I love Cheese!
AND I love learning skills that would be useful in a Zombie Apocalypse.
Do my daydreams of life in a Zompocalypse involve meals with cheese?
Yes. Yes they do.
I present to you:
2 cups kefir (or plain greek yogurt with live enzymes)
¼ cup Fermented Sweet Basil & Pumpkinseed Pesto (liquid pressed out)
Instructions (Part 1):
Place a fine mesh, non-metal strainer over a container. Line the strainer with a basket style coffee filter.
Pour the kefir (or yogurt) into the filter.
Cover to prevent buggies and dust from getting into it, and allow to sit undisturbed at room temperature for 24-48 hours.
The whey will have separated and dripped down, leaving the soft kefir-cheese in the coffee filter. Store the whey in a glass container in the fridge for future projects.
Scrape the cheese from the coffee filter into a non-reactive bowl. (you should have approximately 1 cup of cheese)
Instructions (Part 2):
Line a medium sized bowl with a CLEAN, DRY cloth or “tea towel”. Set aside.
Stir ¼ cup of the strained fermented pesto into the cheese.
Scrape the herby, cheesy mixture into the center of the tea towel. Tap the bowl against your work surface to get the cheese to settle and work out the bubbles.
Draw the corners of the towel together and loosely gather the fabric over the cheese to enclose the cheese WITHOUT SQUEEZING IT.
Use rubber bands or twine to suspend the bundle over the sink or a container for another 24-48 hrs.
The cheese should have become much more solid during suspention. If you choose, you can eat/serve the cheeseball at this time.
Instructions for long-term storage:
Roll portions of the cheese into 1-2 Tbs balls.
Gently place the balls into a glass jar. Leave at least 1 inch “headroom”.
Fill the jar with Extra Virgin Olive, making sure the cheese is completely covered.
You can refrigerate the jar, or store it in a room temperature pantry. The many civilizations that utilize these methods of preservation claim the cheeseballs should be safe for consumption for 1-2 years!
*once you have eaten all the cheese you can reuse the olive oil for cooking, salad dressing, or to preserve another batch of kefir cheese balls 🙂
**a reminder about probiotics and fermentation
Fermentation makes food’s nutrients more accessible. Naturally fermented foods help restore and rebuild your internal ecosystem. There are many studies and testimonials about the amazing benefits of probiotics. Whether you believe it will cure your allergies, mood disorder, cellulite, etc., or maybe you think it’s all a bunch of “hooey”… but you should know this: Heat will Kill the Beneficial Bacteria. The cooked food will still have NUTRIENTS, but it won’t have LIVE BACTERIA anymore. If you have your heart set on a hot dish with fermented ingredients, I recommend adding them LAST, and not during the cooking process (e.g. sprinkle the cheese on a cooked pizza right before you serve it.)
*makes approximately 6 cups “milk”
*makes approximately 1 cup “flour”
2 cups raw pumpkinseeds
10 cups filtered water
Soak 2 cups raw pumpkinseeds in 4 cups filtered water for 4-6 hours.
Discard soaking water.
Place half the seeds and 3 cups fresh filtered water in a blender.
Blend on “high” setting for several minutes. Water should be very light minty green color, flecked with bits of pumpkin seed.
Pour liquid into a “nut bag” (or a thick CLEAN pair of nylons) and let drain over a large bowl, “milking” the bag/stocking to separate the liquid from the pulp/meal.
Turn the meal (should be gritty/sandy consistency) out onto lined dehydrator sheets (or baking pan).
Repeat process with other half of seeds and 3 more cups of fresh filtered water.
Spread the pumpkinseed meal out on the dehydrator sheets/baking pan. Dehydrate on 114 degrees for 8-16 hrs, until completely dry and brittle. *If having to rely on an oven, set oven on lowest possible setting and check it frequently to make sure the meal isn’t browning or scorching. You may have to remove from oven and let cool before returning it to the warm oven.
Once completely dehydrated, run meal through a clean, dry blender or coffee grinder to produce a fine powder. Store in an airtight container until needed.
*There are many wonderful uses for the pumpkinseed “milk”, such as my Vegan Tres Leche recipe, Chia seed Pudding, Overnight Oats… or you can freeze it in icetrays until you decide how to best use it!
These little sandwiches are SOOOO good! They hold-over well and travel well, so you could make several to set you up for the week! How jealous would your friends/coworkers be to see you produce these elegant sandwiches from your lunch bag, multiple days of the week?!? You’ll be living like a fit-n-trim high-roller!
There are varying degrees of elaborate lengths you can go to construct these sandwiches (and yes, they can be made “full size”, but I like to make them tiny so everyday can feel like a special Tea Party). I will start with the least involved procedure and include more complex instructions at the end.
The fundamental components that are necessary for this mind-blowing creation are: Sauteed Onions, Mushroom Beet Filling, Sauce, Grilled Cheesy Sauerkraut Sandwich Assembly.
2 large yellow onions, sliced to thin ribbons with layers separated
3 Tbs vegetable/olive oil
3-5 clove garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tsp paprika
¾ tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs kombucha or cider vinegar
1 Tbs Soy Sauce or Liquid Aminos
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat setting. Add all ingredients (minus onions and garlic) to the hot oil and stir until aromatic. Add onions and fresh garlic and toss to coat evenly. Sautee until soft and clear, then use fork or tongs to pull out the onions and set aside, leaving the drippings and approximately ½ cup onions in the skillet.
Mushroom Beet Filling:
-3 cups sliced fresh crimini or baby portabella mushrooms (if this dish is being prepared for people who are adamantly anti-mushroom, substitute 1 ½ cups ¼” sliced extra firm tofu, or simply triple the amount of beets)
-1 cup beets sliced ¼” thick (fresh or frozen are best, but if using canned be sure not to get pickled beets)
-¼ tsp smoked sea salt (if you haven’t acquired this luxurious item yet, put it on your Wish List. May be substituted with a dash of liquid smoke and ¼ tsp sea salt)
Immediately add mushrooms and beets to same skillet the onions just came from. Toss to coat with the drippings and spices, then arrange the mushrooms and beets so as not to crowd, allowing them to brown nicely. Sprinkle with salt before turning over all the mushrooms and beets and browning the other side. Remove skillet from heat once mushrooms have browned on both sides.
-1/3 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo, or home-made mayo (recipe at the end)
-2 Tbs ketchup (recipe for healthy, fermented ketchup at the end)
-3 Tbs finely diced dill pickles (no recommended home-recipe at this time)
Combine all ingredients and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Additional Ingredients for Sandwiches:
-40 pieces whole grain rye cocktail bread (or low carb/paleo/gluten free recipe at the end)
-10-12 slices swiss cheese or vegan swiss cheese, cut into bread sized squares
-2 cups sauerkraut, drained (no recommended home-recipe at this time)
-2-4 Tbs butter, vegan butter or oil for coating the bread.
*I like to assemble only half of the sandwiches at this point, and freeze the extra onions and mushroom/beet mixture for future sandwich use without as much prep work*
Instructions for Assembly:
Heat oven to 450*. Thinly spread butter or oil on one side of every piece of bread (if planning to freeze ingredients for later, only butter the bread intended for sandwiches during this cooking session, and freeze the rest of the loaf) and space them on baking sheet(s), greased side down. Put a piece of cheese on every piece of bread. On half of the slices of bread, place mushrooms and beets in a single layer. Spread onion mixture on all the remaining pieces of bread (try to make sure all onions are making contact with cheese. The cheese is very helpful in holding all the components of the sandwich together.)
You have now laid out both halves of the sandwich, “open faced”. Move baking sheets(s) into the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is soft and holding the veggies, and the bottoms of the breads are toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. If you are going to eat some of the sandwiches now, go ahead and assemble them while still hot. If planning to save for later, allow trays to completely cool before proceeding.
Pile sauerkraut (approximately 1 Tbs for each mini sandwich) on each of the mushroom/beet breads. Spread a blob (1/2 tsp) of sauce on top of the sauerkraut. Place the grilled onion bread on top.
This is a great time to finally use the festive toothpicks you’ve been hoarding to keep all your little sandwiches nice and tidy (optional)! If stacked neatly in a sealed container, these babies stay fabulous for at least 5 days. Warm them up as needed, or delight in them cold. Viola!
Now, if this recipe has tempted you to go FULL Militant Foodie,
and earn even BIGGER bragging rights on your BAD ASS Sandwich:
Home-Made Vegan Mayo:
12 oz firm silken tofu
5 Tbs Olive Oil
2-3 Tbs lemon juice
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp onion powder
Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth and mayonnaise-y. (Makes approximately 1 ½ cups mayo)
Healthy Fermented Ketchup
Adapted from Home Made Mommy
(Use agave or maple syrup if you need it to be vegan, and I highly recommend using your newly acquired Smoked Sea Salt in this recipe)
Home-Made-Low-Carb-Gluten-Free-Possibly-Paleo “Rye” Bread (two versions)
Adapted from Eleana’s Pantry
Well, the Little Rubenesque Sandwiches were received with wild-eyed praise at a small house concert we hosted for Nick Jaina. However my gluten intolerant friends, those with diabetes, and those watching their carbs looked on with sad-puppydog-longing. Not wanting to let dietary restrictions stand in the way of people enjoying my concoctions, I discovered and tested this recipe by Elana Amsterdam. I modified the recipe slightly to achieve a less-crumbly loaf, and I also substituted pumpkinseed flour for almond flour as an options for friends with sensitivities to tree-nuts. Both versions are ridiculously tasty and satisfying and I can’t wait to continue experimenting with “bread”!
(I made my own “flour” for this. Yup. I’m a lunatic. Instructions at the end.)
1 cup blanched almond flour (or pumpkinseed flour)
¾ cup brown flaxmeal
½ tsp celtic sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cream of tartar
3 large eggs
2 Tbs olive oil
¼ cup water
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
2 Tbs caraway seeds (grind 1 Tbs)
4 Tbs psyllium husks
4 Tbs apple cider vinegar or kombucha
4 Tbs water
Combine last 3 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and set aside to thicken a few minutes.
Prepare 2 ceramic mini-loaf pan (approx. 3”x 6”) by greasing with butter/coconut oil and dusting with almond/pumpkinseed flour. Fold the paste that was formed by the last three ingredients into the dough and gently knead to incorporate.
Divide dough between the two pans and round and smooth the top. Bake in 350* oven 30-35 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before turning out, and let cool completely before slicing.
*the mini- pans are really the way to go with this recipe. This makes a dense bread that does not rise much, and a full-sized loaf resembles a sad brick.
** this bread is scrumptious on it’s own, or spread with soft butter; but it is not ideal for a non-grilled sandwich. The grilling with cheese holds it together and makes it suitable for the Little Rubenesque.
***once the bread is completely cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As it is devoid of preservatives, it can go moldy and then you will cry.
****Here is the nutritional data based on various online sources and my highschool math skills! the filling and each of the breads are listed separately.
How AmbeR makes Pumpkinseed Flour (and pumpkinseed milk)
Soak 2 cups pumpkinseeds in 4 cups filtered water for 4-6 hours. Discard soaking water. Place half the seeds and 3 cups fresh filtered water in a blender. Blend on “high” setting for several minutes. Water should be very light minty green color, flecked with bits of pumpkin seed. Pour liquid into a “nut bag” (or a thick CLEAN pair of nylons) and let drain over a large bowl, “milking” the bag/stocking to separate the liquid from the pulp/meal. Turn the meal (should be gritty/sandy consistency) out onto lined dehydrator sheets (or baking pan).
Repeat process with other half of seeds and 3 more cups of fresh filtered water. Spread the pumpkinseed meal out on the dehydrator sheets/baking pan. Dehydrate on 114* for 8-16 hrs, until completely dry and brittle. If having to rely on an oven, set oven on lowest possible setting and check it frequently to make sure the meal isn’t browning or scorching. You may have to let it cool and then return it to the warm oven. Once completely dehydrated, run meal through a clean, dry blender or coffee grinder to produce a fine powder. Store in an airtight container until needed.
*There are many wonderful uses for the pumpkinseed “milk”, such as my Vegan Tres Leche recipe, Chia seed Pudding, Overnight Oats… or freeze it in icetrays until you decide how to best use it.