Thanks for all the encouragement guys after my last post. The comment didn’t phase me too much as I know when my recipes turn out well… I love being able to share that same joy I experience, hence the blog and hence hosting meals with friends.
Sometimes I feel like I am on a roll in the kitchen. A week filled with great dishes, each one working out perfectly.
And then, it dries up.
Last week, I did the unfathomable for me. I threw away food.
Over the Christmas holidays, I made homemade sauerkraut. I scoped out pickling salt after my grandmother’s insistence and followed the recipe to a T. 5 pounds of cabbage with 3 tbsp of salt. Nothing fancy. No seasonings. After its first night, it needed a bit more liquid to completely cover the cabbage, so I added some more salt water. I used a (very heavy) car battery [long story how I have that…] to really pack the cabbage down. And then I waited.
It said it would take 4-6 weeks.
After 2 weeks, it started to grow mold on the surface (also known as scum or bloom). Which I removed. Apparently it is normal?
Another 2 weeks went by, more scum. The cabbage tasted like cabbage. Not even that salty.
After another 2 weeks, the scum was making the house smell. I knew sauerkraut could make a house smell, but I figured it would smell like sauerkraut.
The cabbage still didn’t taste like anything more than cabbage in a muted salty broth. Six weeks in, no change and lots of mold. That’s enough.
So it got tossed.
I am a sauerkraut failure.
Oh well, I will have to shell out the big bucks for the really delicious Bubbie’s sauerkraut instead.
What else has been going on in my kitchen?
Sadly, my lackluster results were mostly the meals I had picked to share with friends. I hate it when that happens. Although I know I am my harshest critic when serving others.
I made the White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiano from Terry’s new cookbook. The soup itself was pleasant and my guests really enjoyed it (moreso than myself). It became more special when you added the chickpea flour parmigiano which added a lemony tang to the soup. The soup ended up improving as leftovers and Rob adored it atop his weekend besan chilla.
A few days later, I made this soup, a Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup that I modified from Jessica. Like the last soup, this one didn’t wow me either. I always have high expectations when people say this was the “best dish ever”. I don’t think I seasoned it properly but it was still good. Just not GREAT. I liked the chunky yet creamy roasted garlic and white beans (I used marrow beans from Whole Foods). I omitted the nutritional yeast since my go-to vegetable broth powder includes nutritional yeast (I use Tess‘ delightful Chicky Baby Seasoning, by the way). I think kale would be better, but I substituted collard greens since they needed to be used.
And lastly, I made Sarah’s Split Pea Sunshine and Saffron Soup. I didn’t even photograph it because it turned an ugly murky green after being pureed thanks to the (unpeeled) kabocha squash. The soup had such promise- split peas, kabocha squash, carrots, leeks and a host of savoury spices including saffron. I even made the cute (but labour intensive) sunshine carrot cut-outs!
I used red split peas for the first time (courtesy of Whole Foods in Mississauga) and it took over 4 hours before they softened for my liking. It was gorgeous before I threw my handheld blender in there. That’s when the flecks of green were pretty. It was also pretty tasty in the little spoonfuls I tried. But the blender muddled the soup – in looks and taste, unfortunately.
Hopefully your cooking adventures have been better! :)
Any tips for homemade sauerkraut??
Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Collard Greens
2 bulbs garlic, roasted (I used 25 cloves of roasted garlic)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked white beans (I used Marrow beans, but use your favourite white bean)
2 cups kale leaves, removed from stems & chopped (I used collards)
1 carrot, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1. If you haven’t roasted your garlic yet, start now by chopping off the top, sprinkling with oil, salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and roast at 400F for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool when finished.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, and bay leaf, and saute for 2-3 minutes more, until fragrant.
3. Add the broth, beans and garlic pulp. Increase heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree as much (or as little) of the soup as you want. I wanted a chunky consistency, so I only partially pureed the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a potato masher could work, too.
5. Stir in the chopped kale and grated carrot. Cover and allow the kale to wilt and turn a deep green. This shouldn’t take long – 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.