Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

September 15, 2013

Pickled Grapes

Pickled Grapes and Pears

I have been a pickling fiend lately.  I have made many lacto-fermented pickled goods including garlic dill pickles, garlic dill squash, and kim chi.  Now, I learned a new pickle, fresh fruit pickles!  I have been experimenting, and I made grape halves, pear, and whole grapes.  I like the whole grapes best, and then the 1/2 grapes.  The pears were too ripe, and got a little mushy, but they tasted good.   I love the spicy grapes, they taste like chutney!  Here is how I made them.

3 clean glass pint jars
3 pints of grapes
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar or maple syrup
1 tbs pepper corns
1/2 tbs mustard seed
1/2 tbs cumin seed
24-30 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
12 slices ginger
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Put rinsed grapes into the pint jars
2.  In sauce pan, put all other ingredients
3.  Heat the liquid mix until all the sugar or maple is incorporated
4.  Cool the liquid
5.  Pour the cooled liquid evenly into the 3 jars
6.  Make sure that each jar gets a cinnamon stick and a 1/3 of the other ingredients
7. Close the lids on the grapes and let sit on the counter for 1 hr
8. Put the grapes in the fridge for at least 8 hrs, but 1 day or more is better
9. Enjoy within a week or 2

September 8, 2013

Chicken Fegatini

Chicken Fegatini
a fancy way of saying Chicken Livers

A couple years ago, I took a few cooking classes with Margot of Margot Cafe in Nashville.  I keep taking cooking classes from local chefs in hopes that the classes will make me a better cook.  During this class, Margot whipped up a rustic chicken liver pate that was so good.  It was livers and veggies, not a fatty creamy variety, rather an Italian fegatini variety of chicken livers.  I went home and did not make it for years because I could not get a reliable source of local, free range, well handled chicken livers, but I kept on thinking about this chicken liver dish all this time.  

Then, I met Wedge Oak Farm.  This is family farm located just to east of Nashville.  The livestock is well cared for from day one to day last, free range, and heritage breeds.  There is so much about Wedge Oak Farm I like and respect that they are my only source of chicken livers.  Now that I have an excellent source of chicken livers, I can make this delicious Chicken Fegitini I have thought about for all these years.

The Chicken Fegatini recipe can be used in 2 ways.  1st it can be a rustic chicken fegatini and vegetable pate, and the 2nd is to be a chicken fegatini bolognese.  Actually the rustic pate has tomato sauce in it, and then adding more tomato sauce makes the bolognese.  I love that one recipe is good for multiple uses!  Read on and find out.

The recipe comes in 2 parts, the tomato sauce part and the liver part.  Here is the sauce part:
Sauce ingredients:
Rough chop and de-seed the tomatoes, peppers (Barefoot Farmer, Bells Bend)
Rough chop  onions and carrots (Barefoot Farmer, Bells Bend)
Rough chop garlic, basil, parsley (Barefoot Farmer, Bells Bend)
Splash of red wine
Ground pepper
A dash of cayenne (my organic garden)
A dash of non-GMO soy sauce (Bourbon Barrel)

Put all ingredients into a pot and boil down to 1/2 the volume
Blend until smooth

Now for the chicken liver and veggie pate portion

Pate ingredients
Few strips of bacon diced (Scotts)
Pound of chicken livers (Wedge Oak Farms)
Diced large onion, minced clove or 2 of garlic (Barefoot Farmer, Bells Bend)
A couple anchovies
Mince a hand full of kalamata olives
A few pinches of dill (Barefoot Farmer)
Splash of red wine
Splash red wine vinegar (I made with left over wine)
Parsley, thyme, oregano, basil as desired (Barefoot Farmer, Bells Bend, my garden)
Tomato sauce (see above)

The method for the pate:
Saute bacon
Saute in bacon and fat diced onion and minced garlic
Add a couple anchovies and let them dissolve into mixture
Add rough chopped chicken livers and saute until they are falling apart
Add minced kalamata olives
Add dill and saute until all is incorporated
Add about 1/2 - 1 cup of thick tomato sauce saute to evaporate some moisture
Add a splash of wine and saute until alcohol is boiled off
Add a splash of vinegar and stir saute until incorporated
Add salt and pepper to taste
Stir until it is a consistency that you want to spread on crackers
Add rough chopped parsley, thyme, oregano, basil other herbs as desired

The Pate can be served hot or cold

To make the Chicken Fegatini Bolognese
Combine a cup of pate with a quart of tomato sauce and serve over pasta

September 1, 2013

Best Pickles EVER!

Yes, you read that correctly, I have declared the pickles I made as the Best Pickles EVER!

These are real dill pickles made the old fashioned way, they way they were made for generations before we became a germ-a-phobe society.  Real dill pickles are made with pro-biotics, beneficial bacteria and time.  No vinegar was used, nor water bath canning, these are real dill pickles made by pro-biotic lacto-fermentation.

When I was a kid, we lived near a real deliciously awesome Jewish deli.  The pickles there were divine, I loved them, I could not get enough of them.  I craved these pickles, They were pickles made by lacto-fermentation, but I did not know that at the time.  Then, I remember begging my mom to get pickles for the house from the grocery store.  I promised her I would eat them over time, and not waste them.  So, she bought jarred pickles from the grocery store made in vinegar and salt.  They were not the same as the pickles I craved, they were flat, one note, too vinegary sour, too salty, flabby, and just wrong.  So, for decades, I searched for the dill pickle of my youth for decades.  And like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, I realized all my hopes and heart's desire are right here at home.  That is, right here at home, I can easily make my own dill pickles.

To make real dill pickles I used the time tested true method of fermentation which Sandor Katz and Alan from the Barefoot Farmer have written about.  Here is my method following their method:

Ingredient list:
1. Get a couple clean glass jars, like old pickle jars or tomato sauce and wash them like regular dishes, no need to sterilize in a water bath.
2. Get 2 lbs of local cucumbers from the farmer's market (non-waxed).  Do not use cukes from the grocery store because those are waxed, and it is impossible to remove all the wax without bruising and ruining the cuke.
3.  Get a handful of fresh grape leaves or oak leaves by walking through a tree lined neighbor hood.  Do not use jarred grape leaves.
4.  Get a small onion, couple of garlic cloves, and fresh dill if you can, but dried dill will work too.
5.  Make a cold water brine 5-6 tablespoons of salt (non-iodized) to 1/2 gallon of water (tap is fine)
6.  Get plastic, glass or ceramic disks that fit into the top of the jars.  I use a cut out piece of plastic water bottle with the plastic water bottle lid

1.  In clean jars, put 2 or 3 oak or grape leaves at the bottom
2.  Add thinly sliced garlic and onion, and a few shakes of dill
3.  Add sliced cucumber
4.  Add thinly sliced garlic, onion and a few shakes of dill
5.  Add 2 or 3 oak or grape leaves on top
6.  Pour cold water brine into the jars to fill it to nearly the top
7.  Place a disk (plastic disk for me) on top to keep the cukes submerged
8.  Loosely lid the jars (to keep bugs out) and leave on the counter for 2-3 days
9.  Each day, open the jar and make sure the cukes are submerged and taste a slice
10. After about 2-3 days you should have pickles in a now slight yellow brine
11. Screw the lid on tight and put in the fridge
12. Enjoy for the days, weeks and months to come

The process is that the salt water condition enhances the presences of lactobacilli bacteria which makes lactic acid, and the lactic acid then pickles the cucumbers.  Lactobacilli is a pro-biotic and quite healthy for you.

One word of caution, if mold, bad smell, or badness occurs in your jar, DO NOT EAT IT, throw it out.  This is not lacto-fermention it is something bad, and should not be eaten.  IF, the liquid is nice and no mold, and the pickles are irresistible, then THAT is lacto-fermentation and you can go ahead and enjoy your pickles.  My pickles lasted 2 days in the fridge, and we ate them all.