Thursday, July 22, 2010

Veggie Burgers

I made veggie burgers this week for a client of mine. They were delicious and so easy to make. I've made a variety of veggie burgers before and so I went into it with no real recipe. My plan was to saute aromatic veggies, add in chickpeas and a grain as well as an egg to bind and some raw cheese for flavor.
Well, I did just that. I finely chopped aromatic veggies: carrot, celery, garlic and onion and sauteed them in coconut oil over medium heat. I also added in some dried thyme....
I let that cool a bit and I put them into the food processor to process. I had already made some quinoa for a quinoa salad, so I added some of that into the processor as well as some chickpeas and some chopped parsley.
After the quinoa, chickpeas and veggies were pureed, I added in an egg as the binder and also some raw milk cheeses for flavor. I added in a small bit of raw milk Parmigiano-Reggiano as well as another raw milk cheese, similar to Fontina, which melts well and has a subtle flavor (I'm forgetting what it is called at this moment, so sorry!!).
At this point I realized that the mix was a bit too moist. I didn't plan to add in a component to grab the moisture, such as bread crumbs, as I thought the quinoa would be enough of a buffer. So I hadn't purchased any bread crumbs. I knew my client didn't have any bread crumbs, so in a bit of a panic, I looked for something to add to the mix.....and viola, I found the brown rice cereal!
I put some of the cereal into a bag and crushed it up into a coarse crumb. I added those crumbs into the mix and made the burgers. I cooked one of the burgers in coconut oil and I was curious if I was going to need to give them a coating of crumbs....well, the answer was yes. So, I crushed more cereal and then coated the burgers in the crumbs before cooking them off.
I have to say, the cereal worked out great!!! The burgers were crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. The chickpeas gave the burger a real meaty flavor, and the cheese rounded the taste out. I highly recommend that you try this recipe out at home.
Veggie Burgers
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup chickpeas (from a 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
2 TBS chopped parsley
1 egg
1/4 cup raw milk Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/4 cup raw milk Fontina cheese, grated
1 - 1.5 cups breadcrumbs or crushed brown rice cereal, divided
Coconut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Saute the carrots, celery, garlic, onion and thyme in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil or your fat of choice, over medium heat, until softened 6-8 minutes (be sure to season with S+P).
2. Remove from heat, let cool and place in food processor with S blade.
3. Add the chickpeas, parsley and quinoa to food processor and process to blend together then add the cheeses and blend together; taste for seasoning and adjust S+P as necessary. Add in the egg and process once more.
4. Remove mix from the food processor and move to a bowl then add in the breadcrumbs or cereal. Start with 1/2 cup and see how it feels. Press some of the mix together, feel how moist it is and assess if you need to add more.
5. Form your burgers, then press one side into the crumbs or cereal. Flip and press the other side in and pan fry over medium to medium-high heat, in coconut oil.

Please email me if you have questions about the recipe or process of making the burger...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Squash and Corn Chowder

Ah, July...that means one thing..inundation of squash and zucchini!!!!!!! And, this season, it also means the first corn is here. What to do with all of this squash and corn?
Make chowder, of course!
Here's a quick recipe for a delicious chowder made with applewood smoked bacon, delicious farm fresh squash and corn and low fat milk.
First off, cook off your bacon to crisp it up and render the fat.
Pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the bacon fat, then saute about a cup of scallions, a couple ribs of celery and the squash until softened.
While the veggies soften up, take the corn from 4 cobs and leave 1 cup behind, but puree the rest along with 1 cup 1% milk and some fresh thyme.
When the corn is pureed, add in another cup to cup and a half of milk and puree until smooth.
Add the pureed corn along with whole corn kernels to the sauteed veggies and simmer for another 5 minutes.
To serve, top off with the greens of scallions, some crispy bacon and some shredded cheddar cheese (or other cheese of your choice)....
Note: this chowder will freeze well, so consider making it and storing it for the fall :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What the heck do I do with....A Panini Press????

You make panini, of course! A panini is a pressed sandwich, usually served warm.
The panini press is more versatile than that however, and you can also use it to grill meats and veggies if you don't have a grill, or live in an urban setting where having a grill might be out of the question.
I recently made some panini for a client of mine, Chicken Pesto and Fontina and Black Forest ham...delish. There are a couple of secrets to a good panini. The first and the most important I think, is the bread. You have to use a strong, durable, crusty bread that can withstand the moisture of the filling. The second is the fat you use to grill your bread with. For the pesto and more savory panini, a good quality olive oil works. For something as luscious as oozing Fontina cheese, a high quality butter works.

The panini press is a dual cooking surface piece of equipment, and nonstick. You don't have to flip the food when it's cooking. I used the panini press to cook the chicken (it marinated in fresh, minced garlic and olive oil first for about 2 hrs). Always season your meat prior to cooking w/a liberal sprinkle of sea salt or kosher salt and fresh black pepper.

Once the chicken was cooked, and the bread sliced, I spread it with some basil pesto, (sundried tomato pesto would work great as well). I gave the bread a liberal splash of olive oil and stuck the sandwiches in the press to cook.

After about 5-6 minutes, on a medium to medium high heat, this is what the paninis look like:
Here's the finished chicken pesto panini:
Can't leave out the Fontina and Ham panini:

As I mentioned before, the press is also good for grilling veggies and works especially well with zukes, squashes and peppers....
So, if you have a panini press shoved away in some cabinet in your kitchen somewhere, consider pulling it out again. If you are limited with your space and want a versatile cooking tool, consider purchasing a press :)