Month: February 2017

Sourdough Sunchoke Latkes, and Why You Should Use Wild Yeast

 

My very active wild-yeast starter, King Arthur Flour has a great recipe for your to start your own, too!

It has been a year since I abandoned my sourdough adventures, but I am back at it again. I originally started using sourdough after having trouble digesting bread. I wanted to test a theory that the slower fermentation of wild-yeasted bread would result in lower levels of gluten, and therefore make it easier for my body to process. This is a theory that Michael Pollan has also expressed, but I haven’t found any real science to back it up. I hope there is someone out there that will look into this. The more commercialized our food has become, the less compatible it is with the way the human body is able to process it, and this is something that needs to be properly  and seriously examined.

In commercial bread processing, commercial yeast and additives are introduced into the dough which is  then agitated rapidly to create more heat and gluten production which allows for a faster rise and therefore higher rates of production. In the UK this is referred to as the “Chorleywood Method.” A slow-fermentation method uses the naturally occurring flora in the air, water, and flour that make up a wild-yeast starter, and allows for natural fermentation to dictate the rise of the dough. The wild yeast slowly consumes and breaks down the gluten in the bread dough over a long period of time. It can take 8-24 hours to make a loaf of bread this way, but the actual hands-on time is about 15 minutes and the result is a bread with better texture, flavor, and digestibility. This may just be my opinion, but it is something to consider the next time you are out buying bread.

I should note that I do not have Celiac’s, I have not had any real problems with pastas or other gluten-containing items, but bread would leave me feeling unsettled and uncomfortable. After making my own bread, I realized that I was able to eat the slow-fermented product without the same kind of discomforts I had previously felt after ingesting commercially produced bread.

In France, most of the bread is made with a slow-fermentation method, and as a great baguette only costs about one euro, it isn’t really cost effective to make one’s own bread, but I restarted my wild yeast adventures because I also really like the process of bread-making. However, when you have to feed your starter you end up with a lot of waste, and as a result I have been experimenting with other ways to incorporate it into recipes like this one that I whipped up for a midnight snack.

Sourdough Sunchoke Latkes
makes about 8 medium latkes

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½ tsp salt
3 large sunchokes, grated
1 large potato, peeled and grated
½ onion, grated
slice of lemon
½ c sourdough starter, 100% hydration
2 tbs flour
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix the grated potato, sunchoke and onion together and toss with ½ tsp salt and the juice from the lemon slice. Place in a colander over a bowl and let sit for 10 min or overnight. Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, otherwise you will end up with very mushy latkes.
  2. Mix starter, flour and egg together with a little pepper, and fold in potato-sunchoke-onion mixture.
  3. Heat a pan over medium high-heat with 3 tbs canola oil, and place ¼- ½ c portions of the latke mixture into the pan, allow to brown on either side, about 3-5 min per side.
  4. Serve warm with your favorite toppings. Sour cream and apple sauce are traditional, but I found that cherry jam and caramelized onions went very nicely with this dish. (Shout out to Bonne Maman’s Cherises Girottes, that stuff has changed my life)
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Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, or in French as topinambours,  are purple or light brown tubers that taste like a mix between potato and artichoke heart. They are high in calcium, iron and Vitamin C and add a great crunch to these latkes.

We the People.

 

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“Scene at the Signing of the Constitution” Howard Chandler Christy, 1787.

There have been a lot of concerning events that have happened during the first two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, and while they each pose very real and immediate threats the the liberties of the American people, there is a much bigger problem going on. I don’t think the leader of the free world understands how the Constitution works. For that matter, I don’t think the majority of the American public understands this document.

I am not saying this to declare that the US is full of ignorant bumpkins that don’t even know how their government works. I am sure everyone has read it, or at least parts of it. I am sure that most US citizens know about the three branches of government, and the Bill of Rights and were at some point assigned to memorize the Preamble, but most have probably not taken the time to actively understand it.

I don’t blame you. The original text is about ten pages long, and written in eighteenth-century English. Its purpose is to be administrative and as a result, it can be very dry.

I studied the “Philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system” as a part of what is probably the nerdiest and best academic team ever invented, it even has a long-winded name to match: We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution. (We called it the Constitution Team for short.)  I spent a year closely studying the Constitution, my undergraduate study was focused on the American Revolutionary Period and the Early Republic, and even I still have trouble with it.

So, I decided to spend a nice Saturday re-reading the Constitution. To my surprise, it was difficult to find the full text on Google. In fact, the whitehouse.gov link wouldn’t even load. This is indicative of many things. Most of which, are probably conspiracies invented in my own head, but what it is really indicative of is that each American citizen needs to seriously sit down and read it.

Print out the original text. Take the time to consider it as a document that was meant to be actively understood, not wrapped up and delivered to you as a totem.

Consider the history behind every sentence, every word. Consider the people writing it, the political atmosphere,  the social, economic, racial, and any other context that you can imagine. Stop, think, discuss, progress.

And, if you’re interested, I’m going to be taking the time to write up my own analysis, and I’ll be posting it here. I encourage you to join me, send me your questions, comments, concerns, and disagreeing opinions. Now, more than ever, we need to be engaging the US Constitution and talking about it seriously and productively.

You can find it here.