Tangy lentil salad with a sherry, dijon vinaigrette

July 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm (Beans, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, unrated)

This recipe is based on one from the Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. The original recipe is for a lentil salad with scallions, walnuts, and roasted red peppers.  But when Derek makes this dish he usually just makes the lentils, and doesn’t bother to add the other ingredients.  He’s perfectly happy with just the lentils and the über simple mustard-olive oil-sherry vinegar dressing.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Three nights in vegetarian Prague

June 29, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Trip report, Uncategorized)

I spent three days last week in Prague with my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Three of the four of us were vegetarian, so we mostly ate at vegetarian or ethnic restaurants. Below are some notes.

Hotel K+K Fenix: I was quite impressed by the breakfast at our hotel. It was open long hours, offered a wide selection of cold and hot items, and even included some organic items. There was lots of tasty fresh fruit including melons, kiwis, apricots, cherries, and apples. Other cold items included various pastries and cakes, various breads and jams and nutella, various juices, milk including soymilk, yogurt, meusli and various cold cereals, and nuts and dried fruit. On the hot side, there were hard-boiled eggs, broiled tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. The quality of the food generally seemed quite high. The only thing I tried that I really didn’t like were the scrambled eggs.

Kotleta: We ate our first lunch on the patio of this restaurant right near the old town square. The name of the restaurant apparently translates to “eyeball,” which is not the most appetizing of names. But our tour guide recommended it, and we were hungry, so we let her cajole us into eating there, despite the fact that it didn’t have a lot of vegetarian options. It’s supposedly a non-smoking restaurant but lots of people were smoking on the patio. We shared a few different dishes. The portobello mushroom appetizer was quite small, with only two tiny portobellos, but I thought they were tasty. The grilled marinated peppers were yellow bell peppers on top of large mounds of feta cheese. We ordered a salad with gratinated goat cheese on toast, marinated fig in honey and herbs, roasted walnuts, grapes and a wild cherry dressing. The dressing was a little too sweet for me but the salad was okay. Finally, I ordered a baked potato. Everyone was making fun of me for ordering such a boring dish, but I quite liked it. The skin was nice and crispy and the inside was various moist. The salad, grilled peppers, small baked potato, and 2 little portobello mushrooms cost 249+169+79+79=576 crowns, which adds up to $9.55 per person just for the vegetarian food. We were definitely paying a tourist bonus. We also ordered drinks, which were actually my favorite part of the meal. I got a ginger lemonade which was very gingery, and my sister-in-law ordered a cucumber lemonade that was bright green and tasted strongly of cucumbers. Both were absolutely delicious, although too strong for my brother and sister.

Maitrea: We ate dinner our first night at this vegetarian restaurant, which a friend had recommended. We started with a selection of mixed starters, which consisted of hummus, red beet tartare, roasted bell peppers, pickled goat cheese, a spinach crêpe, and bread). Everyone else thought that the starter plate was really bland and boring, but I liked it. The hummus mostly tasted like mashed chickpeas, with little lemon juice or garlic, but I found it satisfying. I think one issue was that everything was pretty low-salt. I also ordered a bowl of lentil soup, which was again pretty plain but with some sweet spice (cloves?) that I couldn’t quite identify. Again, I liked it more than anyone else. We shared four main dishes. I thought the vegetable lasagna was reasonable, but my sister and sister-in-law found it sour and offputting. We ordered a spinach and arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, smoked tofu, and a balsamico-honey reduction. I liked the smoked tofu but found the dressing too sweet. My sister liked the salad much more than me. My brother ordered Thai eggplant with tofu, fresh coriander, chili peppers, and coconut milk, which I couldn’t eat. The sauce was just too sweet and goopy. Everyone’s favorite dish was the meatless „chicken“ and mushroom balls with oven-roasted vegetables, basil pesto and homemade tofunnaise. The balls were very tasty, but unfortunately there were only three of them. Overall no one was particularly impressed with the food, but everyone agreed that the ambience and decor of the restaurant was quite nice. If this restaurant were in Saarbruecken I’d definitely go back, as I’m sure with some trial and error I could find a couple of dishes I really like. The meal for the four of us with water and a few non-alcoholic drinks came to about 1050 crowns, or $13.05 per person.

Modry Zub Noodle Bar: For lunch on our second day we went to what we thought was a Thai order-at-the-counter joint. But it turned out that most of the tables were part of a sit-down restaurant. So we were relegated to a little table off to the side. We thought it was a fast food kind of place but it ended up taking quite a while for them to bring us our food. The four of us shared three dishes: a green curry with tofu, pad thai, and ma-muang tofu with veggies and cashew nuts. I liked the green curry, but my brother didn’t care for it much. My brother and sister really liked the cashew dish. Overall it was a pleasant lunch, and three dishes was plenty for the four of us. Altogether the lunch cost 535 crowns, or $6.65 per person. They even gave us free tap water!

Pizzeria Ristorante GiovanniFor our second dinner we went to this Italian restaurant not far from the center. The first table they sat us at was very smoky, so we asked to be moved, and they moved us to a different room which was apparently their non-smoking section. We ordered a tomato soup and garlic bread as appetizers, but they brought them out at the same time as our main dishes. The garlic bread was basically just pizza dough with no discernible garlic flavor. The tomato soup was very good though, and we ended up spreading it on the garlic bread to give it some flavor. My sister ordered the tortelli tartufo, which were stuffed with truffle and asparagus in a tomato-truffle cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any asparagus, but the truffle and cream sauce was tasty.  We shared a salad of arugula, tomatoes, carrot, and zucchini, which was fine, but the salad dressing seemed to be just oil. Luckily there was balsamic vinegar on the table, and that helped. I ordered the pasta primavera, which was a bit small and really boring. It had very few vegetables and needed some pizzazz. My sister liked the noodles though. She thought they tasted homemade. Our final dish was a regina margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and we added olives to it. Again, it was inoffensive but boring. It helped to dip it in the tomato soup. I guess it needed more tomato sauce? Altogether with a bottle of water the meal came to 1130 crowns, or $14.04 per person.

Bombay Express: My sister and I got take-out from this Indian fast food joint, and took it on the train with us for dinner. The yellow dal was pretty tasty, but the saag paneer wasn’t quite right. Both dishes came with massive quantities of rice. For the two dishes and two take out boxes they charged us 188 crowns, about $4.68 per person.

Clear Head (Lehka Hlava): My sister and I ate our last lunch at this vegetarian restaurant, which turned out to be a sister restaurant to Maitrea. I was in a bit of a rush because I had to get to the airport, so I just ordered a bowl of red lentil and carrot soup. The bowl was quite small and brothy, and it didn’t seem like nearly enough food for lunch. So I asked the waitress what else I could order that would come quickly, and she recommended the quesadilla with marinated vegetarian “chicken.” It arrived quickly and piping hot, but I found it a bit odd tasting. The inside had not only the vegetarian mock meat and cheese, but tons of grainy mustard. I found the combination odd, and I thought that the dish as a whole needed salsa desperately. The quesadilla came with a bit of guacamole, which was pleasant, and helped to add a bit of flavor to the dish. My sister ordered the beet burger, which was huge and disconcertingly bloody looking. The burger was on a bun with pickles and soggy lettuce and some kind of creamy sauce. She had also ordered it with cheddar, but she said that with the sauce and the cheddar it was too rich. She ended up pulling off the bun and just eating the burger. She said it was better that way. I tried it but didn’t particularly care for the dish. Since it was my last meal in Prague, I splurged and ordered another ginger lemonade. This one tasted different than my first one, but was equally delicious. Wow, was it ginger-y and lemon-y. I wish I could get it in Saarbruecken! I guess I’ll have to learn how to make something similar myself. Altogether our meal with drinks added up to 485 crowns, or about $12.06 per person.

My sister and I left Prague for a couple of days and took the train out to the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks. The park itself was lovely, and we spent a very nice morning and early afternoon hiking through the Teplice section of the park. But food was an issue. We were staying right near the park rather than in a town, and all the restaurants at the hotels near us were inexplicably closed. We ended up having to go 2 km to the single restaurant in the nearest town (which was more like a village). The vegetarian pickings were very slim, and we ended up with a plate of french fries, mayonnaise, deep fried cheese or broccoli, and cabbage salad. Although we enjoyed the natural environment, foodwise we were quite glad to return to the more veggie-friendly Prague.

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What I’ve been cooking lately

June 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm (breakfast, Muffins and quick breads, soup)

What have I been cooking lately? Not much. I just haven’t been in the mood. Derek has been cooking some old standbys like whore’s pasta and chilaquiles and sesame noodles, and I’ve been making a lot of really simple dishes like stir-fries or roasted veggies or big pots of beans. But I have tried two new recipes, which I’ll blog about here, briefly.

Naomi Pomeroy’s Celery Velouté With Spring Herb Salsa Verde. It’s rare that a vegetarian recipe wins a challenge on Top Chef, so I was excited to try this recipe for a creamy celery soup. Without the salsa verde, the soup was not that exciting. I generally like celery, but the soup smelled a little too strongly of cooked celery for me to really love it. It was better with the salsa verde, which added some acid and non-celery flavors. Still, overall I wasn’t so impressed. It was basically a celery vichyssoise (i.e., using celery instead of potatoes). But Derek liked it a lot more than me. I had a few bowls over a couple of meals, but he single-handedly finished off most of the pot.

Gluten-free pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins. I don’t eat gluten-free, but I bought some coconut flour and was looking for recipes to try it out with. I chose this one because the photos looked very good and the comments were generally pretty positive. I doubled the recipe to make 12 muffins. Some of the comments said the muffins were greasy so I cut down on the oil by about a tablespoon and used an extra tablespoon of pumpkin puree. I reduced the maple syrup to 1/4 cup and halved the amount of chocolate chips, because some reviewers complained that the muffins were too sweet. When the muffins first came out of the oven the texture was very odd, but by the next day they had improved. They were definitely sweet with plenty of chocolate chips (despite the halving), but not very pumpkin-y or spice-y. The outside of the muffin was a bit greasy. Derek didn’t like them at all, so I ended up giving some to a friend and eating the rest by myself. They weren’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll make this exact recipe again. Maybe next time I’ll try a recipe that calls for both coconut flour and almond flour.

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Saucy Italian baked eggs

May 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm (breakfast, Italian, Necessarily nonvegan, unrated, Website / blog)

I came across this recipe for saucy Italian baked eggs on a random blog, and immediately started drooling. I’ve been craving tomato sauce lately and this recipe is basically an egg baked in a big ramekin of marinara sauce with a little mozzarella and basil for garnish. It even looked easy enough that Derek could make it himself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chilean cabbage and avocado slaw

May 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Salads, South American, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

I needed to bring a salad to an Argentinian barbecue, but I wasn’t feeling so well, and wanted something quick and easy. I settled on this recipe for Chilean cabbage and avocado slaw by Martha Rose Shulman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Immunity soup with a garlic, ginger, pepper broth

May 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm (101 cookbooks, B_minus, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, soup, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

I liked the miso tahini turnip soup from 101cookbooks so much I decided to try another soup recipe from her blog, this time for “immunity soup,” built on a garlic, ginger, pepper broth. The recipe calls for white pepper but I didn’t have any,  so I just used black pepper. I assumed the only difference was cosmetic, but maybe white pepper actually tastes different, because this recipe was a let down. I thought the soup would be wasabi-up-your-sinuses intense, but we found it bland, even after adding more black pepper. I really like clean, brothy soups in general, but this one was unsatisfying. It didn’t taste bad, it was just boring and a bit bland. Maybe if I’d been able to find some pea shoots they would have brought the whole dish together? I doubt it.

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Turnip gratin

May 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm (B plus, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Necessarily nonvegan, Root vegetables, Spring recipes, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

It’s (still) turnip time! So on to new turnip recipe #2 for this year: a rich and satifying turnip gratin inspired by this photo recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog. Read the rest of this entry »

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Miso tahini soup with turnips and delicata squash

May 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm (101 cookbooks, A, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Japanese, Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

It’s turnip time! My farmer’s market here in Saarbruecken is full of beautiful bunches of white turnip, with the greens still attached. The name for these turnips is Mairübchen, literally “little May root” or “May root-let.” But they’re not little. Each turnip is about 2 to 3.5 inches in diameter. I’ve been buying lots of turnips just so I can eat the greens, but I had to figure out what to do with the turnips themselves.

I’ve never been a huge turnip fan, and I don’t have so many go-to recipe. I like them raw in salads, in soup (with leeks, potatoes, and chard), and in stews (like this tagine or Thai curry).  But I had one last delicata squash from the fall that was turning soft and needed to get used up, and some leftover brown rice int the fridge, so rather than making an old recipe, I decided to try a new recipe for miso tahini soup from 101cookbooks. I love Peter Berley’s miso-based tortilla soup with avocados, so the addition of avocado didn’t seem that odd. But a miso soup with tahini and lemon juice? I could not imagine it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Broccoli salad with ginger vinaigrette

April 13, 2014 at 10:06 am (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Peter Berley)

Derek loves broccoli, but I have surprisingly few easy broccoli recipes. My two standbys are sesame broccoli and pan-fried broccoli with garlic, but I’d love a nice easy recipe for broccoli salad. I still remember a delicious salad made from grated broccoli stems from the buffet at Whole Foods in Pittsburgh years ago. This recipe, from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, looked like just what I was looking for.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Buckwheat pumpkin muffins

April 13, 2014 at 9:38 am (breakfast, B_, Dessert, Muffins and quick breads)

This was the second recipe from The Splendid Grain that I chose to use up my buckwheat flour. In her recipe head notes Rebecca Woods says that the recipe is reminiscent of carrot cake, only better. That sounded so good that I willingly sacrificed my very last butternut squash of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buckwheat pancakes filled with asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms

April 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm (Cruciferous rich, French, Rebecca Wood, unrated)

I wanted to use up some buckwheat flour, and so I went straight to the buckwheat section of The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. The first recipe we picked was a very simple recipe for Sarrasin Crepes, the buckwheat crepes that are typical in Brittany. The recipe looked pretty typical, except that it calls for ground coriander. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bok choy braised with garlic

April 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I wanted a quick way to use up some bok choy last week, and choose this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Normally I stir-fry bok choy, so I was curious how it would taste braised instead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bean, barley, cabbage stew with bear garlic pesto

April 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm (101 cookbooks, Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Grains, Miso, One pot wonders, soup, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.

The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to cook acorn squash

March 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

When I first moved to Germany I couldn’t find acorn squash, and then last year they suddenly started turning up, but I had forgotten how to cook them. I tried baking them several times but they always ended up with burned skin and dried-up insides. Clearly I am not good at winging it. So this time I followed an actual recipe! Well…, sort of. As much as such a thing is possible. Read the rest of this entry »

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The optimal way to bake sweet potatoes

March 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm (Root vegetables, unrated)

I was going to be home late on Tuesday, and so I asked Derek to bake some sweet potatoes, so that they’d be ready to eat when I got home. He asked me how and I said I didn’t remember exactly, but that they’re pretty forgiving. When I got home I found that he had rinsed them off, pricked the sweet potatoes with a knife in a few places, and put them on an (unlined) cookie sheet. He had been baking them at 375 for about an hour and they were not even close to being soft. I was surprised, as I feel like sweet potatoes are usually done after an hour in the oven. They were were quite large, but I think that even large sweet potatoes shouldn’t take much longer than an hour to get soft.

After 20 more minutes the potatoes were still hard. I poked the sweet potatoes a few more times and turned the oven up to 400. I also turned the sweet potatoes and added some water to the cookie sheet, to keep the skin from burning before the flesh got soft. After another 30 minutes or so they were finally done, but the cookie sheet was covered in burnt sweet potato juice. What a mess.

Clearly this wasn’t the optimal way to cook sweet potatoes. So what is? I did some quick internet research to try to figure it out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Late Spring chopped salad

March 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm (My brain, Salads, unrated)

I made a spur-of-the-moment chopped salad (i.e., no greens) yesterday for breakfast, and it turned out delicious, so I’m going to try to write down what was in it.

  • Two carrots, grated
  • Half of a kohlrabi, peeled and then julienned (actually I used a spiral slicer)
  • About half a jar of hearts of palm, sliced
  • A handful of florets of raw cauliflower, which had been marinated in a very ginger-y, vinegary dressing overnight
  • One stalk of celery, sliced
  • A couple handfuls of chopped parsley

We dressed the salad with my homemade Annie’s tahini dressing. The salad was very tasty, but what I liked most about it were all the different textures. Everything except the parsley was crunchy, but each ingredient offered a distinct type of crunch. Read the rest of this entry »

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Biggest mistakes recipe writers make

March 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm (Uncategorized)

The eatyourbooks blog recently had a post about the most aggravating mistakes in printed recipes. I agree with many of the items in their list, but not all of them. Below are my top complaints. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade lara bars

February 26, 2014 at 10:09 am (Dessert, Other, unrated, Website / blog)

So far I’ve been doing pretty well on my elimination diet, except for my one “cheat” with a bit of oatmeal. Also, I forgot that lemon is citrus and I ate it several times. It’s so hard to cut out lemon that I’ve decided to leave it in. Could anyone really be allergic to lemons? I haven’t actually noticed any improvements in my allergies yet, but it’s only been a week and a half, so maybe it just takes more time.

The hardest part for me so far has been the nightly desire for a sweet snack of some sort. I said I was going to try to cut out added sugars as much as possible, and instead I’ve been eating Lara-type dried fruit and nut bars as a post-dinner dessert. They’re very tasty but a little bit too big for a dessert before bed. Also, they’re quite expensive (about 2 euros each). So I decided to try making my own. There are a million recipes online and I picked two to try: gingerbread bars and coconut cranberry bars. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sauerkraut patties

February 24, 2014 at 11:23 am (Beans, Cruciferous rich, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek was very skeptical about my allergy-free diet. He can still eat wheat and dairy and soy, of course, but still—I’m the one doing the cooking. But he was surprised to find that he loved both dinners I’ve made since he got back from Berlin. On Friday I just made a simple stir-fry, but it came out way better than most stir-fries I throw together. Then last night I made these sauerkraut patties from the click clack gorilla blog, and he absolutely loved them.

For the stir-fry Derek chopped up a bunch of garlic for me and I got out some leftover minced ginger. I sautéed both in a bit of olive oil along with a big handful of cashews. Then I added two heads of broccoli, some sliced shiitakes, and some more olive oil and sautéed everything briefly. I covered the broccoli with a layer of frozen stir-fry veggies (including bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, leeks, etc.) and added a bit of water, salt, and pepper, then covered the pan and let everything steam until soft. When just about done I mixed a few teaspoons of Thai red curry paste with a tablespoon or so of coconut milk, just until dissolved, then threw that into the stir-fry along with some chopped scallions. Delicious. Both Derek and I really loved it.

The sauerkraut patty recipe looks pretty weird, but the title was quite persuasive (“sauerkraut patties will save your life”). I figured they were worth a try. The recipe is not really a recipe as much as an idea. (There are no measurements for anything.) I used:

  • one bag of sauerkraut from the farmer’s market
  • about 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats (okay, I cheated a bit on the no-grain front, but at least oats don’t have gluten)
  • some ground almonds for “flour”
  • one large carrot, grated
  • one large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, grated
  • a couple ladlefuls of pinto beans
  • salt and pepper and a bit of red thai curry paste

The batter still looked pretty wet but I didn’t want to add any flour so I figured I’d just try it as it was. I added some oil to my cast iron skillet and fried the patties up until brown on both sides. The patties didn’t hold together great, but they were certainly recognizable as individual units, which was better than I expected. I found them a little odd. They were very sour from the sauerkraut and the (inside) texture was soggy and a little stringy. They weren’t unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d rush to make them again. Derek, however, absolutely adored them. He spread them with more thai curry paste and really liked the combination of the spicy curry paste and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I think he likes sauerkraut more than me.

He ended our meal by saying, “I don’t know how this allergy-free diet has done it, but somehow your cooking has really improved lately!”

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Roasted sweet potato fries

February 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm (Fall recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.

Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Raw zucchini, carrot, kohlrabi, and arugula salad with a cashew, tomato, basil dressing

December 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Salads, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes) ()

Diana Dammann (the founder and organizer of our local Saarbruecken vegetarian society) brought this dish to a barbecue this summer, and I really liked it. It’s supposed to be a raw “spaghetti and tomato sauce”, but to me it just seemed like a very tasty salad. The zucchini, carrot, and kohlrabi all add a different type of crunch, and the dressing is creamy and satisfying without feeling too heavy. Diana came over yesterday and showed me how to make it. The recipe is originally from the book “Vegan lecker lecker!” by Marc Pierschel, and according to Diana, it was the first vegan cookbook published in Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mung and red lentil dal

December 29, 2013 at 11:30 am (B plus, Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Website / blog)

I wanted to make mung dal yesterday, but I didn’t have any toovar dal and didn’t feel like making 100% mung dal, and so I went looking for a recipe that uses mung and massoor dal (hulled and split red lentils). I found this recipe for red lentil and moong dal on the Lisa’s Kitchen blog, which is a blog mostly devoted to vegetarian Indian recipe. The recipe is pretty similar to my mung and toovar dal recipe, as you can see below. The main differences are that the mung & masoor recipe calls for more turmeric and mustard seeds, and instead of garlic, shallot, and curry leaves, the sauce is finished with tomatoes, amchoor powder, and garam masala. But actually I forgot to add the garam masala! Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I made 1.5x the recipe and kept the oil amount at 2 tablespoons. It was still plenty rich. I also used 5 canned whole tomatoes rather than 3 fresh. We ate the dal for dinner with yogurt. It was supposed to serve six people (since I made 1.5x the original recipe which served four), but the two of us finished off almost the entire pot.  We were hungry and it was very tasty. I’m definitely going to bookmark Lisa’s Kitchen blog to explore in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Miso harissa delicata squash with kale and pepitas

December 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm (101 cookbooks, B plus, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Root vegetables, Winter recipes)

Derek always loves what he calls “harissa pasta“, so I figured I should try out the one other harissa recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. This recipe was originally called roasted delicata squash salad, but that’s pretty boring so I re-dubbed it with a more descriptive name.  The recipe has some problems, primarily that the ratio of vegetables to sauce seems way off.  It calls for a pretty small (3/4 pound) delicata squash, 1/2 pound of potatoes, and just 1.5 ounces of kale.  We prepped all the veggies and then just stared at them, amazed at how little food it was. So we added another 1/2 pound of potatoes and some more squash, a total of about 1 pound 2.5 ounces before removing the seeds.  The only other change we made was steaming the kale briefly, because our German kale was extremely tough and very unpleasant to eat raw.  Also, my harissa isn’t the best so I added some cumin to it.  The final dish was very rich and very tasty, with strong salty, acidic, umami, and spicy notes, but  all in perfect balance.  The squash even contributed some sweetness, so it was really hitting all six tastes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daikon “Steaks”

November 9, 2013 at 12:39 am (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, unrated, Website / blog)

Kimdo, a local Japanese restaurant here in Saarbruecken, has a braised daikon steak dish that I really like. I thought I’d try to make something similar at home. I started out with this recipe from the Nobu Vegetarian cookbook. I didn’t make the salsa topping, but I did cook the tofu in kombu broth. I screwed up the second step, however. I was supposed to add mirin, salt, and pepper to the kombu broth, bring the liquid back to a simmer, and then let the daikon cool down in the broth. But I just added the mirin to the already cold broth, which was clearly a mistake. Also I don’t think that I cooked the daikon quite long enough. The final daikon ended up being a tad too raw tasting and underseasoned, but still pretty tasty. I definitely want to keep working on this recipe! Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade sunbutter

November 9, 2013 at 12:27 am (A minus, Derek's faves, Sauce/dressing, Website / blog)

I’ve already waxed euphoric about the wonders of sunflower seed butter, so you know how much I enjoy it. Sadly, however, it seems to be the one nut/seed butter I can’t find here in Germany. I’ve found peanut butter, hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter (roasted and raw), and even pumpkin seed butter. But no sun butter. I have no idea why. So I tried making my own sunbutter a few months ago. I just added the sunflower seeds to the food processor and tried grinding them up. They turned into a dry, sandy, powdery substance, but not into a nut butter. I thought maybe I needed to add a little oil but that didn’t work at all. It just turned into a sticky, pasty, oily kind of sand. I tried adding some water. Big mistake. I ended up with pale, pasty, white goop. Blech. I decided to try again, but this time to actually read some instructions online first. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whole wheat penne with masses of broccoli, green olives, and pine nuts

November 9, 2013 at 12:02 am (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, Italian, Vegetable dishes)

One of my students recently visited Russia and brought me back a beautiful box of pine nuts. We were trying to decide what to make with them when I found this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers. I was excited because it calls for either oregano or marjoram. I really like marjoram, but have almost no recipes that use it.

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Skillet-seared tofu with tomato and thai basil relish

November 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm (B plus, Deborah Madison, Summer recipes, Tofu)

Back in September I wanted to use up the last of the summer tomatoes and Derek picked this recipe to try out of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. It’s a pretty simple pan-fried tofu recipe topped with a fresh relish made from tomatoes, lime juice, ginger, mint, basil, shallot, garlic, and soy sauce. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chinese cabbage with black pepper and garlic

October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm (breakfast, B_, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe)

I occasionally buy napa cabbage to make this wonderful vietnamese slaw, but then I never know what to do with the leftovers.  I have very few recipes that actually call for napa cabbage.  This time I bought the napa to make kim chee, but the end result was the same—leftover napa cabbage languishing in the crisper drawer.  I searched in my cookbooks for a new recipe to try and found this one in Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott.  It’s a really simple recipe.  You just saute up the cabbage with a lot of garlic and a bit of a sweet/salty/soy sauce, and add lots of freshly ground pepper. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fermented ginger carrots

September 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm (Root vegetables, unrated, Website / blog)

Jessica and I had a “fermenting afternoon” last week in which we made sauerkraut, kim chee, and these lacto-fermented ginger carrots.  I was skeptical about the carrots for some reason, but ended up loving them.  The carrots are not particularly sweet nor are they particularly gingery, but they add a nice crunch, a bit of salt, and a hit of brightness (both colorwise and flavorwise) to whatever you eat them with.  They only ferment for three days, so they’re not particularly funky tasting, just very slightly acidic / vinegar-y / pickle-y.  And they are quite versatile.  They seem to go well with everything.  Okay, maybe not oatmeal.  But if it was a savory oatmeal made with miso and scallions and sesame seeds … Read the rest of this entry »

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Baked sweet potato falafel

September 29, 2013 at 10:47 am (101 cookbooks, Beans, C, Root vegetables)

I love falafel, but I’ve never made them successfully myself.  It doesn’t help that I detest deep frying.  So I was quite curious about this baked sweet potato falafel posted on 101 cookbooks, originally from the Leon cookbook.  Derek made these for dinner, and after “all that work” (okay, they weren’t really that much work) was quite disappointed with the final outcome.  They weren’t totally bland, but the flavor didn’t excite us too much, nor did it remind us of falafel.  And the soft, mushy texture was quite off-putting.  We wouldn’t make the recipe again, even with major changes.

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Autumn latkes with beets, carrot, and sweet potato

September 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm (breakfast, Fall recipes, Isa C. Moskowitz, Jewish, Root vegetables, unrated, Winter recipes)

I wanted to title this post “Oven-baked autumn latkes with beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fennel seeds,” but that seemed like a mouthful. In any case, these latkes are striking—they really show off the jewel tones of autumn.  Plus, they’re tasty and satisfying. The sweet potato adds lots of natural sweetness and the beets contribute their great earthy depth. And I’m always a sucker for fennel. The original recipe is from Veganomicon, and is, as you would expect, vegan, but I un-veganified it because I generally think of latkes as having eggs in them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saag Paneer or Saag Tofu

September 26, 2013 at 11:23 am (Cook's Illustrated, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek loves spinach, and he loves Indian food, and he loves rich, decadent food.  Hence, he is always excited about having saag paneer for dinner.  We had a version at a friend’s house last year that used tofu instead of paneer. I asked him for the recipe and he sent me this one from Atul Kochhar’s cookbook “Simple Indian: The Fresh Taste of India’s New Cuisine.”  We’ve made it several times now, sometimes with paneer, sometimes with tofu, and sometimes with a mix. I’ve modified the instructions below based on some of the changes we’ve made. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beet and purslane salad with raspberry vinegar

September 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I see purslane (Portulaca in German) in the Turkish Market here once a year, for about a week, then it’s gone.  So when I see it, I grab it up.   Today I enjoyed it for dinner two different ways.  First I made a salad of diced beets, fresh purslane, some grated parmesan, and raspberry vinegar.  Then as my second course, I sautéed the remaining leaves and smaller stems briefly, then added an egg to make a purslane scrambled egg, which was also very tasty.  I wish I had bought more!  Maybe they’ll still have it on Monday…

 

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Babbo chickpea bruschetta

July 25, 2013 at 11:45 am (Beans, Derek's faves, Italian, unrated)

We were trying to think of a quick appetizer that would work well with a summer squash, basil, tomato pasta salad.  I suggested a chickpea salad and Derek instead suggested making chickpea bruschetta.  He’s had the dish several times at Babbo in NYC and always liked it. He didn’t follow the recipe amounts too carefully and he used minced garlic instead of sliced and chopped kalamata olives instead of tapenade. Nonetheless, he said it tasted quite similar to the “real thing.”  The rosemary was essential, as without it the chickpeas seemed just a little one note.  I thought that a dash of cumin would be nice as well, but Derek didn’t want to risk messing up a perfectly nice recipe.  Next time!

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Smashed potato salad with escarole

July 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm (B plus, Dark leafy greens, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Website / blog)

I think of escarole as more of a wintery green, but they had fresh, local escarole this week at my local farmer’s market.  My favorite escarole recipe is escarole and white beans in tomato sauce, but that seemed a bit too heavy for my currently-85-degree apartment.  And none of my other escarole recipes were calling out to me, so I went looking online for something new.  It turns out that the world of escarole recipes is surprisngly circumscribed.  There are lots of escarole and beans recipes (many of them soups or pasta dishes), many simple braised escarole recipes with garlic or lemon or parmesan, a few raw escarole-based salads, and not much else.  After a lot of searching I finally found this Bittman recipe for mashed potatoes with bitter greens from The Food Matters Cookbook.  It sounded perhaps a little bit boring, but at least it was something different!  Since I actually had all the ingredients, I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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