pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
I have been getting into pickling things. Mainly, but not only, cucumbers.

It turns out, it's really easy. Cucumbers are less easy than other veg cos they can go a bit over-soft if you get the proportions wrong, but I love properly fermented cucumbers so much I'll talk about them here.

So, you get a jar. I've been using 2-litre spring-top Mason jars. Needs to be properly clean but doesn't need to be sterile.

If you're doing cucumbers, then some source of tannins is needed to keep things crunchy. I use some vine leaves (the sort that you can get preserved in a jar); other people use blackcurrant leaves, oak leaves, black tea, or horseradish leaves. You also want to top & tail the cucumbers (AIUI this is to halt the ripening process). I can fit about eight small cucumbers into a two-litre jar; I think it's worth getting the straighter mini-cucumbers rather than the curly ones just for efficiency of packing.

For seasoning (all of which is optional!) I use maybe half-a-bunch of dill weed, several cloves of garlic, peeled and halved, some dried chilis, bay leaves, whole black peppercorns, and mustard seed. I hear dill flowers are the thing to use, but they're something one has to grow oneself.

Salt solution "brine" is 3.5% w/v - this means 35g per litre of boiled-and-cooled water. 35g is about 25ml for standard table salt.

The fermentation relies on bacteria on the skins of your veg, which is why they need to be non-blanched, and why the brine can't be boiling hot. Pack all the veg and flavourings into a jar, and fill the jar with the brine. I sometimes use a slice of plastic bottle to stop stuff from floating above the surface of the brine.

Over the course of a week to ten days, you'll see the brine go cloudier, the cucumbers become a more yellowish green, and the smell and taste of the brine become more delicious. I tend to open the jar briefly daily to check the smell, taste a teaspoonful of the brine, and to vent any pressure build-up (though the jars I use seem not to explode, presumably the sprung lids let the gas out a bit. If you're worried you can use a less-sealed system).

When they're done to your liking, put the jar in the fridge; it'll slow the fermentation to a crawl and the pickles will keep for a good few weeks after that.


Sep. 11th, 2016 01:20 pm
pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
I had some of Morrison's "breakfast mushrooms" - they're just large (maybe 10cm diameter) field mushrooms, I think.

I sautéed one very slowly in a mixture of butter & olive oil with a small sprinkle of my all-purpose seasoning mix (equal parts garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika) and towards the end seasoned with minced (well, grated) garlic, and fresh-horseradish-grated-into-vinegar (cos it was around and I thought it'd be nice.)

Served on top of a toasted pitta bread (because that's what I had), and with mushroomy pan juices (deglazed with a tiny amount of lemon juice) poured over it so the bread soaked it up, it was more delicious than I'd anticipated.
pseudomonas: (beer)
Yay! A non-political post for once!

People who don't drink alcohol: what do you have in pubs? Do you all have sweet teeth? I'm an alcohol drinker, but a) I have friends that aren't b) I worry about a culture that stigmatizes non-drinkers c) I'm a lightweight so I will often want to be drinking something other than booze.

I'd kind of like to see drinks that roughly sit in the "beer" niche:

■ non-alcoholic
■ non-sweet-tasting* (at least less sweet than Coke or J2O)
■ "long" drinks, quaffable over an evening, ideally not hot.
■ moderately Exciting, more so than a cup of tea or a soda water
■ profitable enough for a pub to be happy selling it

At home I'm mostly drinking tea (black tea with milk, or fennel, or nettle) or water. I prefer sour/salty/umami/bitter flavours to sweet, on the whole; I see astringency (that mouth-drying property that you get from tannins in tea) as a good property for a drink to have. Spicy is good. Fizzy is OK too.

Some thoughts: Virgin Mary is a savoury-ish drink depending on its condiments; iced teas tend to be fairly sweet but needn't be so in principle; milkshakes likewise. If you go too far in the umami direction you end up with stock or soup, which is lovely but not very pub-ish. V8 I should probably try next time I'm somewhere that sells it, maybe that's what I'm after, but it's only one product. De-alcoholized beers ISTR as being fairly insipid, but it's been a while.

* (it's about the flavour, not the biochemistry, so I count Diet Coke as being just as sweet as Coke). I don't ask that such a drink be "healthy", just that it not be syruppy, although I'd prefer something that doesn't rot my teeth too much


Nov. 7th, 2014 02:03 pm
pseudomonas: (eyebrow)
Copied from a rantlet I made in a comment elsenet, agreeing with the proposition that the "tomatoes aren't really vegetables" is just silly

I get really* cross about the fruit/veg thing

a) Clearly (to my eyes) the botanic definition of a fruit is only tangentially relevant to the culinary definition. We can do this. We have polysemy, we have shades of meaning. It's OK.

b) Even if the botanic definition were useful, why would "fruit" not then be a subset of "vegetable" (which would presumably be defined as something like "all edible plant (or plant-and-fungal) matter")?

c) Even if fruit were not a subset of vegetables, why on earth would you assume that fruit and vegetables have got to be disjoint? Just a miserably narrow gastronomic outlook?

d) Why do people always go on about tomatoes, and not cucumbers, mange-tout, pumpkins, courgettes, aubergines, rhubarb, and so forth?

* for a small value of "really"


Jan. 20th, 2013 09:29 pm
pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
I got a bag of agar powder! so I needed to play with it, clearly :)

Squish strawberries (they were frozen since strawberry season and defrosted) through a sieve, add some sugar, a very little finely-ground black pepper, and a few drops of lemon juice. Stir in some agar powder and microwave until just boiling. Pour/spoon it into moulds - I used a silicone ice-cube-tray in the shape of shells, which I filled half-full. Made four (small experimental batch), only two came out of the moulds properly, so my host and I got one each with our cake. They tasted intensely fruity and the pepper was definitely a good idea. Next time I'll try lightly oiling the moulds and maybe adding a touch more agar (I used about a quarter of a teaspoon to maybe 40ml strawberry pulp and a teaspoon-and-a-half of sugar)

I am looking forward to trying this with some other fruit!

*Serving suggestion.
pseudomonas: (Default)
When I was a kid back in the 80s, I was told not to pick and eat fruit growing next to busy roads. In these days of near-universal unleaded petrol, does this advice still hold true at all?
pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
Someone, I have an idea it was [ profile] ghoti, suggested that leeks make good skins for vegetarian sausages. So, I used the outer few layers of a leek to make a few just now.

I carefully separated the skins, rinsed them, and put them in some just off-boiling water to soften a little

I tied off one end with string, filled them with filling and a teaspoon, and then tied off the other end.

I fried them in shallow sunflower oil and drained them on some kitchen roll.

Filling: fry chopped leek, add dried soya mince and couscous, some stock, dill, thyme, and tomato puree. let cool a bit, beat in an egg, thicken with coarse cornmeal. This was all made up as I went along, I think I'd put more spicy stuff in next time, and I'd like to try something seitan-based.

They seemed to work quite well.
pseudomonas: an Holy Guardian Sprout Icon (apologies to Robert Rankin) (sprout)
Take kale, rinse, chop roughly, spread on baking tray, and bake for about 10 min at 180°C: tasty crispy green stuff. It might take a tiny pinch of salt, but not very much, cos it's quite strongly flavoured when it's dried out.
pseudomonas: (Default)
I've been going on about sourdough for a bit. I've been using this method, with starter got from [ profile] kht.

I find this less time-consuming than traditional bread-making - the flexibility of being able to leave the dough for almost-arbitrary periods means I can knead it and bake it whenever I have a spare few minutes rather than when the protocol demands. It produces a tasty bread, rather more flavourful than bread made with yeast alone.

Notes: One rising seems to work, though I'm still experimenting with that. I often make the bread now in silicone loaf tins, which work well; putting too much dough in tins inhibits the rising as it collapses under its own weight, so making shallower loaves is often easier. Covering with clingfilm stops drying well, but also inhibits rising if the film is in contact with the dough. The bread goes very well with home-pickled eggs.

If anyone (who's going to see me soon) wants some starter, let me know.

(This post follows [personal profile] andrewducker's plea to Just Post More Stuff. Now it's your turn!)

Banana rum

Jul. 11th, 2010 11:18 am
pseudomonas: (Default)
I made some banana liqueur a while back. Mash a couple of overripe bananas, put in a kilner jar with a whole load of sugar (I think about 400g, but can't remember) and most of a bottle of dark rum. I left the whole lot for about a year until I got round to acquiring some nylon mesh straining bags, then strained it into a bottle. Very tasty.
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