Delicious Japanese Dashi Ramen

Ramen

Delicious Japanese Dashi Ramen

I have spent a lot of time in Japan over the years for work and for pleasure and I marvel at the way Japanese chefs elevate simple pure ingredients. Whether it is Sashimi, Tofu or Dashi, there is always a simple elegance in preparation and presentation, making sure the ingredient is the star of the plate!

Dashi is a baseline broth; the equivalent of chicken stock in Japanese cooking. It is used in its simplest form as a cleansing broth but it is also added to multiple dishes as a base umami flavour

I love it in it’s purest form and love to have it on its own or use it as a base for ramen, adding some combination of noodles and vegetables. This dish takes less than 10 minutes, so after a long day at work, it is a great way to warm up and get some dinner at the same time

Ingredients

  • 5g Kombu
  • ½ cup bonito flakes
  • 2 cups water
  • One head purple broccoli
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut aminos*
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 handful buckwheat soba noodles

*Coconut aminos comes from the sap of the coconut tree, it has very low glycemic levels, 17 amino acids and in plentiful in minerals and vitamins. Use it as a substitute to soya sauce/tamari

Method

  • Bring the cold water to the boil with the kombu, once you have reached a gentle boil, remove from heat and remove the kombu
  • Sprinkle bonito flakes in and let stand for 3 minutes, sieve and place back on the heat
  • Add the coconut aminos and sesame oil
  • Add the soba noodles and simmer for 3 minutes
  • In the mean time, lightly steam the broccoli, chop and add to the soup
  • Serve steaming hot, for a ramen facial

Here is a picture of Me and Mr B in Kyoto, Japan, as it would be amiss to leave him out of the post and he is not a fan of Ramen!

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Porcini Cracker with Chives (GF, V)

Porcini Cracker with Chives

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The wonderful thing about dehydrating food is that there is very little method involved (blend, spread, dehydrate), the food retains it nutrients due to the low temperature and the flavors of whatever you are cooking intensify

This is my second attempt in the dehydrator, adapting a recipe from Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food, to create an umami savory sweet cracker. I offered these crackers to my tasters, without telling them about the method, and they loved them. It is hard to believed that there is no grain or flour in them, just almond and flax seeds and a little seasoning. If you don’t have a dehydrator, an oven, whilst you are in the house on a cold afternoon does the trick just as well

I liked these crackers with a little tofu cream cheese and fresh chives (see previous recipes) but Mr B is quite fond of them on their own, as a portable snack

Ingredients

Porcini crackers

  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 tbsp. tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp. porcini powder
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • ¼ cup flax seeds

Toppings

  • Tofu cream cheese
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped to ½ cm pieces

Method

  • Mix the porcini ingredients together in a blender. Spread 1.4 inch thick on parchment paper and dehydrate for 4 hours at 115f. Punch out shapes with a cookie cutter. Return to dehydrator on screens until dry and crisp, approximately 12 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, use the oven on the warm setting.
  • Pipe or spread on the tofu cream cheese
  • Top with chives

Vegan Chorizo Empanadas

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Vegan Chorizo Empanadas

This was the most popular dish at my vegan Mexican feast and my guests didn’t believe the filling was not actually made with chorizo. I made 24 for six people and we had just a couple left over. Mr B, said he was dreaming about these all night and so we ended up having the rest for breakfast the next day!

The trick to this dish and any meat substitute is to impart the flavours of the dish you are impersonating. For the chorizo therefore the balance of smoky paprika and chilli for the subtle smoky spicy undertone, is the key. Don’t be afraid to be bold with the spicing as you’ll be wrapping these babies with a blanket of puff pasty and so will have to get through that first to get to the flavor

These are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as Mr B will attest, as well as holding up well during travel, for a picnic or packed lunch

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 lb. vegan mince
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. oregano dry
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. chilli powder
  • ½ tsp. salt or more to taste
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ cup. Vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. raw sugar
  • 4 sheets of puff pastry
  • Water and almond milk for glazing

Method

  • In a medium skillet heat the coconut oil
  • Add the vegan mince, sauté for a few minutes, add onions and garlic and continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent
  • Add the oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt, pepper, vegetable broth and sugar
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes till the broth is gone
  • Add more smoked paprika or chilli powder to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 350f/250c
  • Working with one puff pastry sheet at a time, roll it out so it is long enough to cut 6 circles in with a pastry cutter
  • Fill each with a tbsp. of the mixture, brush half of the inside of the round with water and pinch shut, use a fork to seal again on the outside which also creates a lovely picture
  • Brush with almond milk on the outside to glaze
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients,
  • Poke wholes in the empanadas and place on a baking tray
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  • Serve warm or cold

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant, Onion and Tomato Curry) (GF, V)

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant, Onion and Tomato Curry) (GF, V)

This is a beautifully smoky dish, with the smokiness coming from the quick charring of the eggplant in the pot. There is a similar dish in Greece and Italy, with different seasoning, in both of those it is eaten cold. This dish can be served hot or cold, alongside or as the main dish.

Mr. B and I debated my posting of this recipe, as I couldn’t seem to get a blog worthy picture out of this, but in the end we decided to post it, as the it really is an amazingly deep and smoky curry and we wanted to make sure you got the chance to taste it

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Ingredients

  • ½ tsp. peanut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 large eggplants
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Almond yogurt (optional)
  • Coriander/cilantro to garnish

Method

  • Heat oil in a pan, layer on the onion and tomato (make sure you do this first as it supplies the moisture)
  • Add the eggplant next and then the spices
  • If you have a pressure cooker, cook for 5 minutes
  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, put a lid on the pot and cook on medium high for 20 minutes
  • When eggplant is cooked through, add in the yogurt if using and stir, top with coriander, and serve

Gluten Free Chia Flatbreads

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Gluten Free Chia Flatbreads

There isn’t a lot of gluten in Indian cuisine apart from breads and since everything can be served with rice, you can just choose to avoid it. I personally like being able to scoop up the sauce with a nice piece of roti or naan and so went on a hunt for healthy, gluten free version. Well my treasure hunt turned up something great, so much so that I thought it deserved its own blog

This recipe is packed with ancient superfoods, some of which you may not have come across, so allow me to explain

Chia seeds – Chia is nutrient dense and energy boosting, the Aztec’s said one spoonful could sustain them for 24 hours. The seeds are rich in fiber, omega 3-fats, protein, vitamins and minerals

Psyllium Husk – Psyllium is derived from a herb mainly grown in India. It is a great source of fiber, helping to regulate high cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Amaranth – This is an ultimate ancient grain, it is full of whole grain nutrition but naturally gluten free. It contains all nine essential amino acids and lysine, a protein missing in most grains. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium and phosphorus

These ingredients come together to give you a nice springy mixture, which roles out well and can be cooked in a dry pan, similar to roti. Feel free to slather the roti with vegan butter or ghee if vegetarian, to keep them moist and add a little richness

Mr. B likes these with Indian food or on their own as a portable breakfast

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 5 tbsp. psyllium husk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup amaranth or sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch or corn starch
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ cup amaranth or rice flour for dusting

Method

  • Blend or grind the chia and psyllium husk into a coarse meal. Combine them with the water in a large bowl and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will firm to a gel
  • In another bowl mix the dry ingredients; flour, starch, salt, baking powder and garam masala
  • Add the dry mixture to the gel mixture, add the oil and knead to combine
  • Once combined, let sit for 5 minutes under a towel
  • Grease your hands and divide the mixture into c. 10-12 parts. Roll into balls, flour a surface and rolling pin and roll out
  • Heat a frying pan, when hot, place the flatbread in the pan, cook until a few bubbled appear and then flip. Repeat until cooked through with a few dark brown spots on each side
  • Place on a towel when ready and cover till ready to eat

Tempeh Tikka Masala

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Tempeh Tikka Masala

I believe food can unite people from all walks of life, all cultures, all religions. Food brings compassion and harmony to the table and creates a deeper understanding of each other

Although I grew up in my Grandmothers Indian Kitchen, Tikka Masala was not on the menu. This is because this is one of the infamous dishes where the origins or the recipe are fiercely debated all around the world. My favorite story is one that originates from 1960’s Scotland, when a customer asked for some sauce for his Chicken Tikka and the chef inventively added some Heinz Tomato Soup and Yogurt and thus the masala was born. You’ll be interested to know that the Glaswegians tried to get the European union to recognize this in the origin of the masala and have it designated as so, but alas lost they campaign in 2009. I find this story so heartening in a world of devision, to see the Scottish so proud of their Indian hybrid dish that they would try and preserve it as part of Scottish culinary culture

This version of Tikka Masala is made with Tempeh. I had no idea what could be done with Tempeh until this wonderful book, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. Tempeh is a traditional soya product, originally from Indonesia and unlike tofu it has it’s own unique taste. In the west people like to cut it up and add it to salads as if it was chicken or cook it in large pieces and substitute it for steak. I personally think it works really well as a substitute for paneer (Indian cheese) and the double flavoring process here, allows it to take on a depth of flavor not usually associated with the product.

I made gluten free chia roti to go with this, but will save that for the next blog. In the meantime basmati rice is a great substitute.

Mr. B. loves Tikka and Tikka Masala, so this was an attempt to bring him a healthy version of one of his favorite dishes that was also dairy free and vegan, so we could eat it together. Suffice to say he gave it five nods.

Ingredients

Tikka Masala

  • 8 oz. Tempeh, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 tsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped or one can
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green chilli (optional)
  • ½ tsp. brown/coconut sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup non-dairy yogurt
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Steamed Tempeh

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. garam masala
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika

Method

  • Combine the steamed tempeh ingredients in a pan with the tempeh, cook over a medium heat until most of the water is absorbed. Let the tempeh sit for a few minutes. For best results, marinate the tempeh for a few hours in the mixture before cooking. The reason to do this is before tempeh can be a little bitter when used raw and this takes the bitterness away, in addition to imparting more flavour
  • Add the steamed tempeh and 1 tsp. oil to a frying pan over a medium heat, cook until the edges are starting to go golden, set aside
  • Heat the remaining oil over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, c. 7 minutes. Add the garam masala, paprika, ground coriander, turmeric and mix well. Cook for a few minutes to temper the spices
  • At the same time, combine the tomatoes, chilli, ginger and garlic in a blender until smooth
  • Add the puree to a frying pan and cook until thickens, 10-20 minutes
  • Add the tempeh, sugar, salt, yogurt and non-dairy milk and mix well. Stir in the vinegar and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until you reach the desired thickness
  • Don’t forget to taste and adjust to your own palate, adding chilli and salt as desired

Chana Dal

Channa Dal

Chana Dal

This is a lentil dish for beginners with little process and just a few of your everyday spices.

These lentils are sweet and nutty and come from black chickpeas that are split and the outer cover is removed. There are different ways to make this dish, with this one being northern Indian inspired.

My grandma made this without the tinned tomatoes so hers would have been more traditionally yellow in colour. I like the addition here of the tomatoes as it combines my Italian and Indian family roots and makes the dish a little more tart, to be served with rice or pasta

This dish is natural and healthy, gluten, dairy free and full of herbs and spices that have multitudes of health benefits. It is also high in protein and low calorie

Mr B and I took great pleasure eating this on a snowy day, sitting in our home near the window and pretending we were in our own snow globe!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli (optional)
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. garam masala
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander/cilantro to serve

Method

  • Pick and rinse the chana dal well in running water
  • Soak the dal in water for an hour
  • Drain the lentils, add to the pot with the water and turmeric and bring to the boil
  • Boil until the lentils are soft, skimming any white foam off the top as you go
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil
  • Add the cumin first and fry for a few seconds
  • Add the garlic and fry for 20 seconds
  • Add the onions and fry for another 30 seconds
  • Add the tomatoes, ginger and green chilli
  • Stir and add all the dry spices, stir
  • Once thoroughly combined, add to the lentils
  • Simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine
  • Add salt to taste
  • Serve with coriander