This master kombucha recipe unlocks infinite flavor possibilities

pineapplekombuchaI’ve been so crazy for kombucha lately that it’s filling up my Instagram.

At least a few times a week, I post part of the process. Yesterday, it was the only two ingredients you need to get started: black tea and turbinado sugar.

In today’s paper, I have a column about coming back to making my own kombucha after a seven-year break. For two months now, I’ve been making all kinds of different flavors of kombucha from one master recipe, which came from my sister in Boise, Idaho, but that I’ve tweaked slightly.

There are two different brewing methods: continuous brewing and batch. I use the batch method. I also make a slightly smaller quantity of tea than the full gallon that Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, the authors of “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea,” call for in the master recipe in their book, because four of those 500 ml bottles of kombucha is plenty for us to drink in one week.

mangokombuchaThe key trick that I learned from my sister is using fruit purees instead of juice to add additional flavor to the kombucha. She purees blueberries or strawberries with a little bit of granulated sugar, but I quickly moved on to honeydew melon, pineapple, mango and even cucumber and mint to flavor mine. My kombucha-loving kids have decided that our next batch will be kiwi watermelon.

Once you start looking at every piece of fruit in the grocery store as a possible kombucha flavor, the creativity really kicks in. I haven’t even started playing with cinnamon, citrus or other ingredients that will add layers of complexity to my homemade booch, but when you’re making a batch every week, you have lots of tea to experiment with.

And you can be sure I’ll be posting about it on the Instagram.

What crazy flavors of kombucha have you made? What should I try next?

Kombucha

kombuchateaThis quantity of tea makes enough kombucha to fill those four 500 ml bottles, with enough liquid left over to act as a starter for the next batch. If you find yourself running low on leftover liquid, make a little extra tea next time. You’ll want to have at least a few cups of liquid remaining in the jar each time. The more starter liquid, the faster the tea will brew. The less, the longer.

Every once in a while, I’ll have to brew a larger batch to make sure there’s enough extra liquid to keep my SCOBY hotel full and to start my next batch. Either way, you can use 4 bags of tea (or about 1 1/2 Tbsp. loose-leaf tea) and 1 cup sugar.

10 cups filtered water
4 bags black tea
1 cup turbinado or white sugar
1 cup kombucha
1 SCOBY or piece of SCOBY, at least a few inches in width

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold all 10 cups. Add tea and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining filtered water and let the mixture cool.

Add the tea to a large glass jar. Add the kombucha and then place your SCOBY on top. (It’s OK if it sinks.) Cover the jar with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a dark, cool place for seven days.

To flavor and finish processing the kombucha: Using a funnel, place 2 Tbsp. fruit puree in a 500 ml (about 17 ounce) bottle with a flip-top closure. Place a strainer inside the funnel (optional) and then pour the fermented kombucha tea into the bottle, leaving between 1-2 inches of air at the top. Repeat with remaining bottles. Quickly seal each bottle after adding the kombucha, which should be fizzy from the fermentation. Leave at room temperature for at least two days or up to five. Refrigerate the bottles and, when ready to drink, strain and serve.

— Adapted from recipes by Chelsea Barrett and from Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory in “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea

Confituras signs lease for kitchen, retail shop on South Lamar

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Stephanie McClenny started Confituras in 2010. Photo from Confituras.

Confituras, Stephanie McClenny’s crazy popular local jam company, announced today that it had signed a lease for a community kitchen space and retail shop just off South Lamar Boulevard.

In 2013, McClenny won a $10,000 grant from the Austin Food and Wine Alliance for an oral history and museum initiative called the Preserving Austin Project, and though we haven’t heard much about what’s next for Preserving Austin, McClenny has always had the dream of opening a kitchen that would also act as an incubator for women-owned businesses.
The new Confituras kitchen will be located in a building that is under construction at 2129 Goodrich Ave., and McClenny, who currently sells her jams at local farmers markets and shops, such as Antonelli’s and Royal Blue, says she hopes to open the kitchen and retail store by this fall.

She says that anyone interested in being a part of the kitchen community through space rental or providing their business acumen should contact her via email at info@confituras.net.

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The new Confituras community kitchen and retail space is under construction on Goodrich Avenue, just off South Lamar Boulevard. Photo from Stephanie McClenny.

Recipe of the Week: Sesame Noodles with Thai Green Curry Tofu

Sesame noodles with Thai green curry tofu, red cabbage and snap peas is one of the dishes in "Great Bowls of Food: Grain Bowls, Buddha Bowls, Broth Bowls, and More" by Robin Asbell. Photo by David Schmit.
Sesame noodles with Thai green curry tofu, red cabbage and snap peas is one of the dishes in “Great Bowls of Food: Grain Bowls, Buddha Bowls, Broth Bowls, and More” by Robin Asbell. Photo by David Schmit.

I’ve obviously been obsessed with coconut milk this year. We’ve published recipes for coconut rice and an Indian slow cooker curry in recent months, and this Thai curry is a nice complement to show the versatility of canned coconut milk.

The green curry paste, which is usually sold in a can, adds both heat and flavor to the coconut milk, and the method of blanching the vegetables in the boiling pasta water could be applied to other produce, including summer favorites like bell peppers and green beans. The author uses whole-wheat linguine because it’s so readily available, but you could substitute other kinds of pasta, such as rice noodles. Adjust the curry paste to taste — if you’re using it for the first time, try one or two teaspoons, taste the milk/curry blend and then adjust.

Sesame Noodles with Thai Green Curry Tofu, Red Cabbage and Snap Peas

8 oz. whole-wheat linguine
1 (14-oz.) package firm tofu
3/4 cup coconut milk (about half a 14.5-ounce can)
1 Tbsp. green curry paste
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
8 oz. snap peas, trimmed
1 large carrot, julienned
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
Slivered scallions, for garnish

Put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, drain the tofu and wrap in a towel, then place a cutting board on top to remove excess water, for about 20 minutes.

Cube the tofu in 3/4-inch pieces and reserve. In a large sauté pan, combine the coconut milk and green curry and mash with a spatula to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer; stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar. Add the tofu and carefully turn to coat. Let simmer, stirring and turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the coconut milk is thick.

In the boiling water (before the pasta goes in), poach the snap peas for just a minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and reserve. Poach the carrots for about a minute, scoop and reserve. Cook the linguine according to package directions, and drain well. Transfer to a bowl and toss with sesame oil to coat.

In each of four bowls, portion the cooked linguine, then top with snap peas, carrots, red cabbage and the tofu and sauce from the pan. Garnish with scallions and serve hot. Serves 4.

— From “Great Bowls of Food: Grain Bowls, Buddha Bowls, Broth Bowls, and More” by Robin Asbell (Countryman Press, $21.95)

How to get the best peaches you’ll buy this summer

The Northwest Austin Kiwanis are selling peaches to raise money for local nonprofits and community projects. Photo from Northwest Austin Kiwanis.
The Northwest Austin Kiwanis are selling peaches to raise money for local nonprofits and community projects. Photo from Northwest Austin Kiwanis.

Fredericksburg peaches get a lot of love around Central Texas, and for good reason.

The area around that small town west of Austin was known for peaches for long before it was known for wine, but I must confess: My favorite peaches don’t actually come from Frederickburg.

Every year, the Northwest Austin Kiwanis host a peach sale fundraiser that brings in gigantic peaches from East Texas. They are huge, sweet, succulent and practically flawless. You have to buy a 22-pound box of them, but after you’ve tried them, you won’t mind having so many on hand.

This year, instead of having two pick-up dates in July and another two in September, the group will have one pick-up date in each month.

You can buy the box of peaches from McPeak Orchards in Pittsburg for $46. July 1 is the deadline to order the peaches, which you can pick up between 8:30 a.m. to noon July 9 at Anderson High School. (The September peaches come from Colorado, and that pick-up date has not been announced.)

Orders can be placed online at nwaustinkiwanis.org/peaches or by calling Cortney Ferris at 512-923-5419. Each year, the peach sale proceeds allow the Kiwanis to support dozens of local community groups. This year, the club has partnered with Key Club of Anderson High School and has committed to giving $14,000 to nearly two dozen projects.

Tecolote Farm hosting pop-up markets at Austin Bouldering Project on Thursdays this summer

 

Tecolote Farm and Augustus Ranch are selling their products at a pop-up market inside Austin Bouldering Project this summer. Photo from Tecolote Farm.
Tecolote Farm and Augustus Ranch are selling their products at a pop-up market inside Austin Bouldering Project this summer. Photo from Tecolote Farm.Austin Bouldering Project, the recreation hub at 979 Springdale Road, is home to far more than indoor rock climbing.

They host yoga and fitness classes and have a large lounge area, where you can hop on the Wi-Fi or grab a bite to eat.

This summer, ABP has teamed up with Tecolote Farm and Augustus Ranch Meat Company, a beef ranch based in Yoakum, for a pop-up market from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Tecolote’s CSA customers can pick up boxes, but anyone — even non-members or people who are not paying to climb — can buy smaller quantities of produce and meat.

Katie Kraemer Pitre of Tecolote says they’ll continue the pop-up through July. In other farm news, she reports that they have been able to save a surprising amount of potatoes from the rain-soaked fields in the past few weeks and that the cornichons and peppers are also coming in. “The pepper plants were rotting, but the sun came out right when they needed it,” she says. Also, they’ll have whole and half hog orders available in September, which you can find out more about through their new Tecolote Farm Facebook group.

Restaurants collaborate on Dewberry Hills Farm fundraiser at Springdale Farm

Dewberry Hills farmer Jane Levan says she lost nearly 1,000 chickens in recent floods. A fundraiser on Sunday will help raise money to get her and her husband, Terry, back on their feet. Photo by Deborah Cannon.
Dewberry Hills farmer Jane Levan says she lost nearly 1,000 chickens in recent floods. A fundraiser on Sunday will help raise money to get her and her husband, Terry, back on their feet. Photo by Deborah Cannon.

Dewberry Hills Farm in Lexington has been hit with the worst of Central Texas’ severe weather in the past 18 months, from drought to floods, high winds and even a tornado earlier this year. In fact, Jane and Terry Levan were en route to Austin for a Slow Food fundraiser in April when they got a call that the farm was being hit again with severe weather.

All told, they’ve lost hundreds of birds, as well as infrastructure, including their driveway, says Jane Levan.

That means they haven’t been able to sell as many chickens as they usually do to restaurants, whose chefs have been patient with them as they try to rebuild. “They understand what we are going through. They are all trying to help us any way they can. Instead of saying, ‘We are going to drop you,’ they say, ‘How can we help?’”

A number of those chefs have collaborated to host a fundraiser at Springdale Farm, 755 Springdale Road this weekend.

The Do for Dewberry event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday and will feature food from the chefs, drinks from local distillers and brewers, chicken poop bingo, live music and a raffle.

Participants include Olamaie, Chicon, Parkside, Odd Duck, Fabi & Rosi, Juniper, the Hightower, Thai Fresh, Sourced Craft Cocktails, Deep Eddy Vodka, Argus Cidery, Austin Beerworks, Austin Eastciders, Glazer’s Distributors, Patika Coffee and Texas Tea. Tickets cost $55 in advance (kiosk.eztix.co/kiosk-optimised/200950) and $65 at the door. Children 10 and younger get in for free.

Recipe of the Week: Tired of takeout? Try DIY Chicken Teriyaki

Salty and sweet works just as well at dinner as it does at dessert.

Chicken teriyaki, including homemade sauce, is relatively easy to make at home. This version is from "Pure Delicious" by Heather Christo. Photo by Heather Christo
Chicken teriyaki, including homemade sauce, is relatively easy to make at home. This version is from “Pure Delicious” by Heather Christo. Photo by Heather Christo

Chicken teriyaki is one of those dishes that can be deceptively sweet, especially when you order it at a restaurant. In this homemade version, which is from “Pure Delicious: More Than 150 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes Without Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish or Cane Sugar” by Heather Christo (Avery Books, $30), the homemade teriyaki sauce is sweetened with honey and coconut amino acids.

Most traditional soy sauce has both gluten and soy, so coconut aminos are a good substitute in just about any recipe, and you can buy the product in health food or upscale grocery stores. Conversely, if you do eat gluten and soy, you could use soy sauce here.

Chicken Teriyaki

For the teriyaki sauce:
1/4 cup coconut amino acids (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup honey
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
For the chicken:
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Thinly sliced green onions and sesame seeds, for garnish
Steamed white rice and broccoli, for serving

To make the teriyaki sauce: In a saute pan, combine the amino acids, honey, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and 1/2 cup hot water. Whisk and simmer over low heat until smooth.

In a small jar, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water and shake until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and whisk while cooking over medium heat until the teriyaki sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for about 6 minutes, until the fat has rendered and the chicken skin is golden and crisp.

Turn the chicken pieces over and add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover with a lid so that the chicken steams and cooks through, about 5 minutes more. Add any liquid that has accumulated in the pan to the teriyaki sauce. (If the sauce has gotten too thick, just add 1/4 cup water and whisk over low heat until smooth.)

Add desired amount of sauce to chicken and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, turning the chicken to coat it in the sauce. Serve hot with steamed white rice and vegetables and garnished with green onions and sesame seeds. Serves 4.

— From “Pure Delicious: More Than 150 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes Without Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish or Cane Sugar” by Heather Christo (Avery Books, $30)

Why you’ll find South Sudanese honey in Austin stores this year

In 2009, Chris W. Douglas went to South Sudan on a business trip and couldn’t believe he found so many people raising bees.

Some of the beekeepers in South Sudan who harvest the honey now being sold in Central Market. Photo from Lone Star Africa Works.
Some of the beekeepers in South Sudan who harvest the honey now being sold in Central Market. Photo from Lone Star Africa Works.

“If you go just north into the desert of Sudan or into Ethiopia, Kenya, beekeeping is less common,” says Douglas, who lives in Austin. But in the rain forests and Nile river basin of South Sudan, bees and their keepers are plentiful. “They’ll say ‘My parents had bees, my grandparents, too,’ as far back as you can trace it.”

That year, Douglas decided to start a nonprofit called Lone Star Africa Works, which works with communities in African countries “to improve access to markets, investment, technology, vocational skills and humanitarian support.”

The Austin-based Lone Star Africa Works has partnered with Rio Nile Cooperative Trading to launch and distribute Epic Honey s 100% Raw African Honey, the Rio Nile Trading company's flagship product. Photo from Lone Star Africa Works
The Austin-based Lone Star Africa Works has partnered with Rio Nile Cooperative Trading to launch and distribute Epic Honey s 100% Raw African Honey, the Rio Nile Trading company’s flagship product. Photo from Lone Star Africa Works

What does that support actually look like? A jar of honey that just hit shelves in Central Markets across Texas.

Lone Star Africa Works partnered with Rio Nile Cooperative Trading and a company called Epic Honey to launch and distribute Epic Honey’s 100% Raw African Honey. Douglas says that he hopes they’ll be able to launch other sustainably sourced, fair trade products in the future.

The honey, which will soon be available in Natural Grocers, too, costs $14.99 for a 16 oz. jar and $8.99 for 8 ounces, with proceeds going back to the beekeepers and community projects where they live, including a 10-acre farm, a tree nursery and health clinics.

Because the bees are using pollen from plants we don’t have in the U.S., the honey won’t taste like any harvested here. Douglas has been sampling the product for a few weeks now, and customers have reported flavor notes ranging from chamomile and licorice to mango and orange. He took some honey to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop last week, which has inspired him to serve it with even more kinds of cheeses, including nutty hard cheeses and the soft pungent ones.

“Once I first tasted their honey, I thought, ‘This is great stuff. This could be what puts South Sudan on the radar and be the start of a whole line of African natural products,’” he says. “Honey is just the first step.”

WATCH: My mom (or is that my twin?) try Soylent, vegan jerky

I had a fun guest on today’s livestream — my mom! As if you couldn’t tell by looking at that video, we are pretty much twins, and since she and my dad are in Austin this week visiting from Missouri, I thought I’d have her on the Deskside Dish to try some new products.

She also made me something I hadn’t had yet: this avocado tahini dip from food blogger Wendy Polisi. That dip was a huge hit in the newsroom after the video ended. Lots of coworkers were asking for the recipe, so I thought I’d post it here.

Also, be sure to check out our Year of Baking story on ice cream sandwiches, as well as this gin slushy. Oh, and if you don’t like avocado but want another hummus alternative, consider this roasted red bell pepper dip called muhammara.

 

Avocado Tahini Dip

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/3 cup well stirred tahini – make sure this is a level cup, as too much tahini will overpower the dip
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/4 cup filtered water

Combine ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated. Feel free to add a jalapeno if you want this dip to have a kick.

Adapted from a recipe by Wendy Polisi

 

Making Cantine’s muhammara pepper dip at home

Muhammara and blistered shishito peppers are on the menu at Cantine. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Muhammara and blistered shishito peppers are on the menu at Cantine. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Cantine chef Scott Kaplan has been with Emmett and Lisa Fox since they had Fino, which was located just a few miles up Lamar Boulevard. Now, Kaplan oversees the kitchen at the Italian-Mediterranean Cantine in the Lamar Union development. In that space, he’s serving some Fino favorites, including blistered shishito peppers — a food trend of the early 2010s that seems to be sticking around — and this muhammara dip.

It’s like hummus, he explains, but with roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses, an ingredient found in many cuisines with Middle Eastern influence. Make this tangy, slightly sweet dip as spicy as you’d like with the chili flakes, and serve with crudités and lightly toasted pita bread

Muhammara

3 red bell peppers
1/4 cup Italian canned tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 cup toasted walnuts

Roast peppers over an open flame or broil on high in oven. Allow peppers to char on all sides until they are completely blackened. Place peppers in a bowl, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Peel off the skin and remove the seeds from the peppers. Add the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, paprika, salt and pomegranate molasses to a food processor. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the oil until the ingredients are incorporated. Add the walnuts and pulse until the dip reaches desired texture. If needed, you can add a little water to thin it out if it’s too thick.

— Cantine chef Scott Kaplan