Saturday, April 29, 2017

Introducing my 'E~Z Pickler' ~ Single Jar Fermenting Kit

'E~Z Pickler' Single Jar Fermenting Kit
My Grandmother used to make amazing fermented sauerkraut at home in a large crock. Back then, there were no basements as we know it. The crock with its perpetual fermenting contents, was kept in the root cellar. Shredded cabbage was pounded with salt to release its juice, then packed into the crock and kept below the brine level with a round board that was weighted with a rock. This was to prevent unwanted bacteria that would result in mold on the fermenting 'kraut. The crock and its contents were then draped with a cloth to keep out contaminants. 

Wanting to replicate a smaller version of my Grandmother's sauerkraut, I researched the German Harsch Fermenting Crock. It is a stoneware crock with two weighting stones that fit inside. The lid fits inside a gutter at the rim that holds water, allowing fermentation gasses to escape yet sealing out air and contaminants. The extravagant price tag plus high shipping costs led me to research, develop and assemble a 'Single Jar Fermenting System' that I call the 'E~Z Pickler'.

What's in the 'E~Z Pickler' Single Jar Fermenting Kit
My main goal was to create an air-locked fermenting lid assembly with a high quality, BPA free, food-grade silicone, ring seal and grommet, instead of using rubber components. This lid assembly is used with a mason jar which allows fermenting smaller batches that are stored in the same jar in your fridge. The lid assembly fits wide mouth half-pint, pint, quart and 2-quart jars. Depending on the size of jar used, you can experiment with smaller recipes; trying different vegetables or combinations of herbs and spices to your preferred taste. The enclosed Instruction and Recipe Booklet provides plenty of free space to jot down your creations so you can change or replicate a favorite recipe in the future.

The 'E~Z Pickler Kit' is a compact and complete unit including: instructions and recipes, 1-quart fermenting jar, storage lid, stainless steel separator cup, Celtic mineral sea salt and an air-locked fermenting lid assembly to prevent unwanted bacteria that would cause mold. To ferment vegetables at home with the 'E~Z Pickler', all you need to add is; filtered water (chlorine, soft or hard water may affect culture) and fresh vegetables (preferably organic or untreated), locally grown and in season are best. After a few days of fermenting at a comfortable room temperature, they only need refrigeration. When fermentation is complete, the vegetables are still raw, but have transformed into a more digestible food that stays fresh for 4-9 months but MUST be stored in the refrigerator. 
Fast and easy - brined cauliflower

My fermenting adventure began with Brined Cauliflower and it remains a favorite. A versatile vegetable to ferment simply with just a salt brine or with added dill weed, pickling spice and/or garlic. It is easy, fast, delicious ... and addictive! Sauerkraut takes a bit more time and energy; shredding the cabbage then pounding or rubbing with salt and weighting it to release its juice before packing into the jar for fermentation. Brined Dill Pickles are also a bit more preparation but well worth the effort.
Cool Breeze replaced with Corentine

I have replaced Cool Breeze with Corentine pickling cucumber seed (from William Dam) specifically for this purpose. For those who follow my Seasonal Food Blog, you have seen the photos and heard my rant over these delightful, uniform, adorable cukes! Fermented Dill Pickles are sometimes referred to as 'half sours' and are not to be mistaken by the flavor of a store bought, vinegar preserved cucumber pickle. They can be called 'full sours' by adding apple cider vinegar after fermentation but do not have the vinegar tang we commonly identify as a dill pickle. They are none the less delicious and to my fermenting friends and family ... a highly desirable commodity!!
Fermenting assorted fresh, summer vegetables

I often 'top up' or 'decorate' a jar of tiny cucumbers with; cauliflower, thinly sliced rounds of daikon radish or julienne strips of kohlrabi or carrot before fermenting. 

I am cautiously rationing the last 2 quart jar in my fridge of Brined Full Sour Dill Pickles from August 2016 ... my mouth waters at the thought!

The 'E~Z Pickler' Single Jar Fermenting Kit price is $32 CAD. Please note ... depending on your location, shipping costs may apply.
To purchase or inquire about the 'E~Z Pickler', send me your name and address (including postal code) with 'Pickler' in the Subject line. 

Till next time... Happy Spring and Bon Appétit!

'E~Z Pickler' by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ricotta Cheesecake in the Instant Pot

In my wildest dreams, (yes I do dream about cooking and food!) I never imagined making cheesecake in my new Instant Pot!
Cheesecake cooked in Instant Pot

I love cheesecake but cream cheese doesn't agree with my digestive system. I have found ricotta gives no negative reaction and is an incredible treat! My Ricotta Cheesecake journey developed through my previous 'How to Make Ricotta' post, my recent Instant Pot (IP) obsession and an IP website called 'This Old Gal'. Said website came with high recommendations from the friend who inspired me to try the Instant Pot in the first place

I was advised that Jill's Blog, 'This Old Gal', had the most reliable IP cheesecake techniques and instructions... already kitchen tested with impressive results! And there they were, several incredible pressure cooker cheesecake recipes including a Meyer Lemon and Authentic Italian, both made with Ricotta cheese
Pressure Cooker Lemon Curd 

I can't get enough of Jill's 'Pressure Cooker Authentic Italian Ricotta Cheesecake'. I use Limoncello Liqueur instead of Ameretto, omit the orange zest, instead use all lemon zest and don't use the optional crust. Topped with her recipe for 'Pressure Cooker Easy Lemon Curd'; it's an impressive, delicious, light dessert or snack. Both recipes are quick and easy with the Instant Pot.

Decadent chocolate desserts are one of my specialties when entertaining, so I developed a Ricotta Chocolate Cheesecake for the Instant Pot. I follow Jill's expert method of cooking in the IP and use my homemade 'Ricotta Cheese' with the added cream. I made numerous test cakes with store bought Ricotta which produced a texture and quality was drastically inferior. I would strongly advise for Ricotta Cheesecakes to make your own Ricotta using the heavy cream, it is so easy!! I also purchased a second inner lid seal for my IP so there is no flavor/odor transfer. One seal is used for savory cooking and the other for sweet. 

Thank you Jill, for sharing your beautiful, informative food blog, incredible Ricotta Cheesecake recipes, instruction, food photography and Instant Pot knowledge!
Bon Appétit!

~This recipe is best made with creamy, homemade Ricotta Cheese that has been drained until quite dry.
    Drain overnight in the fridge. 
~If tapioca starch is used instead of flour, this recipe becomes gluten free. 
~'Dutch cocoa powder' is darker in color and has a smoother and more mellow flavor than natural cocoa. 

1 lb. (450g) drained, homemade ricotta cheese
IP Ricotta Chocolate Cheesecake with Ganache Topping

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. Dutch cocoa powder
2 tsp. tapioca starch (or flour)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated

Ganache Topping:
3 oz. high quality, dark Belgian 
    chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Line a colander with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth and elevate over a bowl. Dump in the Ricotta and drain for at least 8 hours or overnight. Generously butter a 7-inch springform pan.

Place drained Ricotta, heavy cream, salt, vanilla and egg yolks in a food processor or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. In a small bowl whisk together the brown sugar, Dutch cocoa and tapioca starch, pour in with the ricotta and mix immediately on medium speed until very smooth. About 3-4 minutes.
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into cheese mixture. Pour into buttered pan and level.
Cover the cheesecake first with a paper towel and then with a piece of tinfoil and secure it around the sides with butcher string. Pour 1-1/2 cups water to the inner pot of the Instant Pot (IP), place cheesecake on the steam rack (or trivet) and carefully lower into the IP. Lock the pressure cooker lid into place and set to 'sealing'. Set pressure to high for 40 minutes. Allow a 10 minute natural release. After the pressure has been released, open the IP and gently remove the pan. Remove butcher string, foil and paper towel. Blot off any liquid that may have accumulated. Let cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove cheesecake from pan, cover loosely with wax or parchment paper and place in the fridge overnight or until totally cooled.

Prepare the Ganache Topping: In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, scald the cream, do not boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the finely chopped chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Pour topping over chilled cheesecake and smooth so it drizzles down the sides. Keep cake loosely covered in the fridge.
* For a Ganache Sauce to serve on the side:  adjust the Ganache Topping recipe above, increase heavy cream to 1/2 cup, once the mixture is smooth, add 1-1/2 Tbsp. liqueur or strong brewed coffee.
Alternately, serve slightly cooled *Ganache Sauce on the side
Till next time... Happy Easter and Bon Appétit!

Recipe by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae