Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Georgia on my mind.Have a little faith in tradition.

 Matsoni: The easiest yogurt You’ll ever make
Many of the predictions about what we’ll be eating and drinking in 2019 point to a calm, restorative and potentially grim time ahead. Then again,I am always wary of these forecasts from wellness market analysts always arriving with a clean, healthy pine scent of New Year’s resolutions.So what's the forecast? 
 As the obsession with digestive health dovetails with the fascination for fermenting, kimchi, sauerkraut and all things pickled will work their way into new territory. Smoothies with kefir will be popular, and kombucha may well start showing up in unexpected places like salad dressings. 
On the downside it looks like we'll be bombarded with products designed to encourage  us to buy and eat more things from labs.For some of us maybe, but I for one will be campaigning to stop  engineered proteins from being called “meat".
However, anything to do with your gut flora means that you can be ready for more ways to ingest probiotics and prebiotics and foods designed to improve the bacterial health of your intestinal tract.I´ve found just the thing for this, and it´s delicious too.It´s called Matsoni: The easiest yogurt You’ll ever make,that is if you are a yoghurt maker.
It doesn’t get easier than matsoni, or the many other traditional yogurts that culture best at room temperature. Just whisk starter culture with milk,leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen, come back in one to two days, and it’s done.You’ve made Matsoni.
Matsoni and other easy, room temperature yogurts require a longer period of fermentation.  Where Greek, Bulgarian and other thermophilic yogurts require only eight to twelve hours to culture properly (you can culture them up to 24 hours, if you like), Matsoni should be cultured for about 24 hours and up to 48 hours.  After 24 to 48 hours, the beneficial bacteria present in the matsoni starter will cause the milk to transform from liquid to a syrupy, semisolid mass, and that,my dear real food lovers, is the easiest yogurt you’ll ever make.
what?!? you expect me to leave milk on my counter for two days? Well, yes, I do.In a time when everything is being pasteurized, purified within an inch of its life and chilled to preserve freshness, it’s easy to forget that, yes, there was a time before refrigeration.  And it wasn’t that long ago.  Simple techniques like culturing milk into yogurt helped to preserve foods for long-term storage.
The bacteria naturally present in Matsoni will prevent spoilage as they do their magic turning milk into yogurt.  Remember, these are lactic acid bacteria; that is, they turn sugar into acid.That acidic environment preserves the milk, is responsible for yogurt’s characteristic tartness, and that prevents spoilage by opportunistic or pathogenic microorganisms.
My dear friend Janny returned recently from Georgia bearing tidings of comfort and joy, and as an added bonus she brought with her a live culture of this Caucasian fermented yoghurt.Funny that because one of my premonitions recently has been that we are going to hear a lot more about things Caucasian this coming year....I feel a song coming on
"Georgia, Georgia...", 
Only the other week I read extensive coverage on two consecutive days by Guardian journalists plauditing what they found there,only to be endorsed by our friends who had just returned from Tbilisi.Sprawling food markets purveying some of the key components of Georgian cuisine:
"burstingly ripe tomatoes, heaps of blue-purple plums, aubergines and veritable forests of herbs and edible flowers – parsley, tarragon, dill, purple basil and marigold – with spices and salt mixes piled up on tables like little volcanoes of flavour".
Well I am already hooked on making their yoghurt or Matsoni as they call it.I am sure it wont be too long before I am mastering the art of making khinkali dumplings,Khachapuri (Cheese Bread) Phkali ( Vegetable Mousse)and lots of healthy applications of walnut paste and sauce.Look out for these recipes popping up on O Cozinheiro in 2019
So what else can we expect to see and eat in the coming year?
Traditional sauces from Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, such as pomegranate molasses and tahini, will be finding "innovative applications."but also ancient traditional foods from other far-off lands,like Matsoni for example.
My other premonition,Oh no I´m starting to sound all Mystic Meg is The new foil or parchment wrapped supper.Remember your first Boy Scout or Girl Guide camping trip? With barely any cleanup and a deep whiff of nostalgia,trust me cooking dinner in foil packets is poised for a resurgence of popularity.Olive magazine and Good Food will be full of it in the months to come.Searches for “foil-pack dinners” have jumped nearly eightfold in the past six months.Bye bye boil in the bag. Buy yourself a nice piece of fish Get the aluminium roll out wrap the fish with some veggies and hi ho silver bream you have a lovely supper in next to no time.
Have a little faith in tradition this year.
Happy New Year to all of you!!!!

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