Easy Veggie Ramen

All I want, all winter long, is a big bowl of body-warming, soul-soothing soup. And usually I want it instantly, with next-to-zero work on my part. Ramen is the magical concoction that satisfies both of these desires.

I make it a little differently every time, depending on what veggies and toppings we have in the house. It is delicious in its simplest form – broth and noodles – but I love it even more when we have greens, mushrooms, sprouts, soft-boiled eggs and other fixins to add for flavor and texture.

Feeling a little chilly and also a little lazy? Go fix yourself a steaming bowl of broth, noodles and veggies. You deserve it.

Easy Veggie Ramen Recipe

Veggie Ramen

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

    Soup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 3 T. white miso paste
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
  • 1 T. mirin, white wine or vermouth (optional)
  • 1 tsp. 5-star spice (optional)
  • About 8 oz / 227 g dried ramen noodles
  • Veggies
  • Dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard or spinach
  • Toppings (optional)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Green onions, diced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • 4 soft-boiled eggs

Instructions

  1. Soak mushrooms in warm water until they soften (20-30 minutes); rinse and drain. Slice mushrooms.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and ginger for 2 minutes, then add miso and cook for another minute. Add broth, a splash of soy sauce and Sriracha, 5-star spice (optional) and mirin (optional).
  3. Stir in mushrooms. Bring the broth to a simmer and season to taste.
  4. While broth is heating, boil water in a separate pot and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with warm water; set aside.
  5. Add greens to the broth and cook for a few minutes until wilted.
  6. Put a serving of noodles in each bowl, ladle soup over the top, and garnish with toppings.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/02/01/easy-veggie-ramen/

Leftover Turkey Mini Pot Pies

It’s that time of year when I get a little more homesick than usual. We haven’t lived in the U.S. for six years, and it’s been even longer since we’ve spent Thanksgiving with family. I miss that a lot – but we are cultivating our own Friendsgiving tradition that I also love. We host and make the staples: turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce; our friends bring sides, desserts and many bottles of wine. This past Sunday, we celebrated our third Thanksgiving since moving to Barcelona (a little early because tomorrow is just another Thursday here).

Our first year, we prepared a 5 kg. (11 lb.) turkey for a large crowd; it was the biggest bird we could find, and I don’t think we could have fit anything else in our modest stove. Everyone had enough to eat, but we had no leftovers… which made me very, very sad.

So last year we made two turkeys. One in the oven and one on the barbecue. Problem solved! (Also, grilled turkey is amazing). We did the same this year, and now we have an abundance of leftover turkey.

Which brings me to these leftover turkey pot pies. Aren’t they adorable? turkey-pot-pies

You should make them with your leftover turkey this Thanksgiving. They are the definition of comfort food. They’re individually sized, so you don’t have to share. And the crust-to-filling ratio is so much better than a regular pot pie. Everyone wants more crust.

turkey-pot-pie-crust

For this recipe, I used four ceramic baking dishes that hold 8 oz./1 cup. You could use ramekins or any other small, ovenproof dishes.

turkey-pot-pie-filling

Pot pies with double crust always seem like a lot of work … until I take a bite and I remember that single-crust pot pies are not even worth your time. I use Joanne Chang’s easy and tasty pâte brisée recipe from her Flour, Too cookbook (do yourself a favor and buy it immediately); one batch is perfect for four mini pot pies. Or buy pre-made pie dough. Whatever it takes to get this deliciousness in your belly.

turkey-pot-pie-bite

Leftover Turkey Mini Pot Pies

Yield: 4 individual pot pies

Ingredients

  • Pie dough, enough for 2 regular pie crusts (store-bought or homemade)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups diced veggies (I used a mix of carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms and leeks)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped leftover turkey
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • A few splashes of whole milk or cream
  • Salt, pepper and herbs (poultry seasoning, thyme, oregano, etc.)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions

    Prepare the dough
  1. Roll out chilled pie dough and line each baking dish with a round of dough that extends about 1/4 inch beyond the rim. Press the dough gently onto the bottom and sides of the dish. Refrigerate the baking dishes for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line each of the pie shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool.
  3. Make the filling
  4. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add chopped veggies and cook until they start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add leftover turkey.
  5. Stir in flour until everything is evenly coated. Gradually add broth while stirring; cook for a few minutes until the filling has a thick, stew-like consistency. Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste, as well as a few splashes of milk or cream.
  6. Put it all together
  7. Divide the filling evenly among the baking dishes.
  8. Cover each dish with another round of pie dough, trimming any excess and crimping with your fingers around the rim to seal.
  9. Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg. Poke a few small holes in the center to let steam escape.
  10. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly, and enjoy.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2016/11/23/leftover-turkey-mini-pot-pies/

Pumpkin Crumble Tart

Unless I’m making chocolate-chip cookies or brownies, I find baking stressful. I like to experiment when I cook, even when I’m following a recipe. But apparently “winging it” and baking don’t mesh well.

Nevertheless, I want to bake around the holidays. You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without a homemade pie, right? My mom always made amazing pies for holidays, and she insists it’s not that tricky. I can totally make a pie! All of the pies!

pumpkin-pie

So my annual pattern is:

  1. Attempt a new and complicated recipe the day 15 people are coming over for dinner
  2. Fake confidence and refuse help
  3. Freak out when something goes wrong
  4. Swear profusely and insist the holiday/the dessert are ruined
  5. Halfheartedly eat the slightly mangled finished product anyway

It’s fun. For everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, we asked several other people to bring dessert so I could start step #1 without as much pressure. And with wonderful pep talks and troubleshooting advice from friends who are better bakers than I am, this pumpkin crumble tart experiment turned out surprisingly well. I wanted the creaminess of traditional pumpkin pie, along with the crunchy texture of a crumble, and this checked both boxes.

pumpkin-pie-crumble

Before I dig into the recipe, here are some caveats:

  • This is a quick and dirty recipe; I didn’t plan to write it up until I had made it a few times and had taken more photos. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this is top of mind. (Just like I always say, “Better done than perfect.” Hahahaha, just kidding, I would never say that.) The picture above Brian snapped with his phone, and I’ll update once we’ve polished the recipe and made it a second time.
  • I used David Leibovitz’s apricot crumble tart recipe (from My Paris Kitchen, which I love and highly recommend) and Sally’s Baking Addiction and The Kitchn‘s pumpkin pie recipes for inspiration.

 

  • Pumpkin Crumble Tart

    Ingredients

      Dough
    • 6 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter (85g)
    • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • Filling
    • 1 15 oz can (450g) pumpkin puree*
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed dark brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoon (30g) cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
    • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
    • Crumble
    • 1 cup (100g) pecans (or almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts)
    • 1/4 cup (50g) packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in rough chunks

    Instructions

      Make the dough
    1. Let butter soften out of the fridge for about 5 minutes before you use it. Add it to the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, then add the sugar. Mix until there are no large chunks of butter.
    2. Add the egg yolks, then flour and sugar. Pulse the mixer a few times until the dough is sticking together.
    3. Grease a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) nonstick springform pan, and place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan (cut to fit). Use your fingers and the heel of your hand to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, and about halfway up the sides.
    4. Put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
    5. Line the chilled crust with parchment paper and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove pie weights and set aside.
    6. Make the filling*
    7. Whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs and brown sugar. Add the cornstarch, salt, spices, cream and milk. Mix well until everything is combined.
    8. Pour filling into the crust; it will likely go past the edge of the crust.
    9. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes; it may jiggle slightly but appear mostly set.
    10. Make the crumble
    11. Pulse the ingredients in food processor (or chop the nuts and mix ingredients by hand)
    12. Place the crumble ingredients in a thin layer in a second pan. When the tart has been baking for about 20 minutes, put the crumble pan in the oven alongside the tart to start browning. Add the crumble topping to the top of the tart toward the end of the tart's baking time, when the filling is almost set (about 10 minutes before it's done).
    13. Take the tart out of the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan. Let it rest for 30 minutes before removing the springform pan.
    14. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

    Notes

    * I had a difficult time working with the Trader Joe's organic pumpkin puree. It seemed to have a more watery consistency than Libby's, making the filling super thin, and I ended up using two cans of the TJ's puree – but it did set correctly in the end. If your filling seems very watery, use 1 1/2 to 2 cans of filling.

    http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2016/11/23/pumpkin-crumble-tart/

Summery Peach Preserves

Meet my summer love: the paraguayo.

paraguayos

We met two years ago, and my love borders on the obsessive. It’s apparently called a “doughnut peach” or a “Saturn peach” in English (or a “squashed peach” as I affectionately called it until I learned its real name).

I feel compelled to buy a bag at least once a week during the summer because I know come fall, I will go through withdrawal when they disappear from the markets.

But this year I’m planning to enjoy a little bit of summer in the middle of December. I made a small batch of simple paraguayo preserves and canned them for a rainy day.

Recipes I used for inspiration:

chopped-peaches

A few notes:

  • I used paraguayos because they’re my current fave. But regular peaches would follow this same approach.
  • Brian and I have experimented with different kinds of homemade preserves over the last few years, including cherry and fig, but we usually add a lot less sugar than is called for in traditional jams. Sugar helps jams gel and act as a preservative, but the 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit is too sweet for my taste. We haven’t had any issues with our jams going bad before we open them (but we generally eat them within a few months anyway).
  • This summer we’ve been adding pectin to our jam to give it a bit more gel without adding a ton more sugar; it’s still on the softer, preserve-like side, but I like that consistency. We couldn’t find any packaged pectin at our neighborhood grocery store, so Brian made some with this recipe; basically by boiling down tart green apples, water and lemon juice, then straining out the solids. We canned a few jars of it and froze an ice cube tray of it as well to use later.

peach-jam-1

  • This is a loose recipe because our process is pretty low-key and unscientific; cook, taste, add a bit of pectin and sugar, see how it coats a spoon, adjust.
  • To can the preserves using heat-processing: Ladle preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space at the top. Poke a chopstick around between the food and the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Screw on a hot, sterilized lid until you get medium resistance. Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a pot full of hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar-lifting tongs and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. You’ll hear the jars pop as they seal; the next day, check the jars (a sealed lid will be concave and won’t move when you press down.)
  • If you don’t have canning equipment, you could make a smaller batch of this recipe and eat it within a few days (or freeze half).

Summery Peach Preserves

Yield: Makes about 2.5 to 3 cups of thick preserves

Summery Peach Preserves

Ingredients

  • 2 kg (about 4.5 lbs.) very ripe fruit (yields about 7 cups of chopped fruit)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup homemade liquid pectin or 1 package commercial pectin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Water (optional)

Instructions

  1. Use your fingers (and a sharp paring knife to help, if needed) to peel fruit.
  2. Remove cores and roughly chop, cutting off any bruised pieces. Set fruit aside, coating with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
  3. Put fruit, pectin and sugar in a large pot (adding a little water if the mixture looks too dry), breaking the pieces of fruit up with a potato masher.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  5. Cook down until it reaches the consistency you like (anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour – because I keep the heat on the conservative side and use very little sugar, I end up with a longer cook time, closer to 1.5 to 2 hours).
  6. Add more pectin and sugar if necessary.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2016/07/04/summery-peach-preserves/

Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

I’ve always been a fan of teriyaki chicken, that tasty staple of late-night delivery, but the sauce is usually way too sweet, leaving me feeling full of regret and MSG.

So I started making my own simple teriyaki chicken at home. It scratches the takeout itch and makes for awesome leftovers.

 

teriyaki-chicken3

 

I add veggies and serve it over brown rice, so I can feel morally superior as I’m slurping down my salt and sugar sauce (it’s homemade).

 

veggies2

 

Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4-6 servings

Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients

  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 T. wine, vermouth or mirin
  • 3 T. dark brown sugar
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Cornstarch

  • Stir-fry:
  • Vegetable or sesame oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or thigh meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 head chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups chopped snap peas
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • Steamed rice

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce first. Sauté garlic and ginger in oil for 2 minutes.
  2. Add all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook until the sauce has started to reduce and thicken.
  3. Adjust the flavor, adding a splash of sriracha if you're feeling sassy.
  4. Mix 2-4 T. cold water with an equal amount of cornstarch. Add to sauce and bring to a boil again. Let cook for a few minutes until it reaches the thickness you want. Turn heat off.
  5. Coat chicken in some of the sauce and marinate for 20 minutes.
  6. In a wok or large pan, heat a few T. of oil on medium-high heat.
  7. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry until browned on all sides and nearly cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside.
  8. Add veggies and stir-fry, adding a splash more oil. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water and steam (covered). Cook till tender, 15-20 minutes, adding more water if it starts to stick.
  9. When veggies are nearly done, add chicken back in. Mix in the sauce.
  10. Serve over steamed rice.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2016/06/07/teriyaki-chicken-veggies/

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (or Cavalandia, as we dubbed it on our last trip there) is a beautiful little town less than an hour by train from Barcelona. It’s full of wineries where they produce cava, the delicious Spanish sparkling wine made using the champagne method.

sant-sadurni-danoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is one of our favorite Barcelona day trips because:

  1. It’s so easy to get to (no DD’s necessary) and involves a day of walking from winery to winery to restaurant to winery
  2. It’s very affordable (full disclosure: my palate is not refined enough to appreciate expensive champagne, and I am very happy with a 5-euro bottle of cava brut nature)
  3. It’s a lot of fun with a group, especially folks visiting from out of town

I recommend calling or emailing wineries a few days in advance to reserve places if you want to take a tour. Or go for the DIY approach and take over a winery’s garden for a barbecue. More details on both methods below.

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia

How to Get to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia by Train

Take the RENFE suburban train (Rodalies) R4 toward Sant Vicenç de Calders. It stops in Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona La Sagrera-Meridiana and Barcelona Arc de Triomf, and you can buy tickets from the machines in the station (less than 9 euros round trip). The train goes directly to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, no transfers, and the journey is about 45 minutes.

There are two trains an hour – but the times listed on the website and the real times trains actually arrive are often a few minutes off in either direction. Just to keep you on your toes. So arrive early to be safe.

You can also buy the Freixetren ticket from the machines at the station, which includes a round-trip train ticket and a tour of the Freixenet winery for 11 euros. If you’re interested in doing this, you still have to reserve a time for the tour on the Freixenet website.

Wineries to Visit in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Freixenet and Codorníu are the biggest wineries in the area, and they have a larger international footprint than some of the smaller cellars. Both have good English tours, though you don’t get the personalized experience you have at a smaller producer. Freixenet is definitely the easiest to reach; it’s right next to the train station. Codorníu is a gorgeous property with cool modernist architecture – but it’s not within walking distance, so you’ll have to spring for a cab ride (there are usually taxis in front of the station).

 

First #grapes of the #harvest

A photo posted by travelingtotaste (@travelingtotaste) on

The other wineries that we’ve visited have all been stellar and within a 15-minute walk of the train station:

Gramona: Make a reservation for the historic cellar (they also have a newer facility in a different location).  The staff is very nice and the tastings are excellent. (We’ve only done this tour in Spanish, and I’m not sure if they offer other languages.)

Solà Raventós: I love, love, love this place. It’s a one-man operation, and the proprietor is so nice and generous with his time (and cava) – showing you the caves, explaining each step of the process and letting you taste a wide selection of cava. We’ve visited twice and will go back again. (Tours in Spanish and Catalan.)

 

This weekend in the land of cava. More specifically, Solà Raventós.

A photo posted by bbbliteration (@bbbliteration) on

 

Recaredo: We had such a good experience here. We took Brian’s parents when they came to visit, and our guide took tons of time to show us around and let us enjoy a few glasses. (We did this tour in English.)

Where to Eat

Ticus is in the town center, and it has a great menu del día that never disappoints (plus lots of local cavas and wines to try).

DIY BBQ at Cava Jaume Giró i Giró

Cava Giró i Giró is a 12-minute walk from the train station, and it has a big shaded garden surrounded by long wooden tables and barbecues.

 

Beautiful Sunday for drinking cava and BBQing

A photo posted by travelingtotaste (@travelingtotaste) on


If you call a few days in advance (or perhaps even the day before; they were very patient with the million changes we made to our reservation – and we came with a group of nearly 20), you can reserve space to relax and grill for the day… all while drinking the winery’s chilled cava on demand. The winery provides glasses and wood for the barbecues, but you have to bring everything else you need to cook and eat.

 

Cava BBQ in the cava region ??????

A photo posted by bbbliteration (@bbbliteration) on

It’s one of the best ways to spend a sunny day – and you’ll leave with bellies full of cava and food for around 10 euros a person.

Open every day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
2.50 euros per person for the space
6.40 euros per bottle of brut nature reserva cava (and a glass each to use)

 

We are goal-oriented.

A photo posted by travelingtotaste (@travelingtotaste) on

We also saw that the winery across from Cava Giró i Giró – Cava Blancher – has a similar barbecue setup, with interior and exterior tables available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Guess it’s almost time for another trip out to Cavalandia…

 

Photo credit

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies

People have lots of opinions when it comes to chili. Texas style. New Mexico style. Cincinnati style. Kansas City style. (I’m from California, so I have no real loyalty to any one doctrine.) I love a big hearty bowl of chili when the weather cools down, but until recently, I was convinced that I didn’t much care for vegetarian chili. It seemed like most I tried were just poor imitations of the real deal – more like watery bean soup than something you’d have a cook-off over. But I’ve been trying to make more veggie-rich meals lately, and I’ve made it my mission to put together a vegetarian chili recipe that can stand up to the meat version. vegetarian-chili This is it. It has a good balance of earthy beans and sweet winter veggies, but for me, the success is in its satisfying spice and thickness. A few notes on this, in case the recipe looks annoyingly complicated:

  • I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt, and I based my blend of dried chiles (and some other ingredients) on his Serious Eats recipe. This approach takes a little more planning and cook time than just throwing in some chili powder, but it makes for a really nice, complex flavor. If you don’t feel like doing this, you can obviously ignore me and use cayenne, chili powder and a couple chipotles in adobo sauce, and it’ll still be pretty darn good.
  • The rest of the ingredients are also flexible and forgiving. Use fewer vegetables or different kinds of beans if you like. Leave out the bourbon or masa harina or whatever you don’t have on hand; as long as you have some beans, veggies, spices, tomato and enough liquid to tie it all together, you win.

Make this for a crowd, and no one will miss the meat.

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies

Cook Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: 8-10

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies

Ingredients

  • Chile puree:
  • 2 dried mild to medium chiles (ancho, pasillo, Anaheim or mulato)
  • 2 dried sweet chiles (New Mexico, ñora, choricera or costeño)
  • 2 dried spicy chiles (chipotle or arbol)
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo (seeds removed)
  • 2 cups water

  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. + 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cans black beans (liquid reserved)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans (liquid reserved)
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. unsweetened cocoa
  • 2-3 T. bourbon
  • 2 T. masa harina or cornmeal
  • Fixins: sour cream, cilantro, cheese, lime, hot sauce, tortilla chips, etc.

Instructions

  1. Remove seeds from dried chiles. Saute them without oil in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Place them in a glass liquid measuring cup; add canned chipotles and 2 cups of water. Microwave for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or carefully pulse with an immersion blender.
  2. In the Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and bell peppers until they start to get tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in sweet potatoes, squash, beans and tomatoes. Add tomato paste and 1 cup reserved bean liquid. Gradually add chile puree, stirring and tasting for spice. Add soy sauce and cocoa powder, plus more water or bean liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Bring to a light boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water or bean liquid during cooking if needed. Stir in the bourbon and the masa or cornmeal. Garnish with your favorite fixins.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2016/03/12/vegetarian-chili-with-beans-winter-veggies/

10 Barcelona Craft Beer Bars & Breweries

One of the many things I love about Barcelona is how vibrant its craft beer scene is. We have made it our mission to visit all the craft beer bars and breweries in the city (and eventually in Catalunya), but it’s tough when there are new spots opening all the time. No one said it was gonna be easy.

So consider this a first installment in an ongoing series on craft beer in Barcelona. Here are some of the fantastic places we’ve fallen in love with so far.

Barcelona-beer-bars

Craft Beer in Barcelona

1. Edge Brewing

Edge Brewing is an American craft brewery located in Poblenou – a cool warehouse district near the water that isn’t yet teeming with people. Two Americans, Alan and Scott, started the brewery in 2013, and I love everything about it. The beers are excellent and diverse (I’m partial to the Hoptimista IPA and the Padrino porter), the people are super friendly and knowledgeable, the space is open and welcoming.

For the last year, we’ve been going frequently to their “open doors” events on Friday nights – where you can buy a pint or two and eat food provided by local vendors. Sadly, they recently stopped doing these events, but they are now offering Saturday tours and tastings and private tours by reservation.

Edge Brewing
Carrer de Llull 62
08005 Barcelona
Metro : Bogatell (L4/yellow line)

Tour & Tasting
Saturdays
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
€15 (cash)
Reserve in advance

Edge Brewing
Edge Brewing

2. Chivuo’s

Chivuo’s is an awesome street food and craft beer bar close to our apartment in Gràcia, and it takes all of my willpower not to stop in every time I walk by. Juan and Ale, the Venezuelan proprietors, are wonderful and take great care to offer a well-curated list of craft beers (10 rotating selections on tap) and excellent food.

There are only a few items on the food menu – hamburger, pulled pork sandwich, tuna melt, chicken sandwich, Philly cheesesteak, a few varieties of fries and patatas bravas – but everything from the buns to the BBQ sauce is homemade and delicious. The pulled pork and hamburger in particular are to die for. It’s a small place with a few tables and seating at the bar, so I like to go in the afternoon or early evening before it gets too busy. (They also have free Wi-Fi, but your productivity will probably plummet after a couple pints…)

Chivuo’s
Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla 175
08012 Barcelona
+34 932 185 134
Metro: Fontana (L3/green line)

Monday – Friday: 1:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday: 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sunday: Closed

Chivuo's
Chivuo’s

3. BlackLab Brewhouse

BlackLab just opened its doors in a beautiful space in Barceloneta, after several months of hosting smaller beer events around the city. I’m already looking forward to the summer when we can take advantage of its big outdoor tables. BlackLab is pretty much the brewpub I wish I had started. It was founded by Jing and Yuan, Galicians of Chinese origin, and Matt, an American, and it has a solid beer list (from BlackLab and other breweries) and excellent Asian-American food. The pork belly buns are insane. As is everything else we’ve tried.

BlackLab Brewhouse
Plaça Pau Vila 1-5
08039 Barcelona
+34 93 22 18 360
Metro: Barceloneta (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Thursday: 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

4. Garage Beer

Garage is brand new, and we had the good fortune to check it out the day after it opened a few months ago. Since then, it’s been blowing up – hosting cool food and design events, experimenting with tasty new beers and being a generally cool spot to hang out.

Garage Beer Co.
Carrer Consell de Cent 261
08011 Barcelona
+34 93 52 85 989
Metro: Universitat (L1/red line)

Monday – Thursday: 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 pm – 2:30 am
Sunday: 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Garage Beer
Garage Beer

5. Ale&Hop

Ale&Hop is a small bar in El Born with an impressive selection of beers from all over the world – on tap and bottled. As one of Barcelona’s well-known craft beer bars, it gets crowded, especially late and on weekends, but it’s worth checking out. We haven’t tried their food yet, but they serve pintxos on Thursday nights and brunch on the weekends.

Ale&Hop
Basses de Sant Pere 10 bis
08003 Barcelona
+ 34 93 12 69 094
Metro: Arc de Triomf (L1/red line), Jaume I (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Wednesday: 5:00 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Thursday: 5:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Friday: 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

6. Cerveseria La Més Petita

As the name implies, La Més Petita is teeny tiny, but it boasts a massive chalkboard of beers on tap. Throw some ‘bows, find a spot and make some new friends while you drink.

Cerveseria la Més Petita
Carrer de la Diputació, 30
08015 Barcelona
+34 628 11 67 84
Metro: Rocafort (L1/red line)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Friday: 6:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Sunday: 12:00 – 2:30 p.m.

7. HomoSibaris

Alan and some of the other good people from Edge Brewing were kind enough to let us tag along to HomoSibaris one night after a BlackLab event at La Més Petita (if that gives you an idea of the fun craft beer scene here). It’s tucked away in a cute little plaza in Sants with eight beers on tap, specializing in those that are unfiltered and unpasteurized, and a small tapas menu.

HomoSibaris
Plaça Osca 4
08014 Barcelona
+ 34 93 18 56 693
Metro: Plaça de Sants (L1/red line, L5/blue line)

Monday – Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

HomoSibaris
HomoSibaris

8. La Cerveteca

La Cerveteca, a cozy little bar in El Barri Gòtic, offers a diverse list of craft beers – many of which I hadn’t tried before.

La Cerveteca
Carrer Gignas 25
08002 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 31 50 407
Metro: Jaume I or Barceloneta (L4/yellow line), Drassanes (L3/green line)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m./ 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

9. Bar Mingus

I’m not sure if we ever would have found this place if it hadn’t been for our friend Matthias, a German beer fanatic. It’s a funky little gem in the Gòtic decorated more like a California surf bar than a craft beer bar. It’s open late and a welcome relief from some of the tourist traps in the neighborhood; but most importantly, it has an excellent selection of international craft beers.

Bar Mingus
Carrer Ataulf 6
08002 Barcelona

+ 34 63 09 01 690
Metro: Jaume I (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Wednesday: 7:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. 
Thursday: 7:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. 
Friday & Saturday: 7:30 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sunday: Closed

Bar Mingus
Bar Mingus

10. BrewDog Bar Barcelona

The cool kids from Scotland’s BrewDog just opened their newest bar here in Barcelona, and it just happens to be a block away from Garage. Grab a seat at the bar for a pint and tapas, or reserve one of the bigger tables to have dinner and beers with friends.

BrewDog Bar Barcelona
Carrer Casanova 69
08011 Barcelona
+34 93 48 85 979
Metro: Universitat (L1/red line)

Every day: 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Spiced Couscous Salad Recipe

We’ve been on a grain-based salad kick for a while, combining couscous, bulgar, farro or whatever we have in the cupboard with vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices for new combos. I think this started because:

  1. Green salads can get pretty grim during the winter months.
  2. Whenever we serve simple salads to guests, no one eats it and we end up with a neverending bowl of wilting lettuce in our fridge.

I like these heartier salads because they have endless variations, and they are a blank canvas for all the spices we have been collecting. I made this one for our last EatWith event and loved the contrast of the different textures and flavors (I think the cinnamon is a must).

spices

Spiced Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Cashews & Veggies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Large bowl to feed a crowd

Spiced Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Cashews & Veggies

Ingredients

  • 1 large box couscous (about 500 g or 17 oz.)
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 2 cucumbers, roughly chopped
  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 cups raisins
  • Spices (for example: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper)
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook couscous according to package directions in a large pot (a 2:1 water-to-couscous ratio is a good rule of thumb). Let cool.
  2. Mix in chickpeas, cucumbers, peppers, cashews, lemon juice and a healthy glug of olive oil.
  3. Add spices, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the flavor you desire. Mix in fresh cilantro.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2015/02/24/spiced-couscous-salad-recipe/

Photo credit 

Fancy Mac & Cheese Recipe

We hosted our first big EatWith event last night and had an absolute blast. We had more than 20 guests, and it was such a great mix of interesting, cool people from all over.

Brian made his amazing slow-cooked BBQ pork, setting up the grill on our wee balcony and tending to it lovingly all day. We also made crudité, tzatziki, bulgar salad, coleslaw, bourbon-chipotle BBQ sauce and a new version of mac and cheese we’re experimenting with.

fancy-mac-cheese-sign

True to my American roots, I love mac and cheese in all its forms, and I’m always looking for my new favorite recipe. This one turned out really well. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is! You can be flexible with the kinds of cheese you use – feel free to play around with combinations and see what you like. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to make delicious cheese sauce.

IMG_5199

Fancy Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8

Fancy Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 cups dried macaroni (about 400 g)
  • 5 tablespoons butter (about 70 g)
  • 5-8 tablespoons flour
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups whole milk (500-750 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons dry ground mustard
  • 1 1/3 lb. cheese, grated (about 600 g) - I used aged white cheddar, Grana and a semi-curado Spanish cheese that reminded me of Monterey Jack
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Grated black truffle (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, other spices/herbs to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Extra butter

Instructions

  1. Heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan on medium-low.
  2. Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous handful of sea salt.
  4. Cook macaroni for a few minutes less than the cook time on the package (it should be too firm to eat, not yet al dente). Drain and set aside.
  5. While the pasta water is boiling, melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.
  6. Add 5 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly to remove lumps and to keep from burning. The consistency should be a slightly thickened liquid (I added a few more tablespoons of flour here to make a bit more dense). Cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
  7. Stir in milk and dry mustard slowly. Cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring often.
  8. Add a small cup of the sauce to the bowl holding the beaten egg, whisking constantly.(This is called tempering and gradually raises the temperature of the egg without scrambling it.)
  9. Mix in cheese, reserving a small amount of Grana for the topping. The consistency should be thick and creamy.
  10. Taste sauce and add salt, pepper and other spices or herbs to taste.
  11. In a small pan, toast a few generous handfuls of panko breadcrumbs in a little butter for a few minutes.
  12. Add macaroni and caramelized onions to cheese sauce and mix well.
  13. Transfer mac and cheese to a casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and leftover Grana on top.
  14. Bake at 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
  15. Sprinkle a little grated black truffle on top if you're feeling extra fancy.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2015/02/01/fancy-mac-cheese-recipe/