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    Fire Cider Blog — Side Dishes

    German Potato Salad

    Of course our German (Hungarian, Irish, French and Cree) American family celebrated Independence Day with an old family favorite – German style potato salad. This warm bacon-y version is a nice change from the mayonnaise-based salad you are used to seeing at picnics all summer long. And I say that as someone who loves mayonnaise on pretty much everything! In a few weeks you'll be able to make this dish with locally grown potatoes.

    German Potato Salad
    Serves 8, and the leftovers are delicious, if you have any!

    • 3 pounds waxy potatoes
    • ½ pound bacon – cubed strip bacon or lardons
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • ½ cup chopped celery
    • ½ cup Fire Cider
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • a handful of scallions, thinly sliced
    • chopped parsley for garnish (and for your health!)

    Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and cut into cubes once they are cool enough to handle. Ideally have them ready and still warm when they are tossed in the dressing.

    Sauté the cubed bacon until crisp; remove and drain.

    Make the dressing - sauté a large diced onion and the chopped celery in the rendered bacon fat until soft; add the ½ cup of Fire Cider and the Dijon mustard and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Toss the potatoes in the warm dressing. Add in the bacon and thinly sliced scallion; garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm. 

    Chickpeas with Fire Cider & Cilantro Dressing

    It's that time of year when fresh herbs are growing and everyone is coming out of hibernation. I love this combination of lime, cilantro and Fire Cider; it's tangy and bright and pairs really well with chickpeas. Grow your own cilantro or pick some up at your farmers market and then give this quick and easy recipe a try.


    Fire Cider Cilantro Dressing
    • 4 ounces cilantro (I didn't measure, I just used the whole big bunch, more is more!)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
    • 2 tablespoons Fire Cider, any variety- Unsweetened, African Bronze or Original are all delicious! 
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 teaspoons mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
    • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Blend all the above ingredients in a food processor or using an immersion blender. Taste and adjust to your liking, add more of any of the above ingredients. The dressing is now done, use it on anything you like! But definitely try it on chickpeas:


    Chickpea Salad with Fire Cider Cilantro Dressing
    • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
    • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
    • Fire Cider Cilantro Dressing, to preference
    • greens
    • sprouts

    Mix the chickpeas with the diced red onion. Add in a healthy dose of dressing to cover everything really, extra well.

    Then toss with greens and sprouts.

    Save leftover dressing and chickpeas for the next day. They'll be even more flavorful!

    Recipe inspired by 'Chickpeas with Cilantro-Lime Dressing'

    Butter Braised Collards with Fire Cider

    A guest blog post by Alana from Eating From The Ground Up a Berkshire-based blog about food, family, and the wonderful chaos that ensues when the two combine. Check her out after you try Alana's Butter Braised Collard recipe!

    "We’ll start with the butter. In general if you hand me a vegetable, I’m going to steam it. I’m a big believer in the steamer pot (that’s a shorter pot with holes that fits into a larger pot) as opposed to those funny collapsable things that are THE MOST FUN thing in the kitchen drawer for toddlers to play with, but even in a pinch I’ll lazy steam with an inch of water and a covered pot. This is the vegetable cooking method I was raised on, and, picky kid that I was, I probably wouldn’t have grown about 5 feet without my daily dose of steamed broccoli. I’ll steam anything except cauliflower, as cauliflower was put on this earth to be roasted.

    And yes, that brings us to roasting, the hip method of the moment way to cook all vegetables. Like most hip food trends ( kimchi, good chocolate, cronuts), it got that way from being delicious, and I fully support roasting.

    But then there’s braising, which, in the case of vegetables, involves a bit more water and time than lazy steaming. This all started when Alice Waters (or the army of Californians who make up Alice Waters) told me to braise cabbage in water with a big nob of butter. I think it’s called buttered cabbage in her book, and I’d choose it over most foods. Even if you’re not a cabbage lover, buttered cabbage will turn you.

    This method–the hearty green, the inch or two of water, the big knob of butter–it lubricates the very fiber of the green so that it becomes plump and buttery through and through. I’ve come to do this with cabbage whenever I have the chance, but also with broccoli raab and most recently, collards. Lately I’ve been loving the final addition of Fire Cider, a magical spicy concoction which I usually just drink straight (a shot every day, plus extra if I’m not feeling my best), but is so so good with butter and collards. This Fire Cider  is made by my friends who, since the last time we spoke of them, have gained full organic certification and have continued to stretch their reach farther across the country, spreading wellness and deliciousness as they go. I feel very proud to have them here in this little county, and especially there in my sidebar.

    If you don’t have any Fire Cider, let’s try to remedy that, you can find store locations here. But if you want to make these greens right now, a fitting substitute in this recipe would be some apple cider vinegar just there at the end, maybe with a little extra garlic and something spicy.

    Butter Braised Collards with Fire Cider

    2 tablespoons butter
    1 large bunch collard greens
    3/4 cup water
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
    Olive oil
    2 to 3 tablespoons Fire Cider

    1. First, prepare the collards: Cut the stem out of each leaf, and roughly chop the stems. Then cut the collard leaves into thin ribbons.

    2. Melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped stems and 1/2 cup of the water and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

    3. Add the collard leaves to the pot along with the remaining 1/4 cup water. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium high, and add the garlic, stirring to combine and toss the greens in the buttery liquid for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss with 2 tablespoons of Fire Cider. Taste, and add an additional tablespoon of Fire Cider if you like."

    View the original post HERE!

    Leek Gratin

    This is my new favorite way to cook and eat leeks. My Dad made this on a whim, without a recipe, for Christmas dinner, and it was amazing; no leftovers at all! You can easily make double this recipe, which is what I did since I had a whole bunch of leeks from my Dad's garden and wanted to cook them up all at once. I cooked all the leeks, about 10 cups total, and baked half right away. The next day I baked the other half for another dinner. This is a nice addition to a pot luck dinner, and if you do have leftovers, they are great hot or cold. Prepping the leeks takes the longest, especially if you are getting them from your root cellar and not fresh from the store. Leeks are a great storage veggie, as you can easily peel off the less pretty outer layers and find a perfectly preserved leek inside!

    • 5 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 3 tablespoons pasture butter
    • 1 large egg
    • a shy 1/2 cup cream or half and half

    Prepare the leeks: strip away any rotten or damaged outer layers; slice off the root tip and trim the top to the light green part. Thinly slice all the leeks until you have about 5 cups.

    Preheat the oven to 355 degrees.

    In a large sauce pan or pot, I used my enamel coated cast iron soup pot, add the butter, sliced leeks and sprinkle with salt, then add as much black pepper as you like.  

    Over medium low flame, sweat the leeks until they are just past bright green, cooked through and reduced dramatically in size.

    Let the leeks cool.

    Whip together the egg and heavy cream.

    Combine the egg, cream and cooked leeks in glass or ceramic baking dish. I used a 1.5 liter pyrex square.

    Spread the mixture evenly and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Gruyere is my favorite!

    Bake the gratin until it's set and starting to brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. You can brown the cheese under the broiler at the end, if that sounds good to you. Enjoy!

    Best 100% Sourdough Rye Bread

    I have finally found a simple, easy and reliable 100% rye sourdough bread recipe. I have been making this recipe once a week for the past 4 weeks; it only takes a few minutes of my time on days one and two. Day three, it's a few minutes at each step, with rising time in between. Since I'm usually working from home on Fridays, this is when I bake. Rye bread like this has a lot of health benefits, and I do enjoy a piece once in a while. My family, on the other hand, goes through the two loaves this recipe yields in less than a week!

    This recipe comes from Zeb Bakes who was taught to make this by Simon Michaels of the Wild Yeast Bakery during a day course in the Forest of Dean. Sounds pretty cool.

    I was able to write this recipe down on one 3x5 card; I'll try to be a bit more explicit here, but, like I said, this is the easiest bread recipe I've come across. And the results are moist, healthy rye bread!

    Day one:

    Feed your starter. I usually take my starter out of the fridge in the morning, add 1/4 cup of rye flour and about 1/4 cup of spring water and mix well. If you have city water, you'll want to boil and cool the water to drive off any chlorine which will interfere with the yeast living in your starter, and you'll have to do this any time you add water to any bread recipe.

    Now that spring is here you can easily make a sourdough starter by adding equal parts rye and de-chlorinated water to a bowl. If you have a few organic raisins, add them to the mix; they have yeasts living on them. Let the bowl sit overnight on the counter, covered with a cloth. If you can let some fresh air in, that would also be helpful. Give the starter a stir, then keep it out, until it starts to form bubbles and smells tangy and a bit sour, about 3 days. Mine sometimes smells like apple cider. If it smells like sweaty socks, it's gone off, throw it on your compost and try again. The link above should be very helpful!

    Or, you can go to your favorite sourdough bakery, like Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic, and ask nicely for a bit of their starter. This is what I did since it's nearly impossible (I tried twice) during the cold winter months to get a new starter going; there's no fresh air and not much living yeast in the air.

    Anyhow, once you have an active starter, feed it and let it sit out until the next day in a warm place (70-75 degrees), covered with a tea towel, to reactivate.

    Day Two

    In the late afternoon or evening, take out 3 1/2 ounces of your starter and mix it with 2 1/2 cups of spring water. Add to that 14 ounces of rye flour (grind your own rye berries for best flour results). Mix well and let this preferment sitting in a warm place, covered with a tea towel, until the next day.

    Add some flour and water to your starter (anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a 1/4 cup each), mix well and let it sit overnight, as well.

    Day Three: It's time to mix and bake!

    In the morning, put the lid back on your active starter and put it back in the fridge until you bake again next week. I keep my starter in a ball jar.

    Your preferment should look like this:

    Now you can add the rest of the ingredients:

    Mix everything together well; it will be like stiff cake batter:

    Cover the bowl with the towel again and let it rise in a warm place for at least 3 hours, until it has risen significantly, like this:

    Now you'll need to grease and flour two bread pans; mine are about 4 x 8. I use plenty of butter and a generous dusting of rye flour.

    Be gentle as you spoon/pour the sticky dough evenly into the two pans. You want to keep as many of the bubbles as possible! Generously dust the top of the loaves with rye flour.

    Cover both loaves with the towel and let them rise for the last time; after a couple of hours they should be significantly taller. Be careful not to bump the pans; you don't want to knock out any of those little bubbles holding your bread up!

     I bake my bread in the middle of a pre-heated 410 degree oven with a small pan of water on the bottom rack to help them stay nice and moist. You will probably see steam coming out of your oven during the 50 minute baking process. After 50 minutes, take out one of the loaves and turn it out into a clean tea towel. Knock on the bottom of the loaf; if it sounds hollow, it's done!

    Take the loaves out of the oven and let them sit in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool. Once cool, let the loaves rest overnight in a paper bag or for at least 12 hours before cutting into them. Rye bread gets better with each day. You can keep it on the counter in the paper bag, or for a softer crust, in a plastic bag.