Monday, December 15

Miso-Ginger Ramen with Quick Pickles

Jeeze Louise! It feels like an eternity since I last sat down to share a recipe with you. Well, a lot of crazy things have happened since we met last – like our quick little detour to Japan, for one. Although we were there for only a little over a week, it was a nice break from the hectic and sometimes disorienting life of a backpacker. For me, Japan is one of those places that just feels like home. Upon visiting the country, I am flooded with a certain level of comfort and familiarity that few other places offer me. But my feelings weren’t always this way. I remember the first time I came, to visit my brother (who has lived there well over 10 years). At that time I was a naive 18 year old who had never dared to leave north America, nor gotten on a plane for that matter, yet there I was, standing in the middle of downtown Tokyo – confused, disoriented, and homesick. The chaos of hundreds of people, the piercing intensity of neon lights, smells I had never encountered before, and at the time, the “strange” food, all made my stomach knot up to the point of utter discomfort. It was overwhelming to say the least. Yet, after spending a couple of weeks backpacking from the south to the north of the country with my dad, I slowly started to fall in love with Japan. Even though this time our trip was short, we filled our days and nights with trying every amazing thing we could possibly get our hands on, and for Adam, this was Raman.  

In North America, Ramen often gets a bit of a bad wrap, and to be honest, it is deservedly so. For most of us, Ramen exists only as the instant cup of Styrofoam noodles with that little sachet of powdered stock composed of 99% msg. It's the 'food', if one can call it that, of dorm rooms and campers – and leaves much to be desired. But, as anyone who has had the luxury of eating fresh ramen knows, the stock can be a wonderful and deep flavoured based of creamy sesame, nourishing miso, or spicy chili. While the dish is traditionally made using a fatty animal based stock, it can easily be made using a veggie stock, which makes for a lighter and brighter dish, brimming with just as much flavour. For the base of my soup I used fresh ginger and a barley miso, which are both comforting and soothing, and altogether perfect for warding off winter sniffles. The mix of earthy mushrooms and leafy greens fill out the dish while simple refrigerator pickles add a tang and sour note. Instead of using the typical wheat based Ramen noodles, I opted for a Millet-Rice based mix I found in my local grocery store. New brands, such as the variety I used, are offering a variety of alternatives to the fried wheat noodles, including Rye, Quinoa, and Rice. If you cannot find these types of ramen noodles look for the buckwheat based soba noodles, or in a pinch even a whole-grain (quinoa, rice, or spelt) spaghetti.


    
Miso-Ginger Ramen
Recipe: (Serves 2)

3 Cups Quality Vegetable Stock
2 Tbsp. Barley Miso, or Good Quality non-GMO Miso
2 Tbsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
2 tsp. Tamari 
6 Shitaki Mushrooms
1 Bok Choy, cut into Quarters
A Hand full Straw Mushrooms
A Hand full Cubed Tofu, optional (I used fried tofu)
2 Blocks Ramen Noodles (or enough noodles for two)
Chilli Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Tamari, Chopped Nori and Quick Pickles to taste

Procedure:

1. Begin by making your soup base. Combine the veggie broth with the fresh ginger and the tamari and bring to a simmer. Bring another pot of water to the boil for the noodles.
2. Meanwhile, heat a heavy frying pan to medium and grill the quartered boy choy until it begins to brown and soften on both cut sides. Remove the choy and add the tofu, tossing just until crisp and warmed.
3. Once the broth boils add the mushrooms and let cook just until tender (a minute or two should do) then remove with a slotted spoon.
4. As the mushrooms cook, cook and drain the noodles according to package instructions.
5. Arrange the noodles in the bowls and top with the mushrooms, choy, and tofu.
6. Just before serving, add the miso to the stock, stirring to combine. Ladle the stock over the noodles and veggies (this helps re-heat them). Garnish with the Quick Pickles and add chilli sauce, a splash of rice wine vinegar, nori, and tamari to taste.    

Quick Pickles 

Recipe: (Makes 1 x 32 oz Mason Jar)

5 Tbsp. Raw Sugar
1 1/2 Cups White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
1 tsp. Chili Flakes
A Pinch Sea Salt
Enough Chopped Veggie to fill a 32 oz Mason Jar 
(Carrot, Cauliflower, Green Beans, Radish, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Chili Peppers) 

Procedure:

1. Begin by sterilising your jar with very hot water. Chop your assorted veggies into bite size pieces and pack them into the jar leaving as little empty space as possible.
2. Combine the raw sugar, white vinegar and water together in a small pot and bring to the boil. Once the mixture is boiled add the pinch of salt and chilli flakes. Pour the mixture over the veggies (you may have a little extra left over) making sure they are all submerged. 
3. Let the jar cool on the counter until room temperature. Top it with a lid and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. The pickles will last in the refrigerator for a week or so.  


xox Sophie

Thursday, October 16

Peanut Butter Fudge Slice


We spent the last couple of weeks visiting Portugal, Porto and Lisbon to be exact, by way of Spain. One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was the thriving food culture; hip cafes, and artisanal markets on every corner. To be honest, Lisbon felt like a little slice of Brooklyn located all the way in the Iberian Peninsula. Organic cafes and grocery stores were easy to find and served up the most delicious array of goodies and new and exciting products (like the tastiest vegan yogurt ever). Once the evening came rolling along, Adam and I would hit up an all-day (and pretty much all night) food market to sample sandwiches, rices, stews, and burgers - and probably one of our favourite Portuguese dishes so far, a sandwich on carob flat bread. Yes, that love-it or hate-it, not-quite-chocolate, chocolate impersonator. But first things first, carob isn't chocolate and there's no pretending it is

So what is Carob, exactly?

The powdered carob that many of you will be familiar with comes from the seed pods of the evergreen Mediterranean tree know as carob, St. John's-beard, or locust bean (commonly found as a thickener or 'gum' in processed foods). Once the pods of the tree have been dried and roasted, they are ground into a 'flour' (that can be used to make delicious breads and buns) which is commonly known as carob powder. Although it may resemble cocoa in colour, carob powder has a unique earthy flavour, which is mildly sweet and caramel-like, and all-together its own. And guess what? It's good for you! Carob is packed with soluble fibre which helps clean out your digestive tract of waste (hello natural detox). Beyond that, carob is low in fat, free of caffeine, and high in iron and calcium, which are pretty much always welcome.  

While carob has historically gotten a bad wrap as just another hippie food, those claims often come from people who either mistook it for chocolate, or tried to use it to replace chocolate. But to be fair, that's like giving a carnivore tofu and saying it's steak. Tofu is tofu, and carob is carob. 


Now that I've expounded on all the wonders of carob for carob's sake, I'll have to admit that this recipe can be made with cocoa, as well (although I still hope you give carob a chance!). For this recipe I combined the carob with peanut butter, but any nut butter would do (hazelnut would be amazing!).


Peanut Butter Fudge Slice


Recipe: (Makes 8-12)

Base:
1 Cup Almonds
1/2 Cup Pitted Dates
2 Tbsp. Ground Flax
1 Tbsp. Water, or as needed
A Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Vanilla

Filling:
6 Tbsp. Natural Peanut Butter, or nut butter of choice (If you want your bars to be raw, be sure to choose a raw nut butter)
1 Cup Pitted Dates
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted 

Topping:
4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted
4 Tbsp. Carob Powder (or Cacao Powder, if I didn't sway you towards carob) 
1 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener or Choice
A Pinch of Sea Salt

Procedure:

1. Firstly, pulse the dates, almonds, flax, salt, and vanilla until the mixture is ground. Add a splash of water if needed to help the base hold together. Press evenly into a parchment lined loaf pan. Set aside.

2. For the filling, puree the dates with the peanut butter until smooth. Add the melted oil and combine. Spread this mixture over the base, making it as smooth as possible.

3. Finally, melt the oil with the carob powder, sweetener, and salt, and pour over the filling. Set the pan in the freezer to set. Once firm, sliced the bars with a hot, dry, knife. They can be enjoyed right away or transferred to a airtight container and kept in the freezer for several weeks. If you can, let the bars soften up for a few minutes before digging in. The flavours come out so much more when room temp!

xox Sophie

Friday, October 3

Pilgrim Stew


This time of year I usually forgo my regular eating habits and, how can I say this better....  get my soup on. As far as autumn food goes, there is nothing better than a big mug of comfy and cozy veggie soup. I might even go as far as to say it's the ultimate autumn food. It's inexpensive, easy to make, nutritious, and usually just what the doctor ordered. While the autumn I am currently experiencing is more reminiscent to a west coast summer, my little internal alarm clock is more in-tune with home and crying for fall! 

Spending the last couple of weeks roaming Spain, I have been exposed to so many incredible sites, including its amazing array of produce. Combining some of the wonderful vegetables I found in markets (such as winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and apple) I've whipped up this tasty little stew, with the essential Spanish spice of smoked paprika - a subtle yet profound addition to a simple dish.



Pilgrim Stew

Recipe: Serves 4-6

1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Tbsp. Oil of Choice
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Medium Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
2 Carrots, Chopped
2 Cups Chopped Pumpkin or Winter Squash (like Butternut)
4 Cups Veggie Stock
1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas (or 1 can)
1 1/2 Cups Cooked White Beans (or 1 can)
1 Pear or Apple, Peeled and Chopped
2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Chopped (approximately 1 1/2 c)
2 Cups Chopped Green Beans (or chopped kale)
1/2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Pinch Black Pepper
Sea Salt to taste

Procedure:
1. Set a large pot to medium heat, add the oil and onion and cook for five minutes or until the onions begin to soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and paprika and cook only for a few more minutes (it will brown quickly).

2. Continue by adding the other chopped veggies including the potato, carrots, and pumpkin. Cook for a few more minutes to let them soak up all the paprika flavour.

3. Add the chopped tomato, beans,  and stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. 

4. Once the carrots and pumpkin are tender, add the chopped green beens and apple and cook for a brief 5 minutes (it's nice if they have a little crunch).

5. Season with the fresh oregano, salt, and ground pepper. 

xox Sophie