Sunday, 12 October 2014

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter Using Beer

A low carb diet will never work in this household - there is far too much love for great rustic bread which is washed down with an incredible craft beer.

One day as my hubby was about to open a local Cascadia sour from Oregon's Breakside Brewery, it occurred to him that the beer dregs, the yeasty sediment often found at the bottom of an unfiltered and unpasteurized beer, could be used to enhance his bread making expertise. He have made many breads before with beer (such as our multi-grain beer bread) but these have always used commercial yeast - he have never walked on the wild (yeast) side before.

Some simple searching shows that many people have created sourdough starters from scratch - using the wild yeasts found both in the air and in the flour - but he didn't find anyone trying it with beer dregs. Through some careful research here's what he came up with in order to make your very own sour dough starter.

What you will need:
  • approximately 80 grams (a couple fluid ounces) of yeasty beer. Look for a beer that has a fair amount of sediment. We went with Breakside Brewery Passionfruit Sour Ale.
  • 200 grams of rye flour
  • 200 grams of white all purpose flour
  • 400 grams of water - leave to sit overnight to allow any chlorine to dissipate
  • 1 500 ml mason jar with lid
  • cheese cloth (optional)
  • kitchen scale 
The steps for creating your own sourdough starter is extremely simple, but it does require some time and patience.

This recipe uses a 50-50 rye to all purpose flour mixture to feed the sourdough starter. The rye flour assists in the development of the culture. It is easiest to mix all of the flour together in a container for use during the week. Weigh and mark the empty mason jar with its weight which will come in handy on days 2 onwards.

Day 1:

Open and enjoy your beer. Be careful though - you want to reserve as much of the yeasty dregs as possible. Pour out what you plan on drinking in one even slow pour reserving the dregs for the starter.

Day 1 - Mixed up and ready to ferment
Mix together:
  •      40g of the beer dregs
  •      40g of the flour mixture.
Ensure that all of the flour is incorporated. The mixture should be fairly stiff. Cover with either cheesecloth or a loose fitting lid and set on your counter for 24hrs.

Day 2:

After 24hrs has passed remove all but 40g of the started mixture and discard (this is where knowing your jar's empty weight comes in handy).

Add to the remaining starter 40 g of beer dregs (if you still have some, if not use 40g of water) and 40g of the flour mixture. Ensure the flour is incorporated. Cover loosely (or use cheesecloth) and set aside for another 24 hrs.

Days 3 through 5:

Small Signs of Life
Repeat the Day 2 steps each day using water in place of the beer dregs. Look for signs of life. On Day 3 his starter was bubbling, showing the telltale signs of life.

The yeasts in the starter eat the sugar in the flour and release carbon dioxide gas causing the bubbles, as a by product. Your starter should have a mild vinegar scent to it at this stage.

Days 6 through 8:

By Days 4-6 his starter was alive and well. Large bubbles appeared and the mixture expanded through the day. You are getting close now.

Well hello there

Days 8 Onwards:

Ready to bake with
If things are progressing well, by Day 8 your starter should be almost ready to bake with. It should have a faint sweet smell and more than double in size between feeding.You can test your started by dropping a small amount in a tall glass of water. If the starter floats then it is ready to make bread. If not, then continue feeding for another couple days and test again.

If you plan on making bread now your starter should be ready for the next phase (I will be posting a bread recipe using this sourdough starter soon so check back)

If you don't plan on making bread soon feed your starter (following the steps above) and instead of letting it rise immediately cover it tightly and place in your fridge. The yeast will go into hibernation mode. When you are ready to bake take the starter out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature for 12 hrs and then proceed to feed it for a couple days (using the above method) before making bread. For my hubby this usually means taking the starter out of the fridge on Thursday morning for Saturday preparation and Sunday bake.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tomato Confit

It has been some time since my last post, but the past 10 months were filled with getting ready for maternity leave, waiting for a baby to show up, and now dealing with our little one. I don't have much time to waste and there sometimes isn't even enough time to eat, so I'm making quick tasty food that's less demanding. If you're feeling sorry for me, send cheese cake now!

Simplicity is often the best solution to a problem. Around the end of summer I have the unmentionable problem other tomato growers have, I've eaten my fill of tomatoes, and yet I have 4 pounds of them still ripening in the vine. This is where simplicity steps up to the plate and proves once again, that the simplest solution is the best way to hit a home run.

What you will need: 
Assembled and ready for baking

  • 2 lbs of delicious tomatoes - heirloom, cherry, greens, yellows. 
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil. Use the good stuff here it really makes a difference. You'll need enough to cover the bottom of the pan entirely, use your discretion could be less or more oil as you need
  • Aromatics & Fresh herbs - thyme, basil, bay leaves, garlic. The amount depends on what you have on hand
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 large roasting pan. I prefer a non-reactive glass or enamel version myself.

Ok, now what?

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut them on halves and toss in the pan. Tuck all the tomatoes down into one level layer for even cooking.

Tuck the herbs and aromatics into the tomatoes. Pour in olive oil just so that it barely covers the bottom of the pan. Next sprinkle a good amount salt over top. Lastly, sprinkle over some sugar which tempers the acidity in your tomatoes.

Bake for 30 - 40 mins.

The result is delicious cooked tomatoes and flavoured oil that make a terrific pairing with goat cheese on toast, breakfast eggs, simple pasta dishes and as a great base for a green salad dressing. Put the tomatoes and oil, every drop, in a glass jar and use within 3-4 days.
Capture that summer sunshine in a jar 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Biscuits - the final frontier

Biscuits are my nemesis.

They've eluded me for more years than I dare to count, they've taunted me with their doughy softness and flaunted their delicious smell in bakeries for what feels like eons.

Biscuits of Glory
Today was my day of reckoning.
Today I make a decent biscuit.

This recipe is solely for my own personal reference it worked for me and I will never, ever deviate. Well, thats wholly untrue, but for the time being I'll stick to it religiously until I feel brave.


1 c all purpose flour
1 c bread flour (makes a crispy top and bottom)
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 TBSP butter
1 c buttermilk + a little more if the dough needs it
1/3 c shredded cheese
  • Pre heat oven to 450 degrees, lay a sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet
  • Measure flours, salt, BP, BS & sugar into a bowl & whisk throughly 
  • add shredded cheese and stir to coat with flour
  • mash that butter in well - get your hands right in there and make a mess 
  • Fold in the buttermilk, the dough may be a little dry, dribble in a little extra buttermilk to make a ball of all the dry ingredients. 
  • on a floured surface kneed the dough only briefly enough to make it a dough mass 
  • flatten into a disk, thickness depends on how large you want your biscuits - i went with a solid inch of dough
  • cut out rounds of biscuit with a cup or cookie cutter, no twisting allowed - just press down firmly. OR cut the whole mess into squares, this ensures you don't need to handle the dough too much.
  • place the doughy disks on the baking 
  • bake for between 10 - 13 mins - watch carefully as they bake very quickly. 
  • when them come out of the oven, do a dance of thanks and joy to the doughy god of biscuits for granting you a delicious bready treat.
  • hi-5 ever person within shouting distance of your kitchen - as they'll automatically become your new BFF's when the see the inherent deliciousness. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Chick Pea Salad

The Fondue Voodoo household are big fans or the brown bagged lunch, or dinner for the matter. Making a lunch for work is part of the routine and gives me the satisfaction of feeling like a smug S.O.B when I show off...I mean pull out lunch in the staff kitchen. Who in the world would like competitive lunching?...well me of course. While I won't give away my competitive edge entirely, I'll to share this simple chick pea salad that operates as a side dish, topping for a green salad, or layer for a burritos or sandwiches.

chick pea salad needs to start with a kitchen chick

Chick Pea Salad
1 cup frozen chick peas
1 diced tomato or cucumber
1 green onion sliced
Herbs - handful of chopped cilantro, parsley or both
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes - or more
Salt as necessary

add all the ingredients together and toss about.
mash & smash a 1/4 of the chick peas in order to create a paste that will bind the remaining chick peas together & absorb any left over dressing.
show off your mad skills to friends and coworkers and use on salads, sandwiches in burritos or on top of nachos.

Home made Horseradish - only 365 days to make

365 days to delicious - some things are
worth waiting for.
Guest Posting by Jar Head

Homemade horseradish is extremely easy to put together and once you've tried it you'll never go back to store bought.

I grew a plant this past year I purchased at the end of last season. It was planted and promptly forgot about until this October. I dug the gnarly root out and left a small chunk behind to hopefully propagate for next year.

If you don't grow your own horseradish root, then store bought roots will do just fine, check for it at farmers markets and finer grocery stores locally.

Peel the outside hard skin off and grate the horseradish - I found a microplane works best. Be careful, it can be more potent than onions on the eyes.

Once grated, heat up a mixture of vinegar (apple cider is best, but white will work just fine), salt and sugar. Use about 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt and sugar for 1/4 cup of vinegar or to taste.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the horseradish and mix. This will keep 3-4 weeks in your fridge, if it lasts that long, as it tastes great on everything.

eat and be merry

Brassneck Brewery & Yolks Food Truck - The Reclaimed Wood of Heaven

Fill and Enjoy at home (picture courtesy of Brassneck)

It's not often that Fondue Voodoo hands up the kitchen utensils and let someone else do the cooking. Primarily because 1. I'm cheap  2. I'm picky  3. Bentley the not-so-wonder-dog controls my every move.

That said, in an unusual turn of events I scurried away with a good friend for tasty Chicken and Waffles and a few tiny sips of Brassneck beer flight. We knew we were in the right place when out front of the brewery was "Yolks" the cutest tiny baby blue food truck and the intoxication waft of fried chicken & waffles floated like holy incense in the East Van air. With those glorious scents surrounding us, we knew exactly what to range and organic chicken and waffles & a stick of truffled hash browns. As soon as the doors opened to Brassneck we were distracted by the unexpected beauty inside. The reclaimed wood, warm brass accents, apothecary like display of beautiful boston rounds and unbleached cotton totes for your brew. From the smallest attention to the details to the partnership of great food trucks like Yolks this pared down version of simply good offerings makes for a comfortable, community minded approach to a gathering place...with good food and beer and good company.

Heavenly Combo (picture courtesy of Yolks)
Yolks: Firstly, I had the good pleasure of having a chance to chat with the Dad of the Yolk's chief. Clearly he held a tremendous amount of pride for his son's accomplishments. Yeah dad! We talked about the food of course and he offered some insight in the use of a sous vide to cook the chicken prior to frying and the home made ketchups and mustards Yolks specializes in. Personally, I thought the truffled hash brows on a stick, just lightly salted, were like an adult savoury lollipop. The complimentary flavours and textures of the crunchy & savoury chicken and the sweet and tender (but not chewy) waffles were a match made for drinking with beer. Food was stellar!

Brassneck Flight: We tried a flight and as I'm not currently a drinker, I only sipped and sniffed my way through a flight of Passive Aggressive ale, Joe's Barn Sasion, Prohibition style corn ale and the Imperial Stout. The brews were bold and assertive for a brewery so new, they offered well developed flavours and an impressive amount of body. My friend is a big fan of the passive aggressive, with notes of grapefruit & pine and a smooth malt base, while the Imperial Stouts malty coffee notes and warm dark chocolate flavours impressed me the most.

Looks like my Bentley! (picture courtesy of Brassneck)
What we liked best: the opportunity to gather with family, even kids & a real live dog to share in 2 terrific ventures that genuinely support the local community. This atmosphere opened up the way for conversation among the "diners" which is how I had the good luck to learn more about how terrific Yolks truck people are.

We loved the interior and how the smallest detail speaks to simplicity and the honestly of Brassneck's product. We loved the "choose- your-own-adventure-beer-flights and the beautiful interior that embraces simplicity and natural beauty. I hope we can go back soon, even thought that means one less home cooked meal, and have a chance to learn more about the brewing process. And of course, more truffled taters on a stick.

Get out there and enjoy!
Go here for Brassneck
Go here for Yolks

yours in wintery glow - Fondue Voodoo

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Mushroom and Rice Soup - the Wild Edition

Lobster Mushrooms ready for cleaning
The double edged sword of living in the temperate rain forrest that you have to live with Mother Natures bipolar side. It's her way of reminding the mortals that her treasures come with strings attached. So it's gonna pour buckets of rain at times, but when it doesn't, the forrest is a gracious provider. Surviving the wind and rain pays off, today it paid off in the form of 5 lbs of wild lobster mushrooms.
Glory be to her flip floppy ways! Tonight we give thanks to Mother Nature and dine on mushrooms in honour of our great mothers bounty.

ingredients ready
to roll 
You'll need the following
butter and oil for frying
2 lbs lobster mushrooms, wild harvested, cleaned well and diced small
1/2 lb small criminis, washed, trimmed and diced
divide all the mushroom in 3 equal piles

3 small leeks
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup brandy

1.5 liter stock - pre heated
1 - 1.5 cup of pre cooked wild rice blend (wild and brown rice)
2 tsp thyme & savory
2 tsp porcini powder

125 ml half & half cream
salt to taste
butter and oil for frying
1 TBSP beurre manie

Wash and trim your mushrooms - lobsters can be dirty & wormy so this is a labour of love and a commitment of your time. Be sure to cut the mushrooms up to check that no worm(s) have burrowed in an unchecked location.

Fry a third of the mushrooms in a little butter and oil. Plenty of liquid will be released by the mushrooms, this is fine, just allow the liquid to pool. Once cooked, remove the 1st third of mushrooms and continue to cook the 2nd and the 3rd batch of the remaining mushrooms with fresh butter and oil.

Something to be thankful for, tasty beer &
wild lobster mushroom & wild rice soup
In butter and oil cook the leeks and garlic, deglaze with the brandy a couple of splashes at a time.

Add the stock - Heat the stock prior to adding in order to continue the cooking process. Add a small amount of the stock first to deglaze the pan, add the remaining stock and bring up to simmer.

Add the cooked mushrooms back to the pot

Season the soup with the herbs and porcini powder

Once hot, remove a cup of stock and incorporate the beurre manie and mix until thick.

Return the butter, flour, stock mix back to the hot soup and stir immediately to thicken the soup.

Add the cream to the soup, stir and heat until it's ready for serving.

Top with thin sliced green onions, chopped parsley and pepper.
Serve with plenty of fresh bread.

And importantly drink with wonderfully tasty drink of your choice, see our review of the delicious Pliny the Elder, discoverer of the wondrous hop. Would go equally well with a simple cocktail of sparkling water and lime for those of us off the booze.