Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Simplest Bean Burgers

Another good one from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I’m on a real roll with him.  Before that it was Donna Hay–I’ll try to post some Donna Hay gems up here soon.  Her cookbooks are amazing!  Sorry no photo on this one.  I ate it before I could take a photo!  I froze the rest so the next time I have one I’ll try to post the photo.

The Simplest Bean Burgers; makes 4 to 6

  • 2 cups well-cooked white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils, or one 14-ounce can, drained.
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Bean cooking liquid, stock, or other liquid (cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc.) if necessary
  • Extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, salt, pepper, and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture.  Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows.  (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance.  Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)  Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium.  A minute later, add the patties.  Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.
  3. Serve on plates with any accompaniments you wish or on buns with the usual burger fixings.  Or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

AURA’S NOTES:  I added some leftover potatoes and some finely diced carrots to mine for some more veggie power.  Think twice before adding liquid to the mixture.  I think adding a bit to mine made them a little too moist but some cooking time helped fix that.  I cooked half of mine in a skillet and half in the oven on about 350 degrees.  Both were equally good.

Ginger Fried Rice

Let me just start out by saying that I love Mark Bittman’s blog:  Bitten (  He is so common-sensical that I feel like I could make anything he does and that is what a good food writer and chef should be able to do–inspire!  I found this ginger fried rice on his blog today and knew it was right up my alley.  You are supposed to use day-old rice and mine was freshly cooked but after hours of conference calls for work, I figured it was dry enough to eat at my late-night dinner (it’s almost midnight–eek!).  Add in some stir fried veggies and it is (eating it now) a delicious dinner!

Ginger Fried Rice–From Mark Bittman’s blog, “Bitten”

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • Salt
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
  • 4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce.
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
  2. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
  3. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
  4. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
  5. Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

AURA’S PEARLS OF WISDOM:  When crisping the garlic and ginger.  Don’t turn away from it.  Not even to take a work phone call!  You will burn it in a heartbeat.  Believe me, I know.  This dish is best made when you have a few minutes to devote to each step…and your phone on silent.

I served mine with some carrot, sugar peas, and red bell pepper sauteed in a wok and splashed with soy sauce.  For some reason, the Meijer I went to for the sugar snap peas sells really stringy peas and I had to spend a lot of time de-stringing them and still, some of them were stringy.  The last time I got sugar snap peas, they weren’t stringy at all.  The time before that, stringy.  I wonder how I can figure out how to find the good ones consistently.  Any ideas?

Potato-Onion Frittata

I found this recipe in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Martha serves it for breakfast but I think it is a great dinner with a salad and even better as leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Potato-Onion Frittata

  • 1 pound small new potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions (about 1 pound) thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ounce sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 10 large eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 10 to 12 minutes.  Drain; let cool.  Peel, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in an ovenproof 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook onions until just translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add potatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and potatoes are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix together cheddar and eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium.  Pour egg mixture into skillet.  Dollop with sour cream, and swirl into egg mixture using the tip of a knife.  Cook until edge is set, about 2 minutes.  Carefully transfer skillet to oven, and bake until eggs are completely set, 10 to 12 minutes.  Invert frittata onto a plate.  Let cool slightly.  Serve warm.

AURA’S NOTES:  As with most things I make, I didn’t have everything I needed so I improvised a bit.  I had 4 eggs, not 10 so I added some more potatoes so it was slightly more potatoey than eggy.  I kind of think that 10 eggs would be too much, anyway.  Just my thought on it.

Tempeh Reuben

I pulled this recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,”  by Deborah Madison.  I have made tempeh reuben’s countless times since I first had one at the Alex Rock Cafe (short-lived) in East Town but this was the first time I used a recipe for a tempeh sandwich.  I ran across this one in Deborah Madison’s book; the tempeh was braised so I thought I’d try something new.  Tempeh is not for everyone but if you like it or want to try it and don’t know what to do with it, this is my favorite way to eat it!  Serve this sandwich with Thousand Island Dressing to make it into a reuben.  Serve it with some quick vinegary cabbage and carrot slaw and some baked beans if you really want to go all out.

Tempeh on Rye; makes 3 sandwiches

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 6 slices rye bread
  • 3 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and warmed
  • Prepared horseradish and mustard
  1. Cut the tempeh crosswise in half, then cut each half piece into 3 very thin slabs.  In a skillet wide enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer–though this isn’t absolutely crucial–heat the garlic and oil over medium heat until the garlic begins to color.  Add the tempeh pieces and turn them once to coat them with the oil, then add the paprika, dill, caraway, bay, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Season with pepper to taste.  Add water to cover and simmer until the water has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.  (If it cooks down sooner, add more water as needed.)  Allow the tempeh to fry for several minutes in the oil that remains in the pan, turning it a few times.  Taste a corner, then season with salt, if needed, and more pepper.
  2. Toast the bread.  Lay the cheese on 3 slices and broil until it begins to melt.  Add the tempeh and sauerkraut.  Cover the rest of the bread with horseradish and mustard, cover the sandwiches, and serve.

DEBORAH MADISON’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Braising tempeh in its seasoning, then letting it brown in the remaining oil improves its flavor and is more effective than marinating it.  Even if you are not a fan of meat pretenders, this robust sandwich is hefty and satisfying and tastes good in its own right.

MARK BITTMAN’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay), which originated in Indonesia several hundred years ago, is relatively new to America.  Like soy sauce, miso, and vinegar, tempeh is fermented, with a complex yeasty flavor and a high umami quotient; think of mushrooms, strong cheese, or hearty bread.  Like blue cheese, tempeh is “inoculated” with an edible mold, so it looks pretty wild:  an ugly, lumpy, compressed cake of beans (and sometimes grains), usually less than an inch thick.  It’s more of an acquired taste than many foods, but if you make Crunch Crumbled Tempeh (page 674 of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”), my guess is you’ll be fond of it pretty quickly.  Tempeh is very high in protein, up to 19 percent by weight, which means about 15 grams in a 1/2 cup serving–just about all you really need on many days.  Unlike tofu, tempeh is a whole soybean food, so it’s also relatively high in fiber and all the nutrients found in whole soybeans, including B vitamins and many amino acids.

AURA’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  You can find tempeh at Meijer and D&W stores–they usually carry the “LightLife” brand.  But if you are going to make this sandwich and really give tempeh a shot, I’d make the trip to Harvest Health on Eastern and Burton to buy the “West Soy” brand, which used to be “White Wave”.  It is much, much better!  If you don’t want to go through the whole process of braising for this sandwich, just fry the tempeh in a little oil and splash some tamari soy sauce on it at the end of cooking.  Just as good and your house won’t smell like vinegar!

Brooklyn’s Apron

I made this apron for Brooklyn and she loved it!  Here she is stirring up some guacamole.  Look out, Martha!