Name: Brad Sarak
Profession: Cardiology resident
Who are you quarantining with during this time? My girlfriend Sarah (disclaimer, it’s me) and our dog, Kenji
1-2 sentences to sum up your life right now: My schedule changes from day to day and week to week. Currently, I am at the hospital every other week and weekend while working from home in between. Overall, I am still apprehensive of what is to come, but sparks of hopefulness are making their way through.
What is one food you’ve been loving lately? Bok choy. I’ve been enjoying it steamed, grilled or simply stir fried with olive oil, salt and pepper. Very into hearty greens lately!
What are 3 non-negotiable grocery items/pantry staples right now?1. Cheese (and lots of it)
An honourable mention to beans and legumes, protein powder and nuts (mostly almonds and cashews). I have been eating less and less animal protein and still need to make that sure I am getting enough protein overall.
How and where are you finding inspiration to cook? Any favourite cookbooks/blogs? I have to say, I am most inspired by watching Sarah in the kitchen. She is an intuitive cook who seemingly always creates gourmet meals from limited ingredients. I try to pick up tricks and tips from her along the way and two books that we have been cooking from are Alison Roman’s Dining In and Olive and Gourmando.
What is your favourite dish that you’ve made during quarantine (with recipe)? My favourite dish that I’ve made over the last few months was French onion soup. It was warming, hearty, savoury and most importantly, very cheesy. Recipe can be found at the bottom!
What is one cooking tip that you’ve learned recently? More fresh herbs on everything (and grow them yourself!). I usually do a quick search online to figure out what works best with the food that I am eating – parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and dill are the most common in our kitchen.
What is your favourite restaurant for take-out, if you’ve been ordering? We have not ordered take out very much, but my favourite was definitely Indian food from the Host. We got an assortment of dishes including butter chicken, aloo gobhi, palak paneer and dal makhni with rice and lots of garlic naan. Highly recommended!
Any new hobbies, favourite books or favourite podcasts? For exercise, I have recently started running. which is certainly not my strong suit. However, I’m getting better with each run and it helps me tremendously to clear my mind in the morning before tackling my day. I love bringing Kenji along with me who usually passes out for many hours after we are done. A favourite book to recommend is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It is a great reminder to slow down and to consciously pay attention to our surroundings; there is so much we can learn from nature and the trees around us.
Can you offer one tip or activity that is keeping you safe/grounded/sane during this time? I think it is so important to move our bodies every day, and in the morning if at all possible (outside is a bonus). When I’m working from home I try and recreate “usual” work, rest and play hours as best as I can, recognizing that it’s not always possible. Something else that helps me is remembering to feel grateful for my health, family, friends and community. I remind myself frequently that this will eventually pass, and we all just need to do our part.
FRENCH ONION SOUP RECIPE
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-6 medium size onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups beef/mushroom broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-in slices
2 cups grated Gruyère
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add oil, garlic, onions, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook uncovered on medium, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized. As they start to brown, stir frequently, scraping the fond from the bottom of the pot.
2. Add the wine and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape any fond from the bottom of the pot, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
4. Next add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook covered, for at least 45 minutes or until it tastes right to you.
5. Preheat the oven and bake the baguette slices until crisp and golden at the edges. Set aside.
6. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and divide the hot soup among them. Top each with 1 or 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère and then Parmigiano. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
7. Alternatively, if using regular soup bowls, top each toast slice with some cheese and return to broiler to melt. Divide the soup among bowls and top each with the cheese toasts.