One week in Vegetarian Madrid

January 31, 2010 at 11:20 pm (Restaurant review, Trip report)

I just got back from a week in Madrid.  I didn’t read anything about it before leaving (didn’t even buy a guidebook) and thus wasn’t sure what to expect.  I certainly didn’t expect the huge metropolis that I found.  Madrid reminded me a lot of New York City–tall buildings, lots of people and traffic, great metro system, millions of shops and restaurants….  The main differences seemed to be that Madrilenos eat dinner at 10:30 at night, and speak Spanish.  I think Madrid would be a fun city to live in, but it was a bit overwhelming as a tourist destination, at least for a tourist as unprepared as I was.

Before leaving for Spain, I had read a bit about the cuisine.  I mostly found webpages complaining about how veggie unfriendly the country is.  I even found one page that claimed that Spain was voted the second worst country for vegetarians to travel in, after Mexico.  Supposedly meat and/or fish are in everything.  I don’t know if Madrid is different than the rest of the country, but I found the veggie-options to be better than I expected.  I was lucky enough to travel mostly with Spanish speakers, which definitely helped.  I never ended up being served anything that had any meat or fish in it (at least to my knowledge). Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 6 Comments

Tri-color winter salad with kumquats

January 1, 2010 at 11:06 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Italian, Jack Bishop, Salads, Winter recipes)

Before I met Derek, he used to eat frequently at Cafe Sam, in Pittsburgh.  One of his favorite dishes was a radicchio, arugula, and endive salad served with feta cheese and hard boiled eggs.  I was planning to try to replicate this salad, and bought all the ingredients to do so, but as I was checking out at the Turkish grocery store near my house, one of the “seasonal fruits” on display at the checkout stand caught my eye.

A few years ago I went to the Vegetarian Summerfest with my friend Annette, and we had a blast. One of my most distinctive memories from the summerfest is of Dr. Michael Greger asking us “What’s by far the healthiest citrus fruit?”. But no one in a room full of nutrition buffs could answer the question.  His answer, it turns out, was the kumquat.  He argued that it’s the healthiest because you eat the whole thing, rather than discarding the pith and peel like with other citrus fruits.  According to Greger, the bitter flavors in the pith and peel come from a multitude of uber-healthy substances.  Greger exhorted us to never eat another lemon, lime, or orange without first zesting the fruit, and adding the zest to our food.  I can’t recall what he said to do with the zest, but I imagine it could be good in yogurt, smoothies, rice dishes, breakfast cereal–even in tea or ice water!  I was pretty good about zesting all my citrus for a while, but eventually I forgot all about his citrus chastisements.  Until, that is, this week, when I saw those kumquats at City Basaar.  I bought a handful to bring home, and decided to ditch the feta and egg in this salad in favor of thinly sliced kumquats.

Four years ago: the best lemon bars ever

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 5 Comments

Saffron Risotto

January 1, 2010 at 9:21 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Grains, Italian, Jack Bishop, Necessarily nonvegan, Spring recipes, unrated, Winter recipes)

My friend Alex and I took a walk along the river Saar this evening.  Despite the cold, the damp, the dark, and the mist, I had a lovely walk.  In the course of our conversation, we started talking about saffron, and I realized I’d never posted one of our favorite risotto’s to my blog:   saffron risotto.  This dish is plain, but very satisfying. The daisy-yellow color and creamy consistency make me feel like I’m eating macaroni and cheese. There’s just something about saffron that tastes like comfort food to me, even though I never had it growing up.  I can’t actually remember the first time I ever ate saffron, but it very well might have been the first time we made this saffron risotto!

The recipe we typically use is based on a recipe from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. The saffron flavor is maximized by dissolving it in a little hot stock then adding it to the rice toward the end of the cooking time.  Bishop’s recipe is good, but quite rich.  We usually cut down on the butter quite a bit.

Below I’ve compared Jack Bishop’s recipe to the saffron risotto recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Light Recipe.   I believe Jack Bishop works for Cook’s Illustrated, so it’s a bit odd that the recipe aren’t more similar. Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 3 Comments

Best ever tofu and spinach enchiladas

January 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm (A (4 stars, love), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Farm recipes, frozen tofu, Mexican & S. American, Mom’s recipes, Tofu, Vegetable dishes, Yearly menu plan)

Most tofu enchiladas are awful.  Normal tofu just doesn’t have the right texture for enchiladas.  My mom’s enchiladas are different, however.  They’re based on a recipe they used to make on the Farm, which uses frozen, marinated, and baked tofu that has a chewy texture and deep, umame flavor.  When I was a kid and my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, I invariably requested tofu enchiladas. The enchiladas were simple, American-style enchiladas, made from flour tortillas filled with savory tofu chunks and then covered in a tomato, chili gravy and baked in the oven.    They were simple, but amazingly delicious.  More recently my mom has started adding vegetables to her enchiladas, and I’ve followed suit.   I usually add some combination of spinach, corn,  peppers, and onions, but I’m sure other veggies would also be good. (Last updated Jan 1, 2014.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 7 Comments