 8 fl.oz/225 ml boiling water. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes. Strain the liquid off the mushrooms and reserve. Chop the porcini mushrooms and the flat leafed parsley. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and porcini and cook for a few minutes until the porcini are tender. Slice the shitakes or other mushrooms and add these to the pan. Toss the mushrooms over a medium heat until they are tender. Add the chopped parsley and half of the porcini liquid and continue cooking until the liquid has more or less evaporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Meanwhile, heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it at a gentle simmer. The hot stock will be added at intervals to the rice.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Saute for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the rice to the onion and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is coated with the butter. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Begin to add the simmering stock, half cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next half cup. Add some of the porcini liquid to the rice along with the stock. The total cooking time will be appromixately 20 minutes, at which point the rice should be tender but still firm. A few minutes before the end, add in the mushrooms. Taste to check for flavour and add the remaining porcini liquid if the risotto needs extra flavour. When the risotto is cooked, add the marscapone, parmesan (to taste) and a little stock (or water if the stock has run out) until the rice is a nice creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
A GOOD TIME FOR SOUPS – LOTS OF ROOT VEGETABLES IN SEASONS
Celeriac And Carrot Soup
This is a hearty soup. You could use other root vegetables, but I favour including celeriac because it’s used much less often. I’m not sure why, because it has a great flavour – perhaps it needs a good agent and marketing campaign to give it some publicity. Even keen foodies can find it a challenge to identify the two main vegetables as they get stuck into this soup.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1.2 litres chicken stock or vegetable stock
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Season with salt, stir, cover with a lid and cook gently until the onion is completely tender, about 15 minutes.
- Place the celeriac on a chopping board and remove the outer skin with a serrated knife. Chop into smallish chunks. Peel the carrots and chop into smallish pieces. Add the celeriac and carrot to the onion, season and continue cooking for about 5 minutes with the lid on. Add the stock and bring up to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Purée the soup in a blender or food processor and correct the seasoning.
French Onion Soup With Sourdough Toast
1.5 litres beef or chicken stock
Salt & Pepper
6 slices thickly cut ciabatta or sourdough bread
80g grated Gruyere cheese
Peel the onions and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for around 45 minutes with no lid until the onions caramelise. You will need to stir regularly, scraping up all the crusty bits from the bottom of the saucepan as the onions caramelize. Continue this procedure until the onions are a rich golden brown.
Add the stock, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and cook for a further 10 minutes. Put grated cheese over each slice of sourdough and place under the grill until the cheese melts and turns a light golden colour. Garnish with some chopped parsley.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls and place a piece of toasted sourdough on top.
Butternut squash risotto
When I started teaching, I ran classes in Italian cooking. One of the dishes on the course was risotto alla Milanese (with, of course, the saffron). Over time, my risotto has evolved. I have added roasted butternut squash for colour and flavour. Sometimes I put Parma ham on the top, cooked on a baking tray until crispy, or add deep-fried sage leaves as a garnish.
Serves 6 as a starter
1 butternut squash
olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only plus 2.5cm of the green, finely chopped
1.3 litres chicken stock or vegetable stock
400g risotto rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)
120ml dry white wine
pinch of saffron threads
50–60g Parmesan cheese, grated, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan, 400°F, Gas 6.
Remove the skin from the butternut squash. Slice in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres with a teaspoon. Cut the flesh into large cubes and place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes, turning over once or twice during the cooking. Purée in a food processor until smooth, adding a little stock or water if required.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, season with salt and cook with a lid on over a low heat until completely softened. Add the chopped leek to the pot and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a separate saucepan and keep this just below simmering point on the cooker.
Add the rice to the onion and leek and stir for a couple of minutes so that the grains of rice become coated with the butter. The risotto will take about 20 minutes to cook from this point onwards. Add the white wine and simmer, stirring, until the wine has evaporated. Add a ladleful of broth and simmer again until the stock has been absorbed, stirring regularly. Add in the saffron threads. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, for the duration of the cooking, allowing each batch of stock to be absorbed by the rice before adding another. Stir regularly. Taste the rice towards the end of the cooking. At the end, the rice should be tender but still retain a slight bite.
Crispy Parma ham
This is an optional garnish for the risotto.
1 slice of Parma ham per person
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas 4. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place slices of Parma ham on the tray and bake until crispy, 6–7 minutes. The Parma ham may be cooked a few hours in advance.
Chicken Roasted With Fresh Spices
In this recipe, a whole chicken is coated in a yoghurt marinade, covered with meltingly tender, spicy onions and then roasted in a parcel. The chicken juices mix with some of the paste that falls off during the cooking, leaving a sauce that can be spooned over each serving. Cooking a whole bird on the bone means that you get a lot more flavour (and a much better sauce). For a quick supper, I sometimes use the marinade to coat chicken breasts wrapped in foil.
1 x 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
6 tbsp natural or Greek yoghurt
1 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
1 large free range chicken, about 2.2kg
For the onion spice mixture
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped very finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4cm cube of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
30g ground almonds
2 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°Fan, 400°F, Gas 6.
To marinate the chicken
Mix together the ginger, crushed garlic, yoghurt, salt and turmeric. Skin the chicken, except for the wings. Put the chicken, breast side up, on a tray or plate. Rub the marinade all over the chicken. Set aside, unrefrigerated, for 30 minutes or cover and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
To roast the chicken
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat or until softened, stirring regularly. Add the crushed garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika and turmeric and cook for a further 3–4 minutes. Add the ground almonds and lemon juice. Stir and remove from the heat. If you are roasting the chicken straight away, spread this directly over the yoghurt marinade. If you aren’t cooking the chicken till later, allow the onion mixture to cool.
Cut a piece of aluminium foil large enough to enclose the whole chicken. There should be enough room to allow air space above the chicken. Place the foil in a large roasting tin and put the chicken in the centre. Bring the pieces of foil together and pleat well above the breast bone. Crimp the two ends together so the package is tightly sealed.
Roast the chicken for 1 ¼ –1 ½ hours. Exact timing will obviously vary according to the size of the chicken. Carve the chicken and serve with the spice paste and all the juices that have accumulated in the bottom of the dish.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine With Raisins And Almonds
Moroccan tagines are not generally heavily spiced or particularly hot. They commonly include fruit, both fresh and dried, adding a natural sweetness that I love. In this instance, it is the raisins that add a fruity sweetness and take on the flavours from the meat and the sauce.
30g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp light olive oil
300g Spanish onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1.3–1.6kg lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm chunks
2 whole tinned tomatoes
350ml chicken lamb, veal or vegetable stock
1 tbsp honey, or more to taste
2 tsp sunflower oil
70g whole blanched almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas 4.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a casserole pot and add the chopped onions. Season with salt, cover the pot with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat. Remove the lid and add the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Continue cooking for another few minutes and add the meat. Season the lamb and toss over a high heat until the lamb changes colour. Add the chopped tomatoes and the stock, adding a little extra if necessary so as to barely cover the meat. Bring up to the boil, place a lid on the pot and then transfer to the preheated oven. Cook the lamb for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and add the raisins. If the meat is looking a little dry, add in some extra stock. Return the pot to the oven and continue cooking for a further 30–45 minutes, until the lamb is tender.
Add the honey and mix it into the sauce. Taste and add more seasoning if required and another drizzle of honey if you would like some extra sweetness. The tagine may be cooked in advance and served the next day, but the almonds should only be added just before serving, otherwise they lose their crunch.
To toast the almonds
Heat a frying pan. Add the sunflower oil, followed by the almonds. Toss for a few minutes, until the almonds become very lightly toasted.
Braised Duck Legs With Pomme Purée
Braising is a technique that works particularly well for cuts of meat that would otherwise be tough. Slow-cooking duck legs (or chicken legs) in a broth with vegetables and aromatics makes for a comforting dish that requires nothing other than some mashed potato as an accompaniment. Cabbage is included here, but carrots or baby turnips would also work well.
4 duck legs and thighs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp thyme leaves
2 large red onions, halved and cut into slices crossways
¼ head of Savoy or Dutch white cabbage, shredded
3 tbsp sherry vinegar, preferably aged
450ml full-bodied poultry, veal or beef stock
3 whole tomatoes, quartered (I use tomatoes from the tin)
pomme purée (see below), to serve
Using a boning or chopping knife, separate the leg and the thigh into separate pieces. Trim the excess fat from the duck legs, making sure that the skin covers the meat completely. Skin will always shrink back a little during cooking, so allow for this. Season the duck with sea salt, black pepper and thyme leaves. If time permits, let the duck sit at room temperature for half an hour. Alternatively, season in advance, refrigerate and leave for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C Fan, 350F, Gas 4
Heat a wide frying pan and add the duck legs, skin side down. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the skin becomes a rich golden colour. Pour off the excess duck fat and reserve. When the legs are browned, remove from the pan.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of duck fat back into the pan and add the red onions. Season with salt and cook slowly for 10–15 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage and extra thyme and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing regularly. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, boil for about 10 seconds and then add the stock. Transfer the vegetables and the broth to an ovenproof dish and sit the duck legs on top. Scatter the quartered tomatoes around the duck.
Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for about 1 ½ hours, or until the duck legs are meltingly tender. If you pull a piece of meat off the bone, it should come away really easily, otherwise return it to the oven to continue cooking. Always check during the cooking time that there is still sufficient broth in the dish. Remove from the oven and allow to settle. Spoon off any excess fat that rises to the surface. If the broth is too runny, you may strain it off the duck legs and vegetables and reduce it in a separate pot by boiling.
To serve, place a good spoonful of pomme purée in the centre of wide soup bowls. Spoon the sauce and vegetables around the potato and sit a duck leg on top. Serve immediately.
150ml milk or a combination of milk and cream
Peel the potatoes and steam until completely tender. While still hot, pass them through a potato ricer back into the saucepan (or use a potato masher).
Put the butter and milk (or milk and cream) in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Place the potatoes over a low flame and begin adding the warm milk mixture. Season the potatoes and keep adding the liquid until the potato is a creamy consistency. The amount of liquid will vary each time and also depends on the type of potatoes, so add it gradually.
How to avoid lumpy mashed potato
Always make sure that both the potato and the liquid are hot. If the potato has gone cold, you can either reheat it carefully in the saucepan, or better still, reheat it in a microwave before adding the liquid. Cold potato will be lumpy.
Blackberry and apple crisp
When does a crumble become a crisp? I’m not sure. Probably when it’s made by Americans. American friends such as Kris and Annie often give me crisps, which usually include nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or pecans) and cinnamon. The nuts are chopped finely so that they add texture and flavour. The crisp may be served in a pie dish or, even better, in deep individual ramekins large enough to hold a generous portion of fruit. The bubbling juices of the fruit will then ooze through the crumbly topping to be savoured with each spoonful.
80g light brown sugar
15g plain flour
4 Granny Smith, Cox Pippin or Golden Delicious apples (about 340g)
whipped cream, to serve
FOR THE CRISP TOPPING
130g plain flour
100g light brown sugar
90g porridge oats
½ tsp ground cinnamon
grating of fresh nutmeg
Equipment: A 30cm x 20cm ovenproof dish or 6 ramekins about 9cm wide x 7cm deep
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas 4.
TO MAKE THE TOPPING
Place the flour in a bowl. Chop up the butter very finely and rub it into the flour until it resembles fine crumbs. Add the sugar, oats, pecans, cinnamon and a grating of fresh nutmeg. Mix all the ingredients together.
TO MAKE THE FILLING
Mix the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Peel, core and slice the apples. If using ramekins, chop the apples finely. Mix the blackberries, apples, sugar and flour together and put into an ovenproof dish or ramekins. If using ramekins, pack them as tightly as possible and fill the fruit almost to the top. Sprinkle the crisp on top.
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the fruit is tender, beginning to bubble up and the topping is pale golden. Test the fruit with a skewer or with the point of a knife to see if it’s ready. Serve hot with whipped cream or ice cream.