Homemade beef hot dogs

We used to be able to find the Pillar’s hot dogs at our local Loblaw’s grocery store. But about two years ago they stopped ordering it in. And I don’t think Pillar’s makes it anymore. We haven’t dared to try any of the others yet, seeing as we still haven’t found a suitable hot dog bun recipe. But I had some time. And some nitrate salts. And so I tried making them myself. I don’t have a sausage stuffer (yet?) so I just made them into small patties by hand and cooked them on the stovetop.

So I added ground beef, spices, water and curing salt to the food processor and mixed. Slow, fast, pulse.

I thought this was good enough emulsification. But it wasn’t. I probably needed to run it about double the time I did in order to get the texture like the store-bought stuff.

The taste was pretty spot on, except for being a bit salty. Next time I’ll add only the curing salt and not add any extra. The texture; however, was nearly like a meatball and fell apart easier than I wanted.

Red Bean Natto

Natto is typically made using soy beans, but seeing as we can’t have that, I’ve tried making it using red beans. I feel that chickpeas (garbanzo beans) might come closer to the texture and feel of soy beans in this application but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it with red beans.

The recipe calls for steaming the beans first. Pressure steaming greatly speeds up the process so that’s what I did. About 45 minutes at high pressure in my stovetop pressure cooker.

After that, I let it cool to below 40 degC and then added the powdered Natto bacteria culture. After it was thoroughly mixed in, I put the mixture into a shallow Pyrex baking dish, flattened out the beans in the dish and covered it with plastic wrap (touching the beans). The mix goes into the oven, and our Samsung oven is set to the “proof” setting (typically used for proofing wheat-based breads before baking).

This is the mixture after 12 hours overnight.

The above result is after 36 hours. 24 hours was not enough to get the stickyness so I left it in for another overnight period.

The stuff is pretty stinky. I am used to the soy Natto smell but this is quite different. If you know what red bean smells like on its own, you can actually get an idea of what the natto bacteria itself smells like.

On its own, the taste is quite neutral (I.e. not having much of a taste in and of itself) besides a slight bitterness. The texture is essentially like a slimy bean, with a slight grittyness mixed with the slimyness. The red bean texture isn’t as pleasing as a soy texture. Maybe chickpeas is the way to go?

Overall, Growing the natto culture on the red beans was a success, but I think red beans isn’t quite the right bean for Natto.

New foods for 2018

Already one two months into 2018 and I haven’t yet made anything radically new. It’s tough in the winter when we hunker down in the warmth of the house and try to stay out of the super cold winds. You might think we have more time inside but there’s always something else to do or to take care of.

I feel that we need to have more variety in Asian style condiments and ingredients. I think both of our tastes lean towards the many soy-based sauces and seasonings and so I want to find ways of making those at home, knowing for sure that they’re allergy friendly.

So on the top of my list is making homemade miso. I know it’ll likely take a year or so to ferment, but I’m willing to give it a try. Maybe making more than one batch with different bean, to see how they taste and to spread out the risk. First step is to find koji though. I might have to ask a friend or family member in Toronto or Vancouver to find me some first and send it over. Along with that is “soy” sauce. More research is needed on what is required to make both of those.

Next is gochujang. It’ll go alongside our homemade kimchi and hopefully kickstart more Korea’s style food cooking at home. I see that it typically includes soybean powder, but I’ll have to see if I can find a replacement for that. Apparently it can be used fairly soon after it’s made, but will be better with a few months of fermentation.

Once we run out of onion and garlic powder I’ll be making that again.

Apple chips are a great snack and easy to pack. Same with beef jerky.

I want to also make Chinese dried salted fish. My mom used to put small piece in with the rice when it was cooking which lightly flavoured the rice.

Smoked cured ham. We didn’t get to bring out the grill much last year. Hopefully more this year. And I’ll have to make more bacon too.

Gochujang – my attempt at an allergy friendly version

Today starts my venture into making gochujang, that spicy, tangy fermented paste used in many Korean foods. I’ve been thinking about trying to make it for several weeks now, and have been reading up on whatever I can find on it around the web. Based on a search, it typically includes the following ingredients:

  • Korean red chili powder/flakes
  • Fermented soy bean powder
  • Milled malt barley powder
  • Sweet rice powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar (in various possible forms)
  • Water

The problem is that it has soy, and barley may be contaminated with traces of wheat. What if I could find replacements for the soy and barley? Maybe if I figured out the constituent parts of the soy and barley in terms of protein and carbohydrate percentages I could mix something similar.

I started some preliminary calculations for other easily available beans, then I found a simple version of gochujang made by the people at Ideas in Food using the following recipe:

  • 200g gluten free sourdough starter
  • 200g Korean red chili flakes
  • 200g water
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 35g salt

Now, what’s in their sourdough starter? Sorghum flour and water in equal parts by weight. However, they mention here that they have modified the flour to be a mix of equal parts sorghum and flax meal.

My access to suitable allergy-friendly sorghum is limited, much less in the prices and quantity required for a making a sourdough starter, so I needed find another base flour. I found it in brown rice.

Doing a search on brown rice starters, it typically includes brown rice, water, and a little bit of a bacterial additive such as regular old bread yeast or kefir. I think I’ll try to start mine without the additives. Let’s see if just brown rice and water works. I mixed together the following:

  • 300g brown rice flour
  • 300g water, room temp, filtered through a Brita

The brown rice flour was milled using a Vitamix grinder jar for ~30s to a medium fine grind (the Vitamix isn’t able to do a really fine grind on brown rice for me even if I tamp it and leave it running for over a minute). The filtering through a Brita may also not be needed. It’s just what I had on hand for tap water that was at room temperature.

As for the flax meal, I might try another version of that, in order to give the starter a bit more texture. Flax is much more expensive than brown rice though. So for now I’ll leave it out.

My plan is to see what happens tomorrow and either discard half and feed it after 24 hours, or leave it for another 12-24 hours before the discard/feeding. After about a week, I’ll add the rest of the ingredients to make the gochujang.

Gluten free diets aren’t quite what most people think they are

Norelle R. Reilly recently published an article in the Journal of Pediatrics – The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction and Fad:

Gluten-free packaged foods frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts. Increased fat and calorie intake have been identified in individuals after a GFD. Obesity, overweight, and new-onset insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been identified after initiation of a GFD. A GFD also may lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron, given a lack of nutrient fortification of many gluten-free products.

Uh-oh. Not good for those people who are gluten-free for non-celiac reasons.

There is emerging evidence that those consuming gluten-free products without sufficient diversity may be at greater risk of exposure to certain toxins than those on an unrestricted diet. Arsenic is frequently present in inorganic form in rice, a concern for those on a GFD given that rice is a common ingredient in gluten-free processed foods.

A constant worry for us, since much of our diet is rice-based. Maybe 80% or so.

There also are noteworthy non-nutritional implications of a GFD. Worldwide, those purchasing gluten-free products will encounter far greater food costs than gluten containing competitors. Social isolation and inconvenience have been reported by children with CD requiring a GFD, and some with CD report a deterioration in their quality of life while on a GFD, linked in many cases to the diet itself.

We are lucky to be able to afford the time and expense of making much of our food from scratch in order to keep it as safe as we can from allergens. But it’s another worry for us in the future as our son grows up.

Mushroom Cauliflower Soup Recipe

454 g white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced*
1 head cauliflower roughly chopped – keep greens and stalk if you wish, it’ll all be blended anyways
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups waterCanola or other neutral oil for cooking
1 slice bacon – optional
Salt and pepper to taste

8+ servings**

  1. Heat up a pan on medium high, add some oil, and saute the sliced mushrooms until golden brown on both sides. Work in batches with mushrooms only 1 layer deep in the pan.
  2. Put mushrooms in a pot with the cauliflower and garlic (and bacon). Add 4 cups of water, or enough to cover the ingredients in the pot. Add a few pinches of salt to the pot. Bring the mix to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Put the cooked mixture into a blender and blend on high until the soup is nice and creamy. Add water if needed, in order to keep the soup blending. You may need to blend the soup in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:
*Old partly dried mushrooms work well in this recipe – I like to check the older/discount racks at the grocery store to see if they have any mushrooms on sale for this recipe.
**This soup freezes well, and I tend to make a lot, freeze it, and have it available for times when I don’t feel like cooking.

Pan Fried Mackerel*

Whole mackerel, about 1 per person depending on the size of the fish
Rice flour to dredge, in a large shallow bowl**
~1/2 cup oil for frying

  1. Clean and gut the mackerel if it hasn’t been done already***
  2. Dredge the mackerel, inside and out, in the rice flour and set aside on a plate
  3. Heat the oil up over medium heat in a large pan, use enough to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2 cm deep
  4. Once the oil is hot (stick a chopstick end in, and if there are a lot of bubbles coming up, it’s hot enough), gently lay in the mackerel
  5. Fry the mackerel for about 3-4 minutes per side, then take out and drain on a rack or on some paper towels

Notes:
* I know this is a relatively simple recipe, and can be applied to almost any cut of fish, but we like the fishiness and oilyness of mackerel so much I figure I should post it for posterity** You could use any type of rice flour, or rice flour mix
*** I typically buy frozen whole mackerel, which I defrost, clip off the fins, and gut. Check out this quick video for instructions, or search for your own.

Onigiri

Cooked japanese (sushi) rice, warm enough to handle by hand*
Bowl of water
Salt (table salt works best, but any other type of unflavoured salt also works)
Roasted seaweed (optional)

Filler Options:
Canned tuna, salmon or other fish, no liquid
Bonito flakes and soy sauce, mixed together to form a paste
Umeboshi (pickled plum)
Cooked ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, turkey, etc) with some salt or soy sauce, the meat should be dry when added to the rice
Spam or other canned meat, chopped into very small pieces
Any other flavourful food, in small bits, and relatively dry (i.e., not mushy) – feel free to experiment

Option 1
Mix filler with the rice – typically only one filler is used in any one rice ball, but feel free to experiment with combinations

Option 2
After step 3 below, make a dent in the rice, stick ~1 teaspoon of filler into the dent, and fold the rice around the filler

  1. Dip fingers in water and spread over both hands, just enough to moisten – this is so that the rice doesn’t stick too much to your hands
  2. Sprinkle a little bit of salt onto one hand
  3. Grab a handful of the rice and filler mix, and form it into a triangular shape – if it’s easier, just form it into a round ball, it doesn’t really matter
  4. Optional – wrap a small piece of roasted seaweed around the rice ball, just before eating, as a place to hold onto the rice ball; don’t put the seaweed on the onigiri until just before eating, or else the seaweed will get soggy – unless you like it that way**

Notes:
* Other types of rice may not stick together quite as well** These rice balls may be eaten warm or cold – if they are cold, the rice will not hold together as well and be a bit messy, but still just as good

Salmon Onigiri

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: ~2 dozen
Working Time: 15 minutes to mix initial dough, 1 hour rest,  5 minutes per oven batch

370 grams rice flour blend*
4 grams xanthan gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
85 grams sugar
85 grams brown sugar
2 eggs replacement**
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Earth Balance Soy-Free traditional spread*** – melted, cooled
225 grams chocolate chips or raisins or dried cranberries or other, total weight

  1. Mix flour, xanthan gum and baking soda in a large bowl
  2. In another bowl whisk together the sugars, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk for a few minutes until the mixture lightens in colour a bit. Add in the melted Earth Balance spread and whisk to combine well.
  3. Slowly add the liquid mix to the dry mix, using a spatula to combine well, without lumps.
  4. Add in the chips and mix in well.
  5. Refrigerate mixture at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°C. Scoop dough into balls, about 3 tbsp each or 4 cm in diameter, and place on sheet about 10 cm apart (about 6 – 8 will fit on a regular cookie sheet). Press them down into 1 cm discs. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the sheet at 10 minutes.

Notes:
* The rice flour blend I’ve been using is as follows: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups white rice flour, 2 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 2/3 cups tapioca flour or potato starch.
** I use Ener-G egg replacer. I haven’t tested any others.
*** Earth Balance Soy-Free traditional spread is the only non-soy butter-type replacement I’ve found. It is also salted, and no unsalted version is available. If you have a butter-type replacement you like to use that is unsalted, add 1 tsp salt to the dry mix.

  • After taking the baked cookies out of the oven, let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to cooling rack – they will be very soft and may fall apart. They will harden as they cool.

Cookies

Cantonese poached chicken with ginger scallion oil dip

1 whole chicken*
1/2 cup salt (approx.)**

  1. Coat the whole chicken, inside and out, in a heavy layer of salt – whatever will stick. Place the chicken in a pot/bowl in the refrigerator, and leave overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Rinse off the excess salt, and place the chicken in a pot. Fill up the pot with water, to cover the chicken.
  3. Bring the pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the chicken in the pot on the stove for another 30 minutes, or up to an hour.
  4. Prepare a second pot large enough to hold the chicken with ice water, about half-way full. Place the hot chicken into the ice water, and fill with cold water to cover the chicken. Cover and place the pot in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour; several hours is better.
  5. When ready to serve, take the chicken out of the water, and debone or divide the meat up as you wish.

Notes:
* You can rinse the chicken off before you salt it if you wish, just make sure it’s drained well; you won’t need to dry it off completely. Also, if the neck is still attached, you can leave it on or cut it off, as you wish.
** I use kosher salt, but sea salt or table salt will work just fine.

  • I use two chopsticks stuck into the cavity of the chicken to lift it out of the hot water and into the cold. I try not to tear of the skin during this procedure.
  • Save the hot water as well as the cold, to make into stock/soup, to serve with the chicken. Mix both together, add in the bones from the cut up chicken, and boil for several hours. The stock will be salty (perhaps not salty enough, so feel free to add salt), and you can add any herbs to it as you wish for flavour.
  • You can also cook rice using the stock, along with the fat skimmed from the stock. This makes for a very chicken-y flavoured rice which goes really well with the chicken, as well as any other dish.
Ginger Scallion Oil

1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 stalks green onion
1 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil up in a pot/pan until it is shimmering, about 300°F.
  2. Mix together the grated ginger, green onion and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Carefully pour the hot oil over the mixture. The mixture will be boiled by the oil and some oil may spray out.

Notes:

  • This oil mixture can be drizzled on top of plain rice, for a quick snack.

2016 02 05 Cantonese Poached Chicken2