Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recipes My Daughter Likes: The Ultimate Veggie Burger

I saw it in The New York Times last week – a recipe for “The Ultimate VeggieBurger.” The recipe is by Melissa Clark. When I saw it, I wanted to try it, but there was just one problem. My daughter is vegan, and this recipe calls for eggs and cheese, both of which are by definition not part of a vegan diet. So I altered the recipe to make it vegan by using an egg substitute as well as a cheese substitute. I put all the ingredients together on Friday night, placed the mixture in the refrigerator overnight, then fired up the grill on Saturday.

Photo by Andrew Scrivani
for The New York Times
The results were great! It satisfied the vegan as well as the meat eaters in the family. My daughter said it had a texture that was better than any of the frozen varieties of vegetable patties available in the stores.  Everyone said that this recipe is worth making again. I am including Melissa Clark’s original recipe below, then I’ll tell you how I made it. There is even a video on You Tube if you want to see Melissa Clark making this recipe herself.
The Ultimate Veggie Burger
By Melissa Clark

You make a veggie burger because you want the hamburger experience without the meat. This one
delivers. It’s got a firm, beefy texture that takes on the char and smoke of the grill, but is adaptable
enough to cook inside on your stove. The enemy of a veggie burger is mushiness, which stems from a
high moisture content. To combat that, the very watery ingredients – mushrooms, tofu, beans and
beets – are roasted to both dehydrate them somewhat and intensify their flavors. Y es, the ingredient
list here is long; you need a diverse lot to make a good veggie burger. And each one adds something
in terms of flavor and/or texture. Garnish this any way you like, and don’t forget to toast the buns.

TOTAL TIME: 1½  hours, plus at least 2 hours to chill

  • 4 ounces ex tra-firm tofu, drained
  • Olive oil
  • 1 /2 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • Black pepper, as needed
  • 1 (1 5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 medium beet, peeled and coarsely grated (3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup tamari almonds or cashews
  • 1 /3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 ounces Cotija cheese or queso blanco, crumbled or grated (about 1 /2 cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons may onnaise
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 3 garlic clov es, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon dulce pimentón or sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 /2 cup cooked brown rice


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice tofu into 1/4-inch-thick slabs and pat dry with paper towel.
   Arrange tofu on one half of a rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with oil. Spread mushrooms
   on the other half of the baking sheet; toss with 2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper.

2. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss beans and grated beet with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and
    pepper, then spread the mixture into one layer.

3. Transfer both baking sheets to the oven. Roast bean-beet mixture, tossing occasionally, until
    beans begin to split and beets are tender and golden, about 15 minutes. Roast mushrooms and
    tofu until golden and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Let everything cool.

4. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add cooled bean-beet mixture,
    mushrooms, tofu, panko, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, scallion, garlic, pimentón and 3/4 teaspoon
    salt. Pulse until ingredients are just combined. Pulse in tempeh and rice but do not overprocess.
    You want small chunks, not a smooth mixture. Scrape mixture into a bowl and chill at least 2
    hours or up to 5 days (you can also freeze the burger mix).

5. When you are ready to make the burgers, divide mixture into 6 equal portions and form each
    portion into a patty about 1 inch thick. Return to the fridge until just before grilling. They grill
    better when they start out cold.

6. Heat the grill. Cook the burgers over a low fire until they are charred on both sides and firm
    when you press on them, 4 to 6 minutes per side. If they start to burn before they firm up, move
    them to the sides of the grill to finish cooking over indirect heat. Alternatively, you can cook these
    on a grill pan or in a skillet over low heat.

YIELD: 6 Burgers

*    *    *

When I made this recipe, I made two changes – I replaced the eggs and cheese to allow for a vegan diet. For the eggs, I used an egg substitute called Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I recently discovered this product at The Golden Temple Natural Grocery and Cafe on Birmingham's Southside and have had good success with it in baking. Eggs serve as a binder, and Egg Replacer uses potato starch and tapioca flour to do the same thing. For the cheese, I used a cheese substitute that I found in the supermarket in the vegetarian section (Go Veggie is the brand name) . The product is made of soy protein and claims to have the same melting and stretching qualities as cheese.

The burgers did fine on the outside grill. I cooked them a little longer than the recipe suggests, but I think that is because my grill is higher off the coals than some. The only word of caution I will add is that in my experience, the burgers sank a little bit below the grid on the grill. My first attempt at flipping a burger sheared of the portions that were below the grill spindles. I found that by moving the spatula parallel with the grill lines, I could lift the end of burger slightly and hold it up while I moved the spatula under the burger. With that adjustment in technique, the grilling proceeded with success.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Music: Penny Lane

Here's an old favorite from The Beatles. The video is the original Beatles promotional film for "Penny Lane" but the audio is from a 1993 live concert by Paul McCartney. To hear the original Beatles recording, scroll on down to see how it was presented on the Beatles cartoon show back in the day.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Lessons from a Brown Thrasher

with great care
and diligent grace
proclaim life

                  ~ CK

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by:

Matt Tillett , Ken Thomas , cbgrfx123 , and Mike's Birds

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