Last week I experimented again with sour starters, homemade curd and sour cabbage. Working on all these in a 5 square meter kitchen requires some sort of courage. Every preparation takes time and place: another challenge is to find enough storage for all this food in such a tiny surface.
I found that the best place for a good fermentation of the sour starters is on top our laundry dryer. As to the jar of sour cabbage, it has found its place on the floor, under a small table, where it is protected from the day light. Two other bowls with sour milk were placed on the top of the washing machine, which is close to the window but not exposed to the sun. Thanks to two shelves that we installed last week, I managed to rearrange my cupboards finding products which I had forgotten about over time.
Since I have those two new shelves, I again have the feeling that our kitchen is endlessly big. This will not last for a long time!
Preparing rustic food and finding authentic tastes in the middle of a huge metropolis is actually fun. Being surrounded by trendy and sophisticated Parisian restaurants, great grocery stores, where one can find everything I have a bit of a countryside spirit in the kitchen.
Thanks to my friends: Rafal from Polish culinary forum Galeria Potraw, and Karolina, who started her culinary blog not so long ago, I decided to prepare my first sour rolled oats starter for another version of “żurek”, presented a few days ago.
The starter indeed is worthy recommending. Its taste is delicate in comparison to the rye starter, and it keeps its sourness. The starter was ready in 4 days, as the temperature in the kitchen was not very high (we do not have any heater in our kitchen). I was mixing it delicately every day and checking its smell. Everything went fine and so on the third day I added 2 chopped garlic cloves, and on the next day I could enjoy its nice smell.
The good thing about the starter is that you can buy organic rolled oat in any good organic food store, either in Krakow, Paris or New York, and still enjoy your żurek without worrying about finding any rye flour for it.
Straight away I thought it could be nice to use a light vegetable broth. As I did not have any vegetable at home, and because I could not go out since our child was sick, I decided to use whey instead.
Rolled oats starter
(Makes between 800 ml - 1 liter)
8 tablespoons organic rolled oats, coarse-mashed in a mortar
1 liter warm (about 30°) mineral water, previously boiled
2 bay leaves
2 grains all spice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jar (1 liter capacity), preferably sterilized
1 piece of fabric to cover the jar and 1 rubber band to hold it
Place flour into a jar and pour the mineral water over it.
Add allspice and bay leaves.
Slowly, mix with a wooden spatula.
Cover the jar with the fabric, attach it with the rubber band and place the jar in a warm place.
Keep between 3-5 days, until the starter is ready.
The ideal temperature is between 18 and 22 degrees centigrade.
Mix delicately the liquid twice a day with a clean wooden spatula and then cover again.
If necessary, remove the foam that is forming on the surface of the liquid.
On the third day, add garlic and mix well.
Before pouring the liquid into the soup (see below) strain it and throw away the remaining oats.
For more general information concerning the preparation of sour starter, look here.
Last week I also continued experiments with homemade curd for my daughter. That’s why I had around 1 liter of spare fresh acid whey, which was a leftover after cheese curding.
In Poland, I only saw fresh, non pasteurized acid whey very rarely in some good stores carrying organic food. So far, I have not seen it in France and probably the only way you can get it is curding the cheese from sour milk yourself.
I decided to use it for the soup instead of broth. In the past, I already had replaced broth with acid whey in other types of soups and it worked well.
I do not know much detail about acid whey plasma except for the fact that our grandmothers’ opinion was that homemade whey is supposed to be very healthy, thanks to its minerals and its vitamins. I was a bit afraid whether the French stomach of my husband, who is not used to fermented milk products, would react fine to the double acidity of the soup. All in all, he liked it a lot, especially because I had added a lot of fresh thyme, which he adores. No syndromes of bad digestion were found.
I have not found any recipe for żurek using whey instead of broth. Indeed, it was my own idea to do so; however I am quite sure that it had to be used in older preparations, in those times when nothing ever could be wasted. In any case feel free to use your favorite broth. I am sure your soup will come out excellent.
Since I did not have any marjoram, which is a traditional herb used for the seasoning of żurek, I decided to go for little branches of fresh thyme, which my husband bought on the marché that day.
The soup was thicker than usual.
This mixture worked well with shiitake mushrooms, which I found in my fridge. Unfortunately shiitake mushrooms do not have so much taste and when I try this version of the soup next time, I will definitely use a few sautéed fresh ceps.
Sour rolled oat soup (żur owsiany)
800 ml sour rolled oat starter (finely strained from oat leftovers)
800 ml sour whey, preferably homemade (optional, you can use any broth according to your liking)
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms (around 150 g), washed, dried and cut into ½ cm strips
3 medium size potatoes, peeled, washed and cut along into thin slices of 2 or 3 mm
2 garlic cloves, peeled, washed and finely chopped
5 to 6 branches fresh thyme
1 or 2 pinches powdered chili
1 tablespoon butter
In a pan, bring the acid whey to a boil.
Add potatoes and thyme and cook on a medium flame, under cover for around 10 minutes, until potatoes are nearly soft.
In the meantime, in a hot frying pan, melt butter, add garlic and shiitake.
Fry over a medium flame between 5 to10 minutes. If necessary, add some whey if they start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add shitakes with garlic and their juice into the bullion.
Add sour rolled oats starter, bring to a boil and cook between 5 to 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
Remove branches of thyme before serving.
Season with salt, pepper, and chili and eventually some more fresh thyme leaves.Serve hot.