Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making yoghurt!

One of the first things I realized after moving to Canada was that it seems to be incredibly hard to find good yoghurt here. 
Whether you look at the dairy section at Coop, Sobeys or Safeway, most yoghurts here either have 0% or 1% fat. 
You can even get Greek Yoghurt with 0% fat (???). That, my dear friends, is not yoghurt. This is bullshit.
Well, I can hear you saying: But we do have 10% Greek Yoghurt, as well! 
That is correct, but have you risked a look at the ingredients list? 
Most of them are made with skim milk (powder) and other awful things. 
No whole milk or cream at all! 
I even once bought a vanilla yoghurt that didn't have vanilla aromas in it, but caramel flavoring (???).

Ok, yoghurt should always, ALWAYS be made of whole milk, means the fat content should be at least at around 3.5%.
I read that you can use milk powder to thicken the yoghurt and make it creamier.
I prefer letting the culture grow for longer, straining it and/or replacing parts of the milk with cream.
Homemade yoghurt can be a bit runnier, indeed. But it's still yoghurt and tastes fantastic.

Making your own yoghurt is fairly easy. And no, you don't need one of those bulky yoghurt machines to do it.
All you need to do is to make sure that you follow the instructions correctly, that your preserving jars are clean and sterilized,
and that you use exceptional good yoghurt and whole milk.

For 1l of homemade yoghurt all you need is:

2-3 tbsp plain yoghurt made of whole milk
1l whole milk
preserving jars

Sterilize your preserving jars and the lids by putting them in a sink with boiling water.
A few minutes should be ok. You can also wait until the water has cooled of a bit.
That way you don't burn your hands. Let them dry completely.

Heat up the milk to about 35-38°C/95-100°F.

Then stir in the yoghurt.

Fill everything in the preserving jars, close the lids and put the yoghurt at a warm spot for at least 8 hours.
I usually let it sit for about 24hours. That helps making the yoghurt firmer and thicker.
You can wrap the jars in a towel and put it next to the heater or even put them in your bed with a hot-water bottle next to it.
Just make sure that the yoghurt doesn't get hotter than 50°C/122°F!

Once you have yoghurt, you may want to strain it (not always necessary) to get rid of surplus whey,
in ordert o make the yoghurt firmer.
Let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours and it's ready to be enjoyed.

Eat it plain or add fruits, granola, sugar or maple syrup...whatever you prefer!

The yoghurt cultures you grew by making your own yoghurt will last 5-7 yoghurt-making sessions.


As you can see, making yoghurt is really easy. Still, sometimes it just won't work, for a reason. Could be the milk, could be that the yoghurt you bought wasn't fresh enough, the jars were dirty or something went wrong with the temperature. I don't know.
Just try again! I promise it works.

Instead of using store bought yoghurt you can use yoghurt cultures.
They come in a bag, are usually more expensive, harder to get (I saw them on ebay), but the result may be firmer and more dense and intense...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Pie and Northern Lights

As you all know from one of my earlier posts I made a ton of pumpkin puree the other day.
In order to give all that left-over puree a good home I decided to be a good North american immigrant and bake a classic pumpkin pie.
Therefore I dug out a pretty good recipe on the internet, for both, a crunchy pie crust that won't get soggy and a delicious pie filling and topping.
I altered the pie filling and topping a tiny little bit, and it turned out delicious!

For the pie crust you'll need:
(the pie crust can be made two weeks ahead)

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup (or more) ice water

  • Combine first 3 ingredients. Add butter. Using your hands, knead everything until crumbly. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water; mix until dough is even, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. For two 12-inch round crusts, divide dough in half. Roll out each dough half on floured surface to 12-inch round. Wrap each crust in plastic, then foil, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before using.

    When preparing the crust, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Transfer crust to 9-inch pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp decoratively. Evenly prick crust with a fork several times. Freeze crust 20 minutes. 

    Line crust with nonstick foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Gently remove foil and beans. Return crust to oven and bake until partially cooked and golden brown around edges, pressing down on crust with back of spoon if bubbles form, about 15 minutes. Cool crust on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

    For the pie filling of one 30cm/12inch pie crust (which will fit into a 20-24cm/9inch pie dish) you'll need:

    1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    • a dash of allspice
    • a dash of ground nutmeg
    • a squeeze of lemon juice
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

    Whisk brown sugar, eggs, sea salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, allspice, nutmeg, lemon juice and cloves in medium bowl. 
    Add pumpkin and cream and whisk until well blended and smooth.
    Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is firm, covering crust with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 30 minutes.

    For the topping I used roasted and ground pumpkin seeds and some leftover dough for decoration.
    But as the original recipe suggests you can also use walnut pieces or any other nuts...

    Sprinkle topping evenly over top of pie. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C/325°F; continue to bake pie until filling is set and slightly puffed in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. 



    I know it's not as orange and bright colored as the pumpkin pie fillings you get when using canned pumpkin puree. But it tastes way better, and you actually know what you're eating...


    We saw Northern Lights over Calgary last night! So beautiful...

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Meanwhile In Our Garden...

    This morning we had a visitor in our garden. It's not the first time him or his other friends popped by. 
    But today I was actually able to capture him with my camera.

    Him and his buddies are after the last crabapples hanging in our tree. 
    For the winter we decided to tolerate the visits. 
    But in spring we'll need to figure out how to keep them from eating our veggies...

    If he only knew how much we like deer...for dinner...