Homemade Sauerkraut

Fall time is for making Sauerkraut. If you are Korean, then it's Kimchi. If your Italian, forgedaboutit. 

This about two things. Making Homemade Sauerkraut. And a nice recipe from Polish mother Wronski, Sauteed Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

Please search to get the specific ins and out on preparing Sauerkraut at home. Here are some overview comments. It may seem intimidating at first look. It's not. Just you don't know from nothing yet on fermenting vegetables. Once you get into it, it's a snap. A whole world opens.

The crock. Really, you don't need a crock. Any non-reactive vessel will do. Here's something similar to what we use. Yields about 3 quarts. 

You can even make small batches in quart jars. But, if you like Sauerkraut, you'll probably want to make a good amount. And, if you really like it, invest. Then crock it!

For the basic preparation you will use 3 Tablespoons of Kosher or Pickling Salt per 5 pounds of cabbage. Do not use any salt which is iodized. Fermentation will not occur.

Shred the cabbage finely and place in layers into a large container, salting each layer and tamping down as you go with a large spoon or potato masher. 

Let sit overnight. The shredded cabbage will have wilted and reduced in volume, releasing a good deal of liquid. Fermentation is an anaerobic process, so we want to keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid. A plate with something to weight the cabbage down. If necessary add brine (2 T Kosher/Pickling Salt: 1 Quart pure water) to cover. We make our ferments in a large 2 gallon glass jar, so a sealed plastic storage bag with brine water goes in and keeps the vegetable in its place under the brine. If you need more liquid, make a brine with pure water and kosher/pickling salt. Ratio 2 Tablespoons salt : 1 quart water. If using tap water, be sure to boil first to remove chlorine, which prevents fermentation.

You can add flavorings such as juniper berries and caraway. Other vegetables, slivered carrots are nice for color. Plain, however, is just fine. Try that first. Fermentation of vegetables is a broad subject. You can try Kimchi next. Brine cured pickles are a fave.

A week or so at a cool room temperature (60-65°F) should do it. Periodically check and skim any white scum that may form.The longer it stays, the more sour. Pack tightly into sterile jars, filling to cover with brine. Refrigerate. Should keep until Spring.

So now you have all that Sauerkraut. Try it straight, as a salad. But, unless you like it to taste like human tears, do rinse thoroughly before serving to remove excess saltiness. Plain, or with whatever mix ins you like. 

Sauerkraut is an ancient food. There are plenty of recipes out there to try. Here's what Mama Wronski prepared:

Sauteed Sauerkraut 

Thoroughly rinse and drain Sauerkraut. Sauté thin onion slices in butter, maybe with some garlic. Add a bay leaf and pepper. Since the Sauerkraut has been rinsed, it should be salty enough. Adjust for taste. Add the rinsed/ thoroughly drained Sauerkraut with more butter and sauté turning mixture frequently to prevent scorching. 

Optionals: Add some reconstituted Dried Mushrooms for flavor. Finely grated Apple. Prepared white Horseradish.

The dish is ready to serve when the Sauerkraut is heated through and excess moisture has evaporated. You may also leave it longer to get a little browning. But, a little. This is simple stuff.

Serve with potatoes and whatever smoked type meat you like. 

Beer would be nice.




I'll see you, your "Latkes"!

And, raise you a . . . Dosa!

Homemade Dasa, Let's be Clear

I was raised by Polish parents. My mother Catherine cooked mainly from scratch. Homemade chicken soup with finely hand cut egg noodles. Accompanied by her reliably regular boast about the large number of eggs yolks which went into the noodle dough.

(Hold on. There are a few byways in this writing. If you don't want to read all the lead up to the heart of the matter, as illuminating that it is sure to be, just scroll down to the near bottom of the page. But know, culinary sojourner, you'll have to make it up to Cooky Cat some time or other. The writing all goes into the potage he be cookin'. And, besides, just what the heck have you got better to do? Remember, wherever you go . . . there you are!)

She also made Gołąbki (Stuffed Cabbage), enough to fill a large roasting pan, braised with a tomato sauce. (Tip: Some cooks include sauerkraut in with the sauce.) 

Czarnina, duck blood soup. My mother would get a fresh killed duck at the poultry market and have the blood collected into a scrupulously clean jar she brought from home. Probably illegal now in most states. So, the work around? Kill the duck yourself, silly. Mother would do that. The cut up duck pieces would then be simmered the same way you would for chicken soup. Careful, though, not to overcook the duck. The pieces would be removed at some critical point and finished by roasting in the oven. 

Into the seasoned broth were added raisins, prunes, and maybe some dried apricots. Not too many, just enough to add some sweetness; but enough for bits to show up in every serving. Also, some vinegar. At the very end the duck blood would be added and brought to a boil to finish. Serve with those homemade noodles. Polish heaven!

On Polish Catholic meatless Friday's the staples for the main course would be either a fish dish, Pierogi, Naleśniki, or Potato Pancakes. 

Pierogi, by now, almost everyone knows. But, try some fruit filled, garnished with Sour Cream. Plum or prune filled, really excellent. But, don't forget the Sour Cream. Perfect, as they say, foil for the sweet filling. 

Naleśniki are large Crêpes typically rolled around a filling of Cottage Cheese (drained. Or, cream-moistened Farmers Cheese) and chives, fried seasoned sauerkraut, or jelly. And, you may have already guessed . . . Sour Cream. 

And, last, but not least, Potato Pancakes.

As you probably know, staple items in any cuisine have as many variations as there are cooks. Think Chile con Carne, or Spaghetti Sauce. Some better than others. Mostly, though, all good, but different. For example, no one in my family made drop noodles for soup (Spaetzle) quite the same way. My mother would simply drop random globs of sticky batter into boiling salted water. My aunt Adele was fussier. She would drop the dough into water, carefully cutting measured bits from a spoon with a knife. 

Potato Pancakes, it is arguable, have the widest range of interpretation. My mom would hand grate large potatoes then form into a pan fried pancake. And, by the time they got to the plate, they were golden crispy on the outside, and rather grey on the inside. (Oxidation.) And, yes, with Sour Cream. But, also serve with Apple Sauce. Unless she made them savory with onions; then only Sour Cream.

Are you thinking that Sour Cream is a Polish cuisine staple? Maybe. You could even add some to finish the aforementioned Czarnina.

But . . . and finally . . . we get to the point of this piece. 

The other day M'Lady made Dosas. Crêpes, Indian style. A Dosa is made with a batter of fermented rice and fermented  black lentils (dehulled). Often, Dosas are served with a filling. Take Masala Dosa . . . Please!  That's a Dosa wrapped around a filling (= Masala) of potatoes, fried onions, and spices.

You may know if you go out and order a Dosa you'll get a crispy ultra-thin and ultra-large round crêpe. So large in fact, it'll come to the table folded twice or rolled, and overlapping the plate. Usually also, with some savory/spicy accompaniments. "Accoutrements" is more fitting a term for the kinds of things you will be served in the Indian idiom.

At home our Dosas were crispy on the outside, but slightly pancake-like moist. Hence why those Potato Pancakes came to mind. We were hungry, so rather than rustle up a Masala filling, we scrambled eggs. The result. Eye openingly scrumptalicious! Those Dosas ate like Potato Pancakes. Truly memorable. Sure to go on the "Let's Have That Again " list in the recipe box. 

If you don't know from Umami, those Dosas got it, for sure. 

Oh. Mommy!

Check out the general recipe for Dosas. Also, preparing and fermenting the batter. The website in the those links also has a recipe for traditional Dosas. 

As the seedy fellows on the sidewalk on Broadway during the time of Massage Parlors, then Rap Parlors, would say as they pressed a calling card into your hand . . . "Check it out!"

Oh, and if you are from back in the U.S.S.R., Dosas instead of those Blinis your Babcha made. Hey Frenchy, you too! 

As for the Italians. They have that Borlengo. And, if you know from Borlengo, there's nothing comes close as a substitute. 

Cooky Cat Watershed Moment

Announcing a change of intention and direction for Cooky Cat. 

We have passed through that period of exuberant intoxication where in the early times on this blog we were willing to share just about anything, just to see what our words looked like all posted there in cyber space. And, admittedly, who would take notice. Then, there was the period when, like all food lovers and lovers of food preparation do, we scoured the shelves of all kinds of stores and the pantries of all kinds of cuisines to share about the little known, but fabulous. Remember "Borlengo"? 'Nduja? Solomon Gundy? Żubrówka?


From now on we'll only be writing as the Spirit moves. No more just to keep putting our face forward. If you are one of the fortunate who automatically receives the Cat's postings, then be reassured you'll only be getting the best of the best. Gone are the days when anything could get this Kitty to paw the keyboard. He's matured, and now must take his natural place in the stratosphere of culinary greats. He leaves the likes of Mark Bittman (That Bittman!) and Martha Stewart ("I-Do-It-ALL-From-Scratch") to slave away filling the time and space they've been regularly allotted in the various media. 

In other words, if it doesn't get the Cat's attention, it doesn't get his mention.

Stay tuned. Keep the Faith.