It’s spring break and that can mean only one thing, I have time to indulge my inner culinary artiste. I have of course been planning and cooking meals but that’s not quite the same as having ten days away from work including five days free of the constant low-grade stress of classes to play with food. This rare window of free time gives me license to flex my creative inner food Goddess in ways I just don’t have time to otherwise. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as toying with an initial inspiration then watching it grow as I cull the web for ideas; a little from this blogger, a bit from that foodie magazine until I have a solid picture in my mind. Then reality comes crashing down. I wonder if Greg will like it enough to eat it, and if I can even find the ingredients at our friendly Indonesian Lotte Mart. Inevitable, I swap out a few ingredients and make sure to plan a comfort-food inspired (but still healthy) meal for the next night.
After being seriously ill for two weeks with another semi-better but still not 100% week thrown in, I’ve been craving anything that’s not crackers, oatmeal, rice or broth which was pretty much all we were eating for a while there. I need vegetables and vegetarian inspired meals in a big way. I’m still having a tragically hard time with raw salads but I’m finding that vegetarian patties are a nice segue from the BRAT diet to real food. I was experimenting with vegetarian patties over the long Christmas break as I find my limited cooking space makes patties a time consuming endeavor. I’ve made spicy taco-tofu patties, carrot patties, zucchini patties, couscous-zucchini patties, millet-carrot patties and one of my favorites so far, red lentil patties. On a side note, I don’t think it’s fair to call veggie patties “burgers” as they are inevitably a let-down for any self-respecting burger lover and I love a good burger. I can proudly say I make burgers for us quite often but I have to admit that I’ve only agreed to beef burgers once. I like to make ours out of ground chicken and top them off with a gorgeous pan sautéed Portobello mushroom and fresh-cut yellow onions.
I’ve learned a thing or two during my patty craze. (1) Patties are best if they are pan sautéed to a golden crisp in a little olive or grapeseed oil, then finished in the oven. (2) If you’re choosing between carrots and zucchini, go for the zucchini. (3) If you use shredded zucchini, squeeze the excess juice out by wringing it in a clean cotton kitchen towel. (4) Even I didn’t like the millet patties, the texture and flavor was too pedestrian. (5) Additions like fresh herbs and sautéed garlic, onions and mushrooms are a must to add interesting texture and layered flavor (6) When using lentils or a grain, boil it in homemade chicken broth, again, it’s a subtle layering of flavors that make patties work. (7) Patties need a simple sauce, I like yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and a shake or two or salt and pepper, to finish them off.
Yes, Greg has endured them all, tolerating some and going back for seconds of red lentil patties. Here’s a few pics to whet your appetite.