Archive for October, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

I love cheeseburgers.

For those of you blinking in surprise, or perhaps double checking that this is in fact a kosher blog, don’t worry. They’re vegetarian.

See, black beans make even better patties than meat. They’re flavorful and moist and not at all chewy. I can’t be the only person in the world who thinks that ground beef has a slightly unpleasant texture, can I? Surely someone else has noticed this. Black beans, though? Sublime.

This is one of those things that I just throw together in my poor, overworked food processor. I’m sure it would be possible to make without a food processor, but I have not done it any other way, so all directions are going to assume you have one.

Okay. It’s burger time.

Ingredients (makes about 6 sliders or probably 3-4 regular burgers.)

1 slider bun, either left on the counter overnight or slightly toasted

1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 egg

zest of 1 lime

cilantro (fresh or dried) to taste

1/2-1 t mustard powder

1 t chile powder

1/2 t paprika (not shown)

1-2 t salt


Tear up the bun and put it in the bowl of your food processor.

Pulse until you’ve got crumbs no larger than peas.

Add lime zest, cilantro, chile powder, paprika, mustard powder, and salt.

Pulse just to combine.

Add black beans and egg.

Pulse a few more times to break up the beans and make a paste.

Form patties with your hands and fry with a little butter or oil (except really, you’re going to use butter, right? Butter is better.) in a skillet over medium-high heat. The sliders took about 3-4 minutes a side to crisp up nicely and cook through. I did not take pictures of this step because my hands were covered in bean paste and I prefer my camera to be not-covered in bean paste.

Add cheese and buns and all your favorite burger toppings.

Serve with succotash. You may have thought fries would be more appropriate, but no. Burgers are meant to go with succotash.



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Steak Frites Sandwich

I made these back in Texas. These are not po-boys (though I am discovering that the roast beef po-boy is a thing of beauty, truly). There is nothing N’awlins about these sandwiches.

Which is a shame, because they are so very good.

Also, I put french fries directly into my sandwiches. ‘Cause folks, I am classy. You know how I know it’s classy? When I was fourteen, I went to France. There was a lovely little sandwich shop in Nice where the incredibly snooty gentleman running this hole-in-the-wall made just such a sandwich, with roast beef and mustard and greens and fries all wrapped up in the bun. And clearly if it is done in France, even in a little backstreet dive, it is classy.

It is possible that I need to get out more.

This is one of my favorite sandwiches. It is in all ways superior to the hamburger, containing chopped beef instead of a ground beef patty, a good (though in this instance store-bought) roll instead of a too-soft hamburger bun, an abundance of spinach, and of course, the fries are inside the sandwich.

A fact which gives me no end of glee. Just go with it, okay?

Ingredients (makes 2 big sandwiches)

For the steak:

1/2 to 3/4 lb inexpensive steak

3-4 T red wine vinegar

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T mustard

salt, paprika, and white pepper to taste

For the sandwiches:

1/2 to 3/4 lb cooked and chopped steak

2 crusty sandwich rolls (or one baguette)

a big handful of spinach

1 large potato and cooking oil for french fries

mustard, to taste (my preference is for about 2 T/sandwich

hot sauce to taste


Make the steak. For me, the only way to do this is with my delightful mini-smoker. Seriously, that thing was hands down the best $30 I ever spent for the kitchen, and now it’s only $22. Combine all the marinade items in a zip-top bag and add the steak. Marinate at least an hour.

Smoke for 25 minutes or cook it another way if you aren’t into perfect smoked meat straight off the stove. While it’s smoking (or pan-searing or braising or however you cook your steak), heat a few inches of vegetable oil, slice a potato into 1/2 inch sticks, and fry.

Set the fries aside. When the steak is done, give it a couple of minutes to rest away from heat.

Now is a good time to grill up your bread. Not a required step, but oh so good. Just heat a bit of olive oil or margarine and maybe a smashed clove of garlic in a small skillet and grill.


Now chop your beef.


Spread mustard on the top half of your roll, and dot some hot sauce on the bottom. If that doesn’t look like much hot sauce, please bear in mind that it is Blair’s After Death sauce, which is pretty darn hot, and also I am a complete wimp when it comes to Scovilles.

Add spinach, meat, and some fries.

Devour. Crunch spinach, gnaw meat, make sad little whimpering noises because Blair’s hot sauce is really quite hot and there are about ten whole drops of it on this one little sandwich.

You can stop laughing anytime. I already admitted that I’m a capsaicin wuss.

I won’t call this my favorite sandwich. There’s a grilled cheese with that honor which I think will never be unseated. But it definitely makes the top three. It is delightful, contains only a smidgen of guilt, and is simple enough to make on a weeknight when you’d rather eat with your hands in front of the television than at the table like people.


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Apple Moonshine Blondies

The hardest thing for me to get used to in New Orleans is one of the things I like most about it. But I also hate it. It’s ridiculous.

See, I’m not a people person. I’m shy, and awkward, and really really don’t know how to handle it when strangers strike up conversations out of the blue.

Everyone is just so darn nice here. They all want to talk. They’re friendly. They actually wait, looking interested in your answer, after saying “hi, how are you?” I just want to run away and hide in the produce department until they’ve all gone. Maybe I could live there, among the collard greens.

Feeding people is a way to show that I care without actually having to interact with anyone.

My first visit to the local grocery store involved no fewer than four conversations with strangers. While I was just shopping quietly. First a lovely older gentleman asked me whether “that green stuff” I’d just put in my cart was kale. It was not. It was collard greens. Two pounds of them. Don’t judge me. At any rate, I took a few minutes to show the man to the kale, tell him how to cook it, and nod while he complained about his wife making him buy this crap she saw on “that food channel on the TV.” Okay, fine. I’ve got all day to shop, and food is a more than comfortable topic for me. I was even cheerful at the end of it.

Baked goods: a sound method for reducing anxiety

So I moved on from produce. And as I picked up some  soy sauce a teenaged girl in a hoodie came up and said “Hey, what are you having for dinner tonight?”


Surely she’s just mistaken me for someone she knows, I thought. But she looked so expectant. “Sorry, me?” I asked.

“Yeah. I don’t know what to make. Give me some ideas. My name’s Sam, by the way.”

“Um. I’m making tacos.” She looked pointedly at the soy sauce. “This is for tomorrow. Teriyaki chicken.”

This was followed by ten minutes of explaining and writing down how to make teriyaki. Again, this is in the middle of an aisle of the grocery store. By this point I was seriously befuddled. I don’t know what I would have done without my grocery list.

Moonshine: an even more reliable way to become more gregarious

The third conversation was expected, at least. It’s normal for customers and clerks to chat in order to avoid awkward silences during check out.

Still. She took one look at my driver’s license and said “You ain’t from Dallas.”

“Excuse me?”

“Dallas. That’s not where you’re from originally. You’re a small town girl. I can tell.”

It’s true, actually, though my small town in South Florida has gotten pretty big since I’ve moved away. At this point, I’d surpassed my ability to converse with strangers for the day. I had a ton of groceries, which seemed like a good excuse to go home.

Unfortunately, I had a ton of groceries. Unfortunately, everyone around here is unreasonably nice. So a random guy in the parking lot offered to help me load my car. While talking nonstop about football. (Thanks for the help, random guy, but to be honest I wasn’t even sure what sport the Saints played until halfway through that conversation*. Sorry.)

Yup, sounds good right about now.

So basically, everyone here is very friendly and it’s very nice and I just want to hide in my apartment alone and talk to people on the Internet like God intended from now on. And bake blondies. With liquor in them. Everything’s better with moonshine, right?

Ingredients (makes an 8×8″ pan of bars, about 12-16 servings)

1 stick/8 T/ 1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 T apple flavored moonshine. Or Goldschlager. Or just a nice bourbon.

1 C flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 T cinnamon

2 apples (I used a gala and a Braeburn, because that’s what was in the apartment)

1 C butterscotch chips (substitute nuts if you like. My way is less healthy, but way tastier.)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl.

Cream them well and add an egg.

Add moonshine, too. Mix just to combine.

Add the flour, leavenings, salt, and cinnamon. Mix just to combine.

Peel and chop your apples. (If Arctic Apples get put on the market, you’ll be able to do this ahead of time without them browning. I want to play with this feature.)

Add the apple bits and butterscotch chips (or nuts, if using)

Fold them into the batter.

Butter an 8×8″ pan and spread the batter evenly into it.

Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes. These are easier to cut once they’ve cooled, but it’s hard to wait that long.

They are ooey-gooey, tasty, apple-filled delights. Serve alone, or with a shot of moonshine (no, grandma, I’m not an alcoholic. The flavors are complementary.), or the very best way, with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Devour.

*The Saints do play football, right? I hope so, because otherwise I made an ass of myself in that convesation.

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