Vuelta a España: Herb and Garlic Broth

August 26, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Other, Recipe, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

This post is sort of a conglomeration of various cycling things, recipes, and stories. You see, at the same time as the running of the Vuelta a España is the first running of the US Pro Cycling Challenge over in Colorado.

Tommy Danielson is a US Pro Cycling Challenge race favorite (no, really this time!), but he was quite under the weather due to some food poisoning the night before the individual time trial. During the coverage on Versus today, Tommy D described how he threw up all night long and had to crawl down the hallway in his underwear to the team doctor around 3 a.m.. He did not feel better until 5 a.m., but still managed to make it on the bike and only lost a few seconds to the leaders. Not a bad performance.

Tom Danielson feeling a lot better at the 2009 Tour of California.

I feel Tommy D’s pain, as I’ve struggled with food poisoning before. You see, we spent a beautiful few days in Seville, Spain, rented a car, and drove down to Gibraltar. About 10 miles into the journey, I started feeling queasy. A few miles later I knew I was sick. Then, after a few bouts of having to stop by the side of the road, I realized it was more than sick – I had some sort of food poisoning. We would go down the highway for a little bit, then have to stop, then go for a little bit, then have to stop.

Scenery along the way to Gibraltar…

Sadly, I lost an entire day of eating fine Spanish cuisine and could only choke down a can of Coke and a couple digestive biscuits.

In-House Taste tester had the presence of mind to capture my food poisoning moments on film… 

Fear not, by the time I made it to Gibraltar, I was feeling much better and managed to have a beer or two. (I opted for the beer rather than attempting to do an individual time trial like Tommy D. Better to leave that to the pros…)

When one is sick, you’re told to make sure you get plenty of fluids so here we go with another soup. This recipe for garlic soup is from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Our buddy Deborah cites this recipe as “good for colds and hangovers”. Excellent. Not sure about soothing the aftermath of food poisoning, but it does make a flavorful broth that enhances any recipe including the Spanish Potatoes with Saffron, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs featured previously on the Vegetarian Vuelta a Espana.

Herb and Garlic Soup
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison (See my review of this cookbook.)

Featured Recipes

  • 2 heads garlic, as fresh and firm as possible
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 large sage leaves or 2 teaspoons died
  • 6 thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 10 parsley branches
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Separate the garlic cloves by pressing down on the heads. Remove most of the papery skins, then smash the cloves with the flat side of the knife to open them up.
Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the tomato paste, and fry over medium heat for about a minute. Add the garlic, remaining ingredients, and 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the garlic cloves are soft, about 45 minutes.

Strain. Press the garlic through the strainer with the back of a spoon into the broth or press it into a dish and use for another purpose.

I only took one picture of the final broth. To make it up to my Veggin’ fans, here’s a picture of two Gibraltar monkeys.

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Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with Herb Crumb Topping

January 26, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes

The original version of this impressive dish was created in honour of Count Stroganoff by a Czarist chef for a cookery competition in the 1890s. Since then Stroganoff has been served at celebratory banquets the world over, and this stunning gourmet vegetarian version will give any occasion a little Imperial magic

I decided to take the original recipe for Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with Herb Crumb Topping, as described above by the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, and add a little bit of the Megabeth flair. (For example, I don’t think the Czarist chef used panko on his version…)

This hearty and earthy side dish was the perfect accompaniment to the cabbage rolls served during our monthly vegetarian club dinner featuring Eastern European recipes. The original recipe also included the final step of dishing out the potatoes on the plate, adding the mushrooms and breadcrumbs then sticking it under a hot grill to brown the top. I did not have the luxury of being able to perform this final step as I needed to be able to carry my dish on the Metro. Instead, I layered it in a casserole dish and let it sit in the oven until browned. Then I wrapped the dish up for its journey across town.  It transported very well and, the teeny tiny bit that was leftover, reheated nicely. It’s certainly a different riff on the same old mashed potatoes.

Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with Herb Crumb Topping
adapted by Megabeth from The Vegetarian Society

1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup milk or soya milk
1 tbsp mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used fresh oregano, thyme and basil)
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 8 oz package, baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 8 oz package, white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup double cream
1 cup panko
2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Drain and add back into pot.

Pour milk over potatoes. Mash well. Stir in chopped herbs, add butter/margarine, salt and pepper to taste.

Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in saute pan. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until heated through and soft – about 5-8 minutes.

Stir in cream. Cover and reduce heat to low to keep warm.

Melt the last Tablespoon of butter in a pan, stir in panko and herbs. Let panko toast and warm a bit. Remove from heat.

Lightly cover the inside of a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Put potatoes in as thick bottom layer leaving enough room for the mushrooms to sit on top of them.

Put mushrooms and sauce on top of potatoes.

Sprinkle top with panko. Place in oven preheated to 400 degrees. Leave in oven until top is golden brown – about 10-15 minutes.

34 Simple (Vegetarian) Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

October 05, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes


In 2007, the New York Times wrote an article called Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I’ve held on to the article (yes, from the actual newspaper) and just came across it again in a massive desk clean-up. So, rather than hiding it back into a deep dark drawer, I figured I’d list some of the ideas here.

In the original, the majority of the dishes included meat (mostly fish), but there were many on there that are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve also included several that were easy to substitute with a faux meat. Many of these dishes can be prepared if you are good about keeping the basics in your pantry. (For a refresher check out my list of what every vegetarian should have in their kitchen.)

So, without further ado, here are 34 simple vegetarian meals ready in 10 minutes or less.

1. Make six-minute eggs: Simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
2. Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
3. Make pesto: put a couple of cups of basil leaves, a garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil as necessary in a blender (walnuts and Parmesan are optional). Serve over pasta (dilute with oil or water as necessary).

IMG_89184. Gazpacho: Combine one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar and a clove of garlic in a blender with one cup water and couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve or refrigerate, garnished with a little more olive oil.
5. Soak couscous in boiling water to cover until tender; top with tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.
6. Chinese tomato and eggs: Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes then, a minute later, beaten eggs, along with salt and pepper. Scramble with a little soy sauce.
7. Cut eggplant into half-inch slices. Broil with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and broil another 20 seconds.

IMG_35388. While pasta cooks, combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and Parmesan.


9. Egg in a hole, glorified: Tear a hole in a piece of bread and fry in butter. Crack an egg into the hole. Deglaze pan with a little sherry vinegar mixed with water, and more butter; pour over egg.
10. Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.
11. Fast chile rellenos: Drained canned whole green chilies. Make a slit in each and insert a piece of cheese. Dredge in flour and fry in skillet slit side up, until cheese melts.
12. Saute 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. Meanwhile, grate pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook pasta. Toss all together, along with crushed dried chili flakes and salt.
13. Cold soba with dipping sauce: Cook soba noodles, then rinse in cold water until cool. Serve with a sauce of soy sauce and minced ginger diluted with mirin and/or dry sake.

IMG_099514. Fried rice: Soften vegetables with oil in a skillet. Add cold take-out rice, chopped onion, garlic, ginger, peas and two beaten eggs. Toss until hot and cooked through. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
15. Taco salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, a small can of black beans and kernels from a couple of ears of corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime and chopped cilantro leaves.


16. Migas, with egg: Saute chopped stale bread with olive oil, mushrooms, onions and spinach. Stir in a couple of eggs.
17. Saute shredded (or sliced) zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.


18. Not takeout: Stir-fry onions with cut-up broccoli. Add cubed tofu along with a tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger. When almost done, add half cup of water, two tablespoons soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. Heat through and serve over fresh Chinese noodles.


19. The Waldorf: Toast a handful of walnuts in a skillet. Chop an apple or pear; toss with greens, walnuts and a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallot. Top if you like, with crumbled goat or blue cheese.
20. Put a stick of butter and a handful of pine nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until both are brown. Toss with cooked pasted, grated Parmesan and black pepper.
21. Put a tablespoon of cream and a slice of tomato in each of several small ramekins. Top with an egg, then salt, pepper, ad grated Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until the eggs set. Serve with toast.
22. Make a fast tomato sauce of olive oil, chopped tomatoes and garlic. Poach eggs in the sauce, then top with Parmesan.


23. Peel and thinly slice raw beets; cook in butter or oil with garlic; do not overcook. Finish with parsley, lemon juice and coarse salt; serve over toast.
24. Rich vegetable soup: Cook asparagus tips and peeled stalks or most any other green vegetable in [vegetable] stock with a little tarragon until tender; reserve a few tips and puree the rest with a little butter (cream or yogurt, too, if you like) adding enough stock to thin the puree. Garnish with the reserved tips. Serve hot or cold.
25. Brush portobello caps with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil until tender. Briefly sweat chopped onions, then scramble eggs with them. Put eggs in mushrooms.
26. Near instant mezze: Combine hummus on plate with yogurt laced with chopped cucumbers and a bit of garlic, plus tomato, feta, white beans with olive oil and pita bread.
27. Sear corn kernels in olive oil with minced jalapenos and chopped onions; toss with cilantro, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and lime.


28. Pit and chop a cup or more of mixed olives. Combine with olive oil, a little minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta.
29. Grated carrots topped with six-minute eggs (run under cold water until cool before peeling), olive oil and lemon juice.
30. Cut off the top of four big tomatoes; scoop out the interior and mix them with toasted stale baguette or pita, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, tarragon, and/or parsley). Stuff into tomatoes and serve with salad.
31. Pasta frittata: Turn cooked pasta and a little garlic into an oiled or buttered skillet. Brown, pressing to create a cake. Flip, then top with three or four beaten eggs and loads of Parmesan. Brown other side and serve.
32. Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. [Megabeth note: press and drain tofu to get excess liquid out before using.] Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.
33. Veggie burger: Drain and pour a 14-ounce can of beans into a food processor with an onion, half a cup of rolled oats, a tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix, an egg, salt and pepper. Process until mushy, then shape into burgers, adding a little liquid or oats as necessary. Cook in oil about three minutes a side and serve.
34. So-called Fettuccine Alfredo: Heat several tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of cream in a large skillet just until the cream starts to simmer. Add slightly undercooked fresh pasta to the skillets, along with plentuy of grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, tossing, until pasta is tender and hot.

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