Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge #9: Flipping Frying Patties!!!

Ah! I had a FANTASTIC weekend last week at competition, for anyone who was wondering after my last post. I DO plan to do a whole post devoted to the recipes and the experience, but THAT is going to take a while! However, I've got some fun stuff to share in the meantime! :)

Even though I "slaved" in the kitchen at work on Sunday, today I was in there all day for competition team "fun day", and I'll be working 22 more hours this week, I knew I just HAD to get this project done for the Daring Cooks (not only is it due, but I just really wanted to!)
I admit, when I first read that this month's challenge, hosted by Audax, was "patties", I wasn't too excited, but the more I looked into what that entailed, the more excited I became. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!!! Besides the obvious burger, there's also croquettes, rissoles, fritters, rostis, and much more! Then there's choosing all types of meats or NONmeats, and cooking options varying from pan-searing, to grilling, to baking. Pretty cool, right?

Okay so now, you're probably expecting something totally creative and out there, buuut I actually decided to go with something that I've been needing to work on for a long time: veggie burgers. When I was a full-out vegetarian a few years ago and I was pretty awful at cooking, I tried making my own veggie burgers a couple of times with results that pretty much scared me away from attempting ever again. Since then I have enjoyed frozen store-bought veggie patties. While these burgers are sturdy enough to be quickly grilled or microwaved and are lowing in fat and cholesterol than meat burgers, they are loaded with artificial flavorings and additives that I'm not a fan of. Thus, I'm pretty ashamed that it has taken me this long to give myself another go at creating my own non-meat patties.

Even with this conviction, once I decided to make veggie burgers for my challenge, I was still hesitant with the fear that I wouldn't be able to find a really good recipe that would help me prove myself. I looked through dozens of pictures, recipes, and blogposts, before I found the one that called my name. It was just meant to be. :) This recipe comes from a favorite blogger of mine, the wonderful Angela, of Oh She Glows. This is one awesome girl, people, check out her blog! I have a great trust in Angela's recipes and this one just sounded WAY too good to pass up!

Not only is this recipe completed vegetarian AND vegan, it also is loaded with healthy-licious ingredients that are usually on hand and are quick to throw together - which is literally what I did! On top of all that, these were promised to have great flavor, great texture, and the ability to hold together whether they be pan-seared, baked, or grilled. How much better does it get?

Okay okay so now you are all wondering how it went so I'll skip to the chase. These burgers were DEFINITELY super easy and quick to make, which I was a big fan of. They formed beautiful patties, though next time I think I'll cut my ingredients JUST a bit finer for a slightly tighter hold. As for taste, the flavor was good, but not bold enough to stand up to my condiments, so next time i'll increase the seasoning and tamari. The texture on the outside was good, but since I went with pan-searing, my slightly-thick patties were too mushy on the inside for me. Next time I'll either try thinner patties or I'll partially cook them in the oven to fix that. Otherwise, definitely a keeper!! Here you go:

Just Right  Vegan Veggie Burgers

§  1/2 cup onion, diced
§  2 large garlic cloves, minced
§  Flax/chia eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax or whole chia seeds+ 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
§  1 cup oats, processed into flour
§  1.5 cups bread crumbs (I processed 3 pieces of Ezekiel bread until fine crumb)*
§  1 cup grated carrots
§  1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and roughly pureed or mashed
§  Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (or fresh herb of choice)
§  1/3 cup almonds or walnuts, chopped (toasted if preferred)
§  1/2 cup sunflower seeds, (toasted if preferred)
§  1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
§  2-3 tbsp Tamari (soy sauce)
§  1 Tbsp chili powder
§  2 tsp. cumin
§  2 tsp. oregano
§  Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1.       In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in some olive oil. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2.      Place all ingredients (except spices and salt) into a large mixing bowl and stir very well (hands work great! And it’s the most fun :D). Then, add seasonings and salt to taste.
3.      With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties. Pack dough tightly as possible, flattening it out for even cooking, but leaving it thick. I made 8 medium patties.
4.      Cooking methods: You can fry the burgers in a bit of oil on a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. If baking in the oven, bake for 25-30 mins (15-17 minutes on each side) at 350 F, until golden and crisp. For the BBQ, pre-bake the burgers for about 15 minutes in oven before placing on a pre-heated grill until golden and crisp on each side.
5.      Serve with all your favorite classic burger toppings, or as an open-faced sandwich, or in a wrap as I did – mix it up, see how great these burgers are with different flavor profiles :)

The original recipe called for 2 flax eggs
(ground flax mixed with boiling water to mimic
the binding effects of an egg) but I have had
much greater success with chia eggs (the same as
a flax egg, but using whole chia seeds)

This bread isn't vegan, but it sure is tasty, and
still loaded with good stuff (I <3 whole grain bread!)
However, if you need to switch out vegan or gluten-free
bread that should work fine too!

My sunflower seeds were already toasted and
salted so I didn't have to do anything there,
but it wouldn't have taken much. They sure
added a nice flavor and texture component!

Ready? I'm about to make oat flour...

WOAH! Ima beast!! :D be sure to use GF oats
or even switch out flours if making gluten-free

This was the consistency of my mashed beans.
Just a few good pulses in the ole food processor.

Ah, the best part - gettin' my hands dirty!
Feel free to try to use a spoon, but you'll find
a "handier" tool for this job on the ends
 of your arms :)

I didn't weigh or measure my patties for consistency,
I really just formed them into what I thought a
basic burger looked like and the amount was just
about perfect for 8 nicely-sized burgers

As I mentioned above, I chose the pan-seared
cooking method for my burgers and found they
were just about right, but I either needed to add more
oil to get in there and really cook the insides, of
I should have just finished them in the oven,
which is what I plan to do next time, if I
don't get a chance to grill them that is :)

I decided not to go the conventional style with these
burgers because it IS still winter after all, and they
were pan-fried, not grilled, so I just couldn't bring
myself to go there. Instead, I served them in sun-dried
tomato and basil wraps with garlic hummus and fresh
salsa and some nice romaine leaves. Super easy, quick,
tasty and QUITE filling. I was one satisfied girl...
and my cow buddy was happy :) Win-win!

Makes 8 regular-sized burgers