Burgers & Sandwiches

Road Trip: Smoked Shitakes, Avocado Toast and More Adventures

Avocado Toast & Smoked Shitakes

Sometimes my recipes feel like a road trip. There may be a detour along the way or sometimes I just take the scenic route. It may be a long and winding road, but eventually I get to my destination. Last week I experimented with making smoked shitake mushrooms to replicate the flavor of bacon. Okay, it’s not bacon, but it did come out smoky, slightly sweet and salty . . . and tasty. Since I’m not a tofu scramble kind of girl and I’m quite happy with my E.L.T. sandwiches, I wasn’t sure what to do with the smoked shitakes. I packed them up and put them in the fridge. Every time I opened that refrigerator door I got a whiff of smokey goodness coming from the container of mushrooms. Fast forward a few days. We took a road trip last the weekend to Old Town Alexandria and had breakfast at Le Pain Quouidien. (BTW, this is an excellent place for plant foodies.) I ordered the avocado toast, which seems to be trendy these days. Actually, I think I might be on the tail-end of this trend, but better late than never. The avocado toast was quite nice and thought I’d like to try it at home. And then I remembered the smoked shitakes. And the hard-cooked egg taste of black salt. Hmmmm. I toasted a slice of whole grain bread, spread on some smashed avocado, a sprinkle of black salt, a few slices of avocado, several slivers of smoked shitakes and some cherry tomatoes. Every bite was a little bit creamy, crunchy, smoky, sweet and salty all at once. I had more smoked shitakes remaining and figured I’d be eating avocado toast all week, but I’m fueling up for some more adventure. Be sure to check back for a Smoked Shitake-Cashew Sauce (great on potatoes and veggies) and a Creamy Carbonara Pasta. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Smoked Shitakes

Note: You will get a better flavor by smoking the mushrooms in a stove-top smoker. Instructions are provided below the recipe.

10 oz. shitake mushrooms
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon vegetable oil

Remove stems from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms into strips about 1/4 inch thick. (See instructions below for using a stove-top smoker.) *Toss with brown sugar, soy sauce, pepper and liquid smoke. Coat a non-stick skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are about the same texture as cooked bacon and have a glaze-like coating. Remove and cool completely. Place in covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.

To smoke the mushrooms in a stove-top smoker:

Smoke the mushrooms BEFORE proceeding with the recipe instructions after the asterisk.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions and smoke the mushrooms for 10 to 15 minutes. You only need a about 2 tablespoons of fine chips or a small chunk of smoking wood. You can taste the mushrooms after 10 minutes and if not smoky enough, continue smoking for another 5 minutes. Proceed with the recipe after the asterisk.

If you don’t have a dedicated smoker you can rig one up by using an old pot that has a heavy bottom with a tight-fitting cover and a collapsible steamer basket. Heat the smoker over medium heat. Add a small amount of hickory smoking chips. Place the basket over the chips and add the mushrooms to the basket. Place the cover on the pot and smoke the mushrooms for 10 to 15 minutes.

01 Jul 2017

Magnifique: Mushrooms in the Style of Bourguignon

Mushrooms Bourguignon

I picked up a bag of baby portobello mushroom caps the other day not knowing what I was going to do with them. At two bucks a bag, I figured I’ll find something to make with them. These baby portobellos were about 3″ in diameter and had a nice thickness to them. It’s interesting how inspiration comes about, but the word “medallions” came to mind as I was gazing so lovingly at them. I wanted to make something hearty and meaty and thought of Beef Bourguinon. I used Ina Garten’s recipe as a guide for this recipe. I sauteed onions and garlic, browned the mushroom caps then cooked them in cognac and red wine. The mushrooms had a rich taste and meaty texture. The onions added a subtle, sweet contrast to the deep flavor of the mushrooms. Magnifique! I served the mushrooms with baked potatoes and mesclun salad, but they would also pair well with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans. The next day, I made a Bourguignon slider with the leftovers and a small dinner roll. These would also make a nice addition to a buffet or cocktail hour. Make these Mushrooms Bourguinon and make something magnifique for dinner. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Bourguignon Slider

Mushrooms in the Style of Bourguignon

¼ cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
About 1-1/4 pound small Portobello mushrooms (3” diameter)
Olive oil (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tablespoon brandy
Dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together red wine and tomato paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve for another use.

Coat a large non-stick skillet with a small amount of olive oil. (You can omit the oil and use a few tablespoons of water.) Saute the onions over medium heat until they start to brown slightly. Add garlic and continue cooking until golden. Remove the onions and garlic to a plate.

Recoat the skillet with oil if desired. Place the mushroom caps top side down and cook until they start to brown. Turn mushrooms over and continue to cook until they brown and start to soften. Arrange the onion slices on top of the mushrooms. Add the brandy to de-glaze the pan, then add the red wine mixture thyme, salt and pepper. Cover skillet and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and serve with baked or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

06 Jun 2017

My Inconvenient Truth: ELT (Eggplant, Tomato & Lettuce)

Egglant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

I think about the cost of convenience every day. Whether it’s preparing a healthy plant-based meal at home or eating at a vegan restaurant, the cost of convenience is apparent. I could use frozen vegetables to make meal preparation easier and less expensive, but I prefer to use fresh vegetables because they have a better taste and texture. While going out to eat is convenient, there is a price to pay in the form of limited choices and the presence of added oil and salt. I was reminded of this “inconvenient truth” last weekend as Bruce and I had lunch at a  “destination” vegan restaurant. (I use the term “destination” when we plan an entire outing around a restaurant.) Since we traveled about an hour to get there I wanted to make the most of our trip and decided to sample a few things on the menu. We ordered jackfruit stuffed mushrooms and oyster mushrooms in scampi sauce for appetizers. I had a French dip portobello mushroom sandwich and Bruce had an ELT (eggplant, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Each stuffed mushroom had a healthy dollop of vegan tartar sauce which I could tell contained oil. The scampi sauce was made with oil and/or vegan butter. The French dip had melted vegan mozzarella (oil), the ELT had fried eggplant and vegan mayo (more oil) and both sandwiches were served with a side of fries. The truth is we don’t eat oil anymore, and when we do it doesn’t sit right with us. I guess that’s the price we pay for the convenience of eating out. Anyway, the ELT was quite tasty and I was impelled to come up with an oil-free version at home. I made the eggplant by dipping the slices in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), coating them with bread crumbs, then baking in the oven. Instead of vegan mayonnaise I mashed up an avocado with some lemon juice and a pinch of black salt. Wanting to keep it as close to a traditional BLT, I built the sandwich by spreading a layer of avocado “mayo” on toasted white bread then loading it up with the breaded eggplant, juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce. The crispy coating on the eggplant gives the sandwich a crunchy mouth-feel that’s similar to bacon and the avocado lends a mayo-like creaminess — without the use of oil. (A few days later I re-crisped the left over eggplant in an air fryer which gave them more of a bacon mouth feel.) Well worth the effort. The truth is that, at times, it may be inconvenient to follow a plant-based diet, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for tasty food that’s wholesome and healthy. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

ELT (Eggplant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches)

Eggplant:

1 small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/4 inch slices
½ cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup or more of aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

To make eggplant in an air fryer:

Place about 8 slices of eggplant in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the slices and continue cooking until browned.
For the Avocado “Mayo”:

1 ripe avocado
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of black salt (or regular table salt)

For the Sandwiches:

Your favorite sandwich bread
Sliced tomatoes
Lettuce

Toast two slices of bread. Spread some avocado “mayo” on one slice, then arrange four slices of eggplant, two or three slices of tomatoes and some lettuce.

23 May 2017

Remodeling: Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Long before adopting a plant-based diet one of my favorite sandwiches was a Greek Gyro. I started out ordering them with the “mystery” meat that’s sliced from a slab of lamb (and who knows what else) spinning around on a rotisserie. I migrated to Gyros made with grilled chicken breast thinking that was a healthier choice. Some time ago I remodeled my Gyro with this Greek mushroom and chickpea version of the “mystery” meat which is very tasty, but requires a small amount of effort. I wanted to come up with a newer model that was scaled back in terms of prep time and calories. My latest remodeled Gyro recipe has two key aspects that I wanted to replicate, one being the distinct flavor of marjoram, rosemary and garlic and the other being the creamy tang of Tzatzki sauce. I decided to grill some cremini mushrooms (I would have used portabellos if I had them) and seasoned them with garlic powder, marjoram and rosemary.  For the Tzatziki sauce I used a combination of raw cashews (for creaminess) and soy yogurt (for tanginess). I make my own since I don’t like what’s available in the stores near me, but you can use store-bought vegan sour cream or just plain soy yogurt to keep it simple. After grilling and seasoning the mushrooms, mixing up the Tzatziki, and slicing up the tomato, lettuce and onion, I took a pocket-less pita out of the freezer only to find that it was dried out and lost it’s ability to bend without breaking. Luckily, I had some fresh (and supple) flour tortillas on hand, which made for a lighter and neater wrap. With its Greek-inspired seasonings, mushroom “meatiness”, creamy Tzatziki sauce, onions, lettuce and tomatoes this wrap has everything I want in a Gyro. Start remodeling your life today by building yourself this healthy and delicious Mushroom Gyro Wrap. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Gyro Wraps

Makes 6 to 8 wraps

Olive oil (optional)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (cremini or portabellos recommended)
dried marjoram, to taste
dried ground rosemary, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
Flour tortillas
Lettuce, chopped
Sliced tomatoes and onions

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (You can coat the skillet if desired.) Add mushrooms and cook until brown and most of liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms with marjoram, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup plain, non-dairy yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
Salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Drain cashews and place in container of high-powered blender. Add just enough water to cover and process until smooth. Place into a small mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble Gyros:

Place a tortilla on piece of aluminum foil. Layer the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Tzatziki sauce on tortilla. Roll up forming a conical-shaped wrap and secure with aluminum foil.

Mushroom Gyro

16 May 2017

Mother of Invention: Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

Jamaican Red Bean & Collard Greens Burger

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” When it comes to plant-based meals, necessity has become the mother of recipes. One of my biggest frustrations with following a plant-based diet is eating out. When we find a new restaurant that has even just one vegan offering we make it a point to try it out and hopefully become regular patrons. This is the case with a restaurant in our downtown area. When they first opened up, I was delighted to see that they serve black bean burgers. The appearance of a black bean burger on a menu isn’t anything special because it’s been my experience that most vegan options are either a grilled vegetable sandwich, a hummus wrap or . . .  a black bean burger. In any case, we’re happy that there’s something for us. On a recent visit to our go-to place for black bean burgers I was somewhat disappointed. The beans were barely smashed, the flavor was flat and the burger fell apart and out of the bun. Even a healthy pour of barbeque sauce couldn’t rescue my lunch. As so often happens, Bruce was subjected to my usual frustrating and somewhat rant-like questions. “How hard is it to have a bean burger on the menu?” or  “You would think they could come up with something other than a black bean burger. After all there are so many types of beans.” Sheesh! And then I start to rattle off all the different burgers I make. Gumbo Burger. Mushroom Burger. Frank n’ Burger. Jamaican Red Bean Burger. Corned Beet Reuben Burger. Chic Filet Burger. Hoppin’ John Burger. Mushroom Barley Burger. Sounds like a scene from the movie Forest Gump. On the way home I thought about my next burger recipe. I knew I had some leftover Jamaican collard greens and baked sweet potatoes in the fridge and a few cans of red beans in the pantry. I pulsed these ingredients in my food processor and added oatmeal to absorb any excess liquid and keep the burgers together. I kicked it up a notch by adding more Jamaican curry powder. I let them “firm up” in the fridge, then cooked them on a non-stick electric griddle. Since I still had more of the collard greens left, I used them to top off the burgers. (I recommend making the collard greens ahead of time and using the leftovers to make the burgers.) These burgers are so flavorful (and stay inside the bun) that they just might be my favorite burger recipe so far. Or it might be a close second to my Frank n’ Burger. Oh, but what about that Chic-filet Burger? One thing I know for sure — there will be more bean burger recipes being invented in my kitchen. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

2 cans red kidney beans, drained
1 cup Jamaican collard greens, drained of any liquid (see below)
1 cup cooked sweet potato
½ cup old-fashioned oats, processed into a coarse flour
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder

additional Jamaican collard greens for topping

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until beans are smashed and all ingredients are mixed together. Form into patties and place on parchment paper. (A one-half cup measure makes a large burger to fit a Kaiser bun. One-third cup will fit a standard hamburger bun. Refrigerate a few hours to firm up.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350F. Place baking sheet in oven and bake about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking. Alternately, you can use a non-stick electric griddle to grill the burgers.

Jamaican Collard Greens

1 lb. collard greens, thinly sliced or chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, chopped
½ to 1 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, seeds intact (see note)
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder
2 cups water (see notes for cooking in instant pot)
½ cup coconut milk (canned)

Note: depending on your tolerance for hot peppers, use your judgement as to how much of the pepper you want to use and whether or not to scrape the seeds out before cooking.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, collard greens, Scotch Bonnet, curry powder and water. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until very tender (about 1 hour). Add coconut milk, uncover and continue cooking until most of liquid has evaporated.

Instant Pot:

Turn setting to saute. Cook onions until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook one minute, then add ¾ cup water, chopped tomato, curry powder and whole pepper. Place collards on top. Cover and pressure cook on low for 10 minutes. Quick release pressure. Set control to saute setting, then add coconut milk. Continue cooking until coconut milk gets absorbed and any excess liquid is evaporated. Remove pepper.

 

18 Apr 2017

Don’t Fast. Feast: Gumbo Burgers with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Gumbo Burger with Roasted Pepper Sauce

I’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my bean burger recipes and came up with this recipe the last time I made a pot of Vegetable Gumbo. Gumbo has its roots in Louisiana’s Creole cuisine and I usually make it right around Mardi Gras time. The highlight of Mardi Gras happens on Fat Tuesday, reflecting the practice of the last chance to eat rich, fattening foods before the ritual of the Lenten fast begins. Well, if you eat healthy, low-fat plant food all year round there’s no need to fast in the first place. I still enjoy learning about and celebrating holidays and traditions, so I wanted to share this recipe for Gumbo Burgers just in time for Fat Tuesday.

To make the burgers, I start by cooking the the “holy trinity” of onions, celery and bell peppers, adding tomatoes and aromatics, then cooking out most of the liquid. The mashed beans act to hold the vegetables together and the oats help to absorb any extra liquid. The Roasted Pepper Sauce is made with a small amount of cashew cream, roasted red peppers and hot sauce. These burgers have so much going into them that you don’t need anything else going on top of them, but feel free to serve with your favorite burger toppings. We had our burgers with a side of steamed spinach with a honey-mustard-cider vinegar dressing. The recipe makes a lot of burgers, so you can wrap them individually and place in the freezer to enjoy in the weeks ahead. Why fast when you can feast all year long on these healthy, hearty Gumbo Burgers? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Gumbo Burgers with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Makes 8 to 12 patties

2 cans red kidney, pink or pinto beans, drained
½ cup whole oats, processed into course flour
1 extra large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
8 oz. okra, chopped
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 Tablespoons dried thyme
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Pepper Sauce (recipe follows)
Hamburger buns
Burger toppings as desired (tomato, onions, lettuce, etc.)

Place beans in a large mixing bowl and smash with a potato masher or fork. Place oat flour into bowl and set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet on high heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add tomato, tomato paste, okra, liquid smoke, thyme and cayenne pepper and continue cooking until all of the liquid has dried up. Add to mixing bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper, adding more of the other seasonings as desired.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide mixture into even portions using either a one-third or one-half measuring cup and form into patties. Place on parchment paper and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready, heat a non-stick electric griddle on 350F. Place patties on griddle and cook until browned and burgers become firm, turning once during cooking. Serve on buns with roasted pepper sauce and your favorite toppings.

Roasted Pepper Sauce

½ cup raw cashews (soaked)
½ cup roasted red peppers
2 to 4 teaspoons hot sauce

Rinse and drain the soaked cashews. Place in container of high-speed blender and add enough water to cover about half of the cashews. Process on high until super smooth. Remove from container. This should yield about ½ cup, but you will only use ¼ cup to make the sauce.

Return ¼ cup of the cashew cream in the blender container along with the roasted peppers and hot sauce. Process on high until smooth. Place in a covered container and refrigerate before using.

Note: if you do not wish to use cashews, you can try substituting silken tofu.

28 Feb 2017

Supersized: “Chic” Filet Sandwich

Chik-fila Sandwich

There’s a fast food restaurant chain in the US called Chick-fil-A that serves, you guessed it, all types of chicken sandwiches. I took my Mom there once and ordered a bean salad for myself. It was enough to fill a thimble. Why is it that plant-based food options in fast food restaurants are not supersized? Why can’t they offer some kind of veggie burger? That’s how I came up with my “Chic” Filet Sandwich.  Bruce and his friends used to go there for lunch and he would jokingly pronounce it as “chic-filet.” One definition of chic “is a style that expresses specified trendy lifestyle or activity.” Since more and more people are adopting plant-based diets for health and humane reasons, “Chic” Filet seems apropos. 

I sauteed onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to give the burgers a chicken soup flavor and added cannelini beans for substance. You can experiment with the seasonings to suit your taste (or what’s on hand in your pantry). I use either a 1/3 cup measure for an average size burger or a 1/2 cup measure for a supersized one. I made a plain mock mayo using raw cashews. You can spice it up by adding a small amount of the adobe sauce from canned chipotles, Siracha sauce. If you don’t eat cashews, you could try mashed avocado. Tasty, satisfying and it passes my “stays-within-the-bun” test. Make some “Chic” Filet Sandwiches and start a new trend of supersized healthy eating. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

“Chic” Filet Sandwich

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup bread crumbs (oatmeal for gluten free)
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons savory, marjoram or thyme
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (or other seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper, to taste

hamburger buns, sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce for serving

Brown mushrooms in non-stick skillet. Remove to food processor. Brown onions, garlic, carrots and celery in non-stick skillet. Add spices and herbs and cook 1 minute. Add to food processor along with remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Using either a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measure, portion out the mixture and form into patties. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total). Serve on your choice of bun with lettuce, tomato, onions and top with cashew mayo or your favorite condiment. You can individually wrap and freeze the burgers after they are cooked.

Cashew Mayo

½ cup raw cashews soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp. black salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Process in blender until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin.

31 Jan 2017

Smokin’ Good: Frank n’ Burgers

Frank n’ Burger

I don’t remember exactly what I was doing a few weeks ago when I had what I call a “sensory flashback”. It was most likely brought on by something I had cooking on the stove, but there was something in the air that reminded me of the sweet and tangy onion sauce served up by the hot dog vendors of New York. Some folks like sauerkraut and mustard on their hot dogs and others like chili dogs. Maybe it’s a Brooklyn thing, but there’s nothing sweeter than a hot dog with red onion sauce. The sauce is so easy to make with ketchup or tomato sauce, onions and spices. The hard part is the hot dog. I’m sure there are countless vegan versions of hot dogs made with tofu and seitan. The problem for us is that there is too much sodium and fat in these products. A problem for others may be a soy or gluten allergy. So, how about those carrot dogs simmered in soy sauce that were popping up every day this past summer? They might make a fun treat, but a meal it does not make. And, again, it’s too much sodium for us. I wanted to come up with something substantial that would fit inside a bun and was reminiscent of that smokey hot dog flavor. I started with pinto beans as they have a pink-ish hue to them. I pressure cooked them with onions, garlic and liquid smoke to infuse the beans with flavor. I used sweet potatoes as a binding ingredient and for their color and smooth texture; oatmeal to absorb excess liquid; sauerkraut for a little zing; and some smoked paprika and additional liquid smoke to deepen the smokiness. All I can say is that the aroma coming off the griddle smelled just like hot dogs cooking on the grill on a summer afternoon. We enjoyed them with mustard and onion sauce on toasted burger buns. I was stuffed before I was done with mine. Smoky, sweet, tangy. All that and healthy, too. These Frank n’ burgers just might go down as my all-time favorite bean burger . . . and hot dog. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Frank n’ Burgers

Makes 8 to 10 burgers.

8 oz. dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Black pepper, to taste

Hot dog onions (recipe follows)

Drain and rinse beans. Place in pressure cooker with onion, garlic and liquid smoke. Pressure cook on high according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually 4 to 6 minutes). When safe, release pressure and drain the beans.

Place oats in bowl of food process and process until coarsely ground. Add remaining ingredients and the cooked beans. Pulse until combined. Taste the mixture before adding the additional liquid smoke. The mixture can be chunky.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide mixture evenly and form into patties. One-third cup is the perfect size for standard burger buns. One-half cup measure will make a thicker burger suitable for a larger Kaiser roll. Refrigerate until firm. Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total).

Serve on toasted buns and topped with mustard and hot dog onions.

You can cook the burgers, let them cool and wrap individually to place in the freezer. Simply defrost/re-heat in the microwave or on an outdoor grill.

Onion Sauce

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Garlic powder and black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until onions are soft and sauce has thickened and becomes flavorful.

03 Jan 2017

All the Trimmings: Black Friday Burger

Black Friday Burger

Black Friday Burger

The Thanksgiving dinner that I grew up with was always turkey and all of the trimmings, with the emphasis on the trimmings. With all of those yummy side dishes — stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce — it’s a wonder that I had room for even one slice of turkey. And we always looked forward to the left overs that would last until Sunday. My Mom would make a sandwich with all the trimmings by layering turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and hot  gravy on a hard roll. Since there seems to be an over abundance of recipes for Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to make something to gobble up in the days following. Maybe you’d like to take advantage of Black Friday sales. Perhaps family will be visiting for the long weekend. And what about all those football games? With all the comings and goings, you might want to have something easy for your guests to re-heat and assemble on their own. You know, “make yourself at home and help yourself” . . . to a Black Friday Burger.

So, I thought about all the foods I love about Thanksgiving and squeezed them all into one neat little burger. We always made our bread stuffing with celery, onions and mushrooms. Sometimes we’d add pork sausage to the stuffing, so I included fennel and sage to capture that flavor. The white beans are used for substance and the sweet potato keeps everything together. At the end of the meal we would break out the nutcrackers and a basket of nuts and chestnuts, so I added some ground walnuts. I might try some roasted chestnuts in the next batch. Be sure to save some Shaved Brussel Sprouts, cranberry sauce and gravy from Thanksgiving Day to use to dress up the burgers. If you don’t want to fuss with the gravy, you can just use the Dij-ayo spread at the end of the recipe. This burger has it all. The stuffing. The sweet potatoes. The mushrooms. The flavor. Take some Roasted Butternut Squash Soup out of the freezer or make a huge Powerhouse Salad to serve with the burgers. The only ones stuffed this year will be your friends and family. You can make the burgers ahead of time, cook them and place them in the freezer, leaving you free to cut down a Christmas tree, spend time with your guests or shop for those Black Friday deals. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for my health, my family and friends. And I thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Black Friday Burgers

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked sweet potato
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground sage
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

whole wheat burger buns
left over shaved Brussel sprouts or fresh baby spinach
cranberry sauce
Dij-ayo spread (recipe follows)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and saute until golden. Add mushrooms and garlic and continue to saute until browned. Add fennel and sage and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and place into large mixing bowl.

Place beans into the bowl and mash the beans using a fork or potato masher. Add sweet potato and mash into beans.

Place the oats in a mini-chopper and pulse just enough to break them down but not processed into a flour. Add to mixing bowl with remaining ingredients and mix well with a fork. Adjust spices as desired.

Separate into five or six portions and form into patties. (I find that 1/3 cup is the perfect size for a standard burger bun.) Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 20 minutes, turning half-way through cooking. You can also cook in a non-stick skillet or on a non-stick electric griddle. You can enjoy them now or place them in the freezer for future use.

Serve on burger buns with shaved Brussel sprouts or fresh baby spinach and top with Dij-ayo and cranberry sauce.

Dij-ayo

½ cup raw cashews
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon tahini
Water as needed to thin out

Place all ingredients in high-speed blender and process until smooth.

17 Nov 2016

Channeling Grandma: Not Fried Peppers

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

My grandmother used to fry peppers all the time. When she was shopping, she would look for “frying peppers.” Of course. (You may have seen them referred to as “Cubanelle peppers“.) They differ from bell peppers in that they are light green, long, skinny and thin skinned. Good for frying because they would cook fast in a skillet. Not good for baking because they are thin and would most likely fall apart before the stuffing is cooked. She might have served the peppers as a side to a pork roast or sausage. What I do remember most was that she loved to eat them with Italian bread, sopping up the oil and pepper juices that coated her plate. I was the lucky recipient of a few cubanelles in my CSA share this week and tried my hand at making them “unfried”. To do this, I removed the stem and seeds and kept the rest of the pepper in tact (i.e., whole). Next, I placed the peppers in a non-stick skillet, added a few tablespoons of water and covered the skillet with a glass Pyrex cover and steamed them until they were soft. At that point, I removed the cover and browned the peppers, turning them often being careful to not let them burn. As the peppers rest, their juices start flowing and create an “oily” coating. The sandwich that followed was so tasty — a few slices of toasted Italian bread, several slices of peppers, a few slices of garden tomatoes and a sprinkling of Italian fairy dust (oregano). How could something so simple taste so good? You just have to let the beauty of the food shine through. On days like today when I’m in the kitchen, I feel like I’m channeling my grandmother. It’s a good day! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Cubanelle

Cubanelle

 

 

02 Sep 2016

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