Sunday, August 21, 2011

Once in a Lifetime Video

                                                           

Duck Breast Salad with Arugula, Goats Cheese, and Blueberry Compote


A perfectly tasty salad which an abundance of flavours and textures. Im not going to go overly crazy with the description and recipe writing but I will give you the basics.

Ingredients

Duck Breast (scored)
Arugula
Goats Cheese
Blueberries
Sugar

Method

Cook duck breast skin side down on a medium heat to render out all the fat, and leave you with a crispy skin. When skin is crisp give the meat side a quick sear and remove from heat. The arugula was dressed with a simple wildflower honey vinaigrette. Take about a 1/2 pint of blueberries, and two tbsp of sugar with just a touch of water. Bring to boil and let reduce to compote/jam like consistency. Put it all together and enjoy with a nice pinot.

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, with Crispy Leeks and Nasturtium Puree

This is another dish I couldn’t up for my visiting friends. It turned out damn near perfect, and is a simple variation on many dishes I’ve already posted. For the Lamb proceed with this recipe. For the Nasturtium puree process as for this recipe, but keep the liquid to a minimum.

Crispy Leeks

Crispy leeks are simple, easy to make, and even better to eat. The trick with getting them right is not to try and bread and deep fry them, but to take a two step approach. Julienne the white parts of the leeks. While prepping your leeks prepare a blanching station: a pot of boiling water, and an ice bath with a strainer in it. Blanch the leeks for 35-40 seconds and put in the ice bath to cool. Squeeze any excess moisture from the leeks and allow to dry on paper towelling. When your leeks are relatively dry, deep fry at 325 until crispy.

Duck Maki Roll with Lumpfish roe, Candied Orange, and Tamari


Ducks have tenderloins too! Problem is when they are on the breast it can make for slightly uneven cooking, so we have duck sushi. I was inspired to do this from an amuse bouche I once had to do in a rice paper wrap, so I figure this translates well. I wont go into huge detail about the sushi making process as there are countless videos on youtube how to make it.

Ingredients

2 – Duck tenderloins
1 – Orange zest (cut into thin strips)
Nori
Tamari
Sushi rice
Sugar
Rice vinegar
Lumpfish Roe (any roe will work)

Method

Make your rice according to the directions on the box. Usually its a 1:1 ratio +10% more water, however you should read the directions. While your rice is cooking away, heat about a 1/4 cup of rice vinegar and a tbsp of sugar until dissolved. Do not allow this to boil, or it will mare the flavour. The actual amounts will vary depending on how much you are making, this should be enough marinate for a cup of rice (use less, taste, add more if needed). Combine the two together, and “cut” the rice so it cools faster. Traditionally as well as cutting the rice you would fan it. Im lazy.

In a hot skillet very quickly sear off your tenderloins. I mean seconds. You want them to have a seared outside but medium rare interior.

For the orange zest, put them into a pot with water, and bring to a boil. When it begins boiling strain and repeat 2 more times. This cooks out the bitterness. Make a simple syrup solution and bring to a boil once more. Strain. Don't waste the simple syrup. When cool add the two back together and refrigerate until needed.

Put together your maki roll. Simple! =)

The Luther


Ok, I am afraid to eat this. It is the first time I have said that in years. Ive eaten chicken feet, squid tentacles, raw organs, but this.... a burger sandwiched between a honey glazed donut has taken my to my level. There is a possibility lurking out there that maybe after too many pints of joy juice I would step up to the plate, and then on to the stretcher. This was made at Big Als Snack Shack in Woodstock, Ont. It is the only place I can think of in this town where not only can you get a decent burger, but if you wish to... they have burgers that will challenge even the most darling of eaters. It brings me back to times at Dangerous Dan's in Toronto. A scuzzy hole in the wall, renown for its delicious albeit artery clogging fare. Its like, a dingy punk bar with the lights turned on with local brew and tasty food.
Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kvass - Tasting

It was time to reap the benefits of yet another crazy experiment -stale bread hooch. The kvass has undergone a slight carbonation, but not enough to be noticeable. The aroma was better then I had expected, it has the unmistakable lemon and mint flavours on the nose, which a touch of yeasty sourdough in the background. What I found most interesting, was the mouthfeel. It felt almost thinner then water. Of the three people that dared to try we all kind of got a different flavour out of it. My palate was comprimized as I had had a smoke and a beer before hand (you need to prepare for this somehow!) What I got out of it was a very weakly made lemonade flavour, with an acidity comparable to that of a sourdough. For me it was good, not great but had potential. I found everyone but me got the flavour of the bread prodominatly, but in different ways. One commented on the yeasty flavour, and the other that it tasted like dough. Needless to say no one was really in agreement with the flavours, and perhaps that is due to the foreign nature of the flavours. No one knew what to think. Did everyone like it? Absolutly not. Two thirds could finish it, and I believe the other person choked it down for postarity sake.

I will try this experiment again (its not like its expensive) but there are a few tweaks I will need to make in succession. This drink could definatly do with some sweetness, and I believe with more sugar there is a chance to bring more flavours out of the lemon and mint -provided it dosent increase the alcohol content, which was virtually undetectable. The flavour base of lemon and mint worked really well together, but I felt there wasent enough of it, next time I throw in some more rind. I am worried the addition of more lemon juice may make the enviroment to acidic for the yeast to florish. Finally, the yeast. Bread yeast has this unmistakable flavour, that I wouldnt describe as complementary. Next I will either make it traditionally from sourdough or purchase a pilsner, or wine yeast to do the dirty work. Was it a success? Yes. Is there work to do? Definatly.
Friday, August 12, 2011

Nocino - The Beginning

Seasonality is a lost perspective in modern day society. It is important to be able to know the seasons, and see them changing. Many great foods in this world have a very short window of opening its door to delicious consumption. All to often I discover great things researching new foods, but that door has already closed. I have to make a mental note to persue that goal in another year. This one I caught the tail end of. Driving to work one day I noticed a green walnut laying in a freshly mowed lawn, and the wheels began to turn. Technically the very tail end of unripe walnut season I was fortunately to find a relatively young tree still bearing fruit, and a day later might have been too late.

Nocino is a walnut liquor that hails from Modena, Emilia Romanga. It is made by steeping unripe green walnuts in spirits, and usually used as a cold weather, or after dinner beverage. There are many recipes on the web for making this, but I chose to stick very close to tradition. I was scouring my copy off Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi, which is the first mass marketed cookbook in Italy published in 1891, and found a recipe for Nocino:

30 Walnuts
1.5L Spirits
750g Sugar
2g Cinnamon
10 Cloves
400ml Water
1 Lemon Peel

Being a cook, I simply cant afford to donate 1.5L of distilled alcohol to a science experiment. The alcohol they used was probably around 80-85%, so I figured with a 40% alcohol I could probably negate the water out of the recipe. If it ends up being to strong, I can always add but not take away (without distillation). Vodka is probably the most tasteless alcohol available in Ontario, we are not able to get Alcool or Everclear (Ontario liquor laws are retarded for lack of a better term). So I decided on a 750ml bottle of 40% vodka. The only other change, is in the form of addition. A very good Chef of mine always paired cinnamon and cloves with star anise, which both marries and adds flavours in a very luscious way. So I added star anise to the recipe as well.

Ingredients

15 Green Walnuts
750ml Vodka -40%
375g Sugar
1 Cinnamon stick
5 Cloves
1 Star Anise
1/2 Lemon rind (cut into strips)

Method

Halve the walnuts, on a plastic cutting board (this stuff will stain badly) and add to a 1.5L jar. Pour in the rest of your ingredients, and shake well. This stuff goes black quick! Leave in a warm place for 1.5 - 2 months. After this strain out all the solids through a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and bottle. Age for six months to a year or more as the flavours mellow.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chipotle Chilli


Who doesn’t love a big bowl of red? Its a comfort food, but spicier... like a stew in lingerie. Ok, maybe that is taking the analogy a little far. Chilli traditionally is nothing more then a hunk of beef with some chilli peppers. That is it. You'll never find anyone in North America become as passionate about food until you get into a debate about chilli. Beans, typically a no go. Tomatoes are sitting on the sidelines. This is not that chilli, but perhaps one day ill make that authentic southern stew. Debate all you want, I do not care. If cowboys were chefs, then Texas would be named New Gascony. This is the type of chilli we as Canadians have learned to love.

I choose to use Chipotle peppers which is not traditional, but to capture that feel. The smoke of the chipotle puts you in that mental state of tending a camp fire with a pot of chilli on it. Some may say that "Smoke is a barbecue thing," well perhaps your right; however, it was cooked over a camp fire, and if smell is most of what we taste then we can assume that chilli defiantly had a smoky element to it. Ok, rant complete. I always use a roast, pound for pound its usual cheaper then mince, but you know where on the animal its coming from and how its going to perform. I recommend sirloin tip, inside or outside round, but any tough cut packed with flavour and gelatine will do. I like to take it out of the vacpack or styrofoam and air dry in the fridge for a day or two. It will really help remove some of the excess moisture, give it better flavour, and more importantly give you the best sear. As always adjust the recipe to what you have on hand, and your preferences.

Ingredients

1/2 lb Beef (cut into a one inch dice)
2-3 Medium Onions diced
8 cloves Garlic finely chopped
2-3 Scotch Bonnet peppers (adjust varieties and amounts to your tastes)
1/2 L Beer (the darker the better, but whatever is around, or use tequila or whisky)
2 cans San Marzano tomatoes (they really are the best)
2 Chipotle Chilli
3 cups Red Kidney Beans

Method

Heat up a large cast iron dutch oven with a touch of oil. When its hot add your meat to sear in batches, if you dump them in all at once they are going to steam, release juices, and not form a proper sear. Reserve the seared meat in a bowl. Lower your heat, and add your onions cook until they begin to turn translucent. At this point you can add your garlic and peppers. When those are done deglaze with the beer, and add your meat back in. At this point I prefer to give my canned tomatoes a good chop, it will help them break down faster...and into the pot they go. Add in your kidney beans. I use dried and let them soak overnight, however canned works just as fine. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and simmer partially covered for about two and a half hours. After which, remove the lid and allow the liquid to start reducing. It should take about three hours exactly for your meat to be tender, your tomatoes broken down, and your beans cooked -but use your own judgement. I prefer my chilli to have a thick stew consistency, and not soupy like some chain restaurants. Hope you all enjoy beware, its a creeper!

Tapenade


If someone asked me, what would you like on your pizza there is a likelihood I will reply “Olives, capers, and anchovies.” So it would come as no surprise that tapenade is up there on my list of favourite things. Tapenade hails from Provence, France, and is one of the simplest and most enjoyable things you could heap on a piece of bread. At its heart its only three ingredients: olives, capers, and anchovy. There is a word of caution though -do not cheap out on ingredients! The success or failure of this dish is completely relative to the quality of ingredients, there is no where to hide. Find the best black olives you can find, and avoid the mass market tinned ones (they taste like... well nothing). You might have to experiment with what anchovies work the best for you, however preserved in salt or olive oil (not vegetable or soy), is a good place to start. I have not ran into too many issues with 'bad' capers myself.

What I am going to show you is a very basic recipe, and if you stick close to these proportions you can not go wrong. I will also show you common additions relative to the recipe if you wish to jazz it up bit. Also note that this is probably the one and only time I will ever say “You do not need to add salt.” All the ingredients are either the fishy embodiment of salt, or they sit around in it.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Black olives, pitted
1 tsp Capers
1 Anchovy

Possible Additions

1 clove Garlic
3-5 leaves Basil
2-3 leaves Oregano
1 tsp Lemon (zest and/or juice -just watch the consistency with liquid ingredients)

How you want to process this into its delicious tasty paste-like consistency is up to you. Either finely chop, use a food processor, or mortal and pestle. I prefer to do things old school. You’ll have approximately 1/2 a cup yield of tapenade after all is said and done. If the consistency seems too think, feel free to thin it out with a touch of olive oil. Bon Appetite.

Wild Fermentation - Sandor Katz


I have really been waiting for this book for years and never knew about it. I have many books on the subtle science of fermentation, filled with charts and numbers that can really turn you off of the whole thing. Sandor Katz takes a very no nonsense approach to the art of fermented foods and drinks, everything from kosher pickles, to miso, to how to reuse old bread to make Kvass.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture FoodsWhen you go into the culinary arts, you learn quickly about food safety, proper holding temperatures, and how to keep things safe. This is almost totally counter intuitive to how I was taught, until you understand the science, and tradition behind it. He debunks many myths around botulism and food poisoning and teaches you very clearly how to do things safe, and the benefits gained from eating these foods. Common pasteurised foods keep you safe, however it is non partial to destroying good bacteria as well as bad bacteria; you must also remember that in any case you are eating dead bacteria which from what I hear isn't that great for you either. In the past ten years we have been making a leap forward in the right direction with foods like pro biotic yogurt, kefir, pro biotic pills to aid your digestion, or help people dealing with gastric diseases, or harmful drugs that kill your natural bacteria. Not only are these things very good for your digestive tract, but they are also incredibly easy (and cheap) to make yourself.

The benefits of miso, a Japanese fermented bean were observed by a Doctor in post Hiroshima to counter and heal severe radiation poisoning. Lets hope we just need it because its delicious.

I found for me, there was a timidness about approaching these kinds of things, in the back of my head all that I could think was I was going to end up with food poisoning, no matter how much I understood the processes going on. I started off small, cultivating a sourdough starter; then I moved on to sauerkraut. Still alive, there must be something to this. I was flabbergasted to realize I could make my own yogurt with nothing more then probiotic yogurt and milk -also a much cheaper way. I was hooked. Now I have at least one little foodie science experiment on the go, and its all thanks to the guidance, and assurances of Sandor Katz. I have read, reread, and used many of the recipes in this book. None of them disappoint, well the Kvass was different...maybe not AS enjoyable as proper beer. Take baby steps in this direction, you wont be disappointed.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kvass - The First Day

After only a few hours you can see the fermentation taking place.
Over the centuries stale bread has always found a use: croutons, crostinis, bread pudding, etc. This use of stale bread takes the cake though -alcohol. In many parts of Russia this low alcohol beverage was been drank for hundreds of years. It makes slight cameos in all the great Russian from Chekhov, through to Tolstoy. So needless to say when I discovered it while reading Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, my eyes lit up, and it was so simple I had to try it. Ive adapted my recipe slightly due to the availability of ingredients. Traditionally hearty rye bread was used, but any will do. I will be sure to do a follow up of this post in a weeks time to let everyone know how it turned out.

Ingredients

½ lb Stale bread (cubed)
7 Mint leaves
½ Lemon
3 tsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast (or about half a packet)
Raisins

Method

Grab a 1.5L mason jar, and fill it with the stale bread, mint, and lemon. Fill with boiling water, cover and let steep for 8-12 hours. After your waiting period is up, strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer, or cheesecloth. Clean the jar, and add the mixture back in. I ended up with one litre of liquid exactly. To this add your sugar, salt, and yeast. Cover and let ferment for 2-3 days. Bottle ¾ full using whatever you have available, but be warned the fermentation is still taking place and pressure will build up. Add a few raisins to each bottle before sealing. Im not sure what the purpose of the raisins are. I can speculate that they are added for extra yeast, or sugar for the yeast to feed on, but what I have learned is that when the raisins float the Kvass is ready to drink.
Monday, August 8, 2011

Rack of Lamb with Herbed Garlic Potato Salad, Marinated Cucumber, Preserved Lemon, and Wildflower Salad

On occasion I may have to opportunity to cook for someone, and in this case for a person who has never had lamb before. Ive never felt the need to experiment too much with the ways that I have done rack of lamb because they just simply work so well. The hardest part about this dish was trying to balance all the flavours out. There is a bit of acidity from the preserved lemons, marinated cucumbers, and salad dressing which offsets the rich creaminess of the potato salad.  Likewise the nasturtium is peppery and kind of bitter which is why I added wildflower honey into the dressing. Overall this dish has some great summery fresh flavours, and was nice and light.

Rack of Lamb

2 - Racks of Lamb
1 - Bunch of Parsley
¾ - L of Breadcrumbs
Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

It is important when cooking any cut of meat to butcher it properly, meat processing plants often forgo doing the fine butchery because it cost too much money in time and waste. Chances are your rack will already be frenched, but be covered with excess fat, and silver skin. The best approach in to cut a small line into the fat about half of an inch from the beginning of where the meat is. The idea is to keep that top bit of fat near the ribs. After you strip away all that extra fat we don’t want, you will see a silvery lining covering the muscles of the meat -this too must go. There is also sometimes an little muscle near the bottom that conceals some more silver skin underneath it, I like to remove this as well. By doing with we are going to ensure a very tender piece of meat. Keep this in the fridge until we are ready to use it.

Wash your parsley and pick off all the leaves from the stem, add this to a food processor followed by the bread crumbs. It make take more or less of either the parsley or bread crumbs to get the colour you want, which is a nice herby green. Blitz this in the processor until uniform in colour and size (might take a little longer then you think, don’t worry its almost impossible to mess this up.

Take the lamb out of the fridge and get a pan very hot with a dash of olive oil and butter. Liberally season every part of the lamb. Sear until golden brown on all sides, and let cool.

When the lamb is cool brush it with the Dijon mustard (not out of the jar, cross contamination!). Put some of your herbed bread crumbs on a plate, along with a little salt and pepper for seasoning. Delicately place your Dijon covered racks on the bread crumb mix until covered with mix.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 15-20 minutes depending on preference (I like mine rare), when done let rest for a few minutes then serve.

Herbed Potato Salad


Depending on preference you can use any waxy potato, fingerlings work very well, but in this case I just happened to have plain old white potatoes. Feel free also to use whatever herbs you feel like.

4-5 medium White Potatoes
1 cup Aioli
1 Shallot
3 Sage leaves
4-5 French sorrel leaves
Sprig of Thyme
Dijon mustard

Gently boil your potatoes until perfectly cooked, undercooked is no good, and overcooked will cause the skins to tear away. Allow these to cool for thirty or so minutes or until room temperature. Allowing them to sit in the fridge for awhile will also firm up the starch a bit. Dice these up. Chiffonade your herbs, and give your shallot a fine brunoise. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and as much aioli as needed until it reaches a good consistency. Season. Can be eaten right away or allowed to marinate in the fridge.

Aioli

1 Egg yolk
1 cup Olive oil
5 cloves of Roasted garlic
1 clove of Fresh garlic
1 Lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Add egg yolk, juice of one lemon, mustard and garlic to a food processor. Start blitzing. Slowly drop by drop add oil. Season. For troubleshooting refer to the Rosemary Sage Aioli post.

Marinated Cucumber

½ Cucumber
1 Shallot
White wine vinegar

Cut the cucumber into about two inch pieces cross wise and each of those pieces in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Gently push the pieces flat and cut in half. Cut these pieces into strips lengthwise. They should be about 2 inches long by a quarter inch wide. Finely dice the shallot and add to cucumber. Just cover with white wine, and allow to marinate in the fridge.

Preserved Lemon


1 piece of Preserved Lemon

Refer to the recipe for this ingredient here. If you don’t have this laying around the skin of ¼ of a lemon will do. Using a sharp knife carefully scrape away all the pith. Laying the knife flat as well as the lemon slice out all the pith (white stuff). Be Careful. Cut into fine strips.

Wildflower Salad


Feel free to use dandelion leaves, arugula, whatever you are comfortable with will substitute. I didn’t really size any of this out, but it was mostly a small handful of things I had growing in the garden.

Nasturtium leaves (the young ones are best)
Nasturtium flower petals
Lemon Balm
Wood Sorrel
1 tbsp Olive oil
¼ tbsp White wine vinegar
Drizzle of Wildflower honey

Wash your greens, leaves the flower petals out. Most of this stuff is delicate, so you must be to. Just before serving combine everything together, and gently toss by hand.

Parlsey Oil

½ bunch Parsley
½ litre Grapeseed oil

Heat up a pan of boiling water with a touch of salt. Quickly blanch the parsley leaves in the boiling water, and then add to a bowl of ice or cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze the herbs together to ring out all the water, or use a salad spinner. Roughly chop the parsley and add to a blender with the oil. Grapeseed oil is a very neutral tasting oil so its very good for infused oil, however feel free to use what you have. Blitz until the mixture turns a dark green colour. Strain this through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter.

Bruschetta



Simple, elegant, and a taste of summer. Kinda. Bruschetta is actually what we in North America would call garlic bread. Nothing more than grilled bread drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. Realistically you can add any concoction on top of this and it would still technically be a bruschetta. However for the sake of simplicity well stick with our normal conception of the dish involving tomato, basil, and garlic. I picked all these ingredients up at the local market, and would suggest you do the same. Its also good to note that the ‘sh’ in Italian makes a K sound, and not the commonly mispronounced “shhh” sound. 

Ingredients
Slice of bread
Olive Oil
Tomato
4-6 Basil leaves
Clove of Garlic
Salt and Pepper

Method
I use a cast iron grill to do mine, however a bbq, or even a toaster will do the job. The Italians have a specific grill they use known as a brustolina. However you choose to do it, toast, grill, or roast your bread and rub with a clove of garlic. Take that clove and mince it very finely.  Dice your tomato into quarter inch pieces, and chiffonade your basil. Throw is all in a bowl together with a good pinch of salt, black pepper, and a drizzle of oil. It is nice to let it sit for awhile so the flavours can marinade together. Simply top your bread with this deliciousness and enjoy your snack.

Preserved Lemons


This one intrigued me when I first learning about, it is something that Ive never seen in Ontario; However it seemed easy, safe, cheap, and more importantly a great way to use up excess lemons. This ingredient hails mostly from Africa, and the middle east and I first learned about it in Ruhlman’s Charcuterie, however I chose to adapt this recipe:  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/12/moroccan-preser-1  . I hear it is important to use organic lemons, and preferably ones with a thin skin as its the rind that will be used. If you use normal market lemons make the extra effort to really give the skins a good scrubbing.

Ingredients
Lemons (quartered)
1 tbsp Salt per lemon
Cinnamon stick
Star Anise
3 Cloves

Method
I packed them into the jar a few at time, and gave them a good tablespoon of sea salt for each lemon. Try to squish them as much as possible to get the juices flowing. I just threw the spices in the bottom of the jar whole. After a day you will see some liquid start to collect into the bottom, and after three the lemons should be just about submerged in the self created brine of salt and lemon juice. It is important that there are no air pockets (this will encourage the growth of mold). If the lemons are not fully submerged underneath the brine, feel free to squeeze in the juice a few lemons until covered. Leave out on the counter for a month. They should have slightly changed colour to a light brown, this is normal. After one month keep in the fridge (they should stay good for quite some time. Other recipes suggest a warm dark cupboard, and they will stay good indefinitely (maybe next time). To use simply take as many as you need, rinse, and scrap out the pulp with a sharp knife. Use for anything that you would like to introduce a tangy lemony flavour.

Sauerkraut


I absolutely love have little living science experiments going on in my kitchen, its gives me that feeling of boyhood wonder crossed with being a mad scientist.  Quite some time ago I read Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, and it absolutely compelled me to start making this stuff! Its so simple, so cheap, and the wild lactic fermentation gives it a tang that you cannot get from the supermarket variety.  There aren’t any really hard and fast rules to making successful sauerkraut other then to keep the oxygen out of the pictures. Without oxygen molds cannot survive. Think of wild fermentation as a microbial battleground where you set up conditions that will allow your team to win. This is accomplished firstly by salt, the good guys can thrive in it, and the baddies cannot. Secondly, acidity as the lactic fermentation takes place it raises the acidity level in the brine once again giving the good guys a fighting chance. Finally, oxygen the bad guys need it, the good guys don’t. I know the first thing anyone is going to say is what about botulism? Well you have better luck of winning the lottery. Botulism usually occurs in canned and sterilized products because it is one arch villain that can survive in the murky depths of an anaerobic environment, and when things are sterilized it is a tough little bastard that can withstand the heat and pressure of canning. The biggest problem is when it does happen it has no one else to stop it from proliferating, because all the good and helpful bacteria were destroyed in the canning process. What this means is that there are two ways of preserving food either you create an environment where only good bacteria can survive:  real pickles, sauerkraut, salami and other cured meats, yogurt.  Or, you create an environment where nothing can survive: pressure canning, beef jerky, etc. I used to be terrified of this stuff before I started to understand it, its normal. It is also useful to note that most cases of botulism poisoning is from improperly canned tomatoes. This has more to do with improper canning techniques, and lack of acidity.
The basic recipe for sauerkraut is a ratio of three tablespoons to about five pounds of cabbage (yes that is it). However, so the sake of creativity and flavour here is my recipe.

Apple Caraway Sauerkraut

Ingredients
1 head of Cabbage (about 3 pounds) shredded
3 tbsp Salt (feel free to use more or a little less depending on taste)
2 Apples (cored and slices)
1 tbsp Caraway seeds

Method
Find yourself a crock if your lucky enough to have one, or a wide mouthed mason jar (youll probably need one in the 1.5 range to fit this recipe). Pack the cabbage, apples, and seeds as tightly as possible sprinkling with the salt as you go. Thats it, well almost. You will need something to keep the cabbage weighted down below the liquid. Some fancy crocks have weighted stones that perfectly fit the crock. A clean plate and a can will achieve the same goal. I had to be a little more creative than that. Over the next week you will see the liquid start to come out of the cabbage and in essence it makes its own brine. What is important is to pack the cabbage down to remove any tiny little air bubbles. Cover with cheesecloth to keep the flies out. In about a week or two you will start to be able to taste the fermentation, and the longer you let it ferment the tangier it will get.  When your happy with the amount of acidity you can keep it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. Eventually the flavour will become less pleasant and it is time to make a new batch. You can also can and sterilize it for permanent storage, but this will also kill all the beneficial bacteria that are good for you.
*Note: sometimes you will notice mold beginning to grow on the surface of the liquid, this is perfectly normal and will not harm your sauerkraut underneath the brine, just skim it off, and clean whatever your using to weight it down. If you notice mold growing in your sauerkraut (almost certainly because of an air pocket) it is time to pitch it.

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