Monday, December 27, 2004

A Well-Crafted Veggie Burger

There are many reasons why the veggie burger plate at the Miracle of Science Bar & Grill in Cambridge, MA is excellent.

To start, they use a hefty, crusty, but not too crusty, bakery style bun. The bun holds up to all of the goodies inside and keeps your fingers relatively clean. Then, they spread some kind of spicy Thousand Isle style sauce on the bottom of the bun, before placing a small pile of baby greens on top of that. Then, we have the crispy grilled, grainy style veggie burger. It's thin enough so that it remains crispy on the outside and soft (but not mushy) on the inside. On top of the burger, is a slice of melted pepper jack cheese. The burger is served with a large piece of green leaf lettuce (even though they put baby greens on the bun) and a couple of slices of plum tomato. I am impressed that they use plum tomatoes in December. Regular tomatoes are terrible this time of year but plum tomatoes aren't so bad and these were actually pretty good!

Instead of fries, the veggie burger comes with very yummy, slightly spicy, crispy home fries. I just love these potatoes. They are so much tastier than french fries -- and I do love a good fry. The potatoes come with some sort of home made ketchup sauce that is very flavorful. The usual condiments are on the table as well - Heinz ketcup, yellow mustard, and two kinds of tobasco sauce (red and green), but I don't need any of those. I think this veggie burger plate is just perfect as is and could not be better.

I've had this veggie burger plate a number of times and it is consistently good. It's just enough for lunch. It satisfies my hunger but doesn't leave me feeling too full to go back to work. I feel like there is a party in my mouth when I am eating it!

Monday, December 20, 2004

More cooking this weekend

Betty's Recipe deserved its own post, but I cooked plenty more than that this weekend.

Saturday night, I adapted a Cooking Light recipe for Carrot and Parsnip Soup. It was pretty good, but I probably won't make it again - at least not with my "little additions."

  • olive oil

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 3 cups chopped parsnip

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped carrot

  • 2 14oz cans chicken broth (I used organic free range chicken broth in a box, which was slightly more than 28oz)

  • 1 ripe anjou pear, chopped (this was my sneaky addition)

  • 3 cups water (adjusted to 2.5 cups since I used more chicken broth)

  • salt and pepper

  • dash of cayanne pepper (my addition to mask the pear's sweentess)

  • chopped green onion for garnish (also my addition to mask the pear's sweetness)

Saute onion in oil until soft. Add carrots, parsnips, (pear), chicken broth, and water. Bring to boil, then simmer for 50 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Puree mixture, then season with salt and pepper.

I tasted the soup at this point and it was too sweet. I should not have tried to get rid of that pear! This is when I decided to add cayenne pepper and green onion to mask the sweetness. It was pretty good, but not great. I served this with bread machine "French" bread. Even though I used bread flour, the bread came out very dense. I guess I should try adding wheat gluten next time, although it wasn't in the recipe.

Also made in my kitchen was a batch of really yummy tuna salad for lunch on Sunday. I don't eat nearly as much canned tuna as I used to due to all the negative talk about tuna for child-bearing-aged women, but I still eat it once in a while. Since it's not a regular thing now, I started buying the good, Italian canned tuna packed in olive oil instead of the usual Starkist. Wow, what a difference! It's so much tastier than white albacore packed in water.

  • one can of Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked (give can to cats)

  • one rib of celery, chopped

  • some chopped sweet onion

  • about a Tbsp sweet relish

  • couple of spoonfuls of Helmann's mayo (full fat, please)

  • salt and pepper

Serve on toasted multi-grain bread with a glass of cranberry juice.

Finally, we baked a lot of cookies yesterday. If you are fortuntate enough to work with me, you will have an opportunity to sample my Cranberry Walnut Noels or my Dark Chocolate, Sour Cherry, Chocolate Chip Cookies today! Recipies can be found in Martha Stewart's holiday baking magazine from 2003 (pre-incarceration).

Betty's Recipe

We had a neighbor named Betty who lived across the street from the first house I lived in on Darby Ct. in Ewing, NJ. We moved to a new neighborhood before I was 3 years old, but I still have memories of Betty and her house. I remember how she held a cigarette (between two fingers), I remember she had a husband named Al, a miniature schnauzer named Lance, and some kind of parakeet in a cage. I also remember photos on the wall of her college aged son who had long hair and a Fu Manchu mustache (it was the 70's!).

Betty who was middle aged when my young mother was trying to figure out what to feed her family, offered my mother this recipe, which has become my ultimate comfort food. I have always known this dish to be called Betty's Recipe.

  • 1 lb hamburg -- that's how Betty wrote it! (I used soy crumbles)

  • 2 cloves garlic minced

  • 3 slices of white bread torn up

  • 1/4 cup of catchup

  • 1/2 tsp salt (I left this out because the soy crumbles were salty already)

  • 2 cups uncooked macoroni elbows (I used whole wheat)

  • 3 Tbsp butter

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese

  • 1 small can of tomato sauce

  • 1 small can of tomato paste

Fry hamburg (or soy crumbles) with garlic, bread, and catchup. Set aside. Cook macaroni and drain. Mix butter and cheese into macaroni. Mix tomato sauce and tomato paste into meat mixture. Mix macaroni and meat toghether and put in a greased caserole. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Serve with salad and enjoy the burnt bits of macaroni on the top!

My mom always serves this when we go home for a visit, but she either uses ground beef or turkey. I never tried making this before, but it was great! You'd never know you were eating soy crumbles instead of meat! This is definitley going to be part of our rotation. Next time I may try lightening it up with olive oil instead of butter.