Folks, I've got a brand-spanking-new culinary bible. Heidi Swanson, my go-to for almost everything, has been dethroned. Don't get me wrong, her books are still some of my favorites. But there's another player in town. The new top dog on my kitchen shelf is... (drum roll, please) the sprouted kitchen: a tastier take on whole foods. This recently published cookbook has taken the number one spot. It's my new go-to.
Sara and Hugh Forte, the husband-and-wife team behind the very popular Sprouted Kitchen, have put together one of the most beautiful cookbooks I've seen since Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty hit the scene. The recipes are delicious and the photographs are gorgeous. Some day, one day, I hope that I can improve upon my food photography. If and when that (ever) happens, I hope my pictures will look something like Hugh's. I wouldn't mind having Sara's taste instincts either.
Now I don't know Sara or Hugh personally, nor do I benefit from the sales of their book, but I am telling you-- this is a cookbook you really should own.
I've made a bunch of Sara's dishes, including her recipe for Lentil "Meatballs" with Lemon Pesto, and it has become one of my favorites.
Now I am happily cooking my way through her (and Hugh's) new book.
It's been a few weeks since I've been in the kitchen. And I've missed it.
We managed to move (without incident) from the northwestern section of Denver, all the way over to the eastern side of the city. I'm not really sure what section of town we are in-- some people call it Hilltop, some refer to it as Crestmoor, and Lowry gets thrown in there too. We've signed a short 6 month lease, so maybe I'll figure it out before we move (again)...hopefully to a place of our own...I'm getting pretty hopeful.
Anyway, take-out dinners were the norm the week before we moved. The packing seemed endless and, having two boys under the age of 3 to care for, just added to the juggling act. I managed to eek out a Tomato Tart and Fresh Tomato Cream Soup, but that was pretty much it.
Unfortunately, two days after we moved, a devastating family emergency brought me back to NYC . (I'm reluctant to write more about the seriousness of what happened, mostly because my writing can not possible convey the ordeal our family faced over the past few weeks. While the events that transpired aren't a secret, I have to respect that fact that my parents and brother might prefer a bit of privacy, not wishing to broadcast every detail on a public forum such as a blog. As of now though, things are much better than they were two weeks ago. For that we are thankful. And we continue to maintain a positive outlook. We truly appreciate all the good thoughts and prayers that have been said on our behalf.)
That said, it has been a crazy few weeks. There has been very little time to cook and not much time to eat a real meal.
This is pretty much marks my foray back in to the kitchen...after almost a month away.
This mushroom and brown rice burger, while a bit time consuming to put together, hits the spot. It's really fantastic. I topped it with sauteed shallots and a lemon and herb hummus. The dip is positively delicious. Since I had a bit of avocado salsa already made, I added that to the burger too. But feel free to experiment; you can really add whatever condiments and toppings you like or have at your disposal.
A note on the ingredients: I am sensitive to the fact that purchasing certain ingredients can get expensive. But I think that the taste that comes from these specialty flours, herbs or seeds, enhance the dish exponentially. They are well worth it, in most cases.
It took me quite a bit of time to build up my pantry (with things like flax meal, for example). But now I seem to have most of the ingredients I need on hand. Unless you want to go all-out and buy everything at once (which can be pricey), build up your pantry by prioritizing what you will use the most and what tastes you favor. This requires a bit of patience, but it beats boring, bland, unhealthy food, right?!
Hope you enjoy this vegetarian burger and the first few days of fall!
Mushroom and Brown Rice Veggie Burgers (Courtesy of Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods, Sara and Hugh Forte)
Serves 6 (I halved the recipe and it made 4 burgers)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups stemmed and finely chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 pound). (I used baby bella mushrooms, which work, because...)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (flax meal)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained well (I used organic canned)
3 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 cups coked and cooled brown rice (Generally speaking, I use a ratio of 1:2-- rice to water. I then add more water as needed, usually ending up with closer to 3 cups, but that might be because I cook at altitude. I add a splash (or two) of veggie stock for more flavor.)
1 to 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats, as needed (I didn't need them.)
4 large shallots, sliced thin
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive-oil or coconut oil
6 whole grain English muffins
3/4 cup hummus (recipe below)
2 avocados, peeled and sliced (I used avocado salsa, recipe below)
2 cups arugula
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté until the mushrooms are softened and the excess water has cooked off, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Combine the ground flaxseed, Parmesan, chickpeas, dates, parsley, egg, fennel seeds, tahini, tamari, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a food processor. Give the mixture a few pulses to combine well and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Once the mushrooms are at room temperature, add them, along with any juices in the pan, to the bowl along with the rice and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. At this point the mixture should be pretty moist, but if it seems too wet to form into a patty, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of oats to soak up some of the moisture. The recipe can be prepared to this point up to a day in advance.
Arrange a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Form the mixture into 6 patties, each about 1 inch thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat and arrange the patties on the baking sheet with space in between. Bake them in the oven until toasted on top, 14 to 18 minutes.
While the burgers cook, prepare the shallots. Warm the oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until the edges begin to brown, 5 o 7 minutes. Set aside for assembly.
After removing the patties from the oven, toast the English muffins while the burgers rest for a moment. Put a swipe of hummus on each muffin half and assemble the burgers by layering the patty, avocado slices, arugula and sauteed shallots. Serve immediately.
* * *Lemon and Herb Hummus (Courtesy of Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods)
3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 15-ounce cans)
1 roasted shallot (To roast the shallot, peel it and cut into quarters. Rub a bit of olive oil on the surface and roast in the oven or a toaster oven at 400F for about 20 minutes.)
3 tablespoons tahini
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I omitted the dill because I didn't want to shlep back to the supermarket.)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Optional Garnish (Not for the burger)
1/2 English cucumber, sliced paper-thin
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, roasted shallot, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop the food processor when the hummus reaches the desired smoothness. (I thinned mine out with a few tablespoons of water at this point.)
Add the herbs to the hummus, and pulse a few times until combined.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you'd like. Pulse the processor while adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of water to thin out the hummus, as needed, remembering that it will firm up in the fridge.
To make the optional garnish, toss the cucumber with the parsley and vinegar. To serve, put the hummus on a serving plate, top with the cucumber mixture and feta, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and fill.
* * *I never did get around to posting Ezra Pound Cake's Summer Corn Cakes (above), but here is a slightly modified version of her recipe for Tomato and Avocado Salsa (seen in the blue bowl above). I dolloped it on top of the mushroom and brown rice burgers, but please note that I added this particular topping because I already had it in my refrigerator. Sara, (of Sprouted Kitchen) adds sliced avocado to her burger, so feel free to do that if you are: a) short on time or b) don't really feel like adding a step to this meal.
Avocado Salsa, adapted by Ezra Pound Cake from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen
Makes about 2 cups
1 scallion, trimmed and minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small clove garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
Place all of the ingredients (except the avocado) in a bowl, and stir to mix. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, for up to 2 days.
Just before serving, add the avocado, and mix gently. Adjust salt. Serve!