Monday, January 12, 2009

The Vegetarian Hundred

I've spent the past few days restoring the photos I deleted from my previous posts so I didn't have time to write anything new for Thursday. That's the first post I've missed for a while, but I didn't have anything pre-written and I just didn't have it in me to put one together. I had a lot of catching up to do at work and I was pretty much done by the time I got home.

I have managed to take a few walks, though, even in this cold weather. And I've been busy in the kitchen as well, preparing more fodder for future posts.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to balance the Omnivore's Hundred list I posted last month. Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries has come up with a Vegetarian Hundred to complement Andrew's list at Very Good Taste. He's done a Christmas version as well, but I think that's a little overkill. Besides, I am not familiar with most of the items on that list - must be a British thing.

I did better on this list than I did on the Omnivore's Hundred. There are about five or so items I can't say for sure whether or not I have had so I left them unbolded.
The Vegetarian Hundred

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked - got the recipe from my go-to Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook and it was very good.

2. Tabouleh - the first time I had it was at a party in Austin sometime in the '70s (think hippy/crunchy). Basically, a bowl full of bulgur with a little bit of cucumber, tomato and parsley for garnish. Put me off it for a long time, and then I had some at a Middle Eastern Restaurant and loved loved loved it.

3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam) - Just about the best thing in the world. I've made strawberry jam, but did not have it around when I made the bread. It was pretty darned good on my home-made biscuits though.

4. Fresh figs -

5. Fresh pomegranate - healthy, tart and fresh. Many people seem to have found my quick trick for getting the seeds out to be helpful.

6. Indian dal of any sort - I love me some dal. I've made masala dal, with great success.

7. Imam bayildi - I love the story behind this name and have been wanting to make it for a while. Maybe now I will remember.

8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu - I have had pressed tofu, spiced tofu, and Chinese tofu. I just don't know if I have had them all together.

9. Freshly made hummus - I have broken a couple of blenders trying to make creamy hummus. I finally mastered the art here.

10. Tahini - Well, if you have had freshly made humus, you have had tahini. Add yogurt and lemon and you have had tahini sauce. It's not something I would think of having by itself, but I have tasted it.

11. Kimchi - I've only had it once and I don't know how authentic it was. It was ok.

12. Miso - The first time I had miso soup was when my Japanese neighbor made it. It was delicious, and the first time I realized that I liked tofu, when it wasn't trying to be something else.

13. Falafel - There was a cart off the drag at UT in the mid-seventies where I had my first falafel sandwich. It was unlike anything I had ever had and I loved it.

14. Potato and pea filled samosas - Many times. It's especially good with tamarind sauce.

15. Homemade yogurt - my sister made this. It was ok, but didn't seem any better than the organic brand I usually buy.

16. Muhammara - I wrote about it here.

17. Brie en croute - One word: Yum!

18. Spanikopita - Not the first Greek dish I would put on a list like this.

19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes

20. Insalata caprese - One of my favorite salads. The best I ever had was at Topo Gigio's in Chicago, mostly because of the black pepper they used. It was fresh and sharp and had the most amazing bite - I've been looking for that pepper ever since.

21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards) - Not all of these, but the ones I have eaten I have eaten often. I love me some stir-fry.

22. Freshly made salsa - I think I have the best recipe. (Who doesn't?)

23. Freshly made guacamole - People tend to overcomplicate this. Avodaco, salt, pepper, a little garlic and onion, maybe some tomato and cilantro and that is it. And no chilies, please. I'll add those when I eat it if I want them.

24. Creme brulee - for the longest time creme brulee was the basis on which I judged a restaurant.

25. Fava beans - I've never had the opportunity, nor have I made the opportunity. I actually think I might have had them once but I can't remember.

26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles - Yum!

27. Fattoush - There was a restaurant down the street from the knit shop that made a kick-ass fattoush salad that they would add grilled chicken to on request. They are gone now and I haven't found a restaurant in my neighborhood that comes close.

28. New potatoes - All the time. Baked, boiled, broiled, fried, mashed - you name it.

29. Coleslaw - I'm very picky about my coleslaw and don't care for most restaurant versions. I haven't made it in years, though.

30. Ratatouille - My mother actually made a pretty good ratatouille. I can't get all of the vegetables to be done at the same time. The eggplant is undercooked and the zucchini is mush.

31. Baba ganoush - I make this fairly regularly.

32. Winter squash - I went really wild with the winter squash this year. There are so many delicious varieties out there these days.

33. Roasted beets - I usually boil them but they are really good roasted.

34. Baked sweet potatoes - I think I actually prefer them to white.

35. Plantains - Never met one I didn't like. I went nuts over Chifles' plantain chips when I first discovered them.

36. Chocolate truffles - much better than actual truffles in my book.

37. Garlic mashed potatoes - oh yes.

38. Fresh water chestnuts - I don't know if I've had fresh, but they are one of my favorite ingredients in Chinese cooking.

39. Steel cut oats - best oatmeal ever.

40. Quinoa - it may have been the recipe, but I did not like this when I tried it.

41. Grilled portabello mushrooms - I am not particularly a fan.

42. Chipotle en adobo - these have become ubiquitous, but they definitely have their uses.

43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal - I have some in my freezer at this moment.

44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas - both and I love them. Corn tortillas made in a taco restaurant in Mexico City where ladies sat in a corner making them - best tacos I have ever had hands down. An old housemate used to make whole wheat flour tortillas and we couldn't keep our hands off of them, even though it made him really mad. We were shameless.

45. Frittata - I've had many egg plates resembling frittatas, but I don't know if I can say I've ever actually had one.

46. Basil pesto - Several years ago my sister started making basil pesto. She has since branched out and makes all kinds of interesting varieties. All of the ones I have had are delicious.

47. Roasted garlic - I have some in the oven right now. It makes my knees melt.

48. Raita of any type - Only in Indian restaurants.

49. Mango lassi - I'm more interested in this than in salted lassi, although I have been told I would like that more than I thought I would.

50. Jasmine rice (white or brown) - many times with Thai food.

51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry - Tofu. Yum!

52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie - soup (delicious) and in this amazing stew.

53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette - I would have some if it were offered, but it's never my first choice.

54. Quince in any form - I'm curious about this.

55. Escarole, endive or arugula - All three (even together).

56. Sprouts other than mung bean - alfalfa, radish, sunflower - and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

57. Naturally brewed soy sauce - I wouldn't seek it out.

58. Dried shiitake mushrooms - I'm sure I've had these but not sure enough to say.

59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…) - blue potatoes are smooth and creamy.

60. Fresh peach ice cream - years ago when I didn't like peaches, and it was awesome.

61. Chevre - Goat cheese - many times in many ways, all delicious.

62. Medjool dates - another thing I used to hate and now love. These were especially delicious.

63. Kheer - Well, I've had rice pudding at an Indian restaurant so I'm going to say I've had this.

64. Flourless chocolate cake - Wasted on me.

65. Grilled corn on the cob - Um, yeah.

66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili - And I haven't cared for most of the ones I've had.

67. Tempeh - Chicago Diner does wonderful things with tempeh. I've never cooked with it.

68. Seitan or wheat gluten - I don't think I've had either of these.

69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese - Oh yeah, baby.

70. Sweet potato fries - I prefer my sweet potatoes mashed or roasted, but fries have their uses.

71. Homemade au gratin potatoes - Never made it or had it made for me.

72. Cream of asparagus soup - It's ok, but I'd rather just eat asparagus.

73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip - ditto. I'd rather just eat an artichoke.

74. Mushroom risotto - I've never actually had mushroom risotto. I've had plenty of other kinds.

75. Fermented black beans - Never by themselves, but in Chinese dishes.

76. Garlic scapes - Here.

77. Fresh new baby peas - Do sugar snaps count?

78. Kalamata olives - So much better than the black olives that come out of the can.

79. Preserved lemons - I am very curious about these, but I have never tried them.

80. Fried green tomatoes - Once. Wasted on me.

81. Chinese scallion pancakes - Fabulous. I could make a meal out of them.

82. Cheese souffle - Can't believe it, but I've never had it.

83. Fried apples - What?

84. Homemade frijoles refritos - Por seguro!

85. Pasta fagiole - Nope. Hmmmmm.

86. Macadamia nuts in any form - Might just be my least favorite nut.

87. Paw paw in any form - No, but I remember some kind of song about someone doing something in the paw paw patch.

88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind - Of many kinds.

89. Paneer cheese - Saag Paneer, anyone?

90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!) - I'd like to try this.

91. Fresh pasta in any form - Completely different taste and texture than dried.

92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps - Tasty.

93. Green papaya salad - Don't think I'd like this.

94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes - I don't think I've had this without meat.

95. Pickled ginger - Love this stuff.

96. Methi greens - This is fenugreek, which I also haven't tasted.

97. Aloo paratha - Something new to try. I think I would like this.

98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish) - Nope.

99. Okra - I like okra once or twice a year, but the slime gets to me pretty quickly.

100. Roasted brussels sprouts - I actually like brussels sprouts, when they're cooked properly.

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