Category: Lunch

Ramen Revisited + How to make Dashi

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Amen Ramen // My New Roots

My parents made my lunch every day that I was in school from the time I was barely old enough to hold a brown paper bag, right up until my last days of high school. It was always exactly the same format, with slight variations: sandwich, juice box, granola bar, piece of fruit. Pretty standard fare for most of my peer group if I remember correctly, and I never complained about it. That is until the day I peered over my bologna-on-a-bun to see Alexis at the popular kids’ table in the junior high cafeteria slurping over what looked like a rather foreign and intriguing styrofoam cup of something hot and tasty.

“Oh, that’s Mr. Noodles”, my best friend Julie said, and went on to explain that all you had to do was pour boiling water into the cup and wait a few minutes before eating the noodle soup-like meal. I looked down at my cold, relatively flavourless, pedestrian food and felt left out. Not only was I totally un-cool, but suddenly my lunch was too. Could life get any worse?!

I ran home and told my mom about the cup noodles and begged her to buy some at the store, promising her that this could not only save her time, but most importantly, my lunchroom reputation. “Don’t you want me to be popular?!”, I wailed. Convinced this was my ticket to the promised land of spin-the-bottle and weekend shopping mall hang-outs, I persuaded her to invest the fifty cents on a couple trials and see what all the fuss was about. When she came home I had the kettle boiled and ready to get down to business.

Folding back the paper lid, I spotted a magical little package of flavoured powder inside, which I read was meant to be emptied into the cup before adding the water. A couple shriveled, token peas fell out amongst the dust and my mom looked pleased to see green. The boiling water was added, I closed the lid again and waited – the longest four minutes of my life thus far. But oh, what ceremony! What rapture! The timer on my ironman wristwatch beeped, I stirred the cup, and dug in.

It was salty. Very salty. That’s about all I can recall. The noodles, semi-cooked and crispy in parts were underwhelming and bland, while the broth, if I can all it that, was shockingly saline. But none of that mattered. I would have eaten cow dung if it meant sitting next to Alexis. I finally had the answer to the question of cafeteria coolness.

Amen Ramen // My New Roots

Needless to say, eating ramen did not initiate me into the popular crowd, nor did it inspire a great love of this ubiquitous, cheap eat canonized by hung-over college kids everywhere. Until very recently this had been my only experience with ramen. But when yet another ramen recipe request landed in my inbox, I knew it was time to revisit this famous dish.

It needs to be said that instant ramen is a far cry from its traditional roots of noodles in broth, which when prepared properly with care and intention, can be utterly delicious. I suppose it’s like most things that go from revered, regional dish to the freezer section of the gas station’s grocery aisle, or worse. Shouldn’t these things receive a different name or label in respect to the original recipe? It’s somewhat maddening, but I surrender to the fact that there is only so much I can change in this world.

Amen Ramen // My New Roots

The backbone of all ramen is the broth, or dashi. Dashi is a clear stock that is traditionally made using kombu, Japanese sea kelp, and katsoubushi or bonito, dried fish. Other dashi bases can include shiitake mushrooms, and because my recipes are plant based, I’ll be showing you how to make this variety and the kombu one today. Once you have this base, you can spike your dashi with shallots, garlic, ginger, miso, etc. but today we’re keeping things simple and I leave the fun and improvisation to your ramen-hungry minds.

Toppings vary widely, but vegetarian ingredients can include noodles (obviously), mushrooms, strips of nori or other tasty sea veggies, greens, spring onions, shredded cabbage, kimchi, garlic, and the ever-so-popular soft-boiled egg. If you are vegan, simply leave this ingredient out – it’s the only animal product in the recipe and still delicious without it. The one thing I love about ramen is its versatility and infinitely customizable combinations to suit every season, taste, and budget.

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On Salt, Sodium and Finding a Balance
The big bad deal with packaged ramen and its accompanying powdered broth or “flavour packet” is the incredibly high sodium content, some brands containing an entire day’s worth in just one serving! On the flip side, making your own dashi allows you to control the sodium level and provide you with balanced saltiness for overall wellbeing.

Sodium is not only important to us, our survival depends on it. Its role in the human body is to work in conjunction with potassium to maintain cellular fluid levels, acid/alkaline balance, and keep the nerves and muscles functioning properly. Sodium plays a role in hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, and is used during the transport of amino acids from the gut to the blood.

Because sodium is needed to maintain blood fluid volume, excessive sodium can result in increased blood volume and elevated blood pressure, especially if the kidneys are compromised in any way and unable to clear it efficiently. Hypertension and premenstrual problems are more frequent in people who have a high salt intake, especially when there is a relatively low level of potassium in the diet to counteract it. Virtually all whole unprocessed plant foods contain more potassium than sodium. Grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, offer ten to several hundred times more potassium, and yet the average American is said to be deficient in potassium. Although there is no standard ratio of sodium to potassium to recommend, eating a balanced, whole foods diet (surprise!) is the best way to achieve equilibrium.

So how much sodium should be eating in a day? First it needs to be established that sodium and salt are two different things. The salt we consume is in fact a combination of two ions, sodium and chloride, in percentages of roughly 40% and 60%. Most nutrition experts agree that sodium intake on a daily basis should not exceed 2 grams per day. This amount is equal to 5 grams of salt, or 1 teaspoon. Yup. That’s it. Put into those terms, it’s easy to see how one could overdo it…by lunch hour.

To avoid excess sodium intake, limit processed foods. As I mentioned above, a little recon revealed that some instant ramen brands cover the daily sodium base in just one serving. Yikes! Sodium lurks in some very unexpected places, so be savvy and read labels. To be extra cautious avoid high-salt foods such as commercially-prepared pickles, olives, and saurkraut, canned and instant soups, processed cheese, condiments like ketchup, barbeque sauce, gravy, alfredo sauce, salad dressings, mayonnaise, soy sauce, snacks foods like chips, salted peanuts and pretzels, crackers, and boxed breakfast cereal. Remember, cooking for yourself is the only way to know exactly what you are getting in your food.

Amen Ramen // My New Roots

There are a few things that need to be mentioned about this recipe.

First, you need to start the process the night before (or the morning of) by simply soaking the dashi ingredients in water and set in the fridge. This is how you make the broth. You can hurry the process by cooking the ingredients in hot water if you’re in a rush, but the results are better if you follow this slower method (plus, your fridge does all the work). I will also say that traditional dashi is delicate and mild-flavoured, unlike the instant dashi that is saltier and stronger due to the addition of artificial, chemical flavour enhancers. When you try the dashi for the first time, try not to compare it to the ramen broth you’ve had in the past – this is the real deal. Appreciate its clean, pure taste and it subtlety, and add tamari or miso only as needed to enhance the natural flavour.

Second, you can make and enjoy the dashi bases separately if you like, or combine the two for a more complex flavour. I really like the combination of the kombu and shiitake dashi together. They both contain good amounts of umami, so united they deliver a deep, multifaceted taste experience without the meat.

Third, get organic ingredients if you can. Sea vegetables and mushrooms are both like little sponges in their respective environments so finding the cleanest and highest quality you can is a good idea.

Finally, purchase the most high-vibe ramen noodles you can find. The other reason I was inspired to write this recipe and post was because of all the incredibly awesome ramen I’ve seen at the health food store. Made with whole grains, some of them even gluten-free, I couldn’t say no! Now, you could make your own noodles if you like (this is an art I greatly admire) but in the interest of saving a smidgen of time, buy yourself some noodles and get to the ramen even faster.

 

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My New Roots - Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season

Hey everyone! Mybook comes out today!!! I am so ridiculously excited to see this day arrive and the book arrive in your homes and kitchens. The reviews have been so positive so far and for that, I thank you. Please note that although most stores in North America that are carrying the book should have it in stock today, some may take a few days to longer. If you want to purchase the book online, there are many retailers listed here.

I would like to take this time to acknowledge the couple of misprints in the book. During the editing process the following mistakes were made: on page 21, the ghee recipe is labeled vegan. On page 241-242 buckwheat and spelt switched places so that buckwheat is in the gluten-containing section of the grains chapter, while spelt is in the gluten-free section.

In other news, my Vancouver tour dates and events have been confirmed! Here is where and when you can find me in Van city (this will be my first time there, can you believe it?!). Click the links for more details and ticket information.

April 15: Burdock and Co. Collaborative Dinner + Book Signing
April 16: Whole Foods Cambie Cooking Demo + Book Signing
April 17: Interview + Afternoon Tea with CBC’s Sheryl MacKay
Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks Dinner Event + Book Signing

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Also, check out my most recent interview over at the gorgeous site, The Coveteur.

Winter Rainbow Panzanella

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panzanela

Dear colour. I miss you. Please come back soon.
Your pal,
Sarah B

I’ve joked before about the oh-so dark, single-toned, and super grey city Copenhagen becomes in the winter. After months upon months of this, I feel as if my eyes have turned into little slits, and only capable of seeing in black and white. Needing some kind of sign that I wasn’t turning into a subterranean mammal, I cycled down to the central market of Copenhagen last week to find some inspiration in the form of light and colour. I was pretty shocked when I arrived to see a plethora of vibrant veggies, all lined up and waiting for me take them home. I guess I’d gotten into such a routine with my shopping that I had failed to remember that winter does in fact offer a lot of brightly hued food, and that I am, undoubtedly, a human.

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Excited and hungry, I hurried home with a whack-load of produce and a plan brewing in my brain. Oh the colours! Oh the possibilities! Oh what a nerd I am! With some stale sourdough rye sitting on the counter and a knob of ginger in the fridge, a hearty, satisfying salad began to take shape in my mind, a rainbow swathe of vegetables stretched out before me like a beacon in a stubborn steel grey sky.

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Super Cool Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is a mysterious and intimidating vegetable, don’t you agree? I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this prehistoric looking creature, as many of you out there seem to be quite scared of even taking it home!

Well fear not. Kohlrabi is not going to take off a finger or worse if you approach it with a knife. It is a rather gentle and yielding brassica, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Its pleasantly crisp texture is perfect julienned in salads, but it’s also a tender treat roasted in the oven in slices or batons. The flavour is somewhere near to broccoli but a tad milder and sweeter. I really like it in soups as well, blended up with white beans or chickpeas. The leaves are also edible and very delicious in salad or stir-fried with garlic like collards or Swiss chard.

Key nutrients in kohlrabi include vitamin C, for fighting infection, vitamin E for preventing arterial plaque build-up, and a range of B-vitamins for combating stress. The potassium in kohlrabi helps the body maintain proper fluid balance, while the calcium manages the acid/alkaline balance of our blood. Other minerals in kohlrabi include iron, magnesium and zinc.

When buying kohlrabi, look for bulbs that are firm, smooth and free of holes or cracks. Typically this part of the vegetable is pale green, but you can also find purple varieties like the one pictured above. The younger ones can be eaten with the skin on, but as their season (late fall to early spring) stretches, you’ll find peeling the more mature bulbs is a tastier choice. The leaves should be taut and unblemished. To prolong the kohlrabi’s shelf life, remove the leaves and wrap them in a damp towel, place them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up four days. The root bulb can be stored separately in the crisper as well, and will keep well for couple weeks.

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To the panzanella! Traditionally, this is a salad made with stale white bread and tomatoes, a popular dish in Tuscany. My version is a far, Nordic cry from the classic, but it’s a meal in itself and a very satisfying one at that, since there is just so. much. going. on.

The key to building this dish, or any dish for that matter is layers and balance; flavours, textures and of course, colours. Taking into consideration that the base of this dish would be hearty winter greens I knew that I needed something creamy and yielding, like roast veggies, and something dense and crusty, like the Garlic Sourdough Rye Bread Croutons to contrast and compliment. From a flavour perspective, especially in salads, balancing tastes is very important for success. Because the roast vegetables are so sweet, it’s important to have an acidic hit to add brightness. I made some very tasty Ginger-Pickled Carrots in advance, but capers would also be a nice touch if you are pressed for time. The point is to step back and look at your dish as a whole, then adjust all the levels of salt, sugar, and acid as needed tipping the scales until everything is just right.

And just a special note about these croutons, because they are so darn delish. I first came up with these in the good ol’ days when I was cooking at a very small café here in Copenhagen, inventing new dishes every day and being creative with what I had available. The odd time we had any leftover rye bread, I would make these garlic croutons, few of which actually made it onto any finished dishes because I would typically eat them all up before service with my kitchen mates. They are addictive. The kind of thing you wouldn’t necessarily think of as a terrific little snack, but wow, are they ever hard to stop eating! There is a high amount of garlic-to-bread ratio, but because Danish rye is so rich and flavourful, you’ll need that amount of garlic to be heard. If you’re using a lighter bread, a spelt loaf for instance, you can scale back just a touch unless you really love your garlic and/or not planning on making out with anyone for a couple days.

This dish may seem component-heavy, but most of these elements can be made in advance so the whole thing comes together when you’re ready. The only thing you need to do before serving in fact, is massaging the kale and kohlrabi leaves.

Now excuse me as I dive face first into this bowl of rainbow ecstasy! Okay, good-byyyyyyeeee!

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Hey guys! I have some very exciting news…I’m going on tour with my cookbook! Although we are still working out some of the hard details, I wanted to let you know when and where I’ll be so you can make a note of it. It would be so rad to meet you, and I hope that you can come out and celebrate! I will update this page and post the events on my Events page and Facebook as they are finalized. Looking forward to it, more than you know!

My New Roots - Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every SeasonTORONTO
April 9 – 14

VANCOUVER
April 15 – 17

LOS ANGELES
April 18 – 20

NEW YORK
April 22 + 23

I hope that everyone who has pre-ordered the book is enjoying the Bonus Pack of recipes! Thanks for all of your very positive feedback so far. There is still time to get yours if you’re interested…click here!

Deluxe Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease

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I’m over winter, but winter definitely isn’t over. Although I really can’t complain about the balmy temps here in Denmark, it’s dark and damp and I would probably pay a lot of money to see the sun right about now. And my heart does go out to all my family and friends freezing their tooshies off stateside. Yikes! I’m here to help. Or at least, this recipe is here to help.

Like most kids, I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese growing up, the kind that came in a blue box with the magical, neon orange flavour powder. Sometimes my mom would toss in a few slices of bell peppers and cocktail wieners and my brother and I felt like kings. Kings! Those were the days. In fear of falling short of that level of awesomeness, I haven’t actually attempted to make mac ‘n’ cheese on my own past the days of high school. Until recently this winter, a gnawing hunger for warmth, comfort and nostalgia took hold and just wouldn’t let go. If you’re anything like me (a human) you’ll love tucking into this tasty meal every week until spring hits.

So, what makes this mac ‘n’ tease a tease? It’s vegan! Not one speck of cheese or milk or butter or cream in sight. Nope. Instead the delectable sauce is a winning combination of roasted butternut squash and garlic, creamy butter beans, and cheesy nutritional yeast. Although not exactly like the cheese sauce of yore, it is still completely smooth and creamy, rich, unctuous, and deeply satisfying when combined with fat noodles and the most amazing non-breadcrumb-topping made out of sunflower seeds. That’s right.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Nutritional Yeast: A Cheesy Tease
Although the name is slightly unappealing, nutritional yeast is a delicious and versatile seasoning to have in your pantry. Made from a single-celled organism called, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast is grown on cane or beet molasses, fermented, then deactivated with heat to stop the growing process. The yeast is sold both as flakes and powder (use half the amount of powder if a recipe calls for flakes). The natural colour of nutritional yeast is vibrantly golden. The flavour is often described as cheesy, which makes it a perfect substitute for dairy products in dressing and sauces. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, sandwiches, soups, blend a little into hummus and other savory dips. Because of its high nutritional content, many people treat nutritional yeast as a food supplement.

First and foremost, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins, and in many cases B-12 (though not all brands, read the label to make sure). Our bodies need B-vitamins to convert food into energy, keep stress at bay, alleviate insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, PMS, and mood swings (so, kind of important). Nutritional yeast also contains high amounts of protein with 4 grams per tablespoon, and contains 18 amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. It is gluten-free and vegan.

In North America nutritional yeast is available at natural grocers and bulk food stores. In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Engevita; in Australia, it is called savory yeast flakes; in Scandinavia it is sold as yeast flakes or B-yeast / B-gær (due to the high B-vitamin content). Among cool kids, nutritional yeast is referred to simply as nooch. Drop that bomb at your next vegan potluck for major street cred. It should also be noted that nutritional yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast, dry active yeast or baking yeast. Do not use these as a substitute for nutritional yeast in any recipe. It will be gross.

If you suffer from Candida or suspect that you have yeast issues, not to worry. Nutritional yeast is totally safe and will not infect you or exacerbate yeast conditions. It should be avoided however by those that are allergic to yeast and yeast products, like bread products, grapes and beer.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

The shape of pasta you use for this really matters. I chose a large, deeply ridged, tubular pasta that said “macaroni” on the package, but it’s much closer to rigatoni if you ask me. Rigatoni, penne, classic macaroni, ziti, or even conchiglie (shells) would work here, as the ultimate goal is to get as much sauce in and around each noodle as humanly possible. In fact, I guarantee when you make the sauce you’ll be questioning my recipe amounts – there is a lot of it, people. But once you pour it over the cooked pasta and start stirring, it magically disappears into the nooks and crannies only reappear later in your mouth, like a rich and savoury flavour explosion from heaven. Tubes work best for obvious reasons, but I’ll let you decide how you want your sauce delivered. And I hope that it goes without saying that you should make an effort to find the most high-vibe pasta you can. There are so many on the market these days, even at regular grocery stores, so no excuses! No white pasta!

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

And yes, there is topping. In keeping with the gluten-free theme I went with a Sunflower Crumble Topping that I am quite chuffed about. It’s savoury, crunchy, and totally takes this meal to the next level – better than breadcrumbs I tell ya! And it’s delicious not only on mac ‘n’ cheese, but garnishing avocado toast, grain salads, and roast veggies. You may have a little extra of the topping, but my casserole dish is relatively deep and narrow compared to most, and I wanted to make sure you had plenty to cover the top of yours. If you want to save time and skip steps, the pasta and sauce alone is super delish all on its own. But. The topping.

After cooking up this meal, I looked around the kitchen at the dish carnage and shrugged my shoulders. You know why? So worth it. Yes, you will use pretty much every cooking element and piece of equipment you own, but make it a Sunday project, invite some buds over and have them clean up. You did cook them a totally awesome meal after all, it’s the least they can do. 

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots