Posts Tagged ‘Slow-Food’

Gluten-Free, Sourdough Pita Bread

Makes 8

I’m truly delighted by these little, gluten-free, sourdough flat breads. They puff-up when baked, they’re perfect for pocket sandwiches, and they’re wonderful with hummus!

2 cups mature Gluten-Free Natural Levain Starter Culture

½ cup warm (about 100 degrees F), well, spring, or filtered water

1 ½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

1 ½ teaspoons whole, unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl combine the mature starter, warm water, honey, chia seeds, and xanthan gum. Whisk until evenly combined, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sorghum flour and ½ cup of the tapioca flour at a time. Use a wooden spoon or the dough hook to mix incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Mix until the oil has been absorbed into the dough, about 1 more minute. Scrape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat in the oil. Cover tightly. Set to rise in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place for 2 ½-3 hours, until nearly doubled in bulk.

Center the oven rack. Place a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan in the cold oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Use a bench scraper or chef’s knife to cut the dough into eight equal portions. Lightly flour your hands, a work surface, and a rolling pin.  Form the dough into a ball. Flatten and roll into a round that is ¼-inch to 3/8-inch thick and about 6-inches in diameter.

Bake 3-4 breads per batch on the hot cookie sheet. After 3 minutes remove from the oven. Flip each bread. Use the flat side of a metal spatula to press down all of the bubbles in the pita (this actually helps the bubbles to expand). Return to the oven. Bake until puffy and barely browned, about 3-4 more minutes. Stack hot pita breads and wrap in a kitchen towel. This will keep them moist and warm for up to one hour. Serve while still warm. Store cooled pita tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Fabulously Frugal, Sprouted Lentils

Makes 4 cups

Dried lentils, soaked and cooked form the basis of many richly flavored but inexpensive dishes throughout the world.  Organic dried lentils cost about $1.30 per pound (one pound is over 2 cups) and soaked lentils roughly triple in quantity once cooked. When lentils are sprouted they triple in volume even before being cooked! Thus, 1 cup of organic dried lentils (less than 65 cents worth) could yield up to 6 cups of sprouted lentil soup. That’s a fabulously frugal!

Use sprouted lentils in any dish where you would normally use dried lentils. When substituting sprouts in a recipe start by reducing the amount of dried lentils called for by 1/4. Some of my favorite lentil dishes are Dal (Indian lentil soup), Lentil Salad from Nourishing Traditions, and Lentil Pecan Patties from the Moosewood Cookbook.

1 cup whole, organic lentils

clean (well, spring, or filtered) water

Add the lentils to a wide mouth mason jar. Cover with 2 inches of water. Cover tightly with the lid. Store in a warm (about 72-75 degrees F) place. Twelve to 24 hours later replace the mason lid with a sprouting screen. Drain the soaking water from the lentils. Add more water to cover the lentils. Swirl the jar to thoroughly rinse the soaked lentils. Drain and discard all of the water from the jar. Invert the jar over a small bowl for 5-10 minutes to allow any remaining water to drain out. Thoroughly rinse and drain the lentils 2-3 times each day until you see a small sprout emerge, about 2-3 days.

When the sprout emerges the lentils can be cooked immediately or refrigerated for future use. To use immediately, cook the lentils according to your recipe. Be sure to skim any film that accumulates on top of the cooking water. To store sprouted lentils replace the sprouting screen with a mason lid. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Rinse the refrigerated sprouts every other day using the sprouting screen. Remember to let the sprouts drain over a small bowl for 5-10 minutes, then cap tightly and return to the refrigerator.

This post was shared on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday , Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, Mind, Body, and Sole’s  Wildcrafting Wednesday  and Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday blog hops.

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Gluten-Free Third Bread

Makes 1 loaf

This bread is made with a combination of three, whole-grain, gluten-free flours – thus each flour is one-third of the bread!  Soaking the flours overnight increases the digestibility (and palatability) of the whole grains. This recipe uses ginger powder to increase the probiotic content of the soaking water and hasten fermentation of the grains. The result is a 100% whole grain, gum-free, easily digestible, tender, delicious, sandwich bread.

1 ¼ cups brown rice flour

1 ¼ cups sorghum flour

1 ¼ cups millet flour

½  teaspoon organic, dried ginger powder

2 cups warm (about 100 degrees F) water

2/3 cup flax meal

1 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt

1 tablespoon whole cane, date, or palm sugar

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee, plus more for greasing the pan

In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl combine the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, millet flour, warm water, and ginger. Use a wooden spoon to mix until a smooth batter forms. Cover tightly with a non-reactive lid. Leave in a warm (75-80 degrees F) place overnight, about 12-24 hours.

Generously grease a standard (4 ½” x 8 ½ ” x 3”) glass loaf pan. Add the flax meal, salt, sugar, and yeast to the soaked flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment to stir the batter until a fluffy dough forms, about 2 minutes. Add the oil or ghee. Stir until it becomes fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Scoop the batter into the greased bread pan. Cover with a light (flour-sack style) towel or cloth napkin. Set to raise in a warm (75 -80 degrees F) place until even with the top of the pan, about 30-45 minutes.

Center the oven rack. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until slightly browned on top, about, 70-80 minutes. Remove the finished bread from the pan. Cool on a rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature if you plan to eat the bread over 1-2 days. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. For longer storage wrap with wax paper, place in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer up to 2 weeks.

This post was shared on Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday & Real Food Wednesday!

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Nutrient-Dense Brown Rice

Makes 6 cups

The nutrients of whole-grain rice are locked-up, bound behind a protective barrier of phytic acid. Phytic acid preserves the nutrients of the grain, but also prevents the nutrients from being absorbed into the human body. Really, phytic acid is one of humanity’s great allies. It guards the grain and tries to ensure that the nutrients are used to sprout a new plant (a truly noble endeavor!). Traditional cultures around the world have found many ways to make whole-grains more advantageous and absorbable (sourdough is a well-known example). Through soaking and fermentation the noble nutrient protector (phytic acid) releases the nutrition of the grain and we are the benefactors!

This recipe combines my favorite techniques from a variety of sources: the recipe for Basic Brown Rice  II from Sally Fallon-Morell’s Nourishing Traditions, from an interview with Verta Mae Smart-Grosvennor, author of (among others) Vibrational Cooking: or The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, and a Spring 2010 Wise Traditions article, “Living with Phytic Acid: Preparing Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and Beans for Maximum Nutrition.” The result is that ach grain is separate, but still sticky enough to clump together and be easily eaten with chopsticks!

2 cups long-grain brown rice

3 ½ cups warm (about 100 degrees F), clean (well, spring or filtered) water, plus more for rinsing the rice

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, whey from cultured dairy,

or 2-3 tablespoons reserved soaking water from a previous batch of soaked rice (see cooks note)

Position a fine mesh colander over a large bowl of water. Add the rice to the colander. Scrub the rice between your hands until the water is very cloudy. Discard the water. Repeat scrubbing the rice and discarding the water twice more. (As you scrub, may I suggest you ponder the importance and uniqueness of each grain of rice.) Use the pot from a rice-cooker with a “brown rice” setting; or a medium, heavy-bottomed, sauce pan. Place the rice, 3 ½ cups of warm (about 100 degrees F) water, and apple cider vinegar (or, lemon juice, whey, or previous soaking water) in the pot or pan.

Cover tightly and store in a warm (75-80 degrees F) place for 16-48 hours (Rice requires a longer soaking time than other grains because it contains very little phytase, the enzyme needed to break-down phytic acid). Reserve 3 tablespoons of the soaking water for later use, add 3 tablespoons of water to replace the liquid (optional, see cooks note).

If using a rice-cooker, cook using the brown rice setting. When the cooker signals the end of its cycle, remove the cover and use a fork to lift and separate the grains of rice. Cover for an additional 15 minutes. Serve.

If using a sauce pan, heat over high until rapidly boiling, about 5-10 minutes. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook over low for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and use a fork to lift and separate the grains of rice. Cover for an additional 15 minutes. Serve.

Cooks Note:

Researchers have found that adding a small amount of reserved soaking water (from a previous batch) to be the most effective means of reducing and eliminating phytic acid. (Read the article “Living with Phytic Acid: Preparing Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and Beans for Maximum Nutrition” for more information.)

After the rice has soaked, and just before cooking, remove 3 tablespoons of the soaking water. Add back 3 tablespoons of water to replace the liquid. Store the liquid tightly covered in the refrigerator up to one month. Add the reserved soaking liquid to future batches of Nutrient-Dense Brown Rice or use for other soaked rice recipes.

This was shared on Fat TuesdaySlightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Real Food Wednesday.

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Part Two: Whole, Unrefined Cooking Salts

Himalayan pink salt and sel gris

Of the hundreds of different, unrefined salts produced around the world – some bearing intriguing names like Persian Blue, Kala Namak, and Jewel of the Ocean – the commonly available choices for everyday use are limited. Jurassic salt, Himalayan pink salt, and sel gris all have loyal followers in the whole-foods community and are available in most natural-foods stores. The range of flavors, colors, and textures among these salts hint at the vast variety of salt made throughout the world.

Perhaps the most common type of all-purpose cooking salt found in natural-foods stores is Jurassic salt, sold under the brand name Real Salt. Jurassic salt is translucent to opaque with veins of pink minerals throughout. It is mined from Southern Utah’s ancient salt beds. The deposits pre-date modern environmental contaminants and have been sealed within the earth under a protective layer of volcanic ash for millennia.

Because Jurassic salt is mined and industrially ground, it’s available in different crystal sizes. I prefer to purchase it finely ground, as it has a gritty, rocky quality that is emphasized with larger crystals. Mark Bitterman, in his James Beard Award winning book, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, describes the taste of Jurassic salt as “balanced,” and “generally flat and heavy on the palate”[1].  Jurassic salt is not made through traditional methods, nor is it sophisticated or gourmet, but it is whole and unrefined. It’s far superior in taste and nutrition to industrially produced salts like common table salt, sea salt, kosher salt.

Himalayan pink salt, finely ground and rocks

Himalayan pink salt (like Jurassic salt) is mined. It’s deposited deep within the earth and protected from any modern contaminants. As the name suggests, the crystals are pink, although the color can vary from light peach to nearly ruby. When finely ground, a light pink color dominates and flecks of darker pink are distributed throughout. Himalayan pink salt has been traditionally harvested (cut by hand) from the mountains of Pakistan for over two-thousand years. It’s available finely ground, coarsely ground, in various sized rocks, and even in slabs to be used as cooking or serving surfaces.


Bitterman describes the taste of Himalayan pink salt as “spicy-hot pungency”[2]. In simple dishes seasoned only with salt and pepper, Himalayan salt actually enhances the flavor of the pepper. As an all-around cooking salt it brightens flavors and lacks the flat, heavy, grittiness that describe Jurassic salt. Himalayan pink awakens the palate and enlivens all of the senses. I favor this esoteric salt when making curries and other dishes that center on spices.

Sel gris with an Empire apple

The French culinary tradition relies heavily upon two types of traditionally produced salts. These salts, fleur de sel (literally salt flower in English) and sel gris (grey salt in English), are made traditionally, by hand, using ocean water and the sun. Fleur de sel is aptly named, as it is harvested from the top of the salt brine. It’s delicate crystals are nearly opaque and silvery white. Fleur de sel is reserved for finishing dishes. It’s beautiful crystals should be spared from dissolving in the soup pot.

Sel gris is more abundant than fleur de sel. The coarse crystals are translucent light-grey and naturally retain some moisture, telling of its origins in the sea.  Sel gris is truly an ideal cooking salt. It tastes sweet and pleasant on the palate. With only 85% sodium chloride, much of the briny flavor is derived from other minerals abundant in the seawater.[3] It has a mildness that is in marked contrast to both Jurassic and Himalayan pink salt.

Sel gris is commonly sold under the brand name Celtic Sea Salt. It is available in large natural crystals or finely ground. I prefer to purchase the large crystals. They can be ground in a mortar and pestle if needed or left whole to use a finishing salt on breads, salads, or meats. Finely ground sel gris, Jurassic salt, and Himalayan salt can be substituted directly for table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt in most everyday recipes.  To use coarsely crystaled sel gris for preservation (canning, fermentation, etc.) use 20% more than the recipe calls for to ensure adequate sodium chloride in the finished product.

Local, West coast salts from The Meadow

These unique salts look and taste vastly different from common industrial salt. Salts like Jurassic, Himalayan pink, and sel gris, are the salts of our ancestors. These irregular, colorful, aptly named crystals have nourished and delighted people for ages, made preserved foods possible, and supported traditional economies around the world.

In ancient and recent history the control of salt has been a political stronghold. This legacy continues today. Among scientists, doctors, and health professionals public health policies that focus on reducing salt intake are controversial. Remember that these modern-day battles concern industrially produced salt in industrially produced food. When we rely on real, whole foods, prepared at home, we can include real, whole, unrefined salt. We can partake in a global artisan food-making culture and we can support environmental responsibility – all through seasoning our food with the most satisfying, life-giving salts that the world has to offer.

Click here to read Part One: Industrial Food, Health Policy, and Home Cooking

This was shared on Fat Tuesday Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Real Food Wednesday.

[1] Mark Bitterman, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, (New York: Ten Speed, 2010), 164.

[2] Bitterman, Salted, 163.

[3] Bitterman, Salted, 165.

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Part One: Industrial Food, Health Policy, and Home Cooking

Today’s plain, ubiquitous table salt is the center of power-struggles and politicized battles within the health-care community. Ancient empires, like those of Rome and China, valued salt and the social power that controlling it offered[1]. Because the potassium to sodium ratio in vegetables and grains isn’t ideal for people,  all agricultural peoples require supplemental Sodium in the form of salt[2]. For an example of the symbolic and economic importance of salt we only need to look as far back in history as 1930 and to the political statement conferred by the Salt March (a peaceful resistance movement, organized by Ghandi, in response to British monopoly of salt in India; and by extension a peaceful resistance to British colonial control of the country).

Sodium and chloride (the chemical building blocks of salt) are needed for some of the most basic functions of the body. Sodium maintains fluid balance and ph of the blood[3]. Chloride is essential for digestion, maintaining ph, and for potassium absorption[4].

Still, contention surrounds this utterly unique and essential food. Some health authorities, argue that consuming more salt than recommended increases the likelihood of high-blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, while other highly-qualified authorities question the salt/ high-blood pressure connection.

In 2010 the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that it was beginning a 10-year program to implement legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in foods[5]. While, the administration relies upon studies that link cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure with high salt intake, other studies, like the frequently cited Intersalt Study find no link between salt intake and high-blood pressure[6]. To complicate matters even further, one recent study has found that low-salt diets actually increase mortality rates[7].

This same study, published in the May 2010 edition of the JAMA, found that worldwide salt intake is within a relatively small range (around 3700 mg. per day) [8]. This suggests that humans consume relatively equal amounts of salt across cultures. Thus,  recommendations to reduce salt intake might be unwarranted and perhaps even harmful to public welfare in the long-run. This fact was featured in the July 8, 2011 Scientific American article “It’s Time to End the War on Salt” [9].

The average American consumes 75% of their salt from processed convenience food and restaurant food. These industrial foods rely on salt as the main flavor enhancer. As proof, “low-sodium” versions of these foods don’t sell well[10]. Furthermore, the salt within industrial food is itself an industrial product, as highly refined as white sugar or white flour[11]. Industrially produced sea salt is about 99.5% sodium chloride. The remaining .5% is made up of industrial anti-caking agents like calcium silicate, sodium ferocyanide, and magnesium carbonate[12].

Natural unrefined sea salt is about 85% sodium chloride, and it contains no anti-caking agents[13]. The other 15% is made up of trace minerals from the ocean. Thus, it is naturally lower in sodium than industrially produced salt and has no chemical additives. The exact mineral composition of the salt varies depending on the source sea-water and the process used to extract the salt[14]. The abundant minerals offer layers of flavor and added nutrition.

When foods are made from scratch, whole, unrefined salts can be included to enhance the  natural flavors and enhance health. Bitterman suggests five rules of strategic salting. I find them to be rational guideposts in the fleeting power-struggles and controversies surrounding salt.

The Meadow on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon

Bitterman’s Five Rules of Strategic Salting[15]:

  1.  Eat all the salt you want, as long as you are the one doing the salting
  2. Skew the use of salt towards the end of food preparation
  3. Use only natural, unrefined salts
  4. Make salting a deliberate act
  5. Use the right salt at the right time

For an in-depth exploration of the fascinating subject of whole, unrefined, artisanally produced salts I highly recommend Mr. Bitterman’s book, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes. Those of you in Portland, Oregon and New York city can visit the internationally renown shop The Meadow, at 3731 N. Mississippi Avenue in Portland, and at 523 Hudson Street in New York. Visit the store online, and Mark and Jennifer Bitterman’s blog Salt News.

Next Week, More Than Salt Part Two: Whole, Unrefined Cooking Salts

This was shared at Fat TuesdaySlightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Real Food Wednesday.

[1] Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (New York: Penguin Books, 2002), 31.

[2] Kurlansky, Salt, 9.

[3] James F. Balch and Phyllis A. Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, (Garden City Park: Avery, 1997), 29.

[4] Sally Fallon-Morell, “The Salt of the Earth: Why Salt is Essential to Health and Happiness,” Wise Traditions 12-2 (2011): 29-38, http://www.westonaprice.org/vitamins-and-minerals/the-salt-of-the-earth.

[5] Lyndsey Layton, “FDA plans to limit amount of salt allowed in processed foods for health reasons” The Washington Post, 20 April, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/19/AR2010041905049.html.

[6][iv] Melinda Wenner Moyer, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt: The Zealous Drive by Politicians to Limit Our Salt Intake Has Little Basis in Science,” Scientific American, 8 July 2011, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt.

[7] Fallon-Morell, “The Salt”.

[8] Michael H Alderman, “Reducing Dietary Soduium: The Case For Caution” JAMA 303 (2010): 448-449, http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/303/5/448.short?rss=1

[9]  Wenner Moyer, “It’s Time”.

[10] Layton, “FDA Plans”.

[11] Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, (Berkley: North Atlantic, 2002), 196.

[12] Mark Bitterman, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, (New York: Ten Speed, 2010), 191.

[13] Bitterman, Salted, 165.

[14] Bitterman, Salted, 81.

[15] Bitterman, Salted, 196.

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Kefir Sauerkraut

Makes about 1 quart

Dairy kefir grains can be used to make quick and consistently delicious cultured sauerkraut. The kefir grains act as a starter culture for the cabbage, the ‘kraut ferments for just 2-3 days, and the results are predictable: tangy, crunchy, and palate pleasing. To preserve the probiotic content, heat raw, cultured sauerkraut to no more than 110 degrees F. Serve as a garnish to savory dishes like baked beans, vegetable or lentil salads, roasted meats, or stir-fries. This recipe is inspired by Dom’s Kefirkraut recipe.

1 medium sized white cabbage

1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt

1 tablespoon dairy kefir grains, well rinsed (see cooks notes)

clean (well, spring, or filtered) water

Prepare a half-gallon (or one-gallon) wide-mouth glass jar by washing it in hot soapy water (use soap, not detergent). Remove any wilted or discolored outer leaves on the cabbage. Discard them. Peel off one crisp outer leaf. Trim it one-inch larger than the diameter of the jar. Set it aside to be used later as a cover for the sauerkraut.

Use a chef’s knife to half, core, and thinly slice the cabbage. Place one quarter of the sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with one quarter of the salt. Use a large wooden pestle, kraut pounder, or the flat end of a meat hammer to bruise the cabbage leaves. When the vegetables have been thoroughly bruised, add another quarter of the cabbage. Sprinkle with another quarter of the salt. Repeat the bruising process with the remaining cabbage and salt.

Place one half of the kefir grains in the bottom of the prepared jar. Add one half of the cabbage. Press down firmly with your pestle, pounder, or hammer. Evenly compact the cabbage within the jar. Add the remaining kefir grains. Then add the remaining cabbage. Again, press down to evenly compact the mixture. Cover the shredded cabbage with the reserved cabbage leaf. Tuck the edges of the leaf into the sides of the jar. Add a weight heavy enough to hold the cover leaf in place (see cooks notes). Add enough water to cover the top of the sauerkraut by one inch. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a rubber band or string.

Store at room temperature (about 65-75 degrees F) until the kraut smells and tastes pleasingly tangy, about 2-3 days. Skim any foam that rises to the top during the fermentation period. If the liquid evaporates, add water to keep the sauerkraut covered by one inch.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The taste of kefir kraut is stable for two weeks. After 2 weeks of storage it becomes increasingly, though pleasantly, tart. Eat within one month.

Cooks notes:

To prepare kefir grains for making sauerkraut rinse them in water until it runs clear. No traces of milk should remain.

If it fits through the opening in the sauerkraut jar, a pint-sized mason jar, filled with water, and capped tightly may be used as the weight. To use a stone as a weight for fermentation, select one that is non-porous, relatively heavy and flat, and fits easily through the mouth of your fermentation jar. Scrub the stone with hot soapy water. Then, sanitize it by dropping it into a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes (alternately, drop the stone into the silverware tray of the dishwasher and sanitize it with the next load of dishes).

Read more about Making Kefir

Read more about why Fermented Beverages are Homemade Probiotics and Multi-Vitamins

This recipe was shared on Fat-Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,  Hearth & Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesday, and at the Probiotic Food Challenge.

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