Sunday, September 23, 2012

Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers

The name of this burger is pretty much the recipe too.  So simple, the grown up complexity will surprise you.  A real star of a fast meal. 

The main complaint about low fat turkey burgers is that they can be dry.  You have to add lots of other things – grains, nuts, oils-- to get a moist burger.  By that point, you’ve added so many calories and fat and are wondering what the effort is for.

These burgers are super moist and still use 99% fat free ground turkey.  The goat cheese—about a tablespoon of a soft variety in each—adds extra protein and is the not-so-secret ingredient to a juicy burger. 

Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers
Makes 4

1 pound lean ground turkey
4 tablespoons soft goat cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese)
flour to dust
1 T vegetable oil

  1. Sprinkle flour on a flat dinner plate.  
  2. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix the turkey with the goat cheese.  You can also use your very clean fingers.  
  3. Form 4 patties.  They will be very moist and sticky until coated with flour.  Wet your hands with cool water to prevent meat from sticking to your fingers.  Place each patty on the flour-coated plate.  Turn the patty once to dust with flour and prevent sticking when pan fried. At this stage, the burgers can be cooked at once or covered and refrigerated for several hours.  
  4. To cook, heat oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, place patties in skillet and lower heat to medium.  Cook 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned and cooked to 170˚F. 
These burgers tastes great plain.  The goat cheese pervades the meat and provides interest in every bite.  If you like adornment, play around with flavored mustards, fruit salsas or red pepper coulis.

Goat cheese turkey burgers store well and make a great lunch the next day tucked in a pita with salad. 

Variations:  Goat cheese coated with herbs or black pepper is delicious on its own.  If you like these, try using one of these varieties or add a favorite herb (about 1/4 teaspoon dried) when you mix the cheese and meat together.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cheesy Corn Squares

I’ve made these throughout the summer to preserve the fresh flavor of corn after an over-ambitious purchase or two.  Fresh uncooked corn can be removed from the ear and frozen in serving portions to enjoy all winter.  Likewise, these cheesy corn squares are easy to pack and freeze in 4-square packets for a quick lunch or dinner with salad. 

Cheesy Corn Squares are based on a cheese squares recipe that uses a easy savory baked French toast base.  This provides a nice puffy platform that crisps around the pan’s edges.  Once you make this recipe, you could add any vegetable.  While corn is still in some farmers markets buy a few extra (this recipe only needs 2-3 ears).  Later in the fall enjoy Cheesy Corn Squares with a bowl of hot soup. 

Cheesy Corn Squares
Yield: about 24 squares

1 loaf Italian or French bread, sliced in 1/2 in slices on the bias
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (low fat or regular)
2 ears of corn (1 1/2 cups) steamed,  cooled and niblets removed from ear
3 cups grated cheese- Cheddar or Monterey Jack or combination (roughly 8-10 ounces)
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk (low fat or regular)
1 teaspoon hot sauce

  1. Prepare a 9” X 13” baking pan by buttering or oiling lightly.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  
  2. Pour evaporated milk in a pie pan and dip slices of bread in to absorb liquid.  Press the bread between your fingers to squeeze out excess milk.  Lay dipped slices side by side in the baking pan.  Arrange and tear pieces to cover the bottom.  The bread layer will reform as one platform during baking.  
  3. Spread half the grated cheese over the bread layer.  Next layer corn and jalapeños followed by a last layer of cheese.  
  4. In a small bowl mix eggs, hot sauce and milk to create a savory custard mixture.  Pour custard mixture over top cheese layer allowing liquid to soak into all layers.  Use a wide fork or spoon to evenly press the liquid into the squares.  
  5. Bake squares for 30-35 minutes at 350˚F until browning at the edges and cooked through and puffy in the middle.  
  6. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares.  (A plastic picnic knife will preserve your pan.)  
Serve squares hot from the oven as an hors d’ouevre  or pack along for your next tailgate—they taste good at room temperature too. 

This is the kind of recipe that can serve as a technique for you to build your own favorite.  Think about pizza topping you like or one of these fall-inspired combinations:
  • Mushrooms, Swiss cheese, green onion, (optional cooked sausage meat)
  • Roasted zucchini, eggplant, peppers with a layer of tomato and dried basil.  Use mozzarella and Parmesan for the cheese layers

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zucchini Wild Rice Patties

Very pretty as appetizers, Zucchini Wild Rice Patties are also a tasty sandwich stuffer.  Today is the American Primitive painter Grandma Moses' Day (her birthday) and I feel sure she would have liked the pattern of dark wild rice grains against the light green background the zucchini contributes. 

I saw this recipe and set it aside about a year ago and now that fresh zucchini are abundant could not find it.  This is my recreation using cooked and cooled wild rice, grated raw zucchini and some herbs mixed in a light batter.  It is a pretty standard potato pancake preparation.

Zucchini Wild Rice Patties
Yield: 18-20 small patties

2 cups cooked (and cooled) wild rice
1 medium zucchini, grated on wide holes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, using small holes of grater
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill  (1 tablespoon fresh)
black pepper to taste
1 egg

Mix wild rice, grated zucchini and cheese together in a large bowl.  Stir in flour, salt, dill and pepper.  When thoroughly mixed, add egg and stir with a fork until mixture is just moistened.  In a large non-stick skillet heat a small amount of vegetable oil—just enough to skim the surface-- over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot carefully place tablespoon-sized dollops of the batter in the pan.  It should fit 4-5 small patties.  It is important to keep the patties small, about 2 inches in diameter, in order for them to cook through and create a crisp exterior with a fully cooked interior.  Cook 1 minute then flip.  Cooked side should be slightly browned and feel firm under the spatula.  If it is too wobbly to flip, wait another 15 seconds and try again. Cook another 1 minute on the second side.  Remove and drain in a paper towel-lined plate.  Continue to cook patties until all the batter is used.  Patties can be cooked ahead of time and reheated in a 325˚F oven for 10-12 minutes or served immediately.  Reheating is not absolutely necessary.  They are quite tasty served cold in a pita pocket with some salad stuffed in alongside.

For a look at some of Grandma Moses’ works go to Wiki Paintings where you can see her paintings in chronological order.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celeriac Avocado Salad

If you like the taste of celery hearts, celeriac also known as celery root, will delight you. It looks a little knarly and knobby with rough thin green stalks growing out of the top but is quite kind hearted.  You will know it because smells so deeply of celery.

It can be cubed and boiled or even mashed and mixed with other root vegetables.  It is most famous in the dish Celariac Remoulade.  I’ve updated the classic remoulade sauce with some avocado and cilantro.  The original recipe calls for crème fraiche.  Use a good plain yogurt if you do not have crème fraiche on hand.

How to tackle celeriac.
Cut off the stems (great to steep into soup or broth, too stringy to stand in for celery stalks).  Have ready the juice of half a lemon in a bowl.  Cut away any uneven roots at the bottom of the plant.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel away the thin skin. Slice off a thin section from the side so that you have a stable base when placed on a cutting board.  Cut slices as thinly as possible.  When you have 5-6 slices, stack them and cut into matchsticks.  Place the matchsticks into the lemon juice and toss.  Continue slicing the celeriac in batches of 5-6 slices.  This will keep the match sticks from oxidizing and turning brown before they are dressed. A medium celeriac provides about 1 1/2 cups match sticks, enough for 4 side servings.

Celeriac Salad
Serves 4

1 celeriac peeled and cut in match sticks, coated juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 avocado, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh herbs- dill, cilantro, parsley
salt and pepper

  1. Place celeriac match sticks tossed with lemon juice in a medium bowl.  
  2. In a separate small bowl, mix remaining ingredients to create the thick dressing.  Taste for seasoning.  Pour dressing over celeriac and toss well.  
  3. Store in refrigerator at least 1/2 before serving and not more than a day.