Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.

Enjoy!

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Caesar Salad – A Fresh Look

Caesar Salads have long been popular both in the restaurant scene and at home. I love a good Caesar Salad especially if you add some Caesar Saladgrilled chicken to it and lots of Parmesan cheese.

The dressing here is a low-fat version of a traditional Caesar. This maintains the flavor of the dressing the same as a traditional Caesar dressing, yet with far less fat. So you will find a stray from the traditional Caesar Dressing ingredients, but try this, you’d never know the difference!

Plating the salad becomes a real presentation. Take your time and you will be rewarded with not only a nice visual but also something that will satisfy your taste buds on many levels.

For the Salad:

      • Romaine Hearts – each one makes 1-2 servings; 3 for an appetizer or side salad
          • Keep the lettuce in tact!
  • Good quality bread for the “croutons”
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved off a block with a vegetable peeler
  • Anchovy fillets – white anchovies are a gourmet treat, but everyday anchovies will do also
  • Dressing (recipe follows)
  • Add Grilled chicken or shrimp if desired.

To make the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup low or non-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup low or non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (use the best quality you can buy!)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oil packed anchovy fillets (or more if you like)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 -2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

Put it all in the blender and process until smooth. Taste it, you may want more anchovy or garlic or cheese. If you do, add it and process again until smooth. If it gets too thick, thin with water.

Wash the lettuce, carefully remove any dirt or debris while keeping the head in tact. Turn the romaine heart upside down to drip dry or pat it dry with a paper towel.

Holding the romaine heart upright in a clean bowl, drizzle the leaves with the dressing, use about 1-2 ounces per heart.

Wrap tightly into a log shape

Wrap tightly into a log shape

Wrap the lettuce tightly in a log shape in plastic wrap. When you do this, arrange the leaves so they don’t break. You want to be able to wrap it together really tight.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Brush the bread with olive oil, grill each side for 1-2 minutes.

Roll the anchovy fillets into ‘mini-flowers’.

Make Crispy Parmesan Chips

Rolled anchovy fillets

Rolled anchovy fillets

Make some crispy Parmesan chips by placing freshly shredded (grated cheese does not work) onto a piece of oiled parchment in a circle.

Use a ring mold for even shapes

Use a ring mold for even shapes

Use a ring mold to make even sized circles. Bake them in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Remove when the cheese gets golden brown

Remove when the cheese gets golden brown

Remove from the oven and using a spatula, remove them from the parchment immediately as the cheese cools rapidly. At this point, they will retain any shape you give them. but you have to move fast, once they cool they become crisp.

For this presentation, instead of making croutons, I cut the bread into a long rectangle, oiled it and then put it on the grill for a few minutes.

Plate Presentation:

Lay two lengths of bread on the base of the plate.

With the plastic wrap still on the lettuce, slice the lettuce into rounds about 2″ wide.

Slice the lettuce with the plastic wrap still on. Of course, remove it as you bring the lettuce to the plate.

Slice the lettuce with the plastic wrap still on. Of course, remove it as you bring the lettuce to the plate.

Remove the plastic wrap and place them on the bread. Stand them up with the cut side down. Do this carefully and they will hold together.

Place a crispy cheese round on top of the cut lettuce, then add the rolled anchovies.

IMG_5419

Place either the grilled chicken or shrimp along side of the bread, sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle some dressing onto the plate and serve.

The presentation is nice because when you want to eat the lettuce, it falls apart easily with your fork and does not require further cutting unless you cut them too wide. 2 inches is the perfect size for this presentation.

Enjoy this Caesar!

IMG_5422

How to make Cranberry Sauce – easier than you think!

Dear Tyler:

Cranberry Sauce is easier than you think! Glad you asked. It is very exciting to be cooking your first Thanksgiving Feast! So here is the recipe you asked for:

How to make cranberry sauce

Forget the can. Grab a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and some water, oranges and sherry (a fortified wine, like Marsala) and we can have an array of cranberry sauces to amaze everyone.

Here are 3 super easy and full of flavor cranberry sauces. The only one I don’t think you’ll try is the sherry one, but one day, perhaps you will enjoy the complexity of flavors of sherry and cranberry.

The first recipe is found on nearly every bag of fresh cranberries.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Put it all in the pot and bring to a boil

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Boil then actively simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats. Especially Thanksgiving Turkey!

Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 1 orange, cut into quarters
  • 1 12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt

Remove the pithy core and seeds’ cut into quarters. Use a blender or food processor to puree.

Remove the seeds and the pithy core. Add the oranges, cranberries and sugar to a food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth. Thin with either cranberry or orange juice if needed.

Process until smooth

Place in a container and serve with just about whatever you want. I like turkey especially.

If you make this with frozen cranberries, you get a sorbet like consistency. Delicious!

Sherried Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan, except the sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sherry. Blend until smooth if desired. Strain if you want a smooth sauce.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats.

These are the 3 most popular cranberry sauces our family uses.

So here you go. You can now carry on Turkey traditions!

3 Cranberry sauces from left to right: Orange Cranberry, Easy Cranberry Sauce and Sherried Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow:

Since you are cooking your first turkey Thursday, I’ll write a post on:

How to Roast a Turkey

Love,

Mom

An Easy Crust for Pies and Tarts

Here is a super simple dough to use for pies and tarts. One key to working with any tart dough is to keep it cold. This allows the fat to melt while baking which creates light, flaky crusts.

Plum Blackberry Almond Tart

With lots of holiday events approaching, here is a simple basic approach to a nice pie or tart dough.

If you want a double crust, double the recipe. This only makes 1 crust.

Easily done by hand, you can also use a food processor, just pulse the ingredients without the water, add water, bit by bit to make the dough mass. You may use all the water, only some or you may need more. It depends on how much moisture your flour holds.

Easy Pie or Tart Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 – 5 tablespoons ice-cold water

If creating the crust by hand, combine the salt and sugar with the flour. Cut the cubed butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two knives or a fork.

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry...

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry blender. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cut the fat into the flour

When the mix resembles a coarse mixture (you still want to see some globs of butter, don’t make it smooth) add the ice-cold water tablespoon by tablespoon.

The mass should come together. Only use as much water as you need to bring the ball together. You may need more water or less water. This is why you add it bit by bit.

Add enough water to just bring the dough ball together when you squeeze it.
You want to see blobs of fat in the dough, not smooth.

Press the dough into a ball and place it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press it into a disk.

Refrigerate until cold.

Roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap

Roll the chilled dough out to the size you need while it is still in between the wrap. This makes it easier to handle and is much easier to clean up too.

Remove one side of the plastic wrap. Position the dough over the pie or tart pan and press it into place.

Alternatively, you can press the dough into the pan and then chill while you prepare the filling.

Much easier is to use the fluted tart pans with the removable bottoms. Press the dough into the tart pan. Make sure you have at least 1/4 inch at the sides and at the curve of the pan so it is strong enough to stand on its own when the pan is removed.

Small fluted tart shells ready for filling

The fluted edge pans give all your tarts such a professional finished look, they are so worth the investment. Since they come in many sizes, you can make large tarts or small individual ones and any size in between.

Ready to fill and bake. See the fat? That means you will have a flaky crust.

Fill them just as you would a pie.

If you use a top crust, decorate it with dough cut outs instead of just a pile of dough on top of the filling.

Or use a strusel topping or leave the fruit exposed and glaze with melted apple or seedless raspberry jelly when the tart is done. This puts a “sealing glaze” on the fruit and makes it shiny. The photo of the Plum and Blackberry Almond Tart at the beginning of this post is finished with melted red currant jelly.

Here are some of my thoughts about using other ingredients besides water and butter.

Butter: Fat is fat, at least the melting point of butter is lower than body temperature. Fat provides tenderness and flavor to the crust. I’d rather eat butter than Crisco or lard or hydrogenated oils like margarine. I have yet to try coconut oil.

Water: Some recipes will ask you to use vodka instead of water. It provides a flaky crust too. Alcohol evaporates faster than water therefore creating a flakier crust. Try it if you like. I don’t drink distilled spirits so it never occurs to me to use vodka.

Flour: Use a good quality organic flour. You can use gluten-free flours too. I’m just not too sure how strong the non-wheat flours will hold up in a fluted pan once the outer ring is removed. My experience is most gluten-free baked goods are crumbly due to the lack of gluten.  Not sure how to over come that but since I’m not gluten-free, I use King Arther’s unbleached AP flour and I get pretty crusts.

I do know if I had to go gluten-free, I would miss pie crust, tarts, and good chewy bread tremendously.

No matter what liquid you use, just be sure it is ice-cold. I use a large measuring cup with lots of ice and water and scoop what I need from there. When finished, I pour the cold water into a glass and make lemonade or tea. I suppose you could do the same with vodka. Use lots of ice.

Bake off empty shells by lining with parchment and filling with rice or beans and baking until done. Fill with fresh fillings.

Fill unbaked shells with fruits, custards, fillings and bake until golden and bubbly. Times vary but usually take 45-55 minutes in a 350°F oven.

There are so many finishing and fillings!

Use any left over scraps to make dough cut outs. Egg wash them and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown. Use these on the top of the tarts, place them when the tart is still hot from the oven or serve as a garnish with each serving.

Be creative.

4 Safe Methods for Thawing Food

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food safety is a serious subject. I am passionate about preventing food borne illness. I have been teaching the subject to restaurants, hospitals, schools, dietary managers, nursing homes and at the college level since 1991. I am a Food Safety expert.

This is the launch of a series of food safety articles.

The first subject is on 4 Safe Methods of Thawing Foods.

There are 4 safe methods for thawing food. Following one of these methods can help prevent making your family and friends sick with a food borne illness.

1. Thaw under refrigeration.

This takes some planning. Sort out  your refrigerator so you have a designated drawer on the bottom of your fridge to hold raw meats.

If you want to defrost a whole 3 pound chicken, it will take about 4 days to thaw. You need to plan a place where it can do so safely. All thawing meats should be positioned so they are not dripping onto any foods below them. Place them in containers to catch thawing juices.

In My Fridge

In A Fridge (Photo credit: Nikita Kashner)

Store food according to:”Swim, Walk, Fly”

  • Ready to eat foods on top
  • Things that swim (Including oysters, clams etc. If it comes from the water, it is considered a “swimming thing.”
  • Things that walk around (On hooves and feet and have fur or hair like pork, lamb, beef, or Ostrich.)
  • Things that walk around but are ground up, like ground pork or ground veal or hamburger. These get cooked to a higher temperature than steaks, chops or roasts.
  • Things that fly ( Chickens, ducks, squab, quail, and even though turkeys don’t fly, they also fall into this category)
  • This is based upon internal cooking temperatures which will be explained in another post. For now remember and practice
  • “Swim, Walk, (Ground-up Walk),Fly”

So what happens when you don’t have the time?

2. Thaw under clean drinkable water that is 70°F or less, and either running or changed frequently.

A bowl in the sink with cold water, but not hot, is fine for thawing a package of chicken for dinner. As long as you change the water about every half hour. If water logging is a concern, place the item in a zip lock bag and place that in the water.

The water should be changed every 30 minutes.

This is not a method to use while you are at work. Why? Because the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes or lightly running so the water is exchanged as thawing occurs.

Never thaw in the sink for longer than 4 hours! That is the amount of time it takes any bacterial colonies to grow to dangerous levels.

Never, ever thaw on the counter or just left in the sink. This is a very bad and risky practice.

Keep you eye on the product, it will thaw faster than you think it will.

3. In a microwave as long as the item will be cooked immediately after thawing.

My concern here would be the quality of the item. I can’t think of anything that benefits from a run in the microwave.

But, as long as you cook the item as soon as you finish nuking it to thaw, this is considered a safe method.

Be sure to clean and sanitize the inside of the microwave after you finish thawing.

4. You can thaw food as part of the cooking process.

day fifty three | a piece of meat

(Photo credit: I Are Rowell)

The best examples here are frozen vegetables into soup stock, frozen french fries into the oven or fryer oil and frozen burgers going directly onto the grill.

Again, your call on the quality issue of cooking meats from frozen. I find the texture isn’t as nice than if you thawed it under refrigeration which is my thawing method of choice.

So there you have it. 4 Safe methods to thaw foods.

This information is from ServSafe® an educational division of The National Restaurant Association (NRA). These are the best practices that are used to train food handlers in  all restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and dietitians.

I have a dual role with the NRA to both teach and administer the exam for ServSafe®. Food safety is a passion of mine. No one should ever suffer an illness from food you eat.

Learn how to prevent such things from happening.  Become advocates for your own food safety. If you see a bad practice, speak up!

Implement good food handling practices every time you touch food.

It really is that important.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars or What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you may have from holiday meals. I find whole berry works best but if you like the jelly kind, use it too. Store bought, in a can or fresh, any cranberry sauce will work out quite well.

For the best, make your own cranberry sauce.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, line the pan with a sheet of parchment, allowing the sides of the paper to overhang on the long edge of the pan. This makes for easy removal from the pan after the bars are baked. Simply lift the paper and the whole thing can be moved to a cutting board or platter.

Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the dough:

  • 8 ounces soft  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, mix just until it comes together.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter and eggs, stirring slowly to combine, slowly add all of the oats and mix only until combined.

Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Top with cranberry sauce. Make sure to cover the entire surface, all the way to the edges. I added some seedless raspberry jam in dollops all over the dough too.

Dot the cream cheese over the surface of the dough.

Using the remaining half of the dough, dollop it over the top of the cranberries and cream cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

When the bars come out, drop 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. The heat from the baked bars will melt the chips, then spread the melted chocolate in swirled patterns over the top. You could drizzle some fondant icing over them too but that might be overkill.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Carefully lifting the sides of the overhanging paper, lift the baked bars onto a cutting board and cut them into the desired size with a sharp knife. Sprinkle any crumbles over yogurt.

Store covered at room temperature for up to 7 days. (If they last that long!)

Plated Oatmeal Cranberry Bar

How To Section Citrus Fruit

Cutting citrus fruit into sections, also called a supreme, is a basic skill.

Culinary students should learn this skill in the first class they take.

However, with that said, I find it odd that in class some students don’t know how to section citrus fruit, even in an advanced class.

I also observed this student who once shown how to do it, passed it on to another team-mate to complete. They in turn, did something else. Not being my class, all I could do is observe and makes notes to myself.

Note to self: Knife Skill Test; Measurement Test for class. If you are a student, consider this heads up!

The process is quite simple and the technique applies to all citrus fruits.

If you are going to want the zest for anything, remove the zest before removing the peel. Personally, I like to dry the zest and keep it handy for quick flavor blasts in a bland dish.

Cut the top and bottom from the fruit.

Cut the peel down the side, removing the pith and exposing the inner fruit.

Cut the peel away all around the fruit.

Work over a bowl to catch all the juices that drip while you cut the fruit sections out.

Remove the sections

Using a sharp knife, cut between the membranes and slide the cut section into a bowl.

Continue all around the fruit until all sections are removed. Squeeze the juice into the bowl with fruit sections.

Discard remaining peel, any seeds and membrane.

All used up.
For total mileage, roll it in salt and give your copper pots a polish.

The sections should be free of seeds, pith and peel.

Use them in salads, salsa, on grilled or fried meats or poultry or seafood.

A bowl of citrus segments is really nice with vanilla ice cream or to accent fruit desserts.

Orange and lemon segments

Refreshing!