Preserved Lemons

A natural extension of not buying super processed pantry items is a foray into canning and preserving. I’ve been a bit lazy because there are TONS of local, ‘homemade’ options available here in Asheville that are made by people who think the same way we do about food. From watching my grandmother do it year after year, the canning process takes lots of work! Why do it myself when I can support local businesses by buying from these folks? Because, it’s a skill, and skills and their concepts are great things to understand. Plus, I’m just curious.

My desire to learn how to preserve food has been fermenting for a while {pun very much intended}, but something keeps stopping me. The truth—I’m scared, way scared. Terrified is probably a more accurate word. Botulism is no joke and this food safety, food-bourne-illness-germaphobe has some real issues trusting that I’m not going to kill my whole family with blueberry preserves. Real issues.

Shortly after our trip to Morocco, the Kiwi started begging me to give Moroccan food a go at home. The food we had in Morocco was out of this world flavorful, so I started doing some research and found preserved lemons in loads of the recipes. Thus began my search for preserved lemons so that I could put that tajine I got Zane for Christmas to good use. I love our local makers, but I haven’t seen preserved lemons here. Probably because most of us didn’t know they were a thing or maybe we think we have no need for them in our cooking. Unless you’ve tried them, you might think the same thing. But just you wait…

Anyway, where was I?

Oh right, I needed preserved lemons but couldn’t find any. I’d been chatting to an experienced food preserver about my desire to learn, the advice was always the same—start with something easy and something highly acidic. I saw Sarah’s post on how she made her own preserved lemons in only a week as opposed to the month it takes to make the real deal and thought that would be just the ticket! It looked so easy! So on a whim and high bout of self-confidence, I embarked on making my hacker version of preserved lemons. Seriously, it’s so simple a kindergartener could do it; well, a kindergartener you trust with a large chef’s knife…

Preserved Lemons from Kiwi and Peach

Preserved Lemons

4-5 organic lemons
around 1/4 cup of sea salt
pint sized canning jar

Scrub your lemons as well as you possible can and then dry them.

As thinly as your knife skills will allow, slice your lemons. As you’re slicing, pick out any seeds from your lemon rounds. Also, sit the ends to the side. We’ll be using them later.

Make sure that the jar you are using has been thoroughly washed with hot, hot, hot water and dried. Alternatively layer the lemon slices with a healthy amount of sea salt between each layer. You will rinse the salt off later when you use them in your cooking, so don’t skimp! It’s important! Pack the layers as tightly as you can, pushing down regularly as you go.

Stop a couple inches from the top and squeeze the juice from the ends into the jar then use the ends to push down and pack the layers really tightly. The goal is for any gap to be filled with juice. You can then toss the ends and put the lid on the jar.

Store it in your cupboard or a cool dark place for a week. You’ll know it’s ready when the rinds are soft.

And there you have it! Preserved lemons that will make you feel oh so fancy!

Once opened, I stored my jar in the fridge and it’s become my super quick go-to for recipes that call for lemon juice. I just sub in three or four rounds, depending on the size, per lemon. It’s been great in some of our older recipes like the pesto and avocado pasta, but it has also led to some wonderful new recipes! Now I just have to tackle the tajine…

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DIY Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta is never something I thought I would make from scratch. The stuff from the groc was a-okay by me.

That was until I started hankering to make my own ravioli. It all started when I saw a recipe for a beet ravioli and from there it escalated into full blown ravioli mania.

I must make all the raviolis.

My first couple attempts at the homemade pasta weren’t exactly successfully. I couldn’t get the pasta rolled thin enough and it was far too gluteny {totally a word} and unpleasantly chewy.

So I stopped and simplified.

No egg. Just flour, water, and olive oil. Very little mess, and completely versatile.

So in other words, perfection.

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/3 cup hot water {or 3 Tbsp hot water + 3 Tbsp warmed veggie puree}
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted

Step One
Whisk together the water and olive oil. If you want to make a specific kind of pasta {beet, pumpkin, etc.} you can substitute up to half of the water for the veggie puree, but be sure to warm the puree before you add it to the mixing bowl.

Either way, whisk it all together.

Step Two
Very slowly {a couple tablespoons at a time} whisk in the flour. This will prevent clumps and will keep it smooth and silky the whole time. When it starts getting too thick to whisk, just put sprinkle the flour on top of the dough and knead it in.

When the dough is no longer super sticky and all the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it sit for at least an hour.

Now you can use it right away or you can wrap it up in some plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to use later in the week. I tend to do the latter.

Step Three
So, it’s pasta time! Grab your dough from the fridge. I take about half the dough at a time {because my workspace isn’t very big} and roll it out really thin on a well floured surface.

For ravioli, cut out your pieces, load them up, and pinch the sides together. {I use a 2 inch biscuit cutter for the base and the 2.5 inch one for the tops.}

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

So your pasta is made. Your pasta is stuffed. Let’s cook it.

Boil your jug and heat a large pot on medium high heat. Add the water to the pot and salt your water {very important step}. Once the water is a boiling, drop the pasta in. It should only take a minute or two. For stuffed pasta like ravioli, you’ll know it’s done when they start floating. Then drain the water, serve it up with your favorite sauce, and enjoy your fresh, homemade pasta!

Be sure to check in next week when I share my recipe that made me bite the bullet and start making my own pasta. It’s the ravioli I thought about on a daily basis for a month. It’s the ravioli that dreams are made of.

{Okay, now I’ve built it up way too much. It’s a’ight.}

DIY Pumpkin Puree

In terms of motivating me to not rely on processed goods, there are definitely benefits to not being able to find the processed things I’ve relied on in the past here in Germany.

Last fall, motivated by a need want for all things pumpkiny and no canned pumpkin puree to be found, I was left with no choice but to figure out how to make it on my own.

Now, I won’t go as far as to say that the canned stuff isn’t good for you because it’s fine. Most of the time it is 100% pumpkin with no additives or preservatives save salt {but even then only in a few cases}. But the taste folks. Oh, the taste. If you’ve ever had a pumpkin pie with the real stuff… I’ll just say that there is a difference. A delicious, delicious difference.

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step One
Lob the top off the pumpkin and then cut it in half. {I enlisted the help of the Kiwi. Dull knives make this hard work.}

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step Two
Scoop out the seeds and guts. {Once you get the pumpkin in the oven you can go back and pick out all of the seeds for making pepitas!}

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step Three
Cut it into quarters and place on a baking sheet. Pop it in the oven on 350°F/175°C for an hour.

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step Four
After an hour, take the pumpkin out of the oven and let it cool for a bit until you can touch it comfortably.

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step Five
Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and put it in a food processor. Add a 1/2 cup of water and pulse, scrapping the sides occasionally, until its pureed to a consistency you’re happy with.

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

Step Six
You can use it immediately, or you can spoon it into a baggie or tupperware container and freeze it. I do about a cup of puree per bag so that I can defrost just one at a time. It will keep in the freezer for about 9 months I hear, but I’ve never tested it. The stuff is gone pretty quickly around here. The Kiwi loves him some pie.

The How-To Series {DIY Pumpkin Puree} | kiwi+peach

There you have it folks–fresh pumpkin puree you can use to get your beta carotene fix in things like hummus, ravioli filling, pancakes, etc. Really, the possibilities are endless, so get to roasting and pureeing while the pumpkin gettin’ is good!

60 Minute Whole Wheat Focaccia {and Pizza Dough}

I really like the idea of making my own pizza crust, bread, pasta, etc. There are so many perks to doing it yourself: you can make it whole wheat, you can eliminate the refined sugars and replace them with natural sugars, you can save some moolah, and, most importantly, you can avoid making another trip to the store when you’ve forgotten bread on both of your previous trips to the store that day. {This is a completely hypothetical situation. No way I’m that scatterbrained.} But the thing is, while I like the idea, it always ends up being more work than I bargained for.

Every night, it seems, I inevitably forget what I’m making for dinner. I mean, I know what stuff I’m making that week, but I forget what we’re having it. So that wonderful plan I had when I made the meal schedule for spending a lovely afternoon kneading dough and making my own homemade pizza dough turns into me being highly productive organizing my Pinterest board for the seven millionth time and then freaking a little when I realize I’m making pizza and have no dough. Let’s be real, the majority of folks don’t have all afternoon to carefully craft the perfect pizza crust. Folks need something quick because you’re busy. Am I right or am I right?

But I still want to have homemade pizza, and I still don’t want to go to the store. Don’t worry folks, it can be done! Based off a method I saw over at Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet, this really is one of the quickest and most versatile bread recipes I use. It can be used for sandwiches, deep dish pizzas, or even regular pizzas, and the best part is that it lakes less than 60 minutes.

Kiwi and Peach: Homemade Bread in 1 Hour

 

One Hour Focaccia

3/4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour {plus about 1/4 cup-ish for kneading}
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to as low as it’ll go. For me it’s 120°F/60°C.

First thing you need to do is to proof the yeast. In a large mixing bowl, measure your water and honey. Whisk until the honey dissolves and then add your yeast. Whisk it a bit more and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to proof. When you come back to it, it should have about doubled in size and be all bubbly. If it is.. your yeast is alive!

Add your first 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to the proof and give it a stir. Then add the 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and mix until the flour is incorporated.

Melt your butter and add 2 tablespoons of it to the mix along with the salt. Give it a stir.

Sprinkle in the second 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and the 1/4 cup of all purpose and mix until it’s incorporated. At this point your dough should be forming a ball and pulling away from the bowl, but it’s still really sticky. Sprinkle some whole wheat flour over the top of the dough and flour up your hand. We’re about to get messy.

Working in the bowl {because really, who wants to clean up the counter top?} knead the flour into the dough until the dough stops being sticky and forms a pretty solid dough ball.

Now we can go one of two ways.

If you’re making focaccia:

Grease a skillet {or regular frying pan, just wrap the handle with tin foil} and plop that dough ball in the middle of it. Push the dough out to the sides of the pan.

Turn the oven off and pop the pan in the oven for 20 minutes to let it rise.

After those 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and crank it up to 400°F/200°C. Brush the remaining butter on the top. {You can add all sorts of tasty stuff at this point too. Oregano, parmesan cheese, pizza toppings, the list goes on and on. Use your imagination!}

Return the pan to the oven it’s preheated and bake for 20 minutes.

When its finished, you can just turn the pan over and your lovely focaccia should just fall out. Let it cool for a quick minute and then you can slice it and make any kind of sandwich your heart desires. {We like this one and this one.}

If you’re making a pizza dough:

Line a baking tray and plop your dough ball on there.

Turn the oven off and pop the baking tray in there for 20 minutes to let it rise. While it’s rising, you can be preparing your pizza toppings.

After those 20 minutes, remove the baking tray from the oven and crank it up to as high as it’ll go. {For me that’s 475°F/240°C.} While the oven is preheating, use a well floured rolling pin {or your hands} to roll your pizza dough out until it’s about 1/4 in thick. {I mean, I guess you could try the throwing it in the air technique, but I’m not that much of a risk taker.} Fold the sides up a bit to make a crust/handle part for your pizza then load that baby up with you delicious, delicious pizza toppings.

Pop it back in for 20 more minutes, and your beautiful, delicious pizza will be ready to go!

DIY Almond Milk

I’m lactose intolerant. Not in a Leonard kind of way, but in a if-I-eat-dairy-without-taking-my-medicine-I’ll-be-throwing-up-in-a-couple-of-hours kind of way.

It’s really not a big deal though. I actually h.a.t.e. the smell of milk {it all smells sour to me}. I hands-down prefer sorbet or frozen yogurt to ice cream. And let’s face it, all the best cheeses like gorgonzola, parmesan, gouda are all fine since they are fattier {meaning they have very little lactose}. For anything else, I can always take a little pill that provides that magic lactase enzyme I’m missing.  Not a big deal at all!

What I don’t like is having to take medicine when there is a perfectly tasty alternative. Enter milk alternatives.

I’ve been a soy drinker since I found out I was lactose intolerant, but in an effort to veer away from possible GMOs and highly processed stuff, I’ve switched to almond milk. It’s so tasty y’all! Even better is that you can make it yourself. It takes a little bit of forethought since the milk goes bad within a few days, but once you get into a rhythm it really is the simplest thing in the world!

Kiwi+Peach: DIY Almond Milk

I follow The Kitchn’s instructions for making it, but here is the condensed version. Soak your almonds overnight. Drain and rinse them then pop them in a food processor. Add fresh water and then process for about 3-4 minutes. Lay a piece of cheese cloth over a bowl. When you’re finished processing the almonds, pour the mixture onto the cheese cloth. Gather the edges and squeeze all the liquid out of the meal. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup and you’re good to go.

I find that a half batch {1/2 cup almonds, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp honey} will last me for 2-3 days which is probably only how long it will be fresh for anyway.

My biggest piece of advice is use cheesecloth. I couldn’t find it at all here in Munich, so I had my folks stock me up on their last visit. It’s exactly ten million times easier if you use a cheesecloth rather than a sieve. {I also may or may not have broken our sieve the first time I tried to make it.}

Don’t throw that leftover almond meal away though! There is so much you can do with it. My favorite ways are using it for breading my fried chicken or in a tasty pie crust.

What do you think? Would you ever try making your own almond milk? If you try it, let me know, you hipster you!

Cashew Pesto from Tupelo Honey Cafe

I was late to the pesto party. Up until 2010, I probably couldn’t have even told you that there was basil in it. {Don’t hate.} Until… one of my roommates started having it every night {well that or Kraft Mac and Cheese}. I was intrigued, and then I was hooked. While I like the pesto in a jar just fine, it’s hard for me to use up the whole jar before I start thinking that the contents are getting a bit questionable {which probably explains why she had it every night}. If you have a food processor, making it yourself could not be simpler. Plus it is so much fresher and you can easy to control the amount you’re making so you don’t end up wasting money. Not convinced you should make your own yet? It you make your own, you can use cashews. I wish I could take credit for this pesto recipe, but I can’t. It’s from the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook and just like the name implies it is made with cashews instead of pine nuts. I love pine nuts, but these cashews take this stuff to a new level.

Kiwi and Peach: Cashew Basil Pesto

Cashew Pesto from Tupelo Honey Cafe

{makes about 1/2 cup}

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves {pack as much in there as you can}
1/3 cup salted cashews
2 cloves of garlic
juice from 1/2 of a lemon {1 Tbsp}
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and process. Technically you are supposed to drizzle the olive oil in gradually as you process, but my food processor isn’t fancy enough to have a hole into which to drizzle. I’ve never had a problem just doing it all at the same time, but if you do, try the adding it gradually method. One of our favorite dinners is whole wheat pasta {fusilli, spaghetti, it doesn’t matter} tossed in pesto with these oven roasted tomatoes. Add a healthy amount of parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and I call that dinner.

{This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. That means that if you head over to Amazon from the link and choose to buy the book, a tiny bit of the money you spent on the book will come back to me for the referral.}