Category: Recipes

Fermentation Feast

Not only is April’s TSNEM theme Edible Crafting, but it’s also the month of the annual Ferment!Ferment! festival. Which means an extra push for me to try some new ferments. The pic above shows the seven fermented foods that Cuzme and I made and brought to the fest. I tried a lot of new techniques, recipes & ideas and I’m thrilled with how they all turned out. There will be much more experimenting, tweaking & testing but I’ll go over these ferments if any of you would like to give them a try.

Let’s start with the sourdough tortilla bites. I’ll write a future post that goes more in-depth about sourdough starters but for now, if you have a sourdough starter, this is an easy recipe for using your starter without all of the work that goes into bread or other leavened baked goods. I love making bread but there are so many other things that you can make with your starter! The sourdough contributes a really nice flavor to the tortillas. Just mix the dough either the morning of or the night before you’d like to use it. I started with this recipe from The Prairie Homesteader and made a few modifications.

Sourdough tortillas

Sourdough Tortillas or Tortilla Bites (vegan)


  • 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour (you might need more or less depending on humidity, type of flour & other ingredients)
  • 3 Tbsps melted coconut oil ( I used Trader Joe’s organic)
  • Himalayan sea salt (around 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (room temp)
  • 1/2 cup homemade cashew milk* (room temp)
  • small pinches of dried powdered ginger & citric acid (not necessary but helps keep tortillas soft, click here for more info on natural dough conditioners)

*to make cashew milk: soak cashews in enough water to cover plus a little more (they swell a bit while they’re soaking). Soak at least 4-5 hours – an overnight soak is great. Drain and rinse well. Using blender, pulverize until they won’t blend any more and/or are pretty creamy. Add dechlorinated water in a 3:1 ratio. I usually start with 1 cup of cashews before soaking and add 3 cups of water. Puree until creamy. I usually then strain through my brew bag, which is made of a voile fabric – tighter than cheesecloth, looser than muslim. You might not need to strain if you have a killer blender. Not much pulp remains after straining – I’m looking into interesting things to make with what does remain. If you make more than you need, you can freeze the extra.


Sourdough tortilla dough
This is what my dough looked like before kneading.
  1. Combine the melted coconut oil, sourdough starter, cashew milk, sea salt, ginger & citric acid (if using). Note: if your starter & cashew milk are cold, this might cause your coconut oil to revert to it’s normal solid state and make it difficult to mix in. This happened to me the first time. This is why I recommend using room temperature starter and cashew milk.
  2. Gradually add in flour until combined. I use a stand mixer for this but you could do this by hand or with a hand mixer. You’re looking for just enough flour so the dough holds together and is slightly sticky to the touch. It should be able to form a cohesive ball.
  3. If using a stand mixer, change to your dough hook and knead for a couple of minutes. Otherwise, turn out onto a nonstick or floured surface and gently knead for a couple of minutes.
  4. Place in a bowl, cover and leave in a room temperature or slightly warmer area for 8-24 hours. There should be some headspace in the bowl – the dough will rise a bit.
  5. After fermentation, flour your rolling surface. If you’re making regular size tortillas, pinch off enough dough for the size of tortilla that you’d like. Mine were around the size of a ping pong. If you’re making bite size tortillas, pinch off as much dough as your surface can accommodate. Regardless, roll out using a rolling pin. I rolled most of mine out pretty thin, around double credit card high. Some were a bit thicker and all were good. It’s also pretty difficult to roll out perfect circles – slightly wonky shaped tortillas taste just as good as perfectly round tortillas. I used a biscuit cutter for cute round tortilla bites.

    Sourdough tortilla bites
    Sourdough tortilla bites on a cast iron pan
  6. Preheat your skillet or grill pan to medium-high. A cast iron skillet is perfect for these – no oil is necessary. I haven’t made this on a different type of pan but a little oil might be necessary for other skillets that aren’t of the no-stick variety (I’ll have to test this in the future and amend this post). They cook pretty fast, between 30 seconds to just over a minute per side.
  7. Eat fresh or refrigerate for a day or two. They can also be frozen. Unused dough can be refrigerated for a few days.

Serving suggestions: We’ve eaten these with cheese, beans, avocado, tomatoes and Mexican spices (garlic, cumin, cilantro & dried chiles) but they also work well with other spices. I combined homemade yogurt with Ras El Hanout (shown above), a North African spice blend, for a dip that worked well with these. I bet mango salsa would be delicious, as would traditional Thai or Sri Lankan fillings, flavors and spices. The coconut is apparent so think savory flavors that compliment.

Variations: Use milk, water or whey instead of cashew milk. Use butter or lard instead of coconut oil. Add herbs or spices to the dough when mixing. I’m betting you could stuff these if you sandwiched a thin layer of cheese (regular or nut) or other soft or meltable filling between two of them before cooking. They’re very versatile and quite delicious.

Fermented Cashew Cheeses

If you haven’t tried a fermented nut cheese before, I highly recommend it. They’re not true cheeses, but are a nice substitute for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant. For the rest of us, they’re just plain tasty. They’re not only versatile, readily taking on whatever flavorings you add, but are also chock-full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and probiotics. They make a great snack or party dish. I’m just beginning my journey down the fermented nut path but I’m in love so far.

Most recipes call for adding a starter culture to nut paste and allowing fermentation to take place at room temperature for a few days. However, fermented nut cheeses seem to be a lacto-driven ferment, meaning that a strain or more likely, multiple strains, of lactobacillus bacteria are driving the fermentation. Lacto strains vary in their preferred temperature range but many lacto strains do well at higher temperatures, say between body temperature and around 110º F. It occurred to me that I could make cashew cheese like I kettle sour beer and make yogurt, by keeping it at a consistent warmer temperature. I use an Anova sous vide stick for this – sous vide uses a circulating water bath to keep food at a specific and constant temperature. The food is contained in either a plastic or glass container (bag, jar, etc). This is also how I make yogurt. If you don’t have a sous vide setup, you can do this in any area that you can keep a relatively constant and controlled temperature in the 104-110º F range. A yogurt maker would work very well. Other ideas (some of which I used before I got the sous vide stick) include using a heating pad or grow mat in a box, cooler or other enclosed area, using a water bath with an aquarium heater (or several), or using the inside of your stove or a cooler with a low-watt light bulb inside. You’ll need to test these out a bit but it’s pretty easy to rig up one of these methods. Regardless, this is a fast and very reliable way to ferment nut cheese.

This was my first batch of fermented nut cheese. As you can see in the first photo, I made three different flavors of cashew cheese. I made a base batch and split it into three, adding different seasoning combinations to each.


Base Batch:

  • 4 cups of cashews
  • de-chlorinated water
  • 1/2 cup lacto-fermented pickle brine
  • 2 vegan probiotic capsules (I used Jarrow brand)
  • 1 Tbsp aged rice miso (I used homemade)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh preferred but bottled is just fine if you find yourself lacking lemons)


Rosemary-Garlic-Roasted Tomato:

  • 1.5 tsps fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 small tomatoes, roasted

Roasted Red Pepper:

  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend (Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Savory, Sage, Oregano & Basil)
  • 6 mini bell peppers, roasted

Chai Beet:

  • 1/3 cup minced pickled beets (I pickled mine with a little star anise & cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup brine from pickled beets
  • 1/2 tsp Hawaij spice mix (ginger, cinnamon, cloves & green cardamom)

Note: I made these knowing they would be consumed that day. While they were quite flavorful and were consumed immediately, I might knock down the spicing a bit if I were planning on holding them for a day or two before consuming.


  1. Soak 4 cups of cashews in dechlorinated water for 4-6 hours. Use enough water to cover the cashews plus a little more (about 1/2″ above the cashews).
  2. Drain and rinse cashews with dechlorinated water.
  3. Cream in food processor. You might need to do this in several batches depending on the size of your food processor. It takes a while for them to cream but keep going until you reach smoothness. You might need to stop & stir occasionally to keep things going.
  4. Add your pickle brine and probiotic capsules & mix thoroughly. You can do this in the food processor or in a bowl if you’re doing a large batch.
  5. Place in a 105-109º F (40.5-43º C) area overnight (or between 8-10 hours). As mentioned above, I use my sous vide stick to do this. I placed the cashew mixture in a glass jar, capped it with a plastic lid and placed it in a water bath (below the lid line) overnight with my sous vide stick set to 109º F.
  6. Make-do mold for cashew cheese
    Cheesecloth over upcycled berry container

    After your cashew paste has fermented to your liking, transfer it back to the food processor. Add miso, nutritional yeast flakes and lemon juice and thoroughly combine. You could also do this with a hand mixer or by hand.

  7. Split your cashew puree into three parts. Using food processor, hand mixer, hands, spoon or fork, thoroughly mix in seasonings into each batch.
  8. The beet cheese was not as firm so I served that in a bowl. I molded the other two cheeses by placing a piece of cheesecloth into a plastic container formerly occupied by fruit or veggies (the kind that you find berries or grape tomatoes in at your grocery store). The cheesecloth should be larger than the container, enough to drape over the sides. Spoon your cashew cheese onto the cheesecloth, smooth out and wrap the cheesecloth over the top. This made for an easy to transport and quite presentable cashew cheese.

I’m continuing to experiment and refine my fermented cashew cheese process and recipes – more posts coming soon!

Gjetost Cheese

I’ve been looking for interesting things to make with the whey left over from straining my homemade yogurt and came across this recipe. I followed the recipe with less whey, adding cream to taste. It made a really tart but interesting spread. And while it was a nice accent to other foods, it was too tart on its own. However, I think this would make a really interesting tart caramel-type candy if I added sugar to it. So, more experiments to come. Give it a try if you have a bunch of whey on hand & let me know how it goes, please.

Pickled Beets & Turnips

I didn’t specifically make these for the Ferment! Ferment! fest – I made these a couple of weeks before as I had too many beets & turnips on hand. I didn’t write down the recipe but used a 2% brine (this is a great site for brine %s), star anise and a bit of cinnamon for flavorings. Very tasty.

Yogurt with Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout is a spice blend from North Africa. It’s one of my favorite blends and we use it in all kinds of dishes. It’s an easy addition to yogurt – serve it with homemade tortillas, rice or couscous. It would also be nice with all kinds of meats.

That’s it. This post took far, far too long for me to write – I started it three weeks ago, jeez. I am going to get better at this whole blogging regularly thing, I promise. And I need to add more pictures, too. My kitchen lighting stinks but I’ve come up with some work-arounds and am getting better at color correcting. I’m continuing to ferment and will be updating and sharing my successes (and failures) here.

I also co-host a weekly podcast on all things fermented called Fuhmentaboudit. Each show usually features a guest but I actually talked about my ferments, and more specifically, the ferments in this post, on a recent episode, #160. You can listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, or right here on Heritage Radio Network, the amazing not-for-profit network that allows us to spread our love of fermentation.

Happy Fermenting!

DIY Fermentation Food Recipes Try Something New Every Month

Heart Skips a Beet Short Mead

The Inspiration:

I’m a latecomer to beets. They were not part of my childhood diet and I really didn’t start eating them until sometime in the last ten years. But now they’re one of my favorite foods – a good beet salad can’t be beat (harhar)! And while I’ve had several beet beers that I enjoyed in the past, I hadn’t yet made a beet beverage myself. So when I volunteered to teach a workshop at the annual Ferment! Ferment! festival this year, I had the perfect excuse. Ferment! Ferment! is a fantastic free fermentation fest that takes place every February here in Brooklyn – there are workshops, live music and the attendees bring all kinds of wonderful fermented foods & beverages to share. It’s pretty amazing. I wanted to pour a couple of short meads made with local, seasonal ingredients during the workshop so I headed to the Stannard Farm stand at the Tompkins Square Greenmarket and picked up honey and beets to make my first fermented beet beverage.

Heart Skips a Beet Short MeadThe Recipe:

-1 gallon batch-

  • 4.5 oz local beet, diced (about half a beet)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 lb local Stannard Farm honey
  • filtered water
  • Red Star Pasteur Champagne dry yeast (yellow packet)
  • ~1/16 tsp Wyeast beer yeast nutrient
  • Added diced beet, star anise and nutrient to Pyrex measuring cup, poured off-boil water to cover and steeped for 10 minutes
  • Poured honey into a 1-gallon wide-mouthed glass jar
  • Added a few cups of filtered water to honey in jar and stirred until honey dissolved
  • Removed 1 star anise pod from “tea” and added liquid, beets and remaining star anise to jar
  • Topped off with filtered water and pitched around 1/3 packet of yeast
  • Fermented at around 78º F for four days
  • Cold-crashed and force-carbed 2 liters in a plastic soda bottle with The Carbonater Cap, bottled remainder in a glass flip-top jar

OG: 1.040 (3.10.2015)

FG: 1.004 (3.14.2015)

ABV: Around 4.7% (the beet may have added sugar but I have no way know if it did or guesstimate how much)

Tasting Notes:

I really love this one. The star anise complements the earthiness of the beets perfectly. Highly drinkable.


This is a terrific late-summer/fall/winter seasonal short mead to make. It’s easy, ridiculously quick and delicious – plus it is such a beautiful color! I have another half-gallon batch going now and will definitely be adding this one to my go-to short mead recipes for events, tastings and the like. It’s an attention-getter that tastes as good as it looks.


Fermentations in Progress:
  • sourdough starter
  • Jun & Kombucha
  • more Heart Skips a Beet Short Mead

Happy Fermenting!

Fermentation Recipes Short Mead Speed Brewing

Passion Fruit Mosaic Saison

The Inspiration:

I was invited by Brooklyn Homebrew to brew a beer for a local event: Allagash Brewing Company‘s Saison Day at Three’s Brewing. Allagash debuted their new Century Saison by holding Saison Day events around the country celebrating the style. For the event at Three’s Brewing, eight local homebrewers were invited to brew a saison and pour samples. I recently had a delicious passion fruit sour ale brewed by Oskar Norlander, Erik Norlander and Peter Salmond that inspired me to try passion fruit in one of my beers. Why Mosaic? Well, because I freaking love that hop. And as it turns out, it goes perfectly with passion fruit.

BIAB draining with wide potThe Recipe:

(a 5.5 gallon batch brewed on my stove top using the Brew in a Bag method)

Malt Bill:
  • 8 lbs Belgian Pils Malt (80%)
  • 2 lbs White Wheat Malt (20%)

Mashed in at 154º F for 60 minutes then mashed out at 170º F.  No sparge – drained grain bag in colander over oven rack into my brew pot.

Pre-boil gravity: 1.046

Addition Schedule (60 minute boil):

  • 60 min: 1 oz French Strisselspalt pellet hops (5.6% AA)
  • Flame-out: 1 oz Mosaic pellet hops (11.6% AA)

Approximate IBUs: 21

Pitched 2 packets of Danstar Belle Saison dry yeast (not rehydrated)

Fermentation Schedule: (6-gallon Better Bottle)

  • Days 1-3: 64-65º F
  • Days 4-7: 79-80º F
  • Moved to 33º F fridge on Day 7.
  • Day 9: Split batch into two 3-gallon Better Bottles. Racked under CO2: half onto 14 oz of Mamitas passion fruit pulp (thawed in bag & bag sanitized with StarSan before opening) and half onto 1 oz Mosaic pellet hops. Kept at 33º F. I split the batches as I was considering kegging the two separately but they were so delicious together I ended up blending in the keg.
  • Day 14: Blended, kegged & served (yep, last minute keg shake-a-roo. Not ideal but it works.)

OG: 1.050 (3.7.2015)

FG: 1.001 (3.14.2015)

ABV: 6.5%

Tasting Notes:

Delicious! The Mosaic hops and passion fruit compliment each other beautifully. Both are present but not overwhelming and the passion fruit is not sweet. A non-traditional yet tasty dry saison.


Holy cow – I’m definitely brewing this one again. Although I did not win the mini-comp as the judges thought it was not traditional enough, it got compliments galore (from the public & brewers) and was very popular. I’d like to brew a more sessionable version, perhaps around 4.5% ABV, and I’ll probably use slightly less passion fruit and hops for that version. I’d also like to try using passion fruit and Mosaic hops in cider and kefir beer (boozy water kefir).

Fermentations in Progress:

  • sourdough starter
  • Greenmarket Beet Short Mead (recipe coming soon!)
  • some very old sour beers
  • Jun & Kombucha

Happy Fermenting!

Allagash Saison Day at Three's Brewing
Allagash Saison Day at Three’s Brewing Top Row: Allagash Owner Rob Tod with comp winners Brett Taylor, Jason Sahler & Zack Kinney. The Crowd. Middle Row: Brooklyn Homebrew owners Danielle Cefaro & Benjamin Stutz. Rob Tod, Allagash rep Kristen Demergian & me. Bottom Row: Homebrewer Jason Sahler, me & Three’s head brewer Greg Doroski. Homebrewer Fritz Fernow. Homebrewer Jeff Lyons.


Beer Fermentation Homebrewing Recipes Speed Brewing

Spent grain:  the malted barley, wheat & other grains left over after brewing a beer.  The amount of grain depends on the type/strength of beer you brew and the system you brew on, but can be considerable – I used 13 pounds of grain for the last Belgian Tripel I made.  I’m lucky to have a backyard and usually compost my spent grain (there are compost programs in every borough if you’d like to take a workshop and/or your purchase your own composting bin at a reduced cost).  You can also bring your spent grain to the Union Square Green Market or the Lower East Side Ecology Center – the collection schedule is here.  But maybe you don’t have a backyard and you don’t really savor biking, training or bussing your grains to the collection spots.  There are alternatives – animal feed is one of the most common uses for commercially-produced spent grain.  I participated in a Kegs and Kluckers event at the Brooklyn Brewery a few weeks ago and gave the 13 pounds of grain from the Tripel to a local Brooklyn chicken farmer.  If you’re in NYC, you can find a local chicken farmer through Just Food’s City Chicken Project.  Chris O’Brien has a list of spent grain uses over at his Beer Activist blog but my current favorite way to use spent grain is by baking with it.  I’ve got a lot to learn as there are several approaches to take but here’s what I started with:


Spent Grain Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(adapted from Alton Brown’s The Chewy)


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour (see below for more info)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups dark or semisweet chocolate chunks*

*I was gifted a bag of the Origine 75% Dark Chocolate from Grand-Place which was absolutely wonderful in these cookies.  That’s gone and an accessible, affordable alternative is the 72% Pound Plus bar from Trader Joe’s.  I always keep a bar or two around for baking.  I prefer to purchase a bar and chop it up into chunks – it’s more labor intensive and messy (finger-licking opportunities after!) but I really like results you get with chunks over chips.


  • Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Sift the flour, salt & baking soda together & set aside.
  • Cream together the melted butter and sugars (I use a stand mixer but this is easily done with a hand mixer).  Add the egg & yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined.  Add the flour mixture in small batches and mix.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator (overnight is optimal but you can make the dough a few days ahead or even pop it in the freezer for a bit if you’re in a hurry.  If you use the freezer, it’s best to spread it out in a 9×13″ casserole dish – the more surface area the better).
  • Once you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 375° F.  Scoop the cookie dough (Alton uses an ice cream scooper, I use a spoon and my hands) and place on baking sheets (I use parchment paper with mine as it makes for easier cookie removal & clean-up).  Bake for 12-16 minutes (the oven in my apartment is super sketchy so my baking times variy a lot – check them after 10 minutes and go from there).

Spent grain flour preparation:

I dried my spent grain in the sun and the oven.  If you use the oven, set it on the lowest setting and spread your grains out on cookie sheets.  Turn them every so often until they’re nice and dry.  This is not very efficient if you have a lot of grain unfortunately.  I spread mine on a plastic sheet on a table in my backyard and also on a plastic sheet on my fire escape.  Again, I turned them every few hours until they were completely dry.  Next, I grind them in an old coffee grinder (this kind).  Again, labor intensive, but I get excellent results – a pretty fine powder as you can see below.

I then sift this (saving the larger material for composting) and store it in the refrigerator.  It is not necessary to process the flour this fine but it makes it very convenient to substitute in recipes.  I have plans to experiment with different ratios of spent grain flour to regular flour and will report back when I have some results.  There are also a lot of other recipes I want to try.

Have fun exploring the world of spent grain baking and I would love to hear your experiences and suggestions!


IMG_1699Last night’s chocolate & beer extravaganza was a ton of fun!  Here’s the menu:


*Scrumptious Salted Caramel Shortbread (adapted from this recipe in ReadyMade magazine):

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 heaping Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 9 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled & cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp fresh-ground sea salt
  • 5 oz Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate
  • 2 oz Callebaut unsweetened chocolate
  1. Blend flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar and 9 Tbsp of the cubed butter together by hand until dough forms.  Form into ball, wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes-1 hour.  Preheat oven to 325.  Flatten dough into an 8″x 8″ pan, prick top of dough with fork and place into oven.  Bake until dough begins to brown on top (about 25 minutes in my kooky oven).
  2. Allow shortbread to completely cool and place in fridge.  Prepare caramel layer by heating brown sugar and cream in a saucepan over low.  Once the mixture is bubbling, remove from heat and add butter.  Replace on heat and cook for 5-10 minutes after mixture begins to boil again.  Remove from heat and add 1 Tbsp salt, stir to mix.  Pour caramel mixture on shortbread crust and place into fridge.  Wait one hour.
  3. To prepare chocolate, melt over double boiler (the original recipe instructs you to temper the chocolate but I didn’t bother and it came out just fine). Pour over cooled caramel, spreading quickly with a spatula.  Cool and enjoy!

Although everyone enjoyed the shortbread bars last night, they are very messy as the caramel layer never sets properly.  I like the gooey-ness and plan to make these in a silicone mini muffin pan next time, spreading the shortbread up the walls, placing the caramel in the center and sealing the whole thing with chocolate.  They should be much easier to handle.  Cheers!

IMG_1704Chris Cuzme, me & special guest Clay Gordon serving the final pairing

Beer Beer & Food Recipes Uncategorized