Category: Condiment

Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Skhug

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If you’ve been reading My New Roots for a while, you’ll be familiar with my obsession with Middle Eastern cuisine. Ingredients like tahini, lemon, pomegranate, sumac, za’atar, cardamom, thyme, and sesame have big, bold flavours, and act as strong backbones for plant-based recipes, so I enjoy them on a regular basis and rely on them heavily in my recipe development. And if I am out and about in the world, I seek out restaurants serving this style of food, knowing that they’ll have a solid selection of vegetarian options with satisfying flavours.

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Speaking of which, whenever I am back home in Toronto, I love going to a restaurant called Fat Pasha. It’s an Israeli place that serves the most decadent, delicious, over-the-top versions of all my favourites: falafel, hummus, fattoush, pickles, salatim, shakshuka…but the menu show-stopper is their whole roasted cauliflower. Brought to the table like a holiday roast, a giant knife sticking out of the top, ready to be carved, I love the ceremony of the entire thing, and the myriad of flavours and textures that it delivers. Slathered in tahini sauce, topped with glistening pomegranate jewels and golden toasted pine nuts, it is savoury, salty, sweet, herby, spicy, crunchy, creamy, nutty, BAM. Stunningly beautiful and deliciously satisfying.

At Fat Pasha, they also serve the whole roasted cauliflower with an incredibly spicy, tasty concoction called skhug. Skhug is a Yemeni hot sauce made from chilies, spices and fresh herbs, mainly cilantro. It ranges from wicked hot to warmly herbaceous, with cumin, coriander, cloves, and black pepper providing added depth and complexity. I friggin’ love this stuff (*pours skhug over entire life*). It’s delicious with hummus and pita, but also yummy folded into a grain salad, stirred into soups and stews, and drizzled over roast veggies, and to whisked into dressings and sauces.

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Skhug comes in two varieties, red (skhug adom) and green (skhug yarok). Both are delicious, but I chose green for my version since it tends to me more common, and I was trying to get into the festive spirit and looking for a contrast to the pommies, which were so assertively red. Use the kinds of chilies you can get your hands on, and add them to suit your taste. I (embarrassingly) only used one green Thai chili for my sauce, but I also wanted to enjoy the other flavours coming through (and also because I am a wuss). It was still very spicy, but not so much so that I couldn’t generously dollop it on my cauliflower.

Trying to recreate the whole roasted cauliflower dish at home is all too easy and the results are extraordinary. First, the cauliflower is doused in a spice-infused coconut oil before being roasted to golden perfection (this on its own is waaaay delish). But taking it to the next level is easy with a simple tahini sauce and the skhug, followed by a generous topping of toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. This thing becomes unreasonably beautiful, just a warning, and if you’re looking for something truly special to serve at a holiday meal this year – whether you’re vegetarian or not – this recipe will impress the pants off anyone.

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This will be my last post before 2017, so I want to wish all of you out there a warm, happy, healthy holiday and an abundant new year! Thank you for all for your love and support with all of my projects this year: the My New Roots appNaturally Nourished, the Gourmet Print Shop and the blog too. You will never know how much you all mean to me! For real.

In health and happiness,
Sarah B.

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Exciting announcement! The Gourmet Print Shop is officially open! My vision of creating affordable and beautiful art for your walls is now a reality. After so many of you have requested high-res images of my food photography to print, I’ve answered the call with larger-than-life photo files that you can download and print yourself. It’s a fast, easy, and inexpensive solution to fill that blank space above the sofa, add some colour to the desk at your office, and keep you inspired in the kitchen. Did I mention it makes the most perfect holiday or hostess gift? Obviously. Check out the Gourmet Print Shop today and get printing!

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Maple Cinnamon Grain-Free Granola

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Grain-Free Granola by My New Roots

Cruising the health food store a few months back, I happened upon a bag of locally made, grain-free granola that really spoke to me. Something about its un-designed packaging, its minimalistic ingredients and flagrant chunks flirting with me through the cellophane window, begged me to take it home. The $15 price tag begged me to leave it on the shelf. So I went and perused the tea section, while spiritually distracted by the promise of crunchy sunflower seed clusters and juicy raisins. I went back. I picked up the bag and walked swiftly to the cash register so that I wouldn’t change my mind on the way there. I bought it, ran home, tore open that bag and sat gorging myself on handful after handful of total luxury granola bliss. I did again the next week. And the following week too. It took about five rounds of $15 granola before I realized, firstly, how insane it was that I, Sarah Britton, would spend such a preposterous amount of money on something like breakfast cereal, and second, that I wouldn’t just figure out how to make it myself.

Grain-Free Granola by My New Roots

Grain-free granola is nothing new, but nothing I’d ever tried making before since I love grains so very much. But as I tend to enjoy grain-centric breakfasts, pouring a bunch of mostly-oat granola on top of mostly-oat porridge seemed like oat overkill, ya know? It didn’t take long to perfect this recipe and secure its place as a rotating staple in my household. I eat it on all kinds of things besides porridge too. It’s great on top of chia pudding, smoothie bowls, chopped fruit, coconut yogurt, waffles and pancakes, and ice cream (the healthy kind, of course). And like all other granolas, this stuff is pretty addictive. I’m warning you.

Grain-Free Granola by My New Roots

This recipe is excitingly versatile, so don’t get too caught up on the ingredients themselves – instead think of them as inspiration. If you’re allergic to nuts, or you simply want to cut down on the cost of this recipe, simply swap out the nuts for more seeds. You can also replace the coconut if you’re so inclined, use another spice instead of cinnamon, honey instead of maple syrup…you get the idea. Just make sure that whatever you choose to alter is substituted with the same amount of something else. If you dig dried fruit, chop up a bunch and add it to the mix after it’s cooled down. Apricots, figs, mulberries, and raisins are some of my favourites with this mix.   

Grain-Free Granola by My New Roots

 

This recipe was included in my online video series, Healthy Kickstart, that I produced with my friends over at Cody! If you’d like to see me making this recipe in the flesh, and the many other breakfast delights (such as the Grab-and-Go Carrot Bread below), click here. I had such a blast with this series, as I feel passionate about helping you to create mornings that are as delicious, vibrant and easy as possible! I hope you all enjoy.

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Deep gratitude for all of your ongoing support of My New Roots!

In light,
Sarah B

Show me your Maple Cinnamon Grain-free Granola on Instagram: #MNRgrainfreegranola

Sensational Sweet and Spicy Sambols

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Being someone who loves a meal with many elements, Sri Lankan food was pretty much my dream come true. Every meal is served with plenty of sides: sauces, chutneys, relishes, and pickles, to make each bite unique and surprising. Sambol is the word for this seemingly endless collection of condiments, and I lost count trying to sample them all in a week.

I believe I mentioned in my previous post about Sri Lanka, how spicy the food is there. Like, blow-your-head-off spicy. And as if the curries themselves weren’t hot enough, the chili-based sambols on the side will certainly commit your taste buds to perplexing levels of pain.

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Pol sambol is the ubiquitous, fiery condiment served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is probably one of the simplest dishes to make, consisting mainly of chili, shredded coconut, chili, lime, and chili – did I mention the chili? Yea. This mix ranges from very spicy to volcanically hot depending on whose table you’re sitting at.

On the second day of the trip, my tongue seeking refuge in something, dare I say it, borderline bland, I discovered one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted – and it wasn’t bland to say the least, just not sweat-inducing. Seeni sambol, a fragrant, Sri Lankan caramelized onion jam, turned out to be incredible on everything from hoppers to curries, and could turn a pretty plain bowl of red rice into something remarkably special. I became totally obsessed with this sambol and it was the very first thing I attempted to make when I came home. I really cannot tell you enough how awesome this stuff is. Do yourself a favour and make a batch soon!

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The most memorable experience I had in Sri Lanka was learning to cook traditional recipes with two women in the local village. It was likely one of the most eye-opening culinary experiences I’ve ever had – not only learning from such passionate and experienced cooks, but seeing their traditional kitchen, tools, and techniques really inspired me.

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Take their stove, for example. A large clay bench with large mounds molded into it held the earthenware pots in place, and the heat underneath was adjusted by adding more sticks to the fire, or taking them away. Genius. Above the stove was a large wooden wrack to hang beans, seeds, and herbs for fast drying, which I thought was a brilliant way to take advantage of the residual heat. Ingredients were prepped on the floor, since it’s cooler down there, and also nice to sit while you’re working. The knife to cut veggies was actually attached to a stool, and instead of holding the blade, you hold the vegetables and basically drop them on top, slicing them in the air to fall onto a grass mat. The sambol was made by grinding all the ingredients together on a huge flat stone designed specifically for this task, and as such took all of ten seconds to prepare. Spoons were made from dried coconut shells. The plates were made of woven grass, topped with fresh lotus leaves from the nearby creek. The leaves protected the plates from the saucy curries, and when you were finished your meal, you’d discard the leaf into the compost, so that there was literally nothing to wash! I mean.

This day made me take a long hard look at how much stuff I use in the kitchen. Water, electricity, appliances – these women were literally using nothing but things from the earth around them and it made me wonder how we’ve come so far from that connection. Cooking has become so overblown, and it was this experience that reminded me to cook simpler and eat simpler. Get closer to the earth. I don’t have some grand solution, but it’s food for thought.

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I’ll share a few notes on the recipes…
You will likely think I’ve lost my mind when you begin the task of slicing two pounds of onions (#worthit), but I promise you it is the correct amount, and you’ll see that it cooks down to nearly nothing. I tried half this amount my first time and it just simply wasn’t enough. If you’re going to go for this, you may as well make a batch that will last you at least a few meals, right? Fresh curry leaves are a definite preference for this recipe, but I’ve never been able to find them here in Copenhagen so I used dried. They’re not great, but better than nothing. If you don’t want to gnaw on whole spices or curry leaves you can remove them after the seeni sambol is cooked, but it can be a bit of a treasure hunt situation, just sayin’. Once I’ve smashed the cardamom pods, I like to remove the outer skin and just add the inner seeds to the spics mix. I tend to leaves the cloves and curry leaves in since I like those bursts of flavour.

The pol sambol recipe I’ve written here is admittedly, a wimp’s version. I’ll admit that I can only tolerate spice until it begins to overwhelm the other flavours in the food, so mine is strong but still edible on its own. I invite you to go with your instincts on this one and dial up the heat to suit your tastes. If you can find freshly grated coconut (or a fresh coconut that you can grate yourself) by all means use that instead of the desiccated variety! Some versions of pol sambol include curry leaves, but because I only had dried I left them out. If you can find fresh ones, add about a sprig for this recipe, and crush them well before incorporating.

As far as serving these two sensational sambols go, they are pretty much great with All. The. Things. Rice dishes, curries, stews, soups, wraps, sandwiches, salads…I mean it! Once you taste them I’m confident you’ll find infinite uses for them. The first photo is of steamed brown rice and the Kale Mallung recipe that I wrote from the last Sri Lankan post – still a major fav around here. I love this meal for breakfast with a poached egg, lots of seeni sambol and, ahem, lightly sprinkled with the pol sambol.

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A huge thanks to Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts  and Sri Lankan Airlines for making this incredible trip possible!

Show me your sambols on Instagram#MNRsambol