Fermented Teff Crepe

An amazing minimalist one-ingredient crepe! If you don’t count water and the horde of wild yeast (from the natural environment). This is not quite the (white) injera I have had at many Ethiopian restaurants, but a fairly toothsome dark contender. After many laborious experimentation, here is my streamlined version –utilizing a Proofer– for a seven-day version. I.e., one Sunday to the next. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A Proofer.

METHOD

  1. Sunday 1: Mix 2 cups dark teff flour in about 3 cups warm water in a glass bowl. Mix well with wire whisk and cover. Ferment at 86 F, in Proofer, for 5 days.
  2. Friday 1: – Pour out the entire top liquid (that may even look alarmingly funky).
    – Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup of the fermented residue (which has the consistency of clay) and thicken while constantly stirring with wire whisk. In a few minutes, it thickens. Add this to the remainder of the fermented residue in the glass bowl. Mix with wire whisk till homogenous.
    – Add 2/3 to 1 cup water and mix well.
    – Cover and continue to ferment at 86 F, in Proofer, for 2 days.
  3. Sunday 2: Pour out some on the top liquid layer.
    – Heat a non-stick crepe pan. You may have to very lightly oil the pan before the very first one.
    – Pour 1/3 cup batter onto the crepe pan and swirl it around.
    – Cover and let cook undisturbed for 5 mins on medium heat.
    – Carefully peel off the pan with the help of a spatula.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. This has been inspired from from many sources: https://www.daringgourmet.com/authentic-injera-ethiopian-flatbread/ https://www.preservedgoods.com/post/ethiopian-injera .
  2. I have had tried various fermentation catalysts like yogurt, fenugreek seeds etc, but in this version II don’t use any.
  3. The fermented teff flour has a sweet nutty flavor, almost that of molasses. I was also reminded of a sweet aroma from my grandmother’s village kitchen, but couldn’t place my finger on quite what.

Sprouts & Microgreens

Let bio be your sous-chef!

For decades my parents had this daily pre-breakfast ritual of a few activated nuts and a handful of sprouts. Now, I relearn these practices from books on clean, wholesome foods. So, when my mother is visiting me now, I took the opportunity to upgrade my basic tea towel sprouting. I ordered a kit, fancy mixes and converted a small real estate next to the kitchen sink into a sprouting station. You will be astonished how humble seeds, legumes, grains turn impossibly flavorful. And, no cooking required!! Even the pickiest of eaters were impressed.

Persistence is the key. Drain and rinse religiously at intervals of 12 hours. On an average beans and grains take about 2 days, while moong bean takes 3 days and seeds take 5-6 days to be harvest ready. But you can also harvest as you go (after the first soak) which makes it very convenient to sustain. Here is the simple protocol (using 3 days as an example).

Day 0 PM: Soak in plenty of water.
Days 1-3: AM & PM: Rinse and drain.
Day 4 AM : Rinse and drain. Ready to harvest. Refrigerate.

Although I am not fully convinced that you really need different geometries of sprouters, nevertheless the following may be helpful:

  • Flat surface sprouter (1/2 – 1 cup moong) helps maintain the lentils in a single layer (you could even place a weight on top to aid in this) [1/2 – 1 cup]
  • Mason jar with perforated lid (1 cup rye berries, wheat berries) [1/2 -1 cup]
  • Bottom perforated Sprouter kit (Sproutpeople.org.). (1-2 tbsps of seeds –broccoli, mustard– , or, 1 cup peas, or, 1 cup grains)

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The 1-qt sprouter is perfect — you couldn’t possibly improve it anymore. See the description– quite sophisticated for a set that at first glance looks like takeout plastic containers.
  2. For the rye berries, I was not patient enough to actually see the roots. But the rye berry sprouts are sweet and delicious (you even get asked “wow, is this cooked?”) !! Use in grain salad. The wheat berries, on the other hand, were not shy and merrily displayed their roots.
    See picture.
  3. My mother was particularly impressed with the sprouting wheat berries and methi (fenugreek seeds).

Fermented Savory Pancakes

The main ingredient in this pancake is besan which is the Indian version of garbanzo flour, though not exactly the same. This uses no explicit leavener like most pancakes do, but exploits the fermented batter for the same purpose. Fortified with finely diced veggeis, it makes a wholesome breakfast. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A proofer (or simply the good fortune of living in the tropics/subtropics), a griddle.

INGREDIENTS

  • Makes 5 pancakes (1/2 cup each)
  • Batter: 5 oz besan + 2.5 tbsp rice flour + 200 ml lukewarm (105 F) water
  • Filling:
    • Veggies: 1/2 cup finely diced oyster mushrooms + 1/2 cup chiffonaded greens (radish greens) + 2 sliced red shishito peppers
    • 2 tbsp EVOO + salt to taste

METHOD

Batter: Boil the water and then cool to lukewarm. Mix in the flours and let ferment for a few hours (or overnight) in a proofer at 100 F.

Filling: In a non-stick pan dry-roast the veggies. When browned and softened, mix in the EVOO and salt to taste. Let cool and mix in with the fermented batter.

I used the griddle half of a panini maker. No need to grease the griddle. Heat the griddle to 350 F. Pour 1/2 cup of batter (for each pancake) on the griddle. Let cook for 5 mins on one side — you will see the bubbles rise to the top surface. Flip using two spatulas and let cook on the other side for 2 mins.

Serve warm with yogurt.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The water is boiled first to get rid of any additives in tap water that may get in the way of fermentation. Or, you can use bottled water.
  2. Feel free to use any other mixture of vegetables of your liking.
  3. To make a dosa/crepe: you need to dilute the fermented batter with water to get a thinner consistency.
  4. A bit of knife skill really makes a difference: finely dice the vegetables. It magically makes everything taste good! 🙂

Maitake Pot Roast

Delicately pleated, gigantic (rivaling a large cauliflower in size) maitake mushroom is certain to catch your attention. It had to be split in half –alas– to fit into the greengrocer’s brown paper bag. A simple overnight marinade, whole-cooked and voilĂ !! Enjoy.

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Large kerai/wok with lid.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb Maitake mushroom
  • Marinade overnight in ziplock bag: 3 tbsp EVOO + 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce + 3 tbsp garlic-miso spice (optional) + dash of salt

METHOD

The ziplock bag helps in getting the marinade all into the mushroom which absorbs the marinade line a sponge. Heat a wok to medium-high, place the maitake mushroom delicately and cover the wok. Let brown for 5 min. Flip over and brown other sides for 5 min. When it starts to ooze liquid, turn heat-down to slow-medium and let steam till all the liquid dries up.

Slice and serve.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Of course, you can pull apart the maitake into smaller parts (the stems are delicious too). But cooking it whole is an interesting treatment. I am not a big fan of whole cooked cauliflower, but the whole maitake blew my mind!
  2. Note that since the marinade has oil, it does not need more oil and it also browns neatly.
  3. The miso-garlic spice was again from the farmer’s market, but you could used any other spice mix of your choice– or none at all. The less the distraction with spices, the more you appreciate the fungus!

Sourdough Rye-only Bread

I was introduced to this amazing Finnish Rye bread, Hapanleipä, by my good friend, Niina. Ever since I was exposed to this, I yearned to try my hands at it. After several failed attempts– it finally came together by using a “proofer” for the starter. I gleefully write this blog as I chomp on the fully homemade ruis bread. Just a word of caution: the process takes more than a week; yet, the only ingredient is rye. This also no doubt appeals to the minimalist in you. Enjoy!!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Scale, processor with dough blade, parchment paper, silicone spatula, Proofer.

INGREDIENTS

  • approx 1 kg Rye flour (for the sour culture, sponge and bread)
  • salt, water

METHOD

Rye sour culture (7 days). Start with 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F in airtight jar overnight.
Repeat the following for the next six days (or more days):
Take 30 gm of culture the previous day (discard the remainder) + 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F overnight.

Rye sponge (proof covered overnight at 86 F):  55gm  rye flour + 140 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 5 gm rye sour culture.

Rye bread dough (proofed for 3 hours at 86 F) : approx 200 gm rye sponge + 450 gm rye flour + 330 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 1 tsp salt.
Make the dough in processor with bread blade. The dough is very very sticky, but not to be alarmed. It is resilient enough. Divide the dough into two, place them on parchment; flatten roughly and proof at 86F for 3 hrs.

After proofing the dough is a little easier to handle. Using the silicone spatula (you may have to dip it in cold water) shape the tow disks; make a hole in the center, use that dough in the remainder of the disk. Dock (or make holes) with a wooden chopstick. Place the two disks (each about 6 inches in diameter) along with the parchment on a baking tray.

Bake at 425 F for 25 mins. Cool on tray. Rest the bread for 2-3 days to bring out the deep flavor.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The recipe was adapted from The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America, by Stanley Ginsberg.
  2. The proofer is Brod & Taylor’s Folding Proofer.
  3. Perhaps a stand mixer is more appropriate to make the dough. But I don’t have one –nor do I plan to have one— I use the processor with the dough blade instead. I think I got a “starch attack” with the blade speed, but the dough was tamed by the time it proofed for 3 hours.
  4. Note that the very first step of making the sour culture consumes a lot of flour. Also, you discard a large portion of the culture everyday as you feed it with fresh rye flour. I worked out various algorithms in my mind, like doubling the feed every day instead of discarding- but if you know your arithmetic, you will realize the volume explodes in seven days (not to speak of the the culture’s natural increase in volume) 🙂 .
  5. I placed the two disks on a “dhokla” two tiered rack, lined with parchment and placed the rack in the proofer (for 3 hrs).
  6. In the pictures below, the rye sour culture is in the lidded jar and the sponge in the open-face bowl (that was covered while proofing)

Rye Maitake Strata in Eggplant Sauce

The impulsive purchases from a local Farmer’s Market is transformed to a delectable Savory Bread Pudding, inspired by the Italian Strata. The depth of flavor is from the Rye Batard from the local baker; umami from maitake (hen of the woods) and morel mushrooms from a CSA farmer; je ne sais quoi from baba ganoush (eggplant sauce) from a Mediterranean stand. Simple to slap together with a few more pantry ingredients. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Blender; Loaf pan, parchment paper.

INGREDIENTS

  • Building Block Layers:
    • 1 maitake mushroom (sliced into 4 steak pieces, 1.5 cm thick, browned on each side on a dry pan for at least 2 minutes)
    • 8 slices of rye batard, each about 3/4 inch thick
  • Flavor base: maitake mushroom crumbs + 4 morel mushrooms diced + 1 quarter onion diced (dry roasted on thick bottom pan, deglazed with a little dry white wine from your cellar)
  • Liquid: 1 cup baba ganoush + 2 cups milk + 3 eggs + 1/4 cup chili EVOO
  • Spices: 2 tsps harissa powder + garlic salt to taste

METHOD

Add all ingredients, except building block layers, in the blender and liquify until smooth.

In a sealable (tupperware box) lay the bread and maitake steaks in alternate layers. Pour the liquid over the layers to cover. Seal the box and let soak overnight or for about 4 hours. Turn the box around for the liquid to penetrate evenly on all siders. Or, soak until all the liquid is absorbed.

Unload onto a parchment paper and transfer with the parchment onto a loaf pan (or any other baking dish of your choice). Bake at 350 F for 1 hr, or until done and lightly browned on top.

Let cool for 10-15 mins. Slice (or spoon).

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The traditional strata uses stale bread and the sauce is usually cheese and eggs to hold it all together. This is very delicious too. I wanted to experiment with alternatives here and it turned out to be a hit!
  2. The one above is a quick one with fresh Baba ganoush from the Farmer’s Market, but you can make your own eggplant sauce. Eggplants are not be frowned on- recall their French elevation, aubergine caviar!
  3. The baking time may depend on the kind of baking dish you use– if you use a large bottom baking pan, it will take a shorter time, so keep an eye on it. The compact loaf pan that I used, takes a slightly longer time.
  4. The parchment paper is both a convenient way of moving the content from the soaking pan to the loaf pan and also helps brown and unmould.