Ramen Noodle Soup

DSC_0004

My eldest daughter left home, this year, and has been joking about living on ramen, so I figured we had to come up with a quick cooking healthy version that contains real vegetables and no msg!

We managed quite a few variations as we closed in on what we liked best. When I first made it, I sliced hard boiled egg onto the top of the soup rather than coddling the egg in it, and also used commercially produced garlicky hot sauce in the broth rather than the garlic, Braggs, sugar, root ginger, and chili. This version uses ingredients that are more universally available, and reduces the number of pans used. It’s also less labor intensive.

Jeanette's Ramen

Ramen with sliced boiled egg rather than poached egg.

We determined that cooking the ramen in the vegetable broth thickens the broth slightly. It just so happens that 2 ramen cakes (140g/5oz dry pasta, total) to 4 cups of water gives us about the right consistency. My girls also had me adjust the ratio of vegetable to noodles. We all figured that there needed to be more veggies than the commercial varieties offered, but I did over do it to start off with.

I’ve found it a pretty useful recipe as the vegetables included are easily adjustable. I add the veggies in two batches: longer cooking vegetables such as onion, carrot, cauliflower, sweet bell pepper, and mushrooms go in first and get sautéed then simmered, and then quicker cooking vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage go in the pan just before the broth, and so get a quick coating of oil to help them retain their shape during the 5 minutes simmering.

As for the amount of chili used, if I’m cooking for my youngest who doesn’t like spicy food, I use 1/2 a fresh jalapeño and pass round the sriracha sauce bottle to the others. If I’m cooking for my eldest who loves spicy food, I’ll use a whole jalapeño or 1/2 a fresh red serrano chili, at which point it’s as hot as I care to have mine (if not slightly hotter). The moral of the story is that you’ll probably have to adjust to taste.

The noodles I use are commercially prepared, gluten free, millet and brown rice ones from Costco. However, you could substitute freshly made pasta, if you wish. Interestingly, I added the miso because I felt that the broth was a bit ‘thin’ on flavor, and miso rounds it out very nicely.

Serves 3-4

14-16 oz firm tofu, drained (optional)
1 tsp salt (for the tofu, optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp onion powder (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp garlic powder (for the tofu, optional)

2 large cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 inch fresh root ginger, skinned
1/2 – 1 jalapeño, deseeded (or to taste, see note above)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp brown rice miso
3 tbsp Braggs, or other GF soy sauce

1-2 tsp sesame/coconut oil
4 oz mushrooms (or other veggies: see comment, above)
4 oz broccoli florettes, cut small

2 GF ramen cakes (5 oz total, when dry)
3-4 eggs (one per person)
fresh cilantro/leaf coriander for garnish

If you’re using the tofu, drain it, and cut into small dice. You can either use it as is, or toss it in the tofu seasoning, then cook: Coat a baking tray with cooking spray/oil. Spread the tofu cubes on the tray, and place under a hot grill/broiler, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.

Put 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups of water into a blender along with the garlic, ginger, chili, sugar, miso, Braggs/soy sauce, and blend until there are no large lumps.

In a medium sized saucepan, warm the oil, then fry the harder vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the softer vegetables to the harder vegetables, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the contents of the blender to the saucepan, and use another 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the ramen cakes (push them to the bottom), and crack the eggs towards the edge of the simmering broth. Keep the soup simmering very gently for 4-6 minutes or until the ramen are cooked and the egg whites have solidified.

Serve in individual bowls with one egg per bowl, and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro, and tofu if using. Hand round the sriracha sauce and Braggs/soy sauce for diners to adjust to taste.

Advertisements

Fresh Gluten Free Pasta

Fresh pasta with Ranchero Sauce

Fresh gluten free pasta with Ranchero Sauce

As it turns out, making fresh gluten free pasta is remarkably satisfying for the amount of effort that it takes to make. The amount of time that it takes to gather ingredients, knead them together and roll the dough out isn’t actually much more time than it takes to boil the water, so using dried commercial pasta isn’t much of a time saving – especially since this takes 4-5 minutes to cook instead of ~9 minutes for dried.

The pasta itself is far more satisfying than dried pasta, too, though right now I don’t have the wherewithal to make fusilli, nor the patience to make farfalle, so that still requires bought pasta. This pasta is mild in flavor, though not bland; it has a satisfying and not too delicate (aka flimsy) texture, and it doesn’t appear to be too fussy about how long it gets cooked for, either.

Although this recipe doubles or triples perfectly easily, make sure not to over crowd the pan when boiling the pasta as it will be more likely to stick to itself.

Serves 1 well, or 2 if serving with a bulky sauce

1 oz (1/4 cup) bean flour
1 oz (1/4 cup) potato/tapioca starch
1/3 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg

Mix the dry ingredients together.

 

Crack the egg into the dry ingredients, and stir in with a butter knife. Initially, there won’t appear to be enough egg, but once there’s no egg apparent, use your hands to bring the dough together and briefly knead.  You’ll end up with a fairly stiff and slightly sticky dough.

Roll out as thinly as possible and cut into strips (or other desired shape), or use a pasta maker.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil (~3 pints, more if you’re doubling or tripling the recipe), add the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Drain well and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.

Basic Bowl

Basic BowlTo be honest, this is just a template. A tasty template, but one that is open to countless variations. This is a bowl of rice and beans with various accoutrements. It’s very satisfying, tasty, and nutritious, and we love it!

Basic rice and bean bowl ingredients.

Clockwise from top left: lettuce, crispy tofu, black bean chili, fresh tomato, yummy sauce, green salsa, avocado chunks, brown rice, and black olives in the center.

Serves 3-4

1 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp salt

2 cans black beans
1″ chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp salt

14-16 oz firm tofu
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
cooking spray

yummy sauce
salsa (home-made or commercial)
lettuce, shredded
fresh tomato, diced
black olives, halved
fresh cilantro to garnish
1 avocado

Put the rice in a saucepan with double the volume of water (2 cups) and 1/2 tsp of salt, and put to one side to soak for at least 1/2 hour.

Cover the rice, bring to a simmer, and cook until almost all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, leave the rice covered to finish cooking in its own steam.

Drain the black beans into a blender. Put the beans in a medium sized saucepan, and the chipotle chilies and salt in the blender with the bean juice.
Blend the bean juice, then pour it into the saucepan with the beans and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and allow to steep.

Cut the tofu into 1/2″ cubes, put in a mixing bowl, and dry the surface of the tofu with a couple of paper towels. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutritional yeast over the tofu, toss to coat. Bring a grill/broiler up to high heat. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add the tofu, and place ~6″under the grill/broiler. Toss around on the baking sheet at intervals to encourage even browning, until the tofu is crispy on most sides.

Assemble the bowls: Put a quarter of the rice in each bowl, top with a quarter of the drained beans. Put a large splash of the salsa across one side of the beans, and a large splash of the yummy sauce on the other. Arrange the lettuce, tomato, black olives, cilantro and avocado slices on top.

Yummy Vegan Dressing

DSC_0029

I should probably point out that I do not earn money from this blog, and so this endorsement is my actual opinion and does not include a mercenary bias. I got the idea for this salad/side dressing from Cafe Yumm! which has locations in Oregon and Washington, but not elsewhere. It’s a thick, pungent sauce for jazzing up salads & beans & rice & quinoa & suchlike. Cafe Yumm! sells the sauce in large bottles so you can make versions of their ‘bowls’ at home, but since they don’t appear to sell the sauce online at the moment, if you don’t happen to live in either of those states, you’ll have to make your own!

This sauce is strongly flavored! The dominant flavors are lemon juice, thyme, nutritional yeast, and probably more lemon juice. The original appears to be almost an emulsion made with oil, which does make it taste gorgeous, but without the oil, this stuff looks like health food, so that’s what I aimed for, to start off with, until my youngest convinced me to try it with oil, and it really is better that way. The sauce is also not smooth, so you may want to only partially blend the chickpeas/garbanzo beans. However, I should point out that this doesn’t seem to have much punch if it’s turned into mayonnaise by blending the oil into the other ingredients, and the texture isn’t right, so I very briefly stir in the oil at the end.

I don’t know how long this sauce would last, but I’ve managed to keep a bowl of it in the fridge for a week without anything untoward happening.

One last point, make sure your oil is neutral flavored. I made the mistake of using olive oil once, and ended up pouring the whole lot away as it tasted far too strong.

1/2 cup almonds (or almond flour)
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) lemon juice
1/2 cup water or plain unsweetened, plain, soy milk
1 tsp dried thyme (I’m sure fresh thyme would be even better)
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 – 1 cup (1/2 can) cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/2 cup neutral flavored oil

Put the almonds in the blender with the water/milk, lemon juice, thyme, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt, and process until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

Add the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, and process until almost smooth.

Add the oil and process only long enough to combine (about 5 seconds on lowest setting, if that).

Chill before serving to thicken.

Garlicky Cauliflower Dhansak

Three bowls of Indian curry and yellow rice on wooden table.

Saag Tofu, Mushroom Dhansak, and turmeric rice.

This is my simplified version of dhansak, a lentil based Indian curry. I have made it with cauliflower, and I have also made it with mushrooms. Just substitute mushrooms for the cauliflower in this recipe. Both are good. I’ve also made it with split mung dal (when I found myself without lentils), and that worked well too. Unless they’re old, there’s no need to soak the mung: just put a lid on them while they’re cooking, and make sure they’re soft before you stir in the cauliflower.

Dhansak should be at least warm with the chili, but otherwise it can be as hot as you care to make it. It is dominated by a deeply earthy tone with sweet/sour accents supplied by the tamarind. It also happens to be my youngest daughter’s current favorite and one of the healthiest curries I make, being low in fat and high in fiber, beans, and vegetables. A real comfort food!

As with many curries, leftovers taste even better (and generally slightly hotter) the next day.

2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp tamarind paste

1-3 tsp coconut oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 fresh green jalapeno chili (or to taste), finely minced

8 oz red lentils, rinsed
1/3 recipe (~2 cups) curry base sauce or low fat curry base sauce

12 oz (1/2 large head) cauliflower, cut into thin florets OR sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander

Gather together the dried spices in a small bowl.

Heat  the oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, and cook the onion and fresh chili, stirring occasionally, until browned (~20 minutes).

While the onions brown, put the lentils into a saucepan with 16 fl oz (2 cup) of water and the curry base sauce; bring to a simmer and cook gently until softened. (~10 mins)

Add the cauliflower florets or mushrooms to the onion, and stir to coat with oil, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic to the onion, and allow to warm through for a minute.

Add the spices to the onion, and stir to coat.

Once the lentils have completely softened, scrape the vegetables into the lentil pot, add the salt, and simmer until the cauliflower/mushrooms are just soft, and the lentils have almost disintegrated into a sauce.

Check for seasoning. If it looks at all dry (or the cauliflower hasn’t finished cooking), add a little more water and simmer for 2 minutes to integrate it (or until the cauliflower has finished cooking) before serving hot with rice or GF chapati, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro/leaf coriander.

Low Calorie, Vegan, Creamy, Pepper and Tomato Soup

A smooth, warming, spicy soup, this is a great way to make use of the cauliflower stalk that so often gets thrown away. Note that this started off life as a way to use up the last bit of ranchero sauce that I had in the fridge one day when I was thinking fondly of a cream of tomato soup that I used to have as a child. If you find yourself in that situation, 8 floz / 1 cup / 1/4 litre ranchero sauce, 8 oz / 250g cauliflower cooked in 24 floz / 3 cups / 700ml of water with 1/2 tsp salt will get you a small amount of this soup in a jiffy.

Spicy Tomato and Pepper Soup

Serves 6-8

1 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance) or cooking oil/spray
6 oz (1/2 of a large) onion, diced
8 oz / 2-3 cups / 230g red/yellow/orange sliced peppers (frozen is O.K.)
1 jalapeño chili, seeds removed and flesh roughly diced
1 lb / 450g cauliflower
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz / 400g chopped tinned tomatoes, with juices
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp of sugar if necessary to counteract acidic tomatoes

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium high heat, then cook the onion, peppers/chili, and cauliflower until the onion is translucent (~10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and allow it to warm through for a minute.

Add the remaining ingredients along with 48 fl oz / 6 cups/ 1400 ml of water, and simmer until the cauliflower is soft (~10 minutes).

Blend until smooth, check seasoning, reheat if necessary, and serve hot.

Vegan Vegetable Korma

This is a mild, creamy, slightly sweet curry which is great for introducing kids to curry.

Korma 2

Vegan Vegetable Korma with turmeric tinted rice

One thing I have noticed about potatoes is that if you cook them in a tomato based sauce, they develop a tough skin that my kids are not keen on, so I cook the potatoes in boiling water before I add them to the dish. To be honest, this is a good way to use up left over cooked vegetables as the veggies used can be adjusted to suit your preference. Good contenders are mushrooms, peas, potato cubes, small cauliflower florets, green beans, carrot cubes, or fried tofu cubes as prepared for Tofu Florentine. Although you could add canned beans, I feel they’re a bit savory/heavy for a korma. Aim for 1.5 – 2lbs veggies in all.

For the record, I did try this dish using honey instead of sugar, and tamarind instead of lemon juice, but the more familiar ingredients actually tasted better. The less familiar amchur and star anise which I did use are easily available in specialty stores and Amazon.

Serves 4

12 oz potato, cut into 3/4″ cubes
4 oz green beans

1 tsp – 4 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
3 oz (1/4 of a large) onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1/4 tsp salt for the mushrooms

1 1/2 cups curry base or lower calorie curry base
2 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) raw cashews
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt for the sauce
1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, and add the potatoes and green beans (and any other veggies that you’ve added that can be cooked by simmering. e.g. cauliflower or carrots)

Bring back to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes have softened but are not falling apart. (~10 minutes)

Put the curry base, cashews, lemon juice, salt, and sugar, into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat, then add the onion and mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of the salt, and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, and the mushrooms soften.

Sprinkle the spices over the cooked onions, and allow to warm through for a few seconds.

Drain the potatoes and green beans, and scrape the onion and mushroom mixture into the potatoes; scrape the smooth sauce out of the blender and into the pan with the vegetables.

Use 4 fl oz (1/4 cup) of water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Heat through, adjust consistency with more water if needed to produce a sauce that clings and runs, and seasonings to taste, then serve hot with a generous leaf coriander garnish, and plain cooked rice or chapatis.