Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have loved cooking with sourdough ever since I lived in Alaska in the early 60s. The problem is that the starter keeps growing, just like Topsy! I give it away, I use it as often as possible, but I still end up with more than I can use. I’m open for any sourdough recipes you may have, so please send them to me!

This recipe starts out with 1/2 cup of starter, and since I had extra without having to prepare it the night before, this was a good recipe to use today.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup starter
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar

NOTE: I used real sugar in this first mixture because I believe it is necessary to help the starter to “work.” Cover and let this mixture stand for 2 hours in a warm spot. I put mine in a sunny kitchen window.

In a separate bowl, cream together:
1 cup butter (I used Smart Balance 65% buttery)
1 cup sugar (I used Splenda)

When well mixed, add 1 tablespoon molasses (I used blackstrap). Then add one egg and continue to mix thoroughly.

Add:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries or dried blueberries)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Into this, mix the starter mixture.

The batter will not be as stiff as most of us are accustomed to when we make plain oatmeal cookies. Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto greased baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take a couple minutes longer, but mine came out at 12 minutes. I got 4 dozen in this batch.

A hui hou!

Spicy Fig Orange Jam

Figs are a delicious but fragile fruit. Once you have acquired them, you need to do something with those you don’t eat. Overeating of figs could produce some gastric distress, if you aren’t careful. That gives you as good a reason as any to make jam out of the majority of your fig supply.

Cut 5 cups of fresh figs (about 2 pounds) into quarters, removing stems. Add 1 cup water and 1/4 cup lemon juice. (Note: even white figs will turn dark as you cook them, so feel free to use any kind of fig.)

Grate 1 tablespoon of fresh orange rind. Chop the fruit of two oranges (all pith, seeds and membranes removed) to make 1 cup, including juice.

In a large pot, combine the grated orange rind, the orange fruit and juice, lemon juice, figs. Let this sit overnight. One of the tricks of making marmalade is to let the fruit marinate overnight in a bit of water. Personally, I think this makes a richer flavor in any of your jams or marmalades. Figs benefit from this, as well.

The second day, add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to lessen the foaming. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Skim off any foam.

The third day, add 3 cups of sugar and bring back to a boil. It changes color to a dark brown. Because it’s a fragile fruit, rather than boil it too long (long enough to get it to the setting point), you can add 1 packet of pectin to hasten the gelling process.

Ladle into sterilized jars, add sterilized lids and rings. Tighten the rings and turn jars upside down for 15 minutes. Once you turn them right side up again, this is when the lids usually pop, indicating a good seal.

Adapted from 250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay.

‘ono loa

Mozzarella Cheese Making

Sonia and Lucy
Sonia and Lucy

This past Sunday I had one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had in ages. This particular group of people was given an opportunity to take a class in Hilo at Kim’s home, one of the Slow Food Hawai`i members. She lives in a section of Old Hilo that has a view of the ocean. . .

. . . and of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church.

Fortunately, we had Chef Sandy Barr-Riviera, an instructor with Hawai`i Community College culinary department, to teach us and to help with some of the side steps, like dissolving the rennet and citric acid in water (2 separate steps), while we all anxiously kept peering into our pots to see if it was cheese yet.

Here, Chef Sandy is helping Bill Stein, head of the Department of Agriculture at UH Hilo.

We worked in pairs since the stove space was limited. That gave those of us who weren’t brave enough to go first an opportunity to watch and see if it all worked. Sara and I were the third pair. Here she is hard at work.

Sonia Martinez, a friend who is also a food and gardening blogger, was part of the class. I took pictures of her working, then she took pictures of me at work. Be sure to read her version of what happened in the class, and to see more pictures. Here is a picture of Sonia (in the back) and Chef Sandy (in front).

I have inserted photos showing the process I went through. You can get an idea of how it looks as you work through the steps. Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll is the “go to” book for making cheese at home. You can order it from Amazon here: <a href="Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses

Cheese making supplies and all sorts of other information can be found at http://cheesemaking.com.

Instructions (ingredients included in the narrative):

A gallon of milk takes up a lot of room, so be sure you use a large enough pan. I used a 6-quart Cuisinart pan that was adequate. Also, let me preface this list by saying that the procedure is so much easier than it looks here. I’ve divided the steps so it’s simple to follow, but I know it looks like there’s more to it than there really is.

• Using a thermometer for accuracy, bring the milk to 50 degrees.

• Then add 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid that has been crushed and dissolved in 1 cup of bottled water. The reason you want to use bottled water is to make sure you don’t have any chlorine in the water at all. Chlorine will completely stop the process and you’ll never get cheese.

• Continue stirring over heat until the temperature is around 95 degrees.

• At this point, add 1/4 of a tablet of rennet that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup bottled water. One trick Sandy showed us was to pour the dissolved substances through a skimmer to make sure it is evenly distributed over the milk. (I’m smiling because it looks like something is starting to happen!)

• Stir again, and remove from heat and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

• The whey should be starting to separate from the curd. Check this by pressing a spoon down in the mixture enough to see if there is good clear whey. This was an almost clear, yellow/greenish liquid. The curd looks like cottage cheese.

• Using a long knife (like a bread knife), criss-cross cut the curd into pieces that are about 3/4 inch square. Actually, mine didn’t cut that cleanly, but after slicing my knife around for a while, the curds were adequately small (but not too small).

• Put the pot back on the heat for a little longer, stirring again until the temperature reaches 105 degrees. It doesn’t take long so keep a close eye on it.

• Take it off the heat again and continue stirring for a few minutes.

• Have a good glass microwavable bowl handy. With your skimmer, lift the curds out of the whey and into a sieve.

• Press the whey out gently and put the curds into the glass bowl.

• Repeat this process until you have all the curds out of the pot. You will need to keep draining the whey as it tends to keep “weeping” as you work.

• Once all the curds are out of the whey, use a funnel and pour the whey into your empty gallon milk jug. Keep the whey and use it to make ricotta, or give it to your chickens in their water to get bigger and richer eggs.

• Now put the bowl of drained curd in the microwave on high for 1 minute.

• Take it out, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt. I only used 1 teaspoon as I don’t like my cheese too salty. One teaspoon was still a bit salty for me, but okay.

• Then microwave again for 30 seconds. Take it out, stir a little and let it run from the spoon to check on the consistency.

• Mine wasn’t quite ready after this 30 second nuking, so I did another 30 seconds. You will need to judge your own cheese. It may even take a third nuking.

• Taking your big spoon, stir it around (almost like kneading bread) until it is shiny and thick. Sneak a little taste if you want!

• We’re almost finished! Scoop out a ball of the mozzarella that is 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and roll it in your hands.

• Sonia got 6 large balls of the cheese and I got 10, but mine were a bit smaller than hers.

• Drop these balls of cheese into a larger bowl filled with ice and water. This stops the cooking process.

• After about 10 or 15 minutes, you can scoop them out and put them in a container to keep.

• I put each of my cheese balls into a little plastic sandwich bag once I got home and closed them with a twistie. I kept one out to eat on a cracker. I have never tasted such delicious cheese!

While I was working, I kept thinking about Little Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey. I wonder if she had been making mozzarella, too?

NOTE: We were told to bring a gallon of Mountain Apple brand whole milk. This is local milk, and not pasturized several times like the milk from the mainland. I would like to experiment with lowfat or nonfat milk. We were also given a list of utensils to bring with us.

a cooking thermometer that registers from 90-110 degrees (if you have)
a heavy bottomed pot with a lid that will hold a gallon of milk
a long knife (bread knife will do) to cut the curd
a 3-4 cup capacity tupperware bowl (or similar) for taking home the cheese
clean dish towel
a slotted skimmer if you have
a large spoon to work the curds
a sieve
a funnel to put the whey into your empty milk bottle

I didn’t have a thermometer, but there were several available that we all shared. There were also extra bowls for microwaving the cheese. I can see I need to buy my own thermometer if I’m going to make more cheese (and I plan to)! The class was provided with the rennet (the tablets shown below), citric acid and salt.

Mahalo to Sonia who took all the pictures of me, mahalo to Sandy for teaching us, mahalo to Kim for the use of her kitchen (it will never be the same), and mahalo to the rest of the class for participating. We couldn’t have done it without each other!

It’s mozzarella!

If you get a chance to take this class in the future, I know you won’t be disappointed. The result may not look as “perfect” as what you see in the store, but the taste is far superior!

A hui hou!

Chicken, Chard and Garlic in Olive Oil

One of the fastest and tastiest meals I fix for myself is this dish. I do it often enough that I didn’t think about writing a post about it.

I grow the most wonderful red chard in a little bed by the back door. The leaves are huge, shiny dark green with deep red veins.

Ingredients

A big bunch of chard leaves. Cut out the large main vein, then slice the rest into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

3 cloves garlic, chopped (more or less depending on your taste – I love garlic!)

2 skinless, boneless chicken tenders cut into small pieces

olive oil

lemon pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Toss chicken and garlic in hot oil with lemon pepper. At the last minute, toss in the chard. Stir and let cook until just slightly wilted, but still shiny and bright green.

That’s it! Dish up and eat!

Sourdough Cranberry Rolls

 

I love anything made with sourdough. When I lived in Alaska, I was given a starter that dated back to the 1800s (at least that’s what I was told, but Alaska is known for yarns as big as the state). At any rate, it had been going a long time, and was deliciously sour. I have made sourdough chocolate cake, sourdough fruitcake, sourdough pancakes and waffles, sourdough breads – any recipe I can get my hands on.

The sourdough starter or madre that I use now also came from Alaska, this time from my friend and colleague, Betsy, who used to live there, too. This recipe was adapted from The Tassahara Bread Book and I used dried cranberries instead of raisins. Their original recipe calls for fermenting the raisins, so I wasn’t sure if it would work to ferment the dried cranberries. I imagine you could use dried blueberries, as well.

The Tassahara bakers seem to keep a sourdough raisin roll starter on hand at all times, and this might add to the flavor each time it is used. I probably won’t make this recipe as often as they do, so I didn’t keep anything out for the next time, other than replenishing the regular madre as usual.

 

Sourdough Cranberry Rolls

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sourdough starter
1 3/4 cups water and fermented cranberries *
2/3 cup dry cranberries
Whole wheat flour as needed for kneading.

Mix the salt and cinnamon with the flour. Put the sourdough starter on top of the flour and stir in the water from the cranberries, a little at a time to form a soft dough.

When the mixture is too thick to stir, work with your hands and knead for several minutes. Add the fermented cranberries, and knead a bit more. Add the dry cranberries, and knead them in, too.

Keep the dough on the moist side as much as possible, but add more flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky to work with. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes or so.

Divide the dough into twelve pieces for large scones. Shape into balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let them sit overnight, at least 15 hours or more.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until well browned.

* Fermenting the Dried Cranberries: Place 1/2 cup of dried cranberries in 2 cups of water. Cover and let sit for 3-4 days, unrefrigerated. Stir daily. Don’t change the water because it will be used in the recipe.

NOTES:
1) This may seem like a long drawn-out process, but it’s like making the pink grapefruit marmalade. It only takes a few minutes each day, rather than taking up a whole day of preparation. I tried this recipe for Sourdough Cranberry Rolls with great trepidation, but it was so easy! I’d like to try another dried fruit. I mentioned blueberries above, but wonder about chopping up something like dried mango or ginger. Oh my!

2) The damp towel part didn’t work well for me. It seemed to weigh down the rolls too much, so I took it off and it worked better. I think my tea towel was too thick, not thin like the old flour sack towels my grandmother used.

3) I got twenty large rolls/scones instead of twelve. Also, their recipe calls them “rolls,” but I think they are more like scones, so that’s what I call them. Whatever you want to call them, they were delicious!

4) After they were cool, I wrapped each one in waxed paper and froze them. They are warm and ready to eat after about 20-25 seconds in the microwave. Slather with butter and enjoy!

A hui hou!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Homemade Individual Pizza (9″)

A funny story about pizza comes from my high school years in Belleville, Illinois, just across from St. Louis and the Mississippi River. There was a new Italian family in the neighborhood who had opened up a new “pizza parlor,” which is what they were called then. I was with my parents and some of their friends one evening when we went in to see what all the excitement was about.

The group asked the waitress to describe a pizza. After she finished, my mother looked around and said, “I think we’ll each take one.”

The waitress tried to convince her they only needed one, but Mother insisted. Finally the waitress said, “Uh, let me bring just one to start with and you can decide if you want more later.”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on everyone’s face when it was brought out. Without a doubt, that huge pizza was enough to serve everyone around the table.

I suppose there are people who don’t like pizza, but I have no idea what planet they come from. It’s basically like an Italian open-faced sandwich, and you can put anything you want on it, or leave anything out you don’t want.

I’ve made bread a lot in the past, but never pizza. I couldn’t imagine myself trying to learn how to toss a huge circle of dough above my head without a major disaster.

Then I found a little hidden-away article in a magazine. I don’t even remember which magazine it was in. All I know is that I clipped it for further evaluation. Was I ever surprised when I read it! And it’s super delicious! I think I could even categorize it as an “artisan pizza,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’m eating it right now as I type up this post!

Homemade Individual Pizza

Crust

1/2 package dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar

Add the yeast to the water and let it sit for 10 minutes. It will begin to look slightly foamy.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt and sugar together in another bowl. Then add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients.

Stir until it’s well-mixed. The dough should be thick, requiring a little effort to mix it. Cover the bowl with a clean kithen towel and let rise at warm- or room-termperature for about two hours.

After the dough has risen, place it on a floured board to knead until smoother and no longer sticky. I pushed the dough into a greased 9-inch iron skillet with my fingers, making sure the edges came up a little on the side of the skillet to form a rim.

Add the toppings, starting with the tomato paste, and ending with the shredded cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F. for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles up and the crust just starts to brown.

My toppings

tomato paste right out of the can
sliced mushrooms
thin salami slices, cut in half
thin slices bell pepper
minced garlic
freshly picked oregano leaves
freshly picked marjoram leaves
sliced fresh basil leaves
shredded Romano Pecarino
shredded pepper Jack cheese

Other toppings I like (but didn’t add this time)

loose sausage
chopped onion
sliced black olives
sliced tomatoes
any other sliced veggie
jalapeño peppers
pineapple
sauerkraut
any kind of cheese

You can put whatever you love on pizza, or whatever you have on hand. Have fun with it!

This was super simple and easy – with no fancy tossing! The only wait was for the dough to rise, but I can usually find lots of other things to do around here.

This could be served to two people along with salad and dessert, but I ate the whole thing by myself (blush)!! Even the rim was tasty! But don’t even ask how many calories are in it. Of course, other than the crust, the veggies would all be “legit.”

If this is your recipe, please let me know and I’ll give you full credit, along with my deepest gratitude for having put it where I could find it!

Buon appetito!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Lilikoi Butter Revisited

 

I am fascinated by the fact that my website statistics show “lilikoi butter” as tops in the list of the search words that bring people to my site. It’s been a year since I wrote about making lilikoi butter and I still get requests for more information.

After my first post on that topic, I received an offer from Alexis and Chris of Coastview Aquaponics to come get the last of their wild lilikoi. I wrote about that visit here. I juiced it all up and froze it to save for a later date.

This past week, I finally got around to thawing it out and making lilikoi butter again. I doubled the recipe shown here and ended up with 15 half-pint jars of lilikoi butter. In reading over the original recipe I posted, I realized that I left out the final process. I’ve added it below.

 

Lilikoi Butter

4 eggs
4 cups sugar (I used a little less and mixed it with Splenda)
1 pound unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup lilikoi juice

Mix juice, sugar, butter in a large pan. Heat until butter is melted. Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl and temper by drizzling a little of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs so they don’t scramble on you. Keep stirring and when the egg mixture is about the same temperature as the hot liquid, pour it into the pan with the juice, butter and sugar.

Bring to a rolling boil, then down to a slow rolling simmer for about half an hour. This will thicken as it cooks. (See picture above.)

Using a large-mouthed funnel, pour into sterilized jars, covering with sterilized lids and rings. I turn the jars upside down to let them cool until I hear the top pop, indicating a good seal.

NOTE: I have often complained that something keeps eating my scraggly lilikoi vines, until I read about (and tried) sprinkling crushed egg shells around the edge of the plant. Whatever it is that was eating them doesn’t like to crawl over the egg shells. I suddenly have new growth on my vines that nothing is eating away! Maybe I’ll get a few of my own lilikoi next summer. Hooray!

A hui hou!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)