Black Bean Burgers

This is a guest post by Aaron, who so generously freed me up from cooking dinner tonight so I could get some work done.

It’s been more than a year or two since we’ve made black bean burgers, and I’m not sure why it’s been so long, because they are so nice!

The burgers are quite easy to make, and you can top them with any of your favourite extras (we used burger cheese, tomato, lettuce and ketchup).

The recipe is easily doubled to make 6 generously sized burgers. Instead of using a fork to mash the pre-rinsed beans, I usually use a stick blender, although in the double batch today I fear I nearly overheated the motor…you need to regularly clear the blade so it can keep spinning freely and not make the motor work too hard, especially if you’re working with a nearly 17 year old appliance!

I added a little salt into the mix as I whizzed the beans, then mixed all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, stirred in the eggs and added the onion, then finally added the mashed beans, and mixed it all together thoroughly.

I separated the mixture into 6 roughly even sized balls, then, using a small sheet of baking paper, squashed the balls into patties. This part you need to be careful so the patties stay together. I was mostly successful with this. I then gave a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper to the top side of the burgers. I placed the top (seasoned) side down on our nice hot grill to cook the burgers on a high heat, with a little olive oil to help things along. While they cooked I seasoned the ‘new’ top side of the burgers.

After a few minutes I flipped the burgers and waited another couple of minutes before putting some burger cheese on them for the last minute or two of cooking.

These burgers are delicious and our kids (well, the older two) LOVE them, so everyone was happy to have bigger portions than we’ve had before. It was definitely worthwhile doubling the size of them to feed our growing family!


In My Kitchen: March 2018

Things are back in full swing now that school is in session, but my kitchen this month has still seen the benefits of summer produce and generous friends…

…but first, PSA, I am not a morning person. And the morning school drop off time has been extended by half an hour. In order to get out the door and maximise my sleep, I just had to buy this cactus travel mug for my morning double shot latte…

…it reminds me of this vintage cookie jar my mom gave me 5 years ago now. I love seeing the kids lift the lid to find its hidden treasures.

One of my Hebrew translating friends was blessed with a huge tray of these delicious figs and was kind enough to offer me some to take away. Of course, I didn’t refuse them…

…or the HUGE jar of fig preserves she gave me. We’ve enjoyed this with Camembert and crackers and are quickly getting through it!

The blackberries atop these friands were picked by my husband on our first urban foraging expedition last month. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to go get more and we think the season may be passed now. But there’s always next year.

At school pick up today a friend handed me a container of eggs from their backyard chickens. Such a treat!

We finally got our hands on the chocolate that has been all over Facebook land. I see why people are mad for it, it is sooooo good. (I only bought 3 bars in case we didn’t like it.)

My cookbook “shelf” this month  – it’s gotten so full I’m running out of space for my bread bin and kettle.


Thanks to Sherry’s Pickings for hosting the In My Kitchen link up for this month. To learn more, click on the logo to the left.

Throwback Thursday: Rose Hibiscus Shortbread Fans from Dorie’s Cookies

I’ve previously done a Throwback Thursday post for Dorie’s Cookies, the book Food52 Baking Club covered in its very first month. This book is seriously an encyclopedia of every type of cookie you could possibly want to make. And every picture is so beautiful.

We made this recipe when we threw a little afternoon tea for Mother’s Day last year (it’s online here). Everything that we made had some form of pink in it – well the sweets, that is. And the fact that this recipe has tea in it, made it even more appropriate for our special afternoon tea table.

I’ve since come to adapt it as a gluten free cookie. In the side bar, Dorie gives the suggestion that rather than part rice flour part all purpose you can use fully all purpose flour, so I take that amount and replace it with gluten free flour, and it turns out great every time.

I had a hard time finding plain hibiscus tea, so started out with a passionfruit hibiscus blend which was nice, then today I noticed that Dorie suggests Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea – and I had Raspberry Zinger tea in my cupboard so I thought I’d give that a whirl. It took almost 2 tea bags, so I sprinkled the rest of the tea leaves over the shortbread along with the sugar sprinkles. A whole new level of deliciousness was achieved. I’m already planning a trip to the markets where I source Celestial Seasonings here to stock up on some more.

I definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who loves tea and shortbread. It really is the perfect cookie. And it’s really quick to put together. You put the tea leaves in with the sugar and smash them about a bit. Then you add the butter and salt and cream the mixture, then the extracts, then the flour. I no longer bake this in a springform cake pan, I free form the circle of dough on a cookie sheet and roll it nice and even. I score the disc into 12 wedges completely, and use the fork prong trick along the edge. I baked this for 20 minutes at 150C and it was done just perfectly. The icing is simply icing sugar and a tablespoon of milk whisked together. Nothing fancy, it doesn’t need it. I’ll be enjoying this over the next few days with my afternoon cuppa.


Reflecting on 8 weeks of Wordless What I Ate Wednesday

This pretty much sums up my day today.

I didn’t take any more photos after that. Wednesdays are crap. Being a taxi service to kids, do the grocery run, household chores, going to lunch time Hebrew meetings since the start of the school year has meant that all the intentional eating I normally do has just fallen away and I just fuel up the best I can wherever I happen to find myself.

I ran out the door this morning at 8:15 not having had a chance for breakfast or even a coffee. Normally I can manage to bring a coffee in the car, but there just wasn’t that opportunity today. And I only have a small window of time where the toddler is happy to be strapped down. And we needed bread. And apples. So after the school drop offs finished at 9:15, I raced down to the shops for the midweek grocery top up.  I was pushing the stroller in the car park and it felt so heavy. Like I was walking at a snail’s pace with the weight of the world on my shoulders and in that stroller I was trying to push. I’m exhausted, and there are still two more days before another weekend’s rest. I grabbed the coffee milk because I knew my kiddo would crack it if I went to a place to grab a real coffee. And my upper back/left shoulder are still hurting from when he cracked it on Monday morning.

I bailed on my Hebrew meeting. It just wasn’t gonna happen today. I went home and reflected on how the wheels have fallen off in just four short weeks. I sat and drank a glass of ice cold water with orange wedges in it. And then another one. See, I don’t seem to be able to find my water bottle these days, so my water drinking has even slowed up quite significantly. I’m run ragged and I’m not taking care of myself.

I need to do better. I know that. And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to document what I consumed one day a week. My own little accountability check. At the end of the month I can look back at the past few weeks and know how I’m treating myself and if I need to make some adjustments.

Where do I go from here? Well, I’m actually thinking of two Wednesdays posts for the next month at least. A Wordless post and a What I Ate Wednesday post. So I can document one cool food related pic I’ve taken over the course of a week and I can also give some context to the food/drink I’ve consumed over the course of the day. I think that’ll help and I think it might be just what I need to kick things back into gear.

My Paris Kitchen: Chicken Pot Parmentier

I seem to be on a My Paris Kitchen kick lately.  I think it’s got to do with my need for food that is ultra comforting and packed with flavour. Regardless, this dish is exactly that! I’ve been making this chicken potato pie quite regularly since last July when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, but I have shifted things around a little so as to multitask so I can get it in the oven quicker.

The first thing I do is preheat the oven and cube the potatoes and get them in a stockpot of salted water and bring it to a boil. While that’s ticking away, I chop up celery, carrots and onions and simmer them in vegetable stock for 15 minutes.

Once that’s done, you make a roux by melting butter and whisking in flour, then slowly incorporate the stock from the cooked vegetables. Once that’s thickened to a smooth sauce, add the vegetables, some garlic and white wine.

Take it off the heat and add some BBQ chicken meat, frozen peas, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Put this mixture into a casserole dish and your potatoes are now probably ready to be drained and mashed with  some butter, egg yolks, cream (we use milk) nutmeg, salt and pepper. Fork this over the top of the chicken and vegetable mixture and bake for about 30 minutes before digging into  the yummy goodness!

My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!

David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.

So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!

The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!

David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Coffee Caramel Pots de Creme and book review

I made some friands yesterday which left me with 5 egg yolks to use and I still needed to try one more recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours for the month so it was the perfect time to make pots de creme!

I’ve made one of Dorie’s pots de creme recipes in the past (not sure which book it came from) and loved it, so thought this should be a rather simple task for extraordinary results. Well…I’m not sure this has been my week cooking wise, because I’ve had an unusual amount of trouble.

First when I combined the sugar and the coffee in a saucepan and stirred to get the sugar to melt and caramelize, the coffee started burning badly. So I had to scrap that and start again. For my second attempt, I just chucked the sugar into the saucepan until it turned into caramel, then I added the coffee and the warm milk/cream mixture. The caramel immediately seized so I had to bring it back up to boiling to get the caramel to separate from the coffee. Then from there I set it aside to infuse for 20 minutes and completed everything else as per the instructions – adding egg yolks, eggs, and the remaining sugar, creating the water bath, baking in a low oven. Pretty standard stuff.

The result…well it’s nice but we didn’t really get the caramel flavour, the coffee completely overtook the dessert. Which is not a bad thing, but not what we were looking forward to. Would I make these again? Definitely, but I wouldn’t use the coffee method that Dorie recommends. I’d just add some instant espresso to the milk/cream mixture. There’d be a whole lot less coffee wastage that way (it ended up being 2 cups of beans which is absurd for 6-8 dessert cups).

Baking: From My Home to Yours is an excellent book for the home baker. It has a wealth of different types of baked goods to choose from and all the recipes I’ve looked at seem very approachable and with good results (apart from my disappointing lack of caramel flavour in the pots de creme). I am glad I added this book to my cookbook shelf.

There are still many recipes I’d like to try from the book, and I’m sure I’ll be back with more recipes from it on Throwback Thursdays. If you want to join in on the fun, check out the Food52 Baking Club Facebook group and you’ll also get a chance to see what other bakers have done this month. I love this group,  especially given the access you get to cookbook authors – Dorie commented on my cinnamon squares yesterday! It’s a lot of fun.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Throwback Thursday: Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake from Jerusalem

I’m now up to 4 – I own 4 out of the 5 Ottolenghi books that the Food52 Cookbook Club included in their June 2017 selections from his repertoire. I talked a bit about that month in this post.

The following is a major cake fail. I burnt this cake to a crisp. No joke. I salvaged it, but it was bad. So I was a bit fancy with the camera angles so you can’t see what a patchwork job it was. I sawed off the top and carefully cut away the sides before brushing the syrup on. Sigh. I’m still not sure where I went wrong with the oven temperature.

I needed a gluten free cake. I’ve dabbled a bit in gluten free baking and I thought that given that a large portion of this cake batter was almond meal, it would probably work with substituting the plain flour for gluten free flour 1:1. It worked a treat! I just had my oven too hot. But anyway…

The Clementine and Almond Syrup cake from Jerusalem is to die for.  The recipe is online, so I implore you to try it! To have had such a massive issue with the baking and to have still ended up with a superbly moist cake is a testament to how beautiful this recipe is. Clementines aren’t in season in Australia at the moment, but I have a fruit drawer full of oranges that need to be used so I just went with that. I used Grand Marnier in the chocolate icing instead of straight Cognac. No big change, but a change nonetheless.

We ended up cancelling our plans so this cake never made it past the test kitchen. We’ve rescheduled for next week though so I’m keen to make it again to see if it’s just as good if I don’t burn it. Aaron called it one of the nicest cakes I’ve made and that is really saying something. I can’t wait for our gluten free friend to try it!

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Cinnamon Squares

Trying to work out what to bake from this book has proven rather difficult because there are so many options. But when I wanted to put together something quick that I could serve for dessert tonight, I noticed this easy cake recipe that didn’t even require a mixer that cooked in 40 minutes calling my name.

It’s a cinnamon cake batter with a cinnamon sugar espresso and chocolate crumble in the middle, with a chocolate butter icing. See…it called to me!

I lined one of my square baking tins with baking paper and set to work, mixing the dry ingredients in a bowl then adding the milk, eggs and vanilla that I had whisked together in a small jug and then once those were combined, I folded in the melted butter until it became homogenous. I poured half the batter into the pan, then sprinkled over the crumble that I’d stirred together in a small bowl, then poured over the rest of the batter and threw it in the oven. Baked cinnamon goodness – it wafts through the whole house. We went to school pick up and thought we could still smell it a block away.

After it cooled I put the icing ingredients (just chocolate and butter) into the container I melted the butter in for the batter and melted it on low power in the microwave and stirred it together until it became smooth. Then I just poured it on top of the cake and spread it in swooping swirls with the back of a spoon.

This cake is definitely an easy recipe to keep in your back pocket (on your kindle app on your phone) for when you want something special but don’t have much time. And all the ingredients you’re likely to have on hand, I know I always do. Another winning Dorie recipe!