Tuesday, July 20, 2010

hey, feeling good was good enough for me, hmm hmm

hi there friends!

you may be wondering where i have been over the last year (but probably not, let's be real).
the answer is tumblr!

this is an open invitation to come and join me there: winesburgohio.tumblr.com

the postings are significantly more varied than what you'll find here (music, movies, general musings, nonsense, lots of food, etc) -- but i hope you will still enjoy.

until then,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

don't tell carda-dad

"hello khala, my friend."

there are fortunate accidents. a little ginger when you were supposed to add pepper (grabbed the wrong bottle). a spray of basil when you meant to buy parsley (you were daydreaming in the grocery aisle). too much lemon (you just like it). a phone call you never made (it was the right thing to do).
"hello khala, my friend."
this recipe was an accident, fortunate, which occurred after having spent a lot of time in the "C" section of my favorite spice store. it's divine: aromatic, earthy, and with a subtle, quietly rising heat. when you swirl the cardamom in oil and add the rice, put on this song and dance a little. trust me!
"where do you think you're going to?
the road you've taken goes nowhere.
khala, my friend, come back to me."
cardamom and cinnamon scented brown rice, mixed with black beans, avocado, and sliced veggies.

to make:

Me to Mom Wed, June 9th 2010 at 1:45pm

learning to cook with spices is the most rewarding thing.

i bought whole green cardamom pods at my favorite wholesale spice market in the east village today. you split them open with your thumb and spill the seeds into a pan of hot oil and fry them to create a flavor base for cooking grain dishes with. the smell is incredible. i just made a pot of brown rice that started with that. i added in whole chunks of indian cinnamon bark, some salt. simmered it. when the rice was done and the water had boiled out i stirred in chili powder and turmeric, then covered it again and removed it from the heat. it will now steam for a little while, integrating the flavor more.

it smells SOOOOO good it’s amazing. did i already mention that?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

how to make ambient sad-cake, and other songs of cooking

“You've got some charm I must admit."
The East Coast is generally dreary, punctuated by a few key moments of sun.

Pizza with prosciutto, basil, ricotta, garlic, caramelized onions, and tomato on a homemade cornmeal crust.

This recipe is easy to compose, but I learned a new thing while putting it together. Mid-caramelization of the onions, soak them in red wine vinegar, dust them with black pepper, and add a dash of cinnamon. Trust me, it is the right thing to do! The onions will infuse the crust with a rich, heady flavor...the perfect base to make the other tastes really pop.

And when the pizza is pulled from the oven, still smoking hot and odorous with cheese and salty pork, drizzle fresh lemon juice on the top. Really, just put lemon in everything!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

she came in through the bathroom window

people with backyards in new york city are so lucky. they don't even know how good they've got it. today was the summer, and the backyard at dave's house, and the sun's light eliminating everything. i came by after grocery shopping, made a salad in the kitchen overlooking the lawn. the flavors were exactly right to fit the day. strong and peppery arugula, tart radish, coooooool cucumber, and buttery slices of ripe avocado. perfect, perfect, perfect.

but, i'm wonderin'

arugula and radish salad

salt + pepper
oil + vinegar

it's all in the dressing: lots of lemon, a big burst of bright. thinly slice the radish first. toss it in a bowl with salt and lemon, then stir in the arugula, avocado, cucumber. dress in oil + vinegar. give everything a good toss, then finish it off with a few turns of pepper. yum!

Friday, May 21, 2010

so long, honey babe

i find the view from the window at my office -- although it reveals nothing of the outside world -- oddly and totally distracting. what could be out there ... ? a sailboat, three green fish, the view from a crow's nest, and nothing but ocean for miles and miles and miles...

"goodbye's too good a word, babe. so i'll just say fair thee well."

brown rice and radish salad


brown rice
1 radish
red wine vinaigrette

to make:

prep brown rice, using lots of garlic/pepper and a little salt. (pssst…for great brown rice: when the rice is ready, drain the last of the water, remove the pot from heat, and cover it tightly. let the rice steam this way for about ten minutes — it really lets the flavor penetrate!)

thinly, thinly slice the radish and roughly chop the cilantro. stir them into the brown rice. dash a little red wine viniagrette and extra garlic/pepper over the top.

voila! consume.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

graduation cake

amy scheim graduated from college today. the rest of her life supposedly begins now, and (like all good things) it begins with cake. this key lime cake is perfect for summer. it's tart and crumbly, buttery and light. (i know, you think "buttery" and "light" are two words that don't belong together...but opposites attract.) you should definitely make this.

key lime cake (adapted from All Cakes Considered)


1 stick of butter, unsalted and at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy whipping ream
5-6 key limes (for 1/2 cup of lime juice)
1 cup confectioners' sugar (plus more for dusting)

to make:

1. preheat oven to 350°. prep an 8" cake pan in advance (parchment paper or flour will do).
2. cream the butter, gradually adding in sugar (beat well!)
3. add the eggs, one at a time, and beat more.
4. slow down the beating. add half the flours, then 1/3 cup of the heavy whipping cream. beat well. then add the rest of the flour, and then the rest of the cream. (this is called alternating wet and dry ingredients!) beat the mixture for about two minutes. it will become thick and almost foamy.
5. grate the rind of one key lime, squeeze out about 1 tablespoon of juice. add to batter and beat for another two minutes.
6. pour the batter into your prepared ban and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
8. cover the pain with aluminum foil (to prevent the top from burning) and bake for another 20 minutes.
9. remove from oven, let cool thoroughly before transferring to plate.
10. whisk the key lime juice with the confectioners' sugar.
11. pour over the top of the cake, slowly. let the cake absorb the liquid!
12. dust the entire thing with leftover confectioners' sugar, and add thinly sliced limes around the rim (not required, but it's pretty).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

spooky little girl like you

i made brownies for nicole’s birthday today. they are supernatural. it is officially summer. you can tell because: jean shorts, beaches, dogs, frolicking.

supernatural brownies

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

One 13x9x2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil

Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and turn off heat. Combine butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over pan of water. Stir occasionally until melted. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in the salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the flour.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

seasonal consumption disorder?

lunch today: cumin+chili powder roasted sweet potato with arugula and yesterday’s cowboy caviar.

cowboy caviar

2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 c. corn
1/2 c. black-eyed peas
4 avocados
1/2 small red onion, diced
red wine vinegar, lime, olive oil, cilantro, chili flakes & salt+pepper to taste
and one dash of cinnamon


if cindy and i started a food blog, it would be called “cinnamon in everything.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

couldn't agree more

"I feel like this blog has suffered from a bit of mission creep lately. Know this: I am still really, really dedicated to eating and loving stuff. Case in point: I realized recently that you can improve almost any savory food by frying a shallot in butter and salt til it’s brown and crispy, draining the shallot on a paper towel, then sprinkling it on top (of whatever).

Here the shallot adorns a pile of rosemary mashed potatoes, some braised kale, and a poached egg. Don’t you wish your boy-or-girlfriend made lunch like me?"

text and photo via (thingsiatethatilove)

in other news of things that i love:

miniature cupcakes of all varieties from Baked by Melissa. particularly adore the quarter used for sizing reference. que linda! and thank you to taste-twin Meg for the tip-off.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

happy valentine's day, with potato chips

This morning, my housemate Dan made a crumbled Utz potato chip omelet. It was good.

You Will Need:

1 bag 25 cent Utz salt and vinegar potato chips
1 dash pepper
A pinch of Parmesan
1/2 avocado
2 eggs

To Make:

Put all ingredients in pan. Scramble. Add tapatillo.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

How To Make Your Own Damn Tortilla: a Letter From Zach Sachs

"Hi Cassie,

So I guess the massive snow day were were cueing you up for was just
rescheduled for tomorrow. The schools are clearing their slates
already and I suppose we're all trying to figure out how to get in
trouble before the thing starts dumping down on us. California must be

A flour tortilla is lard, flour, water and salt. So about three Tb of
fat, two cups of flour, a little shy of three-quarter cup of warm
water, two heavy pinches of kosher salt. Form a dough that is neither
slack and wet nor dry and crumbly. Knead briefly. Let rest one hour.
Divide the dough into balls — about 12–14 — they will fit familiarly,
a certain way cupped in the inside of your palm. Let them hang out for
ten minutes after they're formed and then, on a surface well-dusted
with flour, roll out the dolls with a pin (or, as I did for many
collegiate years, a wine bottle). Heat something flat over medium heat
and when it's gotten quite hot, cook em on each side until they're the
way you like it (Chris likes them covered with small brown dots like a
ripe banana, I prefer them at once doughy and charred, like a good
pizza). Keep them warm in a couple of towels.

If you roll them all out you can keep them in the fridge for a few
weeks, heating them up as you go along. My mom's favorite snack is a
warm, fresh tortilla with butter and honey. However. That particular
combination is just the sort of bright and easy midnight fix that I do
not possess the willpower to keep around. Fortunately, making other
people eat them all is usually not difficult. OK, your turn.

Bring back some sunshine for the rest of us,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

life lessons: another hasty update from home

"i haven't changed a bit!" i said, laughing. how grossly ironic. here's a recipe to go with the mouthful of my own words that i just ate.

Kale, Squash and Potato Galette (adapted from Gourmet)

You Will Need:

1 lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded
1 tablespoon stick (1/2 cup) butter, 6 of the tablespoons melted and cooled
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 lb russet (baking) potatoes (4 medium)
1/2 pound cubed butternut squash
1 tbsb chili powder
1/2 tbsb cumin
1 tbsb olive oil
A few dabs of butter

To Make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cubed squash in a baking dish, rub with olive oil, chili powder and cumin. Let roast for 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, you can:

Cook kale in a 4 to 6 quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well, squeezing handfuls of kale to extract excess moisture, then coarsely chop.

Heat 2 tablespoons (unmelted) butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add kale, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and saute, stirring, until kale is tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and clean skillet.

Around now the squash should be done. Remove from oven, allow to cool, then puree until creamy. Place in a bowl and set aside for later. (If you're like me, you can dig into it early with a few crackers).

Peel potatoes and thinly slice crosswise (1/16 inch thick) with slicer. Working quickly to prevent potatoes from discoloring, generously brush bottom of skillet with some of melted butter and cover with one third of potato slices, overlapping slightly. Dab potatoes with some of melted butter.

Spread half of kale over potatoes and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Cover with half of remaining potato slices and dab with butter. Using a spatula, spread pureed butternut squash mixture over the layer of potatoes. You will have to use a very delicate touch as to not upset the spread. Then, top with remaining kale. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining potatoes and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Brush a sheet of foil with melted butter, then brush galette with any remaining butter and place foil, buttered side down, on top. Place a 10-inch heavy skillet on top of foil to weight galette.

Cook galette over moderate heat until underside is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove top skillet and foil. Wearing oven mitts, carefully slide galette onto a baking sheet and invert skillet over it. Holding them together, invert galette, browned side up, back into skillet. Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until underside is golden brown and potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide onto a serving plate. EAT.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

growing up: a hasty update from home

when i was little, i was the designated grilled-cheese maker of our house. it was a purely honorary title, but i wore it with pride. now, at age 24, practically nothing has changed -- when i am cooking for others, i still rely on simple, cheese-based comfort foods that can be eaten with your hands. the cheese may have matured from orange cheddar into salty feta; the slabs of butter into here-and-there drizzles of olive oil, but the comfort part has stayed the same. honorary. universal. irreplaceable. etc.

Butternut Squash and Feta Quesadillas (adapted from Cooking Books)

2 cups cubed squash
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 leek, diced (only the white and pale green area)
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped
Feta (to taste)
Tortillas (2-3, whole wheat or four)
2 tsbs olive oil

To Make:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cubed squashed with 1 tbsb olive oil, cumin and chili powder in a glass baking dish. Roast for 15 minutes.

Toss the leek in remaining tbsb olive oil. Remove squash from the oven, scoot squash to one side, and add leek. Roast for another 10 minutes.

Remove leeks and squash from oven. Puree just the roasted squash cubes in a food processor, until they are smooth and creamy.

Spread the squash puree over one side of a tortilla. Sprinkle cilantro, roasted leeks and feta. Fold the tortilla in half, enclosing the squash/feta/herbs. Heat olive oil or butter in a skillet over med-high heat until you can feel the heat coming off the pan by hovering your palm over it.

Place the squash/feta stuffed tortilla in the pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let roast for one minute or so -- check to make sure the first side has browned nicely. Flip and repeat on the next side.

Repeat until appetite satiated and adulthood reached.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

food for thought

a weekend wish list

* recipe dice from Leafcutter Designs.

* delicious, sustainably grown, and socially responsible coffee from Red Bird Coffee. (I've been drinking the Brazilian blend -- it's like silk. A necessary winter combatant if ever there was one.)

* reusable pantry bags from JulieMeyer on Etsy.

* anything and everything from the Little City Gardens Kickstarter project.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

brr, brr shiver shiver

This is the time of year in New York affectionately referred to as the "dead season." Nothing comes, nothing grows (Where My Rosemary Goes). I've been subsisting entirely on dried beans, various grains, apples and coffee (x3). These days, it is with a mixture of bemused indifference and curiosity that my co-workers regard me as I pull out my trusty tupperware at lunch. And it is with -- I hope -- a level of fondness that my housemate murmurs "Yep, that's a Cassie meal" when I toss a roasted sweet potato onto a plate.

But what am I supposed to do? The ground outside is cold and hard and dead. Cooking has been reduced to the most skeletal of parameters: maximum warmth-retention. That means a lot of soups, chilis, stews, crusty breads, cheeses...And while these kinds of comfort foods are no doubt superb, you can imagine how it's not just for the snow outside that one begins to forget that the color Green exists.

Ahh, but what of Kale? Lovely, dark, green and hardy; Kale perseveres through the winter alongside us. A nutritional superstar, a kissing cousin to wild cabbage, Kale is the cover-girl of every middle-aged Mom food magazine crammed into grocery check-out lines. That's right: KALE! With exclamation points!!! With MORE exclamation points !!!!!!! You can tell it's that part of winter where my grasp on sanity begins to slip, because never ever before have I been so excited about a vegetable.

This salad came together as an accompaniment to a chicken dinner I had with my friends Ben D. (glasses) and Ben S. (no glasses). It's easy, hearty and completely malleable to individual tastes. It's the perfect side, as it's mild enough to complement the main course, but bright enough to offer a nice boost to the other flavors on your plate.

Wilted Kale Salad with Parmesan

You Will Need:

2 bunches of Kale
lemon juice
olive oil

To Make:

Clean Kale. Separate leaves from stems. Discard stems. Roughly chop leaves and place in a large salad bowl. Add olive oil and lemon juice to taste, and begin firmly squishing and turning the kale. Continue to do this until the kale has become wilted -- darker in color -- and fully coated with olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and parmesan to taste. Chill briefly and serve.

Here is a quick index of some of my favorite kale recipes. What are yours?

101 Cookbooks -- Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

I've never had good luck with the recipes from this blog, but it's pretty hard to screw up a good mashed potato!

Orangette -- Carrot & Kale Frittata

Gourmet -- Kale, Butternut Squash and Pancetta Pie

Smitten Kitchen -- Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips

Substitute kale, just as good. Or leave the chard! Still good.

Kale Chips

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - "Eggs In a Nest" at NPR

Sub kale for chard. Or use chard! Or use both! Crazy, I know...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

mental breakdown cake

Do you know what's funny? That in Melissa Gray's All Cakes Considered (previously discussed, now personally owned -- thank you Siri, dreams do come true) there is literally a song about how Dutch Process Cocoa Powder and Unprocessed Cocoa Powder are different, non-interchangeable ingredients. It appears on page 175, the page immediately preceding the recipe for "Dark-Chocolate Red Velvet Cake" and it goes like this:

"Come and listen to a story 'bout a
Red Velvet Cake
Made with Dutch process cocoa
man, it tasted really great!
Only one problem
The cake it would not rise..."

You get the picture. Regardless of the chorus, the point is that Melissa Gray went out of her way to try and ensure that chefs following the recipe on the very next page would not goof and substitute regular, unprocessed cocoa for Dutch process.


Second point: I had a mental break-down while making this cake. But I learned a LOT about the anatomy of a good Red Velvet and the science behind baking. Miss Gray says it better than I ever could:

"If you use Dutch process unsweetened cocoa in a cake recipe that doesn't include baking powder, you're going to get a flat, moist, dense -- yet awfully tasty -- cake. This goes back to our chemistry lesson on the reaction that makes cakes rise: the interaction between your leavening agent, moisutre, and heat. Regular unsweetened cocoa is acidic. The addition of baking soda, which is alkaline, reacts to that acidic property, enlarging all those air bubbles whipped into the batter during creaming, which when baked, result in a risen cake. Dutch process cocoa has an alkali already added to it to neutralize its acidic properities. Its like a big, heavy blanket over the bubble party. BUT, if you add baking powder, which has alkaline and acid properities that will react with each other when introduced to moisture and heat, well, party on, dude! Swimming pools! Movie stars!"

Gotta love it.

Two weeks later, while chatting with my pal Dave: "Let me ask you something," he said. "Just real quick." I looked up at him, innocently, clearing my mental slate so that it might be quickly populated with answers to whatever burning question could be forthcoming. Totally useless thing to do, of course, because Dave never asked a question. He just pointed to a large, obscenely red blotch of "?!?@!@#" crusted onto the outer fold of my scarf.


SO, FYI: Red velvet cake will get on EVERYTHING when you make this recipe. Be prepared to clean. But -- even better than that -- be prepared to feast, because this is a damn good cake.

The Mental Breakdown Dark-Chocolate Red Velvet "Happy Birthday Frankie" Cake

You Will Need:

Two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans

For Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cus light brown sugar
6 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream /12 ounce red food coloring

For Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Two 8-ounce pakcages cream cheese (at room temperature)
Two 16-ounce boxes confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(You can tell this is going to be good already)

To Make:

Position a rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Prepare the cake pans (I used oil and a dusting of flour)

Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed, then gradually add the sugars, beating well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (a minute is good. trust me on this, it seems boring and long, but the consistency and quality of the finished batter is worth it). Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

In a separate bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking soda, cocoa, and baking powder together.

Add 1 cup of the floured cocoa mixture and 1/3 cup of sour cream alternately, beating well after each addition. Repeat until all the flour mixture and sour cream have been blended in.

Add the food coloring and beat well. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir up the batter at the bottom, then beat again.

Poor the batter into the prepared pans and place pans close to the center of the oven rack, but not touching. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake layers test done.

Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes, then unmold onto cake racks to cool to room temperature.

For the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just incorporated. Assemble and frost the layers, frosting the sides last, after the crown.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

before i go any further, something to say

i'm not good at cooking -- just enthusiastic about it. also, i have terrible luck. for evidence, please direct your attention to exhibit (a): i just dropped a glass off a side table and shattered it on the floor of my friends apartment while writing this entry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a friend is a chef: brian k. edition

It's not difficult to explain why eating with other people is more enjoyable than eating alone. Nor is it hard to surmise why cooking has long been favored as a collaborative process. Simply put, when you're cooking with a partner, you can get away with all sorts of things otherwise impossible. You can blame them if something goes wrong, laugh at them when they hit their head on the kitchen cabinet, ask them to peel the ginger because you're not really that good at it, and -- best of all -- share dessert with them.

Brian is one of my favorite friends to be in a kitchen with, but it's not just because he fits the aforementioned bill so perfectly. It's also because he texts me photos of food that he makes. And because he gets genuinely excited over good deals on olive oil. And because he is always willing to go impossibly out of his way with me while investigating random restaurants our friends have recommended. He was also the first person that I ever tried cooking meat with, an endeavor delayed by years of stubborn vegetarianism. Oh, and he also went to Brazil with me.

To this day, Brian retains the honor* of being the only friend with whom I've cooked animals. Whenever I find a recipe that calls for the handling of raw meat (insert awkward/stupid joke), he's the first person I send it to. "Can we make this?" "Will you eat this with me?" The answer is always yes. Another reason why Brian is one of my favorite friends in the kitchen.

The inspiration for this recipe was torn from the pages of my friend Amy's copy of Martha Stewart Living (sorry, Amy!). It's incredibly simple, which is good for a fish-novice like myself. Also, it's a recipe for two. So I recommend finding yourself a friend before you make it. Simply!

*exaggeration of significance

Parchment-Baked Mahi Mahi with Bok Choy inspired by Martha

You Will Need:

2 fillets of mahi mahi
2 heads of baby bok-choy or 1 bundle of regular
4 limes, halved
zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
parchment paper

To Make:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix lime juice, lime zest, garlic, onion and ginger in a small bowl -- set aside.

Fold two decently sized pieces of parchment paper in half lengthwise. Place mahi-mahi fillets and bok choy in the crease.

Rub the fillet/boy choy with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Top each with mixture of onion/garlic.

Fold parchment over fish, making small overlapping folds along edges and sealing (paper clip works, we improvised with sewing needles).

Place on rimmed baking sheets.

Roast 10 to 12 minutes -- parchment will puff when the fish is finished.

Cut open and serve.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

it begins...

the first fig-bar bake for my snack delivery company started today. phew!

a lot of work? yep! but it's a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

whatever happened to mr. bean?

My opinion of veggie burgers hinges on two key points. One, trying to imitate the taste of meat is counterproductive and never works, two, I like a fair amount of "chunk" in the chosen base, whether it be vegetable, grain, or bean. As a result of these two preferences, I'm incapable of consuming about 95% of store-bought veggie burgers with any amount of what I would call "joy." So my cooking gaff last week seemed curiously fated. Essentially, what I ended up making myself was a vat of pretty damn delicious veggie-burger base.

I've tried making black bean veggie burgers before and it hasn't worked out. The right recipe and a little luck later, though, and I am basking in beany success. Thick, hearty, flavor-dripping, perfectly textured, beany success. Yuuuuummm. I served mine with pieces of thinly, thinly sliced zucchini which I seared in the pan at the same time as the burgers themselves. Perfection!

Black Bean Burgers adapted from A Mighty Appetite

You Will Need:
4 cups cooked, rinsed and drained black beans (about 2 ½ 15-ounce cans)
1/2 cup Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
4 scallions, both white and green parts, minced
3 tablespoons (a small handful) chopped basil or cilantro, or a combination
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2-2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To Make:

Place the black beans in a large mixing bowl and mash -- do not overmash! Leave a good amount of the beans whole for good texture. Add bread crumbs, eggs, scallions, fresh herbs, garlic, cumin and oregano to the mix and continuing stirring/lightly mashing until well combined. When the mixture is turned out to your satisfaction, portion and shape it into patties about one inch thick. Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat, without any fat; when it is hot but not smoking, add burgers to dry pan. Cook for about four minutes on first side or until well seared and with a flipping spatula, turn onto second side and allow to cook for an additional five minutes, over medium heat.