Monday, August 29, 2011

Black and Blue Burgers

Have you ever created something in the kitchen and been unsure of whether it's right or so very wrong? I did! I was futzing around yesterday afternoon and came up with this nutty concoction. Try it and let me know - right or wrong?

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/2 tablespoon garlic (run through a microplane or zester - you can also buy garlic paste at Big B in the Asian section - far right, second shelf)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Handful of BACOS! (this is where things fall off the rails)
1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese

Yeah. Bacos and Blue Cheese.

First, BACOS are a vegan food as confirmed by both Betty Crocker and PETA. If you're craving a little bacon flavor (and who doesn't?) this should cure you! Bacos fall squarely in the category of "Things I Would Never Eat Before Becoming Vegetarian". Use sparingly and admit to no one.

Second, I don't purchase cheese anymore. In my humble opinion, dairy cows have pretty much the worst lives of all animals we use for food. More on that another day. BUT, when cheese makes it into the house on a husband's whim, I'm not happy to see it go bad. To me, wasting it means the sacrifice of her calf was for nothing. That's how the blue cheese made it into this recipe.

On with the recipe...

Mash the black beans with a fork until you've got a good mix. I like to leave a few beans halves unmashed. Add the remaining ingredients except the blue cheese and combine. NOTE: If you don't have wheat germ you can sub wheat flour or extra bread crumbs.

I put the mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes while I cleaned the kitchen and made Chapatis (see below). I have no idea if this helps to keep the burgers together but my burgers hung tight!

Heat a tablespoon of coconut or canola oil in a non-stick pan while you form your patties. Let the oil get pretty hot so that when the patty hits the pan, you get a nice brown crust.

Once the burger has been browned on both sides and cooked through, sprinkle a little blue cheese on the top to melt. A little goes a long way. Serve with your favorite condiments on your favorite bread. I made homemade Chapatis for the "bun" and seasoned them with thyme and rosemary for a homey taste. I'll post the Chapati recipe next!

Something about the faint crunch of the bacos with the bite of the horseradish and boldness of the blue cheese really worked for me. Again, I have no idea if this was good or bad. You decide!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Veg Roti - I Am Obsessed

Yikes! I just looked at my blog posts and realized that I'm becoming "Inconsistent Blogger Girl". Something I never wanted to become. I read a lot of veg blogs and nothing says "sad" like a neglected blog - last post, December 2010. Sad.

So, instead of waiting until I take the perfect picture, spell-checking the thing to death or attempt to limit my reckless use of exclamation points (!) - here is what I'm obsessed with lately. And by obsessed, I mean that this dish is in my refrigerator at all times and I start to sweat when the Tupperware is emptying and another batch is not yet on the stove.

Veg Roti

2 cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
15 baby carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 big bunch of Chinese Cabbage or spinach
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or grapeseed or canola)
1 can (yes, I said it!) of Madras curry sauce by Pataks
1 large Roti skin (if you're not in the Caribbean, a large tortilla is as close as you'll come)

First, I love making my own curry but Pataks is yummy, spicy, FAST and economical - not easy to come by on Barbados. Pataks makes a simmer sauce (too mild) and a paste (requires coconut milk) so I get the Madras sauce in a CAN! If I was making this for a dinner party, I would make my own curry but since I eat this by the bowlful daily - hand me the can opener please.

Heat up the oil in a large pot with lid. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle and smell fantastic.

Add the onions and carrots and push around the pan for a couple of minutes. Next, add the chinese cabbage or fresh spinach and garlic. Allow the cabbage/spinach to wilt down a bit. Note: Do not use frozen spinach - this dish needs something fresh that "holds up" - frozen spinach becomes an unappetizing mushfest.

Last - add the chickpeas, Madras sauce and then a can of water - making sure to get all the Madras out of the can.

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. It smells wonderful. Light some incense and you've got Instant Ashram!

Roti skins or tortillas are best when heated up on a gas stove burner. Let the skin puff up and get little char marks. Use a non-stick pan to heat the skin if you have electric. Microwave is a no-no. Heap a coffee cup amount of the chickpeas into the toasted roti skin, wrap it up with love and enjoy!

I like to top my Veg Roti will a little jarred crushed peppers - because hot is never enough. Also, roti skins are pretty high in calories so I limit the skins to one a day - I cannot say the same about the coffee cup full of the chickpeas!
See! A perfectly un-perfect picture of my chickpeas & crushed peppers. I'm out of roti skins... sad.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Handy Dandy Kitchen Tips

Here are some tips I’ve found handy lately. Being veg takes some mindfulness but it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming hassle. Each one of these tips takes a couple of minutes or less. Far less time than it takes to disinfect your hands, counter surfaces and utensils after handling meat :) Run through the list on a Sunday night and your week is set for success!

Let a package (or two) of frozen spinach defrost in your fridge. I can’t stand to use the microwave unless absolutely necessary so letting the block defrost is a good maneuver. Just wring out a handful and toss it into (almost) anything you’re cooking. Spinach is made of 45% protein and packs a decent hit of calcium. Time spent – less than 30 seconds.

Drain, rinse and press a block (or two) of tofu next time you toss in a load of laundry. When the washer is done, so is the tofu. Lately I’ve been slicing the block into thirds before I wrap it in a dishtowel and slap a book on it. Creating the extra surface space of three pieces pulls the water out faster. Wrap it up in a paper towel and pop it in a Ziploc for the fridge. Tofu is ready for your frying pan all week long… Time spent – 2 minutes total.

Drain and rinse a large can of chickpeas and two cans of black beans. After a good rinse, store them in separate containers in the fridge. You can toss a handful into just about anything (see spinach above!) and it couldn’t be handier. You need the protein of the beans so having them prepped and in your face is a good thing. Time spent – 3 minutes – maybe less.

*Note: I’m becoming a dried bean junkie. Something is soaking in my fridge at all times and my slow cooker has been on continuously for months. Canned beans, if rinsed very well, are an OK choice but if you can take the time to soak dried beans over night, (which consists of a whole 30 seconds to toss a bag of dried beans into a container of water and place in your fridge) and then dump them in the slow cooker before you leave for work the next morning (2 minutes) I bet you’ll love them! Tastes great, no can to recycle and easier on the wallet. Win.Win.Win.

Clean and slice every conceivable piece of fruit in your fridge – even apples. Get honest. How much fruit do you throw away each week? In Barbados, much of our fruit starts with the disadvantage of traveling thousands of miles to get to the market. We need to eat fruit quickly or it’s suddenly sporting a grey mohair sweater. This tip is now non-negotiable in my house. I clean/slice everything when I get home from the store and then store in Ziploc bags with the air pressed out. I use fresh lemon juice on my apple slices to keep them from browning but better yet… I EAT the apple slices in a timely manner instead of letting them rot in the crisper. Maybe 5-10 minutes depending on quantity.

A note about vegetables – I rinse/chop/Ziploc all of the lettuce and other veggies that don’t have a protective coating like broccoli, cauliflower. I leave veggies with a protective coating alone like cucumber, squash, zucchini, breadfruit. Peppers tend to dry out so those bend the rule.

Slam a Post-It on your Almond/Soy/Rice milk that notes the day you opened it. I had two open Almond Milk containers in my fridge BOTH with an expiration date in the next millennium. All well and good but once they’re opened, they must be treated like milk. I had no idea which one was fresher and couldn’t decide if either one was good. Both got tossed at $4/box. Time I could've spent to save the Almond Milk via Post-It- Approximately 15 seconds.

Finally, make an entire package of Quinoa at one time. No other pseudo grain rocks straight out of the fridge like Quinoa. Yes, it’s the Sun-Dried Tomato of the moment but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious! If you prep the other ingredients above, you’ve got a killer Quinoa salad full of protein at your fingertips 24/7. Wave bye-bye to crappy food decisions!

This is a two-way street friends... If you have helpful tips to make this beautiful life easier, please send them along. I need them!

And no… I am NOT a paid Ziploc representative.