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Recipes and Books archive: February 2010

Homemade sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is the easiest thing in the world to make, last forever, is much healthier for you than the ingredients it’s made from, and is super-good when served on the side with sausages and mashed potatoes! All you need is a big glass mason jar with a rubber seal lid, a potato masher, a big plastic bowl, a knife and board, one organic cabbage, and a tablespoon of salt.

Firstly, boil your mason jar to sterilize it, then set aside.

Remove any outer leaves that you don’t like the look of and rinse the cabbage. Cut it in half lengthwise, then slice along its perimeter into half-moon strips that are roughly 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide.

Put a quarter of the shredded cabbage into your bowl, add all of the salt, and pound hard with the potato masher. The idea is to bruise the leaves to hard that they wilt and release their juice. After about 5 minutes, empty the contents of the bowl into the clean mason jar.

Refill the bowl with more cabbage and repeat the same process of pounding it.

Repeat this step until all of the cabbage has been processed and is in the jar.

Press the cabbage down in the jar so that the juices are at least an inch above the cabbage. Seal the jar with its lid, and put in a cool dark cupboard for a week. Every few days, remove the jar and open the sealed lid to allow fermented gases to escape, then re-seal and put it back in the cupboard.

After about a week, transfer the sauerkraut to you fridge, when it will keep indefinitely.

Eat cold, or gently heat so you don’t destroy the beneficial cultures that are in there, which are just like the good stuff in yogurt.

Orange and Almond Cake

You’ve been asking me to post some of my wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free dessert recipes, so here’s a recipe I adore that’s free of anything like that. I’ve adapted it from a James Beard recipe, and he adapted it from a Claudia Roden recipe, and she got the idea from an ancient Middle Eastern classic cake recipe. This is my own take on it, and I promise it will work a treat in your own home kitchen.

And it’s a showcase recipe for organic ingredients. especially for the organic oranges. Not only are they more strongly flavored than many non-organic oranges, but they are the only type of orange I would consider using because this recipe includes the peel. Non-organic oranges are routinely covered with wax that contains pesticides, wherease organic oranges are safe to use skin and all.

2 large Navel oranges
6 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
Light oil (such as safflower or sunflower) for the cake tin

Wash and then boil the whole oranges in a big pot of water for half an hour. Leave them to cool, cut into quarters, and remove any seeds. Process in a food processor until the oranges have become a pulp with tiny bits of peel still visible.

Set your oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9″ non-stick loose-bottom spring cake tin. Set the cake tin on top of a cookie sheet to catch any drips that might seep through the bottom.

Once the oven is at the right temperature, in a bowl or stand mixer, beat the eggs until they’re thick. Add the orange, ground almonds, sweetener, baking powder, cinnamon and almond essence and fold in with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the cake tin, then immediately put it into the center of the oven.

Bake for one hour at 400 degrees (check with an oven thermometer if you can). It’s possible you may need a few minutes more baking time, depending on the amount of juice in your oranges. To check if it’s done, push the center of the cake with your finger, and see if it springs back.

I like to serve this cake with chocolate sauce and a little garnish of orange zest. You can buy coconut sugar online in the US here. Unlike regular sugar, or its very close cousin ‘evaporate cane juice’, coconut sugar doesn’t have the “crash and burn” effect of refined sweeteners.

It seems it’s acceptable for some people to use evaporated cane juice in their recipes and call it sugar-free, but for me, it’s too close for comfort. Plus coconut sugar has such a delicious caramel flavor, it’s too good an opportunity to miss out!

Of course, the main sweetness is from the fruit, nature’s wonderful wholefood sweeteners. The coconut sugar just bumps it up a notch and adds delicious toffee notes.

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