Banibanoo

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A favorite lunch spot. I first tried this place a year or two ago with some friends from a bible study group. I was surprised that it was in my old neighborhood and I had never heard about it! Located not to far from the Plaza Manuel Becerra on Calle Martires Concepcionistas 19. Thank God it is close enough to my work so if I get there quickly I can have this amazing food during the week!

This Persian food restaurant is filled with natural light and the homemade style dishes are full of exciting colors and flavors. The menu of the day is a great price and you get your choice of three of the many dishes on display, a drink and a tea, coffee or dessert. It’s a good idea to have a reservation because this place fills up quickly, mostly with business people on lunch breaks.

Must try: The typical Iranian drink with cucumber and rose petals.

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Goop Detox

In the spirit of the new year a few weeks ago I tried a detox. Normally I wouldn’t even be interested in a detox but reading about Gweneth Paltrow’s Annual Goop Detox on her lifestyle blog, I changed my mind. It didn’t even seem like a detox, just good whole cozy warm foods, perfect for winter. It is all about eating clean unprocessed foods. No caffeine, red meat, dairy, added sugars and no alcohol. I loved this detox and highly recommend it. All the meals had so much flavor and were so filling and satisfying. My only complaint is that I feel like I was always cooking. By the end of the week I was exhausted of cooking (and really wanted a glass of wine).

Something that made a huge difference in flavor of all the dishes was making a homemade chicken broth and then using that in all the recipes. This alone gave each dish so much more flavors and depth. Normally in my own cooking I get lazy and end up using store bought broth and chicken bullion, but need to start making more of my own broths.

Our fave recipes from the Goop Detox were the Detox Niçoise Salad, the Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili and the Kitchen Sink Thai Fried Rice. We’ve made all of these recipes at least three times each and it makes enough to have dinner and then bring leftovers to work for lunch the next day.

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Homemade Chicken Broth
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Thai Fried Rice (we used green beans, peas and cabbage for the mixed veggies)

 

 

Pancake Tuesday

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Happy Pancake Tuesday! We made these Banana Pancakes over the weekend to indulge. This recipe is so fluffy and not too sweet. I add an extra banana to the batter. Josemi was baffled at the idea of brunching something that was only sweet. I guess during these five plus years of dating me he has lost a lot of his sweet tooth (since I hardly have one at all).

Although we normally don’t participate in the 40 days of lent, other than not eating meat on Fridays, this year we are deciding to really give up something. Alcohol. Wish us luck! Are you giving up anything for lent?

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Logroño is Underrated

Found another small city gem pinchos paradise. Spain is like a never ending “fuente” of these and I can’t get enough.

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One of my favorite friends was just in town and we haven’t spent a weekend together in about 5 years. Way too long. We met back when we both studied abroad in Madrid and it was a fast and easy friendship. Andrea is the kind of friend that when we are together we didn’t have to do anything special and it was always so fun and full of laughter. Such a great friendship that we decided to get matching tattoos, lyrics of some Spanish song we had never heard. Over the years, while I’m home in California, I always make it a point to drive up to San Francisco to grab lunch with her. So when she messaged me with plans for a trip to Madrid I was overjoyed. Finally together again in the city that we met, with more time than just a lunch to catch up and make new memories.

tattoo

We booked our trip to Logroño the night she arrived to Madrid on a recommendation from a coworker raving about the wine and pinchos. It did not disappoint. Logroño is the capital of the province of La Rioja. This is wine region. Calle del Laurel is the place to go for a bite. Each bar has its specialty pincho and of course the wine is flowing.

When we first arrived, after checking into our hotel we rushed over to the tapas street to grab something to eat quickly before the restaurants closed. We walked into Bar la Casita one of the first places we saw even though it seemed  a little bit slow and empty. Here we tried our first glass of wine of the weekend and some manchego cheese and their croquetas. Soon after the tiny bar was full.

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Later that night we went out for all the pinchos we could get. This was a toast with goat cheese, iberian ham and raspberry sauce drizzled on top. Sounds weird but its not if you are like me and love mixing sweet and savory flavors. Find this one at Bar Blanco y Negro c/ Bretón de los Herreros 48.

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Then we made our way over to Bar Lorenzo Travesía de Laurel 4 where their specialty are these hot dog style things. We tried one with chorizo and another with pincho moruno and their green secret sauce. Bit fans. We also saw people ordering hot caldos so we tried it and it was amazing. Getting a cup of broth in Logroño is a thing apparently and I love it. Perfect for a cold winter night.
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I saved the best for last. The mushroom stack from Bar Soriano Travesía de Laurel 2. This bar is so tiny and was so full that the people were spilling out onto the streets. As far as I could tell this was the only thing that they served, and wine. So simple and so good. A stack of three mushrooms on a piece of bread topped with a shrimp and skewered with a toothpick. Just be careful with the hot oil while eating. Andrea and I were so excited to try it that we both burnt our mouths.

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It was so great catching up with such a good friend and having a mini adventure together. I am so excited about how far she has come since I met her, and where she is going now. After Logroño Andrea did some solo travel up north and then came back to Madrid for another weekend together. On our last night out, on the taxi ride home our stupid tattoo song came on the radio. See you soon friend!

andrea
La Latina, Madrid 2012
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Logroño 2017

Salmon Poke Bowls

I’m such a fan of poke bowls and so bummed that this Hawaiian dish hasn’t made its way to Madrid yet. Recently Poke Maoli opened up in Barcelona and I’m praying that they open a place in Madrid as soon as possible. In the meantime I have been perfecting my poke “recipe.”

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I N G R E D I E N T S:

200g Sushi grade salmon (or tuna)

1tsp sesame oil

2tbsp soy sauce

1tsp honey

1tsp brown sugar

1tsp rice vinegar

1tsp Sriracha

1/2tsp red pepper flakes

1 in ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

salt

pepper

wakame seaweed salad

1/2cup white rice

toasted sesame seeds (optional)

green onion (optional)

Boil 1 cup water and add rice. Stir. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Cube fish. Place in bowl. Salt and pepper the salmon and drizzle with sesame oil. In another bowl mix approximately 2 tbsp soy sauce with 1 tsp honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha. Mix. Add garlic and ginger. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Pour soy mixture over fish, mix and place in fridge 1 hour.

Place rice in bowl and top with wakame salad and the fish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. Enjoy!

 

 

Adulting: Holiday Hosting

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This year we did Thanksgiving as well as a ladies Christmas potluck. I love hosting and preparing a menu for friends but it can be exhausting. I’m a big fan of hosting potlucks because it’s so much easier and less pressure. Everyone brings something to share. On the other hand it is sometimes nice to host a full dinner party yourself because you control everything and it feels great to serve others. As the only American in the family over here in Madrid most of the Thanksgiving responsibility is bound to fall on me even though my lovely sister in law is now the appointed pumpkin pie baker. Slowly but surely everyone is getting involved and my Thanksgiving’s over here get better each year.

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Here’s our menu.

S T U F F I N G

I love Ina Garten’s Sausage and Herb Stuffing

I follow her recipe and use 4 baguettes of bread. This year I didn’t add salt to the stuffing going into the turkey because the salt from the brine would go into that. This is my number one Thanksgiving dish. I could eat these bready leftovers forever.

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T U R K E Y

The turkey is so important and causes me the most stress. Somehow I have managed not to completely screw it up over the past few years. This year we tried something new and did a brine.

B R I N E

For a 12-15 lb turkey.

2c sea salt

1c sugar

3 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1tbsp black pepper corns, crushed

3 sprigs rosemary, thyme and sage

2.5 gallons cold water

Mix salt in water until dissolved. Place turkey breast side down in large plastic bag. Leave in brine for 12 hours. Remove from fridge and brine one hour before roasting. Rinse turkey and drain well.

Stuff turkey. Rub with olive oil and put butter and garlic between skin and meat. Add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the cavity and on legs and wings.

Add a few coils of aluminum foil to the bottom of turkey roasting pan. Place turkey on foils breast side up. Add a few cups of chicken broth to bottom of pan. Roast at 325°F (160°C) basting every 30 minutes or so. Cover with aluminum foil if it browns too quickly. Turkey is done when thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the leg and in stuffing.

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W H I T E  W I N E  P A N  G R A V Y

Turkey drippings 2-3 cups

1c white wine

4tbsp butter

6tbsp flour

1/2 tbsp dried sage

Pour liquid from turkey pan into a large measuring cup. Place in freezer for about 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and scrape off excess fat. Heat the same turkey pan over low heat scraping off the drippings. Add 1/2c wine to deglaze pan. Add butter and melt. Add flour while whisking to make a roux. Continue whisky about five minutes until it is a nice golden brown. Add remaining wine and let it reduce down. Slowly add the broth. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Add sage and season with salt and pepper.

G R E E N  B E A N  C A S S E R O L E

1kg green beans, fresh is better

500g cremini mushrooms, sliced

1tbsp olive oil

2tbsp butter

4 sprigs thyme

2 cans Campbells cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

2 cups crunchy fried onions

Salt

Pepper

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

First cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan or cast iron skillet heat olive oil. Cook mushrooms until browned on both sides. Add butter and thyme. Continue cooking until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Add soup, milk, cooked green beans and 1cup onions to pan. Mix. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining onions and cook 5-10 more minutes.

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S M A S H E D  S W E E T  P O T A T O E S

Another side we did was one that I featured a few weeks ago and it was a hit. Josemi’s father is amazing and was able to detect all of the ingredients in this dish just after having one bite.

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For dessert my sister in law always makes a classic pumpkin pie and I normally make my mom’s apple crisp. This year we got a Costco (yes, I finally went to Spain Costco and I love it) apple pie to take off some of the stress with all of the preparations.

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Chuka Ramen

This place is one of the TOP restaurants in Madrid.

After listening to an episode on the TAPAS magazine podcast and finding out that american John Husby (one of the founders of Chuka) had worked in Momofuku alongside David Chang, I was dying to eat at Chuka Ramen Bar.

As I said in previous posts, my ramen obsession began with watching The Mind of a Chef season one, I have been actively trying to make and or find the perfect bowl of ramen. I have found it at Chuka.

Chuka Ramen Bar is a version of “chuka” cuisine. Japanese style Chinese dishes.

Their menu is short and simple consisting of bao buns, gyozas, ramens and other things that are in season. We tried something of each.

First the tatiki de vaca. Amazing.

Next the bao bun de cangrejo de concha blanda. So good I ate it before I had the chance to take a picture. Bao buns are super popular in Madrid right now and I can understand why. This one was so interesting because it was literally the whole crab fried. At first we didn’t know how to approach it but were surprised to find that we loved it.

Gyozas de pollo y ajo negro. Beautiful and delicious. Can’t wait to try and replicate this one.

Finally the tori paitan ramen. So full in flavor. The broth was incredible. I’m craving it again and can’t wait to go back for more.

I don’t even have words to describe how great the food was here. I’m so excited to tell everyone about it and to go back as soon as possible. Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. It is usually fully booked and can be tough to get a table on the weekend.

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