…for all the hopeless (flu-infected) ramen-tics out there…
Tell you what, I might as well paint a massive red “X” on my front door to ward off all potential visitors, because the winter lurgy finally came a-knocking last week. Sunny became a walking fountain of mucus first, and then – even though for a while it looked like I was going to dodge it – I got that tell-tale scratching feeling at the back of my throat and knew I was doomed. I’m currently writing this bundled up in my dressing gown, ponging of Olbas Oil and chained to a box of tissues. Breathing through your nose is such an underrated luxury. I miss it.
There’s nothing quite like a massive bowl of ramen when you’re sick, is there? I mean, any and all soups are pretty good when you’re a walking plague victim, but ramen – for me anyway – is the ultimate winner, and I’ll tell you why. All soups are warm and comforting, but ramen goes one step further. It’s full of healthy fresh greens (which you can pick and choose), it’s packed full of flavour (enough to get through to those flu-muffled taste buds), the noodles are filling (so you feel like you’ve actually eaten more than just a bowl of hot water), I defy anyone not to smile at the sight of a perfectly gooey soft boiled egg floating in front of them… and the added chilli garnish will do wonders for a blocked nose.
Now, normally I’d either cart myself down to Wagamama for a bowl of their Shirodashi Ramen (YAS), or pick up a one of the Blue Dragon Ramen Kits, but last week before my cold spiralled out of control and I was still more or less functioning – I felt like making some from scratch. Anyway, I came across a picture of a ramen bowl with grilled corn in it and I was intrigued. I’d never thought of putting sweet corn in a bowl of ramen before, but tell you what – it was a game changer. The sweetness, the crunch, the buttery charred bits… oof. It was exactly what my noodle bowl had been missing all this time. Added to the mushrooms, spring onions, cabbage and obligatory soft boiled egg, it was a winner. 🙂
Vegetarian Ramen with Grilled Sweetcorn
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp yellow miso paste
500ml good quality vegetable stock
handful of spring onions, sliced
1 large corn cob
handful of shittake mushrooms
handful of sliced red cabbage (throw it in as late as possible otherwise it’ll turn your broth blue!)
Warm up your wok or a deep pot on a medium heat, then add the sesame oil. Next create the base for your broth by throwing in and stirring together the mirin, rice wine, soy sauce and miso paste, as well as the garlic and ginger pastes.
Next add the vegetable stock (the better the quality, the better the broth!) and water. Throw in your shittake mushrooms and half of your spring onions. Bring the broth up to the boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover and then leave to simmer for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, slice up your garnishes (that’s the rest of the spring onions and the cabbage) and prepare your corn cob. Slather the corn cob in butter, then wrap it in foil and cook it in the oven at 200°C for 20 minutes. Once cooked, slice into strips.
Check the packet instructions for the noodles – usually you’ll add them to the broth about 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat.
To serve up, first use some tongs to take out the noodles at pop them in the bottom of the bowl. Then ladle the broth over the top. Lastly, garnish with your fresh spring onions, cabbage, corn, soft boiled egg and chilli.
One of those ‘throw it all in and let it sit’ kinda recipes – hallelujah!
I think I’m going to remember 2019 as the year that I officially fell in love with vegetarian cooking. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I’m still most definitely a meat eater (you’d have a tough time getting me to ditch hot dogs and bacon baps, and you’ll never EVER convince me that Jackfruit is a solid alternative to pulled pork – nope!), but this year I kind of moved away from throwing meat into my weekly meals just for the sake of it. Last year, there were a lot of go-to recipes on my weekly meal plan that I just automatically cooked with meat – just because that was what I’d always done. Curries, Stir Fries, Casseroles, Burrito Bowls – meals I was eating at least once or twice a week – all came with diced chicken as a standard; previously it just wouldn’t have felt like a whole meal if I’d decided to skip the meat. But honestly? There have been meal times over the past year where I’ve chewed on the realisation that – actually – the meat didn’t bring anything special or add anything to the dish. It was just… there. Gradually, I found myself becoming more and more interested in the fresh greens and vegetables I’d thrown into the dish instead, and the textures and flavours that they brought to the game.
These days I’m shopping down the meat aisle less, cooking it only when it’s going to be the main ingredient and star of the show, and reworking all those old recipes that I would have just mindlessly chucked meat into, into new and improved, ultimate veggie versions! Like this Ultimate Veggie Chilli – or Chilli No Carne! You know me, I love Mexican Food – and chilli is just one of those things I tend to cook every couple of weeks. It’s an easy, throw everything into one pot and stir kind of dish, perfect for meal prep, and – if you make enough of it – it’ll keep you fed throughout the week (or month, if you freeze it). Plus, the longer you let it sit, the tastier it becomes! This ultimate edition is packed with cauliflower, adzuki beans, mushrooms, red peppers and tomatoes – and comes packed with plenty of flavour thanks to a few unusual ingredients – including a shot of whiskey… 😉
Ultimate Veggie Chilli
Plenty for two, Perfect for four
1 tbsp vegetable oil
125g cherry tomatoes
400ml can of tinned tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
150g chestnut mushrooms
1 can of adzuki beans
2 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp chipotle chilli paste
3 tbsp barbecue sauce
100ml fresh, black coffee
1 tbsp ancho chilli flakes
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion granules
25ml shot of bourbon whiskey
pinch of salt and pepper to season
chopped coriander or scallions to serve
This recipe would work brilliantly in a slow cooker – if so, just throw in all the ingredients, turn the slow cooker on and walk away (lucky you) – but a great big pot on the hob will work just as well. To start things off, get your pot nice and hot, and then add the oil, chipotle chilli paste and garlic paste. Throw in the diced onion and sweat it off.
Next, add the cherry tomatoes, carrot, red pepper, cauliflower, mushrooms and beans. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine.
Time to add some flavour. Add the cumin, onion granules, paprika and ancho chilli flakes, then stir.
The next couple of ingredients are a little bit controversial, but are going to bring a whole lot of depth and flavour. Pour in the fresh coffee, barbecue sauce and whiskey.
Stir to combine, then turn down the heat, throw on a lid and leave to simmer for about an hour (make sure you check on it and keep it moving, or it’ll stick to the bottom and burn!).
Once cooked, season with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh coriander and/or some sliced scallions.Eat it with rice, hot sauce, avocado, sour cream, on toast or with some cheesy nachos – the choice is yours!
How many pairs of boots is too many, would you say? Especially for someone living in Wales where on the rainy scale it’s anywhere from mildly damp to soaked through to your knickers soggy for at least 9 months of the year. I’ve got three pairs and according to my husband, that’s two pairs too many. Oh, and that’s not including the wellies (whole other category, I think you’ll agree) that I trudge around in every single day on the dog walk. I mean, they’re an Autumn staple right? They’re brilliant because they’re easy; throw on a pair and you’re good to go. No fuss, no muss. And you know you’re going to need at least a few different pairs bashing around at the bottom of your cupboard to cover every single weather situation and occasion that Autumn/Winter slings at you. I mean, they’re kind of the fashion equivalent of a slow cooker or casserole recipe; cosy, reliable, minimal effort.
It’s about that time of year that – along with your boots – you’re probably fishing out your favourite crock pot out of the back of the cupboard (hopefully you don’t keep both in the same cupboard, that would be weird…). Friendly reminder; the clocks are going back this weekend, and yep, it’s the good one. You know, the one where you get an extra hour in bed on Sunday. The one where you utter the words, “Bloody hell, it’s really dark outside” when you tune into the new Attenborough documentary at six-ish (…Honestly, the penguin episode of last year’s offering almost broke me – I don’t know whether I can handle a second helping…). The one where you realise that the extra hour was actually totally pointless when you wake up an hour too soon on Monday morning. Pfft. It’s going to start getting a lot gloomier in the evenings and – like me – I’m sure you’re going to start hunting down a few easy, one pot, just “bung it in the oven” kind of recipes to see you through the winter.
I love a good curry this time of year, but honestly? Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with all that faffing around on the hob cooking it up. Well, here’s a way to whip up a very simple, very tasty veggie curry in the oven (or the slow cooker, if you’ve got one). 🙂
Roasted Butternut Curry
Creamy and warming, the perfect curry for a cosy night in…
First, grab a casserole or roasting dish and set your oven to 160°C. Pour the vegetable oil into the dish, along with the garlic and ginger paste, ground coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric and curry powder. Mix it all together to make a paste.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes, and then stir everything together to create the curry sauce. Next, throw in the butternut squash chunks, sliced onion and diced pepper, and then stir well to coat them with the sauce.
Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the dish from the oven and pour in the coconut milk – stirring until everything is well-combined. Season with salt and pepper, then return the dish to the oven to cook for 10 minutes.
Scatter with chopped, fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice. 🙂
Seriously, how many pairs of boots is too many? I’m curious!Have a great weekend! 🙂