Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Bulgur" doesn't sound delicious

But it can be! I have twice recently cooked with bulgur -- first to make these bulgur veggie burgers from Gourmet. Never having made veggie burgers before, I followed the recipe exactly. The mix, which is vegan and middle-eastern-y, was really delicious, but it didn't bind very easily into patties, so next time I'd either chill the "dough" for a while before forming burgers or add something like breadcrumbs (I did cover the outsides with panko so they wouldn't be so sticky/hard to handle). Quite tasty served open-faced on toast, or just by itself as I ate the leftovers. John suggested using them in wraps which I think would be a good solution to the crumbly-texture problem, and would be almost like falafel.

Since I have lots of bulgur now, I decided to make tabouli this weekend. I winged this one, soaking the bulgur in boiling water until tender and then mixing with garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, lots of fresh parsley and mint, and feta. Mmmmm! This was sooo much better than packaged tabouli (duh). And super refreshing and healthy-feeling on a hot day. Alas, tragically, after we'd eaten only a little, John dropped the container and spilled most of it all over the kitchen floor. I almost cried but managed to keep it together. It now lives only in my memory.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two restaurants for Boston vegetarians to daydream about

I know I'm supposed to be searching out good vegetarian eats here in Boston, but sometimes I have to take the show on the road. The show has been on the road a lot lately, and happily I had two transcendant veggie experiences out there. One was at Malabar in Santa Cruz, CA, and the other at Maoz in Philadelphia.

It's probably not really fair to wish Boston could have a Malabar, because Santa Cruz is such an absolute happy hippie land, but I can still dream. Malabar is completely vegetarian, with a really simple, nice Asian-ish interior. The menu is extensive, with a mix of Indian-type dishes as well as some Italian-style and American food. The Indian influence seemed strongest though: see, the five different kinds of kofta on the menu. We shared two appetizers, one a spring roll with watercress and crunchy spiced tempeh bits, and the other an avocado stuffed with a sort of pico de gallo. Both were incredible--the tempeh especially was unique, and memorable. I got garlic ravioli with fennel, spinach and walnuts. Everything was really fresh and the ravioli was definitely homemade. The entree that really blew me away, though, was Brian's pistachio kofta. The kofta nuggets were sort of barrel shaped, and really dense and chewy, covered with a thick nutty, creamy sauce. The taste was closest to Indian, but not exactly the usual malai kofta I've had. I was so, so full when we left this restaurant. Having more than one or two vegetarian options was actually pretty overwhelming--in a good way, of course.

Maoz, though, is a place that's totally easy to imagine in Boston--in Coolidge Corner, maybe, or JP, or even the Financial District. And, I just found out it's a chain. Franchise that, somebody, please! I was at the one on South Street in Philadelphia. It's a tiny falafel place that also serves Belgian french fries. The menu is really basic, with a few different sizes of falafel wraps and the fries. Then there's a counter area where you add your own toppings to the basic falafel, and with maybe five or six sauces to add. The pickles are wonderful, and there's a coleslaw-type salad, seasoned carrots, and some other yummy toppings I don't remember. Everything is cheap ($5 or $6 for a meal), fresh, hot and dee-licious. I've been there a few times, and this last visit I just got french fries and enjoyed every second of eating them. They come in a paper cone, like in actual Belgium, and Maoz has the mayonnaise-y Belgian sauce too, which I skipped in favor of extra salt. Such good stuff. Sigh. I wish it wasn't so far away. I'm thinking I could use maybe a twice-monthly dose of those fries.