Russian Sauerkraut

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When ever my mother in law comes to visit us and it is cabbage harvest time, she will spend two days with shredding, cutting and kneeling large amounts of cabbage, carrots and salt. She will fill our nice large clay pot and after ten days we have the most wonderful квашеная капуста (Russian sauerkraut). It is so delicious and fresh and juicy! This Russian type of  sauerkraut is different from the typical German sauerkraut: it needs much less fermentation time and is therefore not as soft but much crunchier, and it contains carrots which makes it a bit sweeter. This sauerkraut we eat mostly raw. With a splash of olive oil and maybe some finely chopped parsley and dill it is a delicious side dish on its own. Or we add a handful sauerkraut into our standard green mixed salad, or into our beloved vinaigrette. So, for most part of the winter we have a small bowl of sauerkraut almost daily on the dinner table providing us with fresh deliciousness and much needed vitamins in the dark and cold time of the year. And because this type of sauerkraut is so easy to make, I want to give you the recipe and want to encourage to try to make it yourself!

You need:

  • white cabbage (this is the usual outside a bit greenish round head of cabbage)
  • carrots
  • large grained salt
  • a large pot made from clay or a pot which is enameled inside. I would not use a stainless steel or other type of metal pot to avoid any reaction between the the developing acid and the metal.
  • a plate that just fits into the pot
  • gloves to protect your hands when kneeling the cabbage (the usual gloves which are used in food preparation or other clean rubber gloves).

Preparing the sauerkraut

  1. Remove the outer layer of leaves from the cabbage and put them aside. Cut the cabbage head into quarters and remove the stem. Shred the cabbage into fine slices. You can use a food processor or cut it by hand with a knife as my mother in law usually does it.
  2. Prepare your pot: clean it thoroughly and cover the bottom with half of the cabbage leaves which you set aside.
  3. Clean the carrots and grate them using the large wholes on your grater.
  4. Measure the ingredients:  for reach kg of cabbage you need  2 hands full of shredded carrots and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  5. Now mix cabbage, carrots and salt and knead everything together. Wear rubber gloves to protect you hands! This process needs some strength but is very important. The point here is that the cabbage and carrots start to generate a bit of juice through the salt and your squeezing. This sounds harder that it is. If you put a small portion of the mix into a small bowl and squeeze it a bit with your hands, you will quickly notice the appearance to the juice. Then put the squeezed mixture with the juice into the big pot and continue that way until your pot is full or your cabbage mixture is used up.
  6.  Cover your mixture with the rest of the large outer leaves from your cabbage which you put aside earlier. Put the plate on top and press it down with some weight. This can be a smaller pot filled with water, a clean stone or any other non-metal heavy wight. Cover it with a clean dish towel.Now comes the fermentation time.
  7. Every day at least once you have to remove the weight and plates and leaves and, using the long end of a wooden cooking spoon make some wholes into the mixture to release the developing (smelly!) gases.
  8. If the cabbage generates too much juice that threatens to overflow, remove the juice. This is a very healthy and delicious beverage! Some of it you might want to keep stored in the fridge to add to the cabbage later when there is space in the pot again after you have started to eat it.
  9. After about ten days the cabbage should be ready. Transfer your pot to a cool location – you can transfer your sauerkraut into smaller containers and store it in the fridge or, as we do it, put it into a protected corner of the balcony (as long as it is not too cold outside).

Enjoy!

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This post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

Sprouting

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The food of the month February (yes, I am a bit behind. What shall I say, three kids don’t leave much time) are sprouts! Its a great way to get some fresh foods and vitamins and it is really fun to make.
My favourites so far are Alfalfa sprouts which are great in salad and on sandwiches, and lentil sprouts which I love as some kind of spiced warm lentil salad.

It is still not clear to me if it is advisable to eat sprouted legumes raw. Beans, lentils and other legumes contain the toxin phytohemagglutinin which is destroyed through cooking  – but also soaking and sprouting are ways to destroy the toxin. I am just not sure, if sprouting is enough to remove all toxin, or how much of it is still left. For this reason, I decided to at least saute my sprouted lentils for a few minutes before eating.

I do my sprouting in a glass. I close the glass with a mesh (usually used to make window screens). Key is a good hygiene – the seeds have to be washed and watered twice a day and thoroughly drained, and the glasses and covers have to be well cleaned with warm and soapy water before and after use.

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Here is the warm sprouted lentil salad:

You’ll need:

  • sprouted lentils (and if you want some sprouted chickpeas)
  • olive oil or ghee
  • garlic
  • turmeric
  • soy sauce
  • fresh ginger
  • some water (or wine)  if needed

How to prepare:

  1. Saute finely chopped garlic together with some turmeric in some olive oil or ghee on low flame for about a minute.
  2. Ad the sprouted lentils and some soy sauce. Cover and let simmer on low flame for about 10 minutes (if you add chickpeas let them simmer first for 10 minutes before adding the lentils).
  3. If lentils are too dry add some water (or white wine).
  4. Add finely grated ginger. Let simmer for 1 minute.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Sprincle with fresh parsley or cilantro.

Enjoy!

This post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

 

Russian Vinaigrette

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I can’t count anymore how often we made this dish! It is a Russian type of vegetable-salad and an absolute staple in our house. When we make vinaigrette, usually the whole family helps in preparation. A big bowl of vinaigrette is a nice family effort! The boys are helping to cut (and sample!) the vegetables, while the best husband and I do the peeling. Most of the time we eat vinaigrette just like that with a piece of bread. It is also nice as a side dish to grilled sausages, vegetables, cheese, etc., as part of a party buffet, or as a contribution to a potluck dinner.

One more comment about the relative amounts of the ingredients. There is not one correct way of preparing vinaigrette. In fact every family has its own recipe for preparing it. Even we vary our own recipe depending on the ingredients we have at hand or the mood of the day. We often use more beets, because he happen to have them, or less potatoes, because our little boy doesn’t fancy them, or we leave out the onion because small children are visiting. This is a very flexible and forgiving recipe! The picture above, for example, is our “baby-version”: no onions and greens, and the vegetables are cut into uneven chunks by little hands – but nevertheless, it was utterly delicious!

You need:

  • 4 red beets
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 small can peas
  • 4-6 pickled cucumbers (*)
  • small cup of sauerkraut – optional (**)
  • 1 small onion
  • bunch of parsley and dill
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • olive oil

How to make it:

  1. Boil beets, carrots and potatoes in their skin until tender. They can all be cooked in one big pot. Because the beets cook much longer than the other vegetables, we usually start taking out the carrots and potatoes earlier.
  2. Peel the vegetables and cut them into small cubes. The peeling of the carrots takes a bit of training and is, I admit, not my favorite task.
  3. Cut the pickles, onion and sauerkraut into small pieces.
  4. Combine everything in a large bowl and add drained peas, olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley and dill. Combine well but carefully!
  5. Serve with fresh bread or as a side dish.

(*) Russian cucumbers are typically marinated in salt water. They taste similar to the pickles used in the US. In Germany it is more common to marinade cucumbers in a mixture of spices and vinegar. Depending which kind of cucumber you can get (or prefer), I suggest that you compensate with the addition of vinegar or salt respectively.

(**) It is sometimes not easy to find good sauerkraut.  We usually add sauerkraut in the fall and winter when it is in season. Most of the time, especially in the summer, we prepare vinaigrette without sauerkraut.

Priyatnogo appetita!

This is my contribution to Veggie-Thursday, and siebenhundertsachen’s recipe collection.