I spotted a few flecks on green on my run this morning. I’ve now left the winter dread-mill and returned to the bike path along the creek. There was blue sky, and I was in a t-shirt. Soaking up all the rays I can on these early spring mornings. I know it isn’t official until the 21st (22nd?) of this month, but I’ve decided I don’t care. It feels like spring, so it’s spring. I have a new kind of energy. The desire to reorganize, freshen up, and try new things. Play hooky now and then, shut off the technology, and “cheat” the work day with a stroll outside to count the flower buds on the dead trees from winter. They are coming back to life, and there my face will be waiting, smiling on them. Welcome back life, I’ve missed you. Lets hang.
In the midst of trying new things, I have two to share with you today. The first is fermentation, and thankfully enough Amanda wrote a gorgeous cookbook on the whole darn thing. Afraid to try? I was too, but not anymore. She reveals the simplicity and pure fun it is to ferment all sorts of foods. She’ll have you fermenting everything in sight, and I get to give away a copy of her cookbook today! See below the recipe for the details. I also talk more about her book and this stellar recipe I have for you today below in this post. The second “new thing” is something I’ve been testing out the past few weeks and am excited to invite you to today. I’ve partnered with Nom to host my own mini live show each week! Its on Thursdays at 3pm (MST), and I have one today if you’d like to tune in. Its rough and real, you’ll get to see me without all the high def cameras and filters, talking about what I love most – food. And the neatest part is the chat field, where if you sign in we can all chat and you can answer my questions as well as pose ones to me in real time! Its has been beyond fun trying it out the past few weeks. I love getting to interact more-so “in person” rather than from behind my screen. I hope I get to meet you during one of my shows soon. It would be such a treat.
ABOUT THE COOKBOOK
Amanda completely takes the intimidation out of fermentation in her cookbook. It is chock full of useful tips and information about how to ferment foods – such as how to do it safely, the different equipment you can use (and find around your kitchen), and how to gauge when ferments are complete. She breaks down all the fears and questions that most commonly keep us from trying different ferments, and most importantly – makes it fun. This book is full of creative recipes and uses for each. Whether it be a kimchi or kraut, a jar of pickles, or even a glass of kvass! She provides the basic recipes, and then a slew of her own twists on the classics. We’re talking pesto kimchi, fermented corn salsa, and even hot sauce. She also talks about the health benefits of consuming fermented foods, how the healthy bacteria is formed, and how the bad bacteria is killed through proper PH balance. Amanda also provides “no salt” fermentation methods, using amazing alternatives such as coconut water and even tea! I cannot promote this book enough for those of you looking to incorporate more fermented foods into your diet. It will empower you and make your meals not only more nutritious, but more flavorful.
ABOUT THE RECIPE
I have climbed on the banh mi train, and I’m never getting off. The flavors, the balance, the textures, the everything. Lets start with the bread. Traditionally built using a small loaf that looks like a baguette, I segued a bit and made these sprouted spelt slider buns (which I am head over heals for) and served them lightly toasted. Then there is the mayo, also traditional to the banh mi, that I made by emulsifying olive oil in soy milk and a few other wholesome ingredients. Its unreal and I cannot wait for you to give it a try – mayo haters and lovers alike (I was previously a hater) this spread is a dream. Instead of meat, I make a marinated tempeh that is infused with orange, maple, and tamari. Add the crunch from fresh cucumber and a little heat from the jalapeños (a must), plus the sweet tang of the fermented pickles and cilantro for added freshness. I am head over heals for this sandwich. When combined, these simple ingredients create something next-level when it comes to flavor. All the more reason for you get your fermentation on this week so you can enjoy these tasty sliders soon.
The recipe for the fermented pickles is from Amanda‘s cookbook, Ferment Your Vegetables, and is being reprinted here with her permission (I make only a half batch, double for her original recipe). She is truly the fermentation master and will make you one too!
BANH MI SLIDERS W/ FERMENTED PICKLES
Serves 4, with leftover pickles and olive oil mayo.
banh mi pickles from “ferment your vegetables“
1/2 pound daikon radish
1/2 pound carrots (about 2 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small clove of garlic
olive oil mayo
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 small garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional, but I like it for this sandwich)
1/2 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 – 8 ounce block of tempeh
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
fresh cilantro leaves
sprouted spelt buns
I adapted this recipe from The Kitchn. To make vegan and wheat free I made the following substitutions: replaced the wheat flour with sprouted whole spelt flour; replaced the egg with a flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal + 3 tablespoons hot water and let sit 5 minutes); replaced the milk with almond milk; left out the melted butter; and replaced the cane sugar with maple sugar. Otherwise, I followed the directions to a tee – and these are by far my favorite hamburger buns yet.
Begin by making the pickles. These will take 7 days to ferment, but as little as 15 minutes to assemble right now so you can be enjoying these sliders a week from today!
Wash (but do not peel) the daikon and carrots. Slice thin using a julienne slicer or mandolin. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt. Thinly slice the garlic clove and add it to the bowl. Toss the veggies with the garlic and salt, and take a little taste. They should be slightly saltier than you would prefer – this will make them the perfect level of saltiness when the fermentation is complete. Set the bowl of salted veggies aside to “sweat”. They will create their own brine in a matter of 10 minutes or less.
In the meantime, set out a 16 ounce glass jar, and slice the jalapeño in half. Set aside. Find a smaller jar that just fits inside the one you will be packing the veggies in – the goal is to have it fit on top once the veggies are packed in – creating weight and submerging the veggies fully in their brine. Fill this smaller jar with dry rice or beans to give it weight, and seal. Set aside.
Take a handful of your veggies and their brine from the mixing bowl and pack it into the bottom of the 16 ounce glass jar. Wedge a slice of the jalapeño on each side of the jar, with the cut side touching the glass. Continue packing the veggies into the jar, using your fist to press down firmly to remove any oxygen from getting trapped in with the veggies. Pour any remaining brine from the mixing bowl on top once all of the veggies are packed in, and press down firmly once more to ensure the mixture is submerged in its brine.
Place the weighted smaller jar on top to hold the veggies down. The brine should be completely covering the veggies. Place a towel or burlap sack over the jars to keep out dust and bugs, and set aside in a dark ventilated area (at room temperature) on a plate to ferment for 7 days. Taste after 7 days, and if it has reached your desired level of acidity, remove the weight, seal the jar, and place in the fridge.
For the tempeh, slice the block into 8 rectangles (about 1 inch x 2 inch). Then slice those rectangles in half width-wise so they become 16 thinner rectangles. Lay these out on a rimmed plate or in a glass tupperware so they all lay flat. Mix the marinade and pour over the tempeh. Let sit for 15 minutes, then flip, and allow to marinate for an additional 15 minutes (30 total). The tempeh should soak up all of the marinade. Preheat the oven during this time to 350F. Place the marinated tempeh on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time. Serve on the sandwich right away, or let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready (will last 3 days).
For the olive oil mayo, place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or small (but deep) mixing bowl if using an immersion blender. Blend the mixture on low, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. It will begin to thicken and you may need to increase the blending speed to keep it moving. Once finished it should be a thick and creamy spread. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Store in a airtight glass jar in the fridge and use within 5 days.
To assemble the sandwich, slice the slider buns in half (or use whatever bread you choose) and lightly toast. Spread some of the olive oil mayo on each slice, then begin at the bottom with sliced cucumber, two pieces of tempeh, a few jalapeño slices, a forkful of the fermented pickles, and a few fresh cilantro leaves. Sandwich together and enjoy right away, or pack to take for lunch on a hike or to work – they keep well assembled for a few hours.
Win a copy of Amanda‘s cookbook, Ferment Your Vegetables, by leaving a comment below letting me know your favorite way to use fermented foods in your diet! Contest is open to US residents only, and will go through next Wednesday (March 16th).