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Early Garden Bounty, Greens with Anchovy Caper Dressing

We’ve had a wonderfully wet spring, and now my garden is beginning to produce. This morning I woke to hazy skies and the first really warm temperatures of the season. It was perfect harvesting weather. Like so many vegetables, lettuces are simply best when harvested from your own garden. Sweet & tender young salad greens are divine. A few weeks ago, I bought seed packets from Botanical Interests (available at many Boulder area grocery stores), and planted to my heart’s content. Thanks to good precipitation, I am preparing a simple salad of spring lettuces & radishes. Perusing through one of my many cooking magazines, I found an anchovy, olive oil, and caper dressing recipe I thought would be nice to try.

Ingredients:
1/2 lb Lettuce greens
1 Bunch radishes
2 Anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. drained capers
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cups white wine vinegar
Celtic sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

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Directions:
Wash & prepare greens and radishes.
Slice radishes, and set aside.
Blend in food processor – anchovies, oil, capers and fresh herbs. Transfer to large bowl, mix in 1/4 cup vinegar (or more) and season with salt and pepper. Gently massage into salad greens. Add radishes, toss and serve.

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20130612-172313.jpgLots of fresh herbs and the umami quality of the anchovies made a combination that was delicious on cannellini beans as well.

The “other” ESCABECHE

Jalapeno escabeche! Pickled jalapenos, cauliflower, carrots, & onions in escabeche may be a more accurate description. That’s the escabeche my family knows and loves. The more commonly known Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean dish of either fish, chicken or rabbit marinated in an acidic mixture. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar. For jalapeno escabeche, vinegar is typical as well. However, this recipe is naturally fermented, so there is NO acidic ingredient. Rather, the mildly sour flavor comes from the good bacteria that develop as the natural sugars in the vegetables ferment and are converted into various strains of probiotics. Each time you enjoy the tangy quailty of these pickled treats, your gut gets a boost of beneficial microflora! My family eats this condiment by itself and alongside many dishes. Tonight, we are eating it with burgers.

One of my sons regularly asks for escabeche in his school lunch. Fortunately, some of his classmates eat cultured foods so he doesn’t worry about offending them with the unique aroma of fermented cauliflower (a cruciferae). My older son loves this medley as well, but hasn’t yet agreed to let me pack it in his school lunch, for fear of offending his friends. For the time being, he is content to enjoy them in the privacy of his own home. I look forward to the day when he too is comfortable bringing fermented foods to school.

In our temperate zone, the ingredients for this recipe are available year round, making this a good “go to” vegetable during any season. Keep in mind, the fermentation process is much quicker during the warm summer months, so a more watchful eye is recommended. All the ingredients are readily available and they store well. mix of veggiesIngredients:
1 cauliflower head, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 white onion (red or yellow), peeled & sliced in narrow strips
4 carrots, diagonally sliced
4-6 whole fresh jalapeno chiles (depending on how spicy you choose)
2 cups cool water (more or less)
4 Tablespoons of Celtic sea salt

salt mason jar

I choose to use Celtic Sea Salt. It is unprocessed, and full of the minerals and trace elements so many of us are lacking in our diets. The salt draws out vegetable liquid(s) and acts as a temporary preservative while the fermentation process gets started.

Directions:
Slice carrots diagonally 1/4-1/2″ thick (thicker=crunchier/thinner=softer)

Slice cauliflower into bite size florets
Slice onion (narrow slices)
Slice jalapeños diagonally (thicker=crunchier/thinner=softer).
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix it together with your hands.
Fill glass mason jar with spring water, and add salt. Mix salt with metal spoon until dissolved. Water solution will appear cloudy. Begin to fill jar with vegetable mixture (When using bare hands, remember jalapenos can leave a lasting sting. Gloves may be used). Compress vegetables with hand or metal kitchen utensil, minimizing empty spaces between and among vegetables. Continue this process until mason jar is filled to approximately 1″ from the top of jar. Be sure salty solution (brine) covers all vegetables. It is should be an anaerobic reaction. I always “top off” the escabeche with a small handful of onions* (read note below). Secure the lid and place in a dark temperature controlled space. Optimum temperature for fermenting is between 68 – 75° F.pushing down finger tipshand w onions*Raw onions are antimicrobial in nature, so I have made a habit of placing a handful of them on the top of my escabeche to prohibit bad bacteria from developing. In the winter time, my very small laundry closet remains a constant 70° F so it doubles as my ‘fermenting closet’. In the summertime, my kitchen counter is just fine, but I do always cover the jars to create a dark environment for the cultures. laundry roomlaundry room coveredAfter a few days (4-7 depending on temp), check your ingredients to see if they are ready to move to refrigeration. Look for cloudy liquid, bubbles, jalapenos becoming a muted green color, and soft translucent onions to determine if fermentation is occurring. after ferment closeup)DSC_0007Once you are happy with the flavor (taste it at any point), and feel adequate fermentation has occurred. Move your savory condiment to the refrigerator for storage, and enjoy it every day as long as it lasts!  You can store your escabeche for up to 9 months.

Let me know how yours turns out, and what food you garnish with jalapeno escabeche.

Zuké Salad Dressing

From the kitchen of our favorite foodie about town, Michelle Auerbach:

Feeling springy?  Feeling cleansy?  Feeling the need to eat all the greens that popped up at the Farmer’s Market this week?  Want to add your Zuké to a salade composée?  Here is the dressing and the salad for you.

Carolyn’s THE DRESSING

3 inch piece of fresh ginger grated

3 cloves of garlic

6 inch piece of turmeric peeled and chopped

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 lemons juiced

3 Tablespoons of tamari

2 Tablespoons raw honey

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

Place all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.

 

For the salad, I bought one bag of lettuce from Oxford Gardens, one bunch of carrots from Cure farms, I had some tofu in the fridge I had friend up yesterday in coconut oil, and some steamed asparagus.  To this I added a heaping ton of Zuké beets, dulse, & kale.  The key to a salade composée, or a composed salad, is to make it look appealing on the plate, with drizzles of this and jots of that in contrasting and vibrant colors.  Use whatever you happen to have in the fridge including but not limited to cooked potatoes, chicken any way, steamed veggies, salmon, tempeh, good raw milk cheese, green beans, snow peas, really anything that catches your eye.

 

The key, though, is the combination of the grated beets and the salad dressing with some lettuce to catch the juices.

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Kimchi Curry

I love how necessity is often the source of inspiration.  This idiom is more than often the case for me when I’m doing my nightly conjuration of dinner.  Sometimes it’s more “what’s there” than “what do I want”.

Tonight I was ahead of the game.  I wanted to get Halloween dinner done early.  I’d been eyeing the chickpeas I cooked off yesterday and I knew they couldn’t be hummus…  I am out of garlic and there was definitely no time to go to the store.  So Channa Masala they became.  I went with a roasted tomato and heavy cream curry sauce – perfect.  When I came to put the coconut chicken curry together I found myself in a bind.  NO ONIONS!  I used the last onion in the chickpea curry.  HOW DO YOU COOK A CURRY WITH NO ONIONS!?!  Sometimes I stare in the fridge for inspiration…  “what do I have that has garlic, onions and ginger already in it???  (as well as shallots and four kinds of chilli peppers???)  KIMCHI COCO-CURRY was born tonight.  It is SO good.  I usually rarely use that many caps in one paragraph but here let’s just imagine a Japanese television host yelling dramatically and many neon lights flashing.

Well we are pulling the costumes together so I’ll leave you with the recipe…  I think I need a little bit of purple lipstick to finish my hipster witch outfit 😀

would you take cooking tips from this mug?

Kimchi Coco Curry

1 Jar Kimchi

1lb Chicken Tenders cut into chunks

2 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/2 tsp Turmeric, 1/4 tsp Nutritional Yeast, 1/4 tsp Cumin, 1/4 tsp Garam Masala, 1/4 tsp whole Peppercorns, 1/4 tsp Paprika

1 Jar Coconut Milk

6 new potatoes

settle new potatoes to boil in some water and salt, turn down to a simmer.

melt coconut oil in pan and throw in a whole jar of kimchi….  as you stirfry the kimchi start to add spices, turmeric, yeast, cumin, garam masala, peppercorns and paprika.

when you’ve got a nice hot mess add the chicken and brown on all sides.  (approx 5 minutes on medium high)

add coconut milk, bring to a boil then simmer.

add potatoes when they are soft.

serve over rice you could garnish with a wee bit of fresh corriander that would just take it over the top.  ENJOY!

Pickled Beets Et Al Sushi

Woo Hoo: Another guest blog from Michelle Auerbach photo by Zoe Auerbach

There is nothing like not cooking.  When it’s 90 degrees in the kitchen at ten a.m. on a Saturday morning, turning on the oven or even the stove can seem like diving into lava.  But, even in the winter, a meal using no pots and no pans is a gift to whoever cleans your kitchen after you cook.  Sushi should be one of those meals, but never is.  However, this recipe allows sushi lovers to get creamy, salty, crunchy, and tangy – along with seaweedy – without making rice or messing up more than a bowl, plate, and cutting board.

Pickled Beets Et Al Sushi

1 Tablespoon white miso

1 teaspoon raw honey

3 Tablespoons tahini

Avocado

Carrot

Cucumber

Romaine lettuce

Zuke Beets, Hijiki, and Kale

Sushi Nori

Mix the miso, honey, and tahini in a bowl.  If it is not smoothing out to a nice paste add a teaspoon of hot water.Slice the avocado into strips.  Use a vegetable grater to make long strips of the carrot and cucumber.  Wash the romaine lettuce and break into sushi nori length strips.Take one sheet of nori, spread a little it of the mixed miso paste on the edge of it.  Then, line up the vegetables in palate pleasing proportions.  Finish with a couple dollops of the Beets, Hijiki, and Kale.  Roll up into a long nori roll and place on a plate seam side down. You can either make a few at once, or just bring all the ingredients to the table and let people roll their own to taste.

 

Fat Chance… Easy Homemade Mayonnaise

I had an epiphany last week.  It was a rich moment quite a few weeks in the making and has left me with a conviction that I feel from deep within my heart all the way down to the soles of my sandals.  I will never again buy another jar of mayonnaise.  The fact that it took me so long to come to this seems ridiculous to me now however let me polish off my rear view mirror and explain.

Mayonnaise is extremely easy to make.  All you need is a bowl, a whisk, an egg and some oil.  I used to make it five minutes before service banging together my last minute mis-en-place not because I was late for work that day and didn’t do my prep… but because I knew how little time it would take me and how glorious and glistening it would be freshly whipped from the robot coupe, slid into the top of a refrigerated pantry station in a clean stainless steel nine pan nestled next to cut herbs, edible flowers, fresh fruits and other delightful touches with which to finish the perfect plate.

I’ve been reading labels at the grocery store. I know, occupational hazard right?  Well I’m not just looking at the art although food packaging is a stimulating form of media for my family and between myself and my dear husband we could work through an entire grocery isle and endorse or eschew hundreds of items by their visual representation alone. No, I am interested in what things are made of.  Our own company’s preparation for organic certification as well as the recent article in the Times about Eden Foods and the peril slash pitfall world of U.S.D.A. Certified Organic versus truly health giving versus healthy for a robust corporate bottom line – absurdly complex sentences aside this got me thinking constantly about why things are made the way that they are made.

NYT – Organic Food Purists Worry About Big Companies Influence

I’ve been in the food business for a long time and I’ve received plenty of deliveries off the backs of trucks that deal specifically in large packages of food for industrial use.  Industrial Mayonnaise is very disgusting stuff.  It comes in a 5 gallon bucket which is lined with a bag.  At one restaurant where we used to go through obscene amounts of the stuff the bag would get hefted out and inevitably abused. Raucous games of slap and squeeze, toss and wiggle would ensue to giggles and guffaws.  I would feel sick in the pit of my stomach watching that sad sack of plastic encased oil emulsion passed from one set of disrespecting hands to the next.  Sadder still I knew little about nutrition at the time however somehow I instinctively knew that there was very little goodness in that bag.  Even more incredulous to think that one might be able to buy the same bag of “Extra Fancy” mayo of a “low fat” sensibility.  Egads!  If there’s no fat in that schloop what on earth truly is? Have a quick look at these ingredient lists…Mayonnaise

REAL MAYONNAISE
Soybean oil, water, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality).

LIGHT MAYONNAISE
Water, soybean oil, vinegar, modified corn starch**, whole eggs and egg yolks, sugar, salt, xanthan gum**, lemon and lime peel fibers** (thickeners), (sorbic acid**, calcium disodium EDTA) used to protect quality, lemon juice concentrate, phosphoric acid**, DL alpha tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), natural flavors, beta carotene**. **Ingredient not in mayonnaise

As with many low fat foods notice the addition of sugar as well as in this case loads of chemical thickener.  Note the calcium disodium EDTA keeps your egg based product stable at room temperature… it’s also in certain face creams that will stop your face from going bad at room temperature too. Of course the organic versions of the above listed must be better for you right?  Wrong.  Although there are fewer scary additives I generally find that the organic mayos all use predominantly soy oil, canola oil and palm oil all of which I have been taught for various reasons to avoid.  Soy is a known adaptogen, shown to bind itself to estrogen receptors it confuses our hormonal balance.  There is no such thing as a Canola plant.  Rapeseed is a kind mustard seed.  Rapeseed Oil is known to produce a high amount of a toxin called erucic acid.  This fact was generally known by the early 20th Century public – the Mustard Gas that was manufactured from the plant I guess was a dead giveaway. The Rapeseed plant was re-engineered (bred in a laboratory) to have low toxicity at which point they re-branded it changing the name to CANOLA (Canadian Oil Low Acid).  Canola Oil is generally “refined” which is a nice way of saying it’s been heated up already, and as we are learning now we want to keep to expeller pressed oils as preheated oils are more unstable and quite likely they are poised to oxidize or are already oxidized and ready to release free radicals that cause illness, rapid aging and general stress on our bodies and our guts.  Palm Oil, well it’s in 50% of everything you see in a typical grocery store, and happens to be the cause for massive equatorial rain-forest destruction.

So for now…  in my home I am happy with the following fat choices.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Butter and Ghee, Coconut Oil, Chicken, Pork or Duck fat and the occasional nut or seed pressed oil (kept refrigerated).  Since there is no acceptable mayonnaise available (don’t even get me started on the travesty that is veganaise) I will make my own.  It keeps up to two weeks in the fridge and I get to make sure that the oil used is up to my personal standard.  Here’s a recipe…  you don’t really need one.  A great rule of thumb or ratio to remember is that 1 egg yolk will only support up to 1 cup of oil in emulsion…  if you break your emulsion, never fear…  start again with a new egg yolk and add your broken mixture to the new yolk.

Best hand whipped mayonnaise

2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons zuké Just Juniper brine (can substitute water)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil

Preparation:
If you are worried about eating raw egg yolks heat the egg yolks, lemon juice and zuké brine in a small skillet over very low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly with a spatula. At the first sign of thickening, remove the pan from the heat but continue stirring. Dip the pan bottom in a large pan of cold water to stop cooking. Scrape into a round bottomed bowl, whisk for a second or so, then let stand uncovered at least 5 minutes to cool.

If you are not afraid of raw eggs you can skip this and just whisk the above ingredients together in your round bottomed bowl until they start to pale a little and thicken a little. Add the mustard, seasoning, and cayenne if using.

Drizzle the oil in very slowly at first, down the center hole into the egg mixture whisk like a pro – facial expressions indicating concentration will only increase the excellent texture of your emulsion.  You will see the oil start to emulsify, each time your emulsion stabilizes you can add more oil. Transfer mayonnaise to a clean container and chill immediately. This will keep for at least 7 days refrigerated.

Do the above in a food processor or a blender if you are in a hurry or are wrist / whisk challenged.  Switch up oils…  I’ve had great success mixing nut oils with olive oil or adding flax seed oil to my mayo.  Add more brine or favorite vinegar to thin for a creamy salad dressing, add dill and sour cream for ranch, add worcestershire, garlic, anchovies and parmesan for Caesar, add fresh ground garlic for aioli.  Put a dash of your bomb diggidy on just about everything. 🙂

 

Kim Chi dressing recipe from Michelle

First off, I want to thank Willow and Mara for the opportunity to say anything at all about food in the presence of their culinary artistry.  Second, full disclosure, I have been eating their creations since Mara used to give them to me in little Ball jars – which I would hide from my children so I didn’t have to share.  So, I’m not just a fan but a long-time Superfan.

Okay, that said, here is an easy way to make salad dressing from the juice left over in the kim chi jar when you have finished eating it out of the container with a fork before breakfast. The juice has lots of goodies in it, so aside from drinking it straight while no one is looking – you should share the love.

All the juice left in the jar

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons lemongrass, fresh, chopped

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons fish sauce (not necessary if you are vegetarian)

Shake it all up in the jar.

If you want to use it on a salad, here is what I do – no amounts necessary here, as it really works with whatever you have.

Lettuce or spinach

Fresh mint

Fresh cilantro

Fresh basil

Sprouts of some denomination or another

Chopped cucumbers

Grated Carrot

Dressing above

Cooked rice noodles

Protein of some kind (steak, tofu, chicken, whatever you have around)

Make a huge salad with all your veggies.  Arrange the cooked rice noodles at the bottom of a bowl.  Put as much salad as you can in the bowl.  Top with the protein of choice.  Pour the dressing over the salad and eat.

This salad originated as a recipe for Asian steak salad that my friend Jen cut out of a magazine and then I took a picture of the clipping and it was on my phone till I lost it.  This is what I came up with after all that, when I was hungry and had some of the dressing made with the kim chi juice left over in my fridge.  It fed a hungry teenage boy happily (with steak) and me (with tofu) proving universal appeal.

Mojo Recipes- kimchi, rhubarb and more!

I have nothing but great things to say about Marcie Goldman, local nutritionist and her Mojo Mastery program.  She guides a dozen adults two or three times a year through an adventure in mindful eating.  She looks at the source of many post modern ailments such as food or stress, she does a toxin cleanse and really zeros in on causes of our malaise she spends valuable time coaching her Mojo Masters in simple life skills to make sure that we all get the nutrition we need out of our daily routine and she teaches the priceless skill of listening to our bodies, tuning in so we can truly know what doesn’t always serve us.

www.marciegoldman.com

I guest cheffed for the last three Mojos and I wanted to share with you some of the no nonsense downright good for you recipes that we covered.  I should preface my recipes with the assurance that my amounts are guides. As always I urge you to feel your way to a delicious dinner…  if you have a certain amount of something maybe that is how much you should use.  Freewheeling is always more fun besides you can dance a little when you don’t have your face stuck in a book.

Nut Free Nettle Pesto 

3cups stinging nettles, 3 tbs Lemon Juice,  1cup roasted carrots (or other veg), 1clove fresh garlic or more if there are vampires afoot, 2 tsp honey (optional I just have a sweet tooth), 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt to taste.

Blend. Note: always good to start with denser and wetter ingredients and add leafier and drier ingredients as you go. Get ready to enjoy a tingly tongue 🙂

GadoGado with Boiled Chicken

In Hawaii they say “food so nice you gotta say it twice” Gado Gado is from Indonesia and this recipe is kind of a take on it.  We make the dressing from zuké and leave some things out and put some things in.  Hows about I just list all the things you COULD put in this dish, list the dressing and leave the rest up to you.

Boiled cabbage, blanched cauliflower (same as boiled really but went to a posh school on the east coast), fresh bean sprouts, fresh dark leafy greens, sliced carrot and cucumber, sliced tempeh, twice cooked tofu, nuts like peanuts or sliced almonds, shrimp chips (not for me unless I want to keel over), boiled chicken, (take big ole chicken breast…  boil in “surprise” boiling water for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees…  rest for 3-5 minutes then chop it into your salad.) and other stuffs (plural because I know that your creativity knows no bounds).

THE DRESSING so good it will wave it’s finger, shake it’s head and belt sass at your greens.

Blend zuké kimchi with nuts and olive oil. I used hand ground cashews but you could use peanut butter, almond butter, a handful of soaked brazil nuts, planter’s mixed nuts…  you get the idea, go nuts, use what’s around, wear a monocle, embarrass your kids.

DERISHIOUS RHUBARB TOPPING FOR STEAK

Rhubarb is so NOT a one trick pony. I love to see this spring vegetable in savory applications.

There’s only one way to cook a very sexy piece of meat. The fancy work has already been done, pasture fed, played to sleep every night by silver fox cowboys on banjos, butchered lovingly by a katana wielding poet.  It would be a disservice to put too much clothing on such a nubile steak and so mostly naked it _must_ be.  Seared in good oil (or animal fat) with salt and pepper, then topped with lemon and extra virgin olive oil to serve.  Think of this rhubarb topping as the neglige, serving the same purpose as some sauteed mushrooms or shavings of very expensive cheese they accentuate, leaving a little bit of space for you to discover and uncover, but unobtrusively.

2 Stalks of Rhubarb, 1/2 onion, Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Juice, White Wine (optional), s+p, Olive Oil.  Saute onion first on medium heat.  If you insist on using the beef pan I won’t fault you. When onions start to brown add rhubarb, season with salt and pepper.  When rhubarb starts to soften you can deglaise the pan with white wine, or just add the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.  Remove from heat, finish with good olive oil.  Dress your pretty steak.  Blow kisses at it.  Devour.

Mojo Graduates… If there are any other dishes that I didn’t cover that really inspired you let me know.  I would love to continue this foodie discourse with you.  <3 mara

Elephant Journal- DIY Fermentation

on May 11, 2012

Create Your Own Culture. ~ Willow King

 

The Power of Fermented Foods.

About a year ago my partner Mara and I started a company that makes cultured vegetables. No, not beets and carrots that regularly attend the opera, but live, raw, probiotic, naturally fermented veggies.

We started out just making these goodies for our families and friends and nobody could get enough. It turns out that many people crave the zingy buzz of live food and that lacto-fermented foods, that used to be staple in many places in the world, are making a comeback.

Fermenting is an age-old way to preserve food.

It was a way to use all the access produce from the summer and keep eating it all year round. This in itself is a great process to connect to us to seasonality and keep the strength of the food intact.

Fermentation also makes food easier to digest, and creates new nutrients such as B vitamins—folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and biotin.

Some ferments have antioxidants principles and also create omega-3 fatty acids- which we know are key to a healthy immune system.

Basically, fermented foods help supply your digestive tract with cultures that are necessary to break down and assimilate nutrients. These cultures, lactobacilli chief among them, are like little invisible friends that help us stay healthy and happy through the ups and downs of the year.

If you are interested in experimenting we recommend starting with simple sauerkraut and then expand from there.

This is great activity to do with kids (or your dog) as it is a bit of funky food science experiment.

To begin you will need a ball jar, one medium cabbage, sea salt, and a starter like whey, or for a vegan option you can use kombucha.Each starter produces different results and flavors, so you can try a few and find the one you like best.Core and shred the cabbage and then spread on a tray or work surface. Add the sea salt—a good ratio is generally one or two  tablespoons salt to one three lb cabbage. Then pound the cabbage and salt with a wooden hammer (or a rolling pin can work) until the juices start to release and the cabbage softens. You can add a bit of starter at this point, or you can just do the cabbage juice and salt, which usually makes a fine ferment.Place the cabbage shreds into a wide mouth ball jar and press down with a fist (you can use a cabbage leaf as a top and the press on that) until the vegetable is submerged in liquid.

Cover this combination and leave it in a cool but not cold space (ideally 65 to 70 degrees) for about 3 days. You may like it stronger, in which case you could let it go for a few more days.

When you are satisfied with the taste, transfer to cold storage, where it will last for up to 6 months.

Now you can enjoy the benefits of your own homemade culture—monocle and all.

 

Denver Post on our Pickles

Posted April 4, 2012, 11:53 am MT

Probiotic pickling comes naturally to Boulder’s Esoteric Food Company

Boulder's Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for probiotic pickles

Pretty, yes? And good. Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for great probiotic foods.

It all began, like so many things in food world, in the kitchen.

Mara King and Willow King — same last name, but they aren’t related — took one day a week to hang out together and make stuff from scratch. They tried sausage. Cheese, from raw milk. Kombucha.

But the Boulderites kept returning to pickled things – cucumbers, cabbage, beets, kale.

They dreamed of opening a restaurant or a delicatessen, but the pickles kept nudging them, whispering: Restaurant schmestaurant. So expensive! So many of them! Stick with pickles!

It turns out pickles are persuasive.

 

Boulder's Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for probiotic pickling.

Perfectly fried eggs on a bed of Esoteric Food Company’s pickled beets, hijiki, and kale

Instead of turning blank space into a room full of food, last May they began filling pretty jars with vegetables, herbs and spices and selling them in stores in the Boulder area. And soon their business, called Esoteric Food Company, will have a stall at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, and their products – called “Zuke,” short for Tsukemono, which means “pickled things” in Japanese – may also be on shelves at Whole Foods throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

At first, “we were giving it away and selling it at Lucky’s Market in Boulder,” said Willow. “A case here, a case there.”

Now three other people work with them, and twice a week they process 500 pounds of vegetables or more at a commercial kitchen.

They have big plans. Among other things, they want to buy different stuff at the Farmer’s Market every week, pickle it, and sell it until they run out. Each week, they hope, they will have two new pickled products – in addition to their regular line – for sale.

“We are moving away from this idea that dinner comes from a box and it’s always the same,” said Mara. “What is ready now should decide what is for dinner tonight.”

I tried the kimchi. I hadn’t tasted the stuff in maybe 20 years, since I lived in Minneapolis as a 20-something graduate student and nearly OD’d on kimchi and its punch of pungent funk.

I feared it.

But one taste of Esoteric’s version, and I fell in love with it (although later, on a picnic on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, my daughter Ruby could not stop talking about the aroma. She was not a fan.)

I also had bites of the beet, hijiki and kale, and the dill, caraway and cabbage. Fantastic stuff.

I know at least one of my stops at the Farmer’s Market this year