Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rosemary Chicken Burgers with Fried Onions

Oh, I have been sick.  This is not how I had hoped to begin my summer.  No, I had plans of yoga and running and elaborate lunches with friends and gardening.  Instead, my body had far different and, as it turns out, more demanding plans of books and sleep.  Which has been nice.

Apparently my body has decided that I should spend the opening of this summer curled up in bed with throat lozenges, topical throat spray (I seem to have a wicked sore throat), and hot tea.  I have gotten the chance to read five books so far this summer (none of which were actually my book club book, Fools of Fortune, since book club was thankfully cancelled) and I can say I really recommend only one of them, Super Sad True Love Story.  Nothing like a little social dystopia to keep you entertained as you contemplate how the white blood cells in your body are waging its own apocalyptic coup on some seditious summer virus.

And then last week, I had a friend over for lunch because I was not yet up to meeting people out in public.  Thankfully, I had these glorious chicken burgers left over from the night before's dinner.  If you sauté them up in a little olive oil, they're as good as new, if not even better than the night before.  And my friend and I sat around considering the myriad ways I might be dying a slow death--turns out I don't have mono or strep throat.  Just a bad, bad cold.  Or at least so my doctor tells me after he laughed at me a little.  I suppose I appreciate the laughter more than the alternative of a grave nod and a sympathetic clucking sound.

In the meantime, these little poultry patties are just what the doctor ordered.  While they are not chicken soup, they are quite wonderful and almost sin free.  They are chock-full of breadcrumbs, like a meatloaf, so if you're gluten free, these are not the patties for you.  However, the breadcrumbs hold these beef-alternative burgers together quite well; you could make these a little more healthy by grinding up your own whole wheat bread crumbs, but I admit, I just used panko.

I have also been away for a week at history camp, which I will detail in a later blog post.  So hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, I have Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt stories to tell you.   However, before we do that, let's settle in for a little nurturing of the summer cold and enjoy a chicken burger while we wait.  I recommend them the next time you fire up the grill, which should be soon given that the fourth is just around the corner (as is a visit from my father).  Here's to a healthy little burger as I bring my own self back into full health.

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Two Years Ago: Spinach Souffle
Three Years Ago: Affogato

Rosemary Chicken Burgers with Fried Onions

Serves 4

11/4 lbs ground chicken
½ cup coarse panko bread crumbs
½ cup thinly sliced green onions, green part only
⅓ cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, halved and sliced
4 hamburger buns, split


1. Mix together all of the ingredients from chicken through pepper.  (Be careful not to overmix--the burgers can become quite dry).  Gently mix in the egg.  Form into 4-5 patties and place on a dish or baking sheet.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium-high heat.  Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and fry the onions for 10-12 minute, until golden brown.

3.  Grill the burgers, covered for 10 minutes or until no longer pink in the center, turning once.  Place the hamburger buns on the grill during the last minute and cook until lightly toasted.

4.  Serve with onions, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and pickles.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baked Artichoke Dip

I have an addiction that many of you share--cookbooks.  Thankfully, I have an enabler.  A dear friend of mine sends me cookbooks out of the blue (see here and here), and this cookbook was another gift brought to me by my dear friend via the USPS.  What a lovely surprise to find such presents awaiting me on my door step.

This cookbook comes from Sara Forte, "a food-loving, wellness-craving veggie enthusiast" (or so she describes herself in the cookbook), and Hugh Forte, her photographer husband, who also run a snappy little blog, The Sprouted Kitchen.  Focused on good, local food in season, the Fortes are part of the movement that has made it, I would say, to the mainstream.  There are so many good cooks, good food bloggers, and good growers out there that support this movement; all you need is one good farmers market or a grocery store committed to these qualities, and you're set.

Lucky for me, I live less than a block from mine.  While it does mean that parking on Sundays can be tricky (and believe you me that we generally avoid driving anywhere on Sunday mornings because we know there will be no parking spots when we get back), the Temescal Farmers Market is a boon.  Opened only in 2006, the market covers all of your bases--meat from Boccalone and Prather Ranch, veggies and fruits from multiple organic farms in the area (Pinnacle and Happy Boy Farms are my favorite), and chocolate from Vice Chocolates.  What more do you need?  Coffee?  They've got that, too, from Blue Bottle, but the line is way too long, so we bring our own.  There's also a mushroom farmer, a fresh pasta place, a smattering of ice cream offerings, a fabulous Indian food tent, and the Cowgirl Creamery stand.  Of course, I am leaving out the two flower vendors, the stone fruit seller, the asparagus and potato farmer, the fresh corn vendor, and the fruit stand.  And so many more.  Yum.

Anyway, I am so glad that my addiction-enabling friend sent this little cookbook my way so I could continue to be inspired to take advantage of what's (almost literally) in my backyard.  I went with this baked artichoke dip as the first offering as I was hankering for chips and dip.  Pita chips and an artichoke dip seemed to fit the bill just fine.  I do like that Forte cuts the fat with the pureed beans, and subsequently, I have made this dip again, substituting chopped, steamed asparagus for the spinach and no Parmesan cheese at all.  Both the original spinach version and the played with asparagus version felt fresh and light and just perfect for lunch at the beginning of summer.  And the leftovers do, indeed, make a fine spread for sandwiches.  Play around with the green veggies and the herbs.

And thank you, once again, my dear friend.  Even though you live hundreds of miles away from me, I get to think of you often with these cookbooks!

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Two Years Ago: Spinach Souffle
Three Years Ago: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Baked Artichoke Dip
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 6-8

5 cups fresh spinach (about 15 ounces) (one packed cup of thawed and drained frozen spinach will work, too)
1 1/2 cups cannellini beans (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup jarred or canned artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
Handful of fresh parsley leaves (plus more for garnish)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Grated zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Pita chips, sliced bread or crackers for dipping


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a large pot with a steamer insert, steam the spinach until wilted (1-2 minutes).  Transfer to a colander to drain.  Squeeze out the water and coarsely chop.  Set aside.

3.  Drain the beans and artichoke hearts. Combine the garlic, red pepper, oregano, salt, parsley, and beans in the food processor or blender.  Puree until smooth.  Add the artichoke hearts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice to the processor and give it a few pulses until it forms a chunky puree.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

4.  Add 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan and all of the spinach to the bean mixture, stirring with a spoon to break up any clumps.  Taste for salt.

5.  Grease an ovenproof dish.  Pour the dip into the dish and sprinkle the remaining cheeses on the top.  Bake until just browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the dish to the broiler and toast the top for 1-2 minutes.

6.  Garnish the dip with extra parsley and serve hot with pita chips, bread, or crackers.

(those of you with good eyes will notice in the photograph that I did not use parsley; instead I used fresh garlic greens)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Broccoli & Goat Cheese Souffle

A colleague of mine recently gave me a dozen eggs from backyard, Berkeley-raised chickens.  I haven't the slightest idea of how to raise backyard chickens (thankfully there's google for those of you who want to know); all I know is that when my friends have a plethora of eggs and the good sense to share them, I can whip up a souffle.  About this time a couple of years ago, I detailed my foray into souffle making, and a scientist friend of mine says that the science checks out.  

Since we have already discussed the souffle, let's spend a little more time with the egg itself, shall we?

Eggs are graded (AA, A, or B in descending order) according to interior and exterior quality.  The shells are examined for "soundness, cleanliness, shape and texture," according to my handy Food Lover's Companion, and the interior is graded through a process of "candling" (so called from the days when you would hold an egg up to a candle to examine the interior--these days, there are far more sophisticated methods with high intensity lamps and the eggs continuously moving on rollers (however, I like this romantic idea of candling)).  The interior is judged by the air cell (the empty space between the white and the egg shell--the smaller the air cell, the fresher the egg), the "proportion and density of the white," and the quality and firmness of the yolk.  Again, according to my handy Food Lover's Companion, the white and the yolk "stand higher, and the white spreads less than in lower-grade eggs" (196).

Eggs are weighed and sorted based on minimum weight per dozen:  jumbo (30 oz per dozen), extra large (27 oz), large (24 oz), medium (21 oz), small (18 oz), and peewee (15 oz).  Most recipes call for large eggs, so be sure to adjust your recipes accordingly if you are using a lot of eggs and you always pick up that carton of extra large eggs.

Because Food Lover's Companion is always helpful, other fun facts (or at least recommendations) include:
  • The color of the shell depends on the breed of the hen that laid it.
  • Eggs lose most of their quality in the first day, but you can store them for up to a month in the fridge.
  • Always store your eggs in the carton in which they came.  Putting them in the egg container in the door exposes them to odors in the refrigerator, which eggs easily absorb.  Bad idea.
  • Always store the eggs large-end up.  I had no idea why.  However, the Indiana Public Media did:
    The reason it’s smarter to store your eggs with the fat end up is that the egg itself does not completely fill the interior of the shell. If you crack open a hard-boiled egg carefully at the fat end, you will see that the white part of the egg, called the albumen, does not quite reach the shell — there’s a pocket of air in-between the two. That isn’t the case for the narrow end of the egg, which fits snugly. That pocket of air allows for the presence, and reproduction, of bacteria.
  • The color of the yolk depends on the hen's diet.
  • Good eggs sink to in a bowl of water.  Bad eggs float (because the air cell is bigger).
That's it.  That's all I know about eggs, or at least all I gleaned from The Food Lover's Companion and the Indiana Public Media.  

Well, I guess I also know that I appreciate it when friends give me eggs, because I like to make souffles.  Really yummy souffles with broccoli and goat cheese.  But that goes without saying, yes? 

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
 Two Years Ago: Spinach Souffle
Three Years Ago: Loin Lamb Chops with Jalapeno Preserves

Broccoli & Goat Cheese Souffle
Adapted from  Eating Well

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli (florets and stems)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
3 large eggs, separated
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


1.  Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat four 10-ounce ramekins (or a 2- to 2 1/2-quart soufflé dish) with cooking spray place them on a baking sheet.

2.  Boil a pot of water, add the broccoli, and cook until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes  (you should put the stems in first, boil for a minute, then put the florets in for the remaining 2 to 3 minutes). Drain the broccoli and put on a towel to drain briefly.  Set aside.

3.  Melt butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Adjust heat as needed to prevent the mixture from getting too dark; it should be the color of caramel. Add milk, mustard, rosemary and salt and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in goat cheese and 3 egg yolks until well combined. Transfer to a large bowl.

4.  Beat the 5 egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold half of the whipped whites into the milk mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites and the reserved broccoli just until no white streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared ramekins or soufflé dish.

5.  Bake until puffed, firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160°F, about 20 minutes in ramekins or 30 minutes in a soufflé dish. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ottolenghi's Warm Glass Noodles and Edamame

And we're back. Back to Plenty, which is fast becoming my go-to cookbook for all things vegetarian. And this recipe is a fast, healthy, and easy one. I will be heading back to Illinois in a month. Illinois--or at least the rural part of Illinois from which I come--is, quite simply, the land of soybeans and corn. Growing up, we would spend the summer riding bikes, sometimes to retrieve something from the little downtown, other times for no reason at all.  We lived on the outskirts of our town, and we, my brother and I (him on his BMX, me on my red banana-seat bike with tassels on the handles and a white wicker basket) would cut through the cornfields to get out of the little (and only) subdivision we lived in. I still remember that prickly smell of corn in the heat as we cut through the rows at top speed, digging deeper ruts into the mud, especially as we rounded the corner to avoid the barbed-wire fence.  Every couple of years, the farmer would rotate the corn with soybeans, and I remember being flabbergasted by soybeans.  Who ate them?  We, of the rural Illinois town, certainly did not.  

Growing up, I knew my hometown was small, coming in at fewer than 3000 people.  I knew I wanted to move to bigger cities, even then.  However, looking back, I now know I possessed a rural joy that I could not fully articulate, nor even appreciate, as a child. There was the flattened opossum skeleton memorialized by a steamroller in the asphalt just at the top of the hill near the elementary school.  We would skid our bikes to a halt and fling them in the roadside ditch so that we could perform a more thorough inspection, popping the bubbling asphalt beneath our bare feet just to feel the heat and maybe touch an animal bone. There was a one-room schoolhouse in the town park to which we would always ride our bikes on the fourth of July.  We would pretend we had to shovel coal in the stove and we sat behind the wooden desk, imaging a room that housed first through eighth grade.  Little House on the Prairie was on television in those days, and I could certainly picture myself as the young Laura Ingalls, all brown braids and freckles.  In the adjacent pond, we would squat dangerously close to the water's edge to watch tadpoles and catch frogs whose tails hadn't fully been subsumed. 

And during Scenic Drive, an annual tour of autumnal foliage throughout the county, we would bike up to the Court House.  Bored while our mother sold pie or jam at the school bakesale table (lord knows she didn't actually cook either, but she was willing to help our with their sales), we would lock each other up in the Old Jail cells, a terrifying event in which my brother took much delight, given that there were no windows in the cells and metal rings with attached chains were cemented in the floors and were reputed to restrain the mentally unstable prisoners.

And of course, to get to all of these places, we had to tear through that mostly corn, sometimes soybean, field on our bikes and be home by dusk.  No one wanted to be alone in a field after dark, especially if one happened to have an older brother who would jump out from the corn at you.  Not that I did.  Or especially if one didn't want to try to navigate that sharp turn in the dark.  But bike we did, through that field, day in and day out for all of June, July, August, and sometimes September.

Nowadays, I return to Illinois only once a year;  I hardly even go back to that little town, given that my mother and sister moved to the neighboring big(ger) city (at a whopping 32,000).  This trip back to what was once home usually occurs during the summer, a move that induces much complaining about the heat.  This little recipe, once cooled down, would be just fine to serve on one of those hot, humid summer evenings and would give us reason to eat those once mysterious soybeans, indeed.

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Ottolenghi's Warm Glass Noodles and Edamame
Adapted from  Plenty

Serves 4


7 oz glass (cellophane) noodles

For the sauce
2 tbsp grated galangal or fresh root ginger
Juice of 4 limes
3 tbsp olive oil or peanut oil
2 tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
2 tsp tamarind paste or pulp
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp fine sea salt

To finish
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 ½ cups shelled cooked edamame beans
3 spring onions, thinly sliced (including the green parts)
1 fresh birds eye chili, finely chopped (optional)
3 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus a few whole leaves to garnish
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed as a garnish (optional)
Salt to taste


1.  For the noodles: Soak the noodles in a bowl of hot water for about 5 minutes, or until soft (don’t leave them in the water for too long or they will go soggy).  Drain and leave to dry. 

2. For the sauce: simply whisk together in a small bowl all of the sauce ingredients as above and set aside.

3.  To finish: heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan or a wok and add the garlic.  When it starts to turn golden, remove the pan from the heat and add the sauce and noodles. Gently stir together, then add most of the edamame beans and spring onions, chilies and cilantro.

4.  Pile up on a large platter or in a shallow bowl and scatter over the remaining edamame beans and the sesame seeds.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.  You can also serve this dish at room temperature, adjusting the seasoning when it is cool.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wild Mushroom Ragout

There are few things I love more than wild mushrooms.  I do not, however, trust the husband as he hunts for them.  He has more courage than I do, and well, I like my liver as it is, thank you.

Well, Greens Restaurant and the Berkeley Bowl to the rescue again. As is typical though with this cookbook, set aside some time. But truly, it is worth it.  Take a couple of days (make the stock one day, the ragout the next.  You know how to roll).  You could take lots of short cuts, but in the end, I am not sure those shortcuts would be worth it.  Instead, follow along and get the results of um, wow.

In other news, I am gearing up for summer.  There will be three (!) instances of professional development.  There will be trips to Illinois.  There will be two instances of me presenting to teachers (or would-be teachers) as favors to friends.  There will be many excursions to the beach.  There will be a niece who visits California.  It will be grand, and I will be rested.  

In the mean time, time for some mushrooms.

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Two Years Ago: Spinach Souffle
Three Years Ago: Loin Lamb Chops with Jalapeno Preserves


Wild Mushroom Ragout
Adapted from  Greens

The Stock
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6 cups cold water
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
½ oz. dried mushrooms (porcini or shitake)
¼ lb. fresh mushrooms  (I like portobellos + trimmings from the mushrooms for the ragout)
2 small bay leaves
Pinch of dried sage and thyme (if you have fresh, a couple of leaves/stems of each)
1 carrot, peeled a chopped into 4-5 chunks
1 celery stalk, chopped into 4-5 chunks
4 parsley stems
½ teaspoon salt

1.  Cook the onions in the oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot at medium-high heat until
they are well-browned (about 15 min).

2.  Add the water and the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer slowly for 30 min.
3.  Remove the dried mushrooms and set aside for the ragout.  Strain stock through a fine sieve or double cheesecloth.  Press firmly to get as much liquid as possible from the stock.

4.  Return the stock to the stove, and, reduce the clear stock to 3 cups.

The Ragout
1½ lb of wild mushrooms (use portobellos for 1 pound and then whatever else is in the market for the remaining ½ lb (chanterelles, oyster, morels, shiitake))
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped in ¼ inch squares
1 medium carrot, cut into ¼ inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into ¼ inch slices
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup red wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
Pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Reserved dried mushrooms from the stock, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour  (I used brown rice flour, keeping in the gluten-free theme)
Mushroom Stock from above
Fresh parsley and tarragon leaves, finely chopped

1.  Clean the mushrooms and slice into ¼-inch thick slice.

2.  Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot and cook the onion over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally, then more often as the onion continues to brown.  Add salt and wine; bring to a fast simmer and reduce the liquid by half.  

3.  Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat the oil and cook the wild mushrooms and the reserved dried mushrooms from the stock in batches until they begin to give up their liquid. Season with salt and pepper and the garlic, using some with each batch until the garlic is all used up. 

4.  Add the mushrooms to the onion/celery/carrot mixture.  Add the flour and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring throughout.  Add the stock and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes.

5.  Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.  Serve over accompaniment of your choice (I went the brown rice route, but polenta, pasta, or between layers of puff pastry all sound yummy to me).