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Quinoa, Beet, and Black Bean Burgers

25 Feb

quinoa, beet, and black bean burgers

Once again, I’m playing host here in Buenos Aires (this time, to Andrew’s parents instead of mine). And, although it’s easy for people to eat out for every meal when on vacation, I think there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal after a long plane ride or a day of sight-seeing. These quinoa, beet, and black bean burgers are more complicated than many bean burgers, but the different components can be cooked ahead of time, and the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week before being formed into patties. This makes them ideal for serving to guests – I did all the legwork ahead of time and just had to fry up some patties and toast some buns to have dinner on the table. Of course, they’re not just convenient – they also have amazing color, flavor, and texture, and I have to give most of the credit to the beets. I would never have guessed that finely diced beets would make such a great base for a veggie burger, but their earthy flavor and firm texture are perfect here. I always like to add chia seeds to my cooked quinoa, so I went ahead and did it here, too, with the added benefit of the chia seeds helping to bind the burger, eliminating the need for an egg (though if you’re having trouble keeping your patties together, you can always still add in an egg to help). I balanced everything with some rehydrated dates, for sweetness, and lemon juice, for tartness, and couldn’t help tossing in some smoked paprika as well (you can use a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo instead for similar smokiness with a spicy kick). These burgers (which can also be formed into balls and used in place of meatballs or on top of a salad) are so flavorful that they barely need any toppings – but I went ahead and added halved cherry tomatoes and pickled red onions for a little fresh crispness.

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Momofuku Pulled Pork

21 Nov

momofuku pulled pork

It’s not often that a recipe comes along that I can eat for multiple days straight. I get easily tired of eating the same thing and am always craving something new – that question about, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, leaves me feeling panicked contemplating the possibility. But despite the large quantity of pulled pork made by this recipe, taken from the menu of the famous New York restaurant Momofuku, I found myself wanting even more when I ran out (after 48 hours straight of using it in every meal). The recipe is deceptively simple (though, admittedly, requires some patience), with the shoulder rubbed with salt and sugar, then cooked for hours in low heat, and finally glazed with brown sugar at the very end. The result is moist, tender pork with an addictive salty-sweet crust – I can never resist the salty-sweet combination. For my first few meals, I ate this with a Korean spread reminiscent of how its served in the restaurant, alongside homemade kimchi, a scallion ginger relish (recipe included at the bottom of the post), thinly sliced cucumber, and leaves of butter lettuce (there’s also rice served in the restaurant, but I didn’t find it necessary here). But because the pork itself is so simple, there’s no need to stick to serving it Asian-style – I also had this on a salad with black beans, apples, blue cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette, as well as in a sandwich on crusty French bread. No matter how you serve it, this version of pulled pork is worth cooking up

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Mushroom Black Bean Patties

27 Aug

mushroom black bean patties

I remember when I had my first homemade bean burger; I was shocked at the amazing flavor and texture. Those frozen patties are, I’m sorry to say, a poor imitation. Perhaps the mistake is trying to mimic meat as closely as possible when, in actuality, you can get much more creative with bean burgers. This version, while a little more time consuming than most (which often only involve blending together a variety of ingredients), uses caramelized onions and mushrooms to add extra depth of flavor, alongside cumin, paprika, and chipotle pepper. This versatile mix can be used not only to make burgers, but also for “meat”balls or even to replicate ground beef (cook loose in a pan, letting sit until browned and then stirring). These can also be formed into patties of whatever size you want and eaten plain, over salads, or on sandwiches. As you can see in my photo, I chose a simple preparation, topping the patties with alfafa sprouts and serving with a couple different salsas (including avocado salsa verde) and sour cream to go along with the light Mexican spicing in the patties themselves. Of course, you can easily change the spices to suit your taste and intended purpose. All in all, this is a great recipe that’s really worth adding to your repertoire.

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Lentil Sloppy Joes

21 Mar

lentil sloppy joes

I’ve long been a messy eater. When out at a nice restaurant or eating with someone I’m trying to impress, I do my best to keep myself neat. But usually I manage to make a complete fool of myself by staining my white shirt (when will I learn to wear darker colors?) or somehow getting sauce on my nose. So it’s nice sometimes to eat something that’s supposed to be messy. With sloppy right in the name, these lentil sloppy joes give me the perfect excuse for getting food everywhere. I’m feeling strangely suspicious of ground beef these days (although I do still find it hard to resist hamburgers), so I opted to make a vegetarian (vegan even!) version using lentils instead. Economical, filling, and fun to eat, these sloppy joes taste surprisingly similar to the traditional ones and are a snap to throw together. Just don’t eat them while wearing a white shirt.

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Nana’s Original (Manakeesh bil Zaatar)

20 Jan

nana's original

Despite being half-Lebanese, it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I was able to spend an extended period of time in Lebanon. I was studying at the American University of Beirut, taking two classes (one, a fascinating abnormal psychology course, and the other, “the art of honeymaking,” a class on beekeeping – I’ll share some great stories from this class another time, rest assured) and spending every other weekend visiting my grandparents (who I’d only met once before) in a small town in the north of Lebanon. Needless to say, it was a scary and amazing experience for me, not to mention a formative one.

It’s not just culture that’s tied up with food; I find that food is one of the best ways to stir up memories, good and bad. Every year, my dad visits his parents in Lebanon and brings back manakeesh bil zaatar, a Lebanese flatbread brushed with the fragrant spice mix, made by my grandmother. That summer, I was able to enjoy it fresh, while sitting besides my grandparents.

As soon as I spied the menu for a recently opened restaurant in Georgetown called Muncheez Mania, I knew they were serving up Lebanese street food (even if they don’t advertise it as such). And I was pleasantly surprised to find that their “Nana’s Original” wrap – essentially manakeesh bil zaatar with labne (a tangy spreadable cheese which I’ve included a bonus recipe for in this post), cucumber, tomato, mint, and olives – immediately brought back memories of my time in Lebanon (although, of course, it didn’t live up to what my grandmother makes). Here’s my personal rendition of the sandwich, also not as good as my grandmother’s, but it’ll have to do.

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