Tag Archives: bread

Mini Buffalo Burgers on Whole Wheat Pita

One of the foods that Andrew regularly subsists on is ground buffalo. While I enjoy buffalo, its beefy flavor with less saturated fat, I don’t like it necessarily for burgers. I’m more down on turkey burgers than buffalo burgers. I prefer ground chuck for my burgers: moist, flavorful, and a nice greasy touch. However, we had ground buffalo in the fridge and I decided that if there were going to be buffalo burgers made this week I was going to make them.

There are three differences between the way Andrew and I cook burgers: 1. I use worcestsire sauce and paprika while Andrew mostly uses a mixture of dried garlic, salt and pepper; 2. I  use a well oiled cast iron skillet and Andrew uses a non-stick skillet. The non-stick skillet means less grease, but you don’t get the nice crust around the meat that you get with the cast iron skillet. Plus cast iron is badass. 3. I cook mine to medium-well with a touch of pink in the middle and Andrew does his well. We will talk more about this issue later.

By the way, I am not saying my burgers are better than Andrew’s; they are two different beasts that cannot be compared. We just tackle our meat differently.

I served this cute little burgers on mini whole wheat pitas with spinach and feta cheese.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

I used the recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I can’t express enough how much I enjoy Mr. Minimalist’s books. You can find this recipe on pg. 719 of that book if you would like more conventional directions.

1. Mix together 1 1/2 cups each of all-purpose white flour and whole wheat flour with 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

If you don’t like the taste of wheat baked goods you can make these entirely with all-purpose flour. You do not want to make these entirely from whole wheat flour. Baked goods made entirely with whole wheat flour are heavy and dense something that you do not want for pita.

2. Proof your yeastie beasts. You want to two teaspoons of yeast or one packet of active dry yeast. To proof yeast drop them into about half a cup of 110 degree water with a pinch of sugar (they need to feed) until they are foamy and yeasty smelling (about five minutes). Then add to the flour mixture along with another half cup of water.

3. Mix with a rubber spatular until combined into a slightly sticky ball. If it is dry add water one tablespoon at a time until it is a nice ball. Knead for a few seconds on a well floured surface then put back into the bowl and cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap.

4. From here I put my dough outside in the sun to rise because it is actually “room temperature” outside my house not inside. You can also put it in the fridge if you can wait approximately seven hours. At room temperature wait 1-2 hours. I waited about two and a half hours and it had more than doubled in size.

5. When your dough has doubled in size, pull small balls off of it. You can make these balls as big or as small as you like. I wanted to make mini burgers so I made mini pita. This recipe ended up making about twelve mini pita. Once you tear off your little dough balls put them on a floured baking sheet, cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for another twenty minutes.

6. Roll each ball out to about a 1/4 of an inch on a well floured surface. After rolling out each ball into a disc cover again and sit for another twenty minutes while you prepare your cooking device.

There are multiple ways that you can do this. I opted for the cast iron skillet on the stove top method because the other two methods are as such: do it in the oven on a pizza stone (don’t own a pizza stone) or do it in the oven on a baking sheet (umm..boring!). I chose the most badass, time consuming way of cooking these bad boys: on the stove top with a dry cast iron skillet. You can also do these with a griddle (like the kind you would use for pancakes) on your stove top.

If you are going the route of cast iron badassery (how many times can I use that term in one blog post?), heat the skillet to medium-high with no lubricant. No butter, no oil, nada. You want dry heat here. Don’t worry if your skillet is seasoned correctly nothing will stick. Once the twenty minute resting period has elapsed and the skillet is thoroughly heated toss one pita on the skillet. Let it sit. Don’t touch it. It will start to bubble and it will be beautiful. After about four to five minutes (this depends on the size of your pita) flip over and cook another two to three minutes then put aside and start over again with the next one. Continue until all pita are cooked.

Now you have pita!

Mini Buffalo Burgers

This is purely my own recipe, no measurements here. I’ve learned what I enjoy in a burger and what works for me. What works for you will be different. I get tired of people saying they make the best of something or you have to do it one way for it to be a real whatever. Food is about personal taste.

I mixed a pound of ground buffalo with worcestshire sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, dried minced shallot, and a dash of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The worcestshire is incredibly important. It is incredibly flavorful and adds a much needed dose of moisture to the buffalo which tends to get dry and crumbly when introduced to high heat.

I heated up the same cast iron skillet I used earlier for the pita bread with a nice coating of olive oil (here one of those places where Andrew and I differ) on medium high heat. Once heated through, I patted a little fistful of my meat mixture into a small burger patty and tossed two to three of them into my skillet. Heat for about five minutes on one side until browned then flip over. Do not squish with your spatula, do not fuck around with your burger. Let it get that nice caramelized meat crust. After about three minutes your burger should be done depending on how well done you like it.

Here is where I will note Andrew’s misinformed opinion about how long to cook ground meat. Ground meat does not need to be cooked so long that it turns into a gray lifeless mass. It is okay to eat it medium or medium well. Hell if you got your meat from a reputable source you can eat it raw if you like. Andrew cut open his burger and sniffed pooh-pooh at it because there was the tiniest tinge of pink in the middle and said “Ground meat needs to be cooked completely.”. All he needed was a stern, “No, medium well is perfectly fine”, from me and he realized that he was incorrect or was just placating me. He inhaled four of these burgers.

I served them on top of the whole wheat pita with spinach and feta cheese.  You could make little mini burger buns and serve them as sliders.

Chicken and Biscuits

I had two chicken breasts to use up that were sitting in the fridge. I was thinking all day about what I wanted to make. I really wanted to make fried chicken and waffles, but I prefer not to fry foods and delicious waffles elude me. I wanted to work on my waffle making, but I also didn’t want to mess them up again. Instead, I decided to make chicken and buttermilk biscuits.

The chicken I made was chicken nuggets from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything. His are fried and I decided I wanted to bake mine instead. Mine turned out dry and definitely needed BBQ sauce.

It’s just another egg in the hole

Sorry I had Pink Floyd running through my head while I was writing the title of this blogpost. I made another egg in the hole this weekend. I love egg in the hole. It’s super quick and tasty. I don’t have to toast bread seperately. I cook everything in one pan.

This time I used California Black Bread and an organic, free range egg and coated my pan with spicy chili oil. I only use organic, free range eggs not just because I’m a hipster snob about food but because they taste better, their yolks are bigger and prettier, and I don’t have to think about the freaky chicken blobs laying eggs. I’m totally weirded out by the chicken blobs.

I served this with half an avocado and chili powder.  A spicy and delicious start to the day.

Creamy Italian Sandwich

The first couple bites of this sandwich were absolutely amazing and then as I started eating more if it I started feeling overwhelmed by the richness of it. The idea was a good one, but I think to get to a perfect finished product it definitely needs some tweaking.

Yesterday our class had an end of the year party. Most of the parents brought the typical ham and cheese/turkey and cheese sandwiches, but one mother (who is a champion against school lunches and an amazing artist) brought quesadillas. These quesadillas were bomb (yes, I grew up in the mid-nineties). They were whole wheat tortillas with ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach. I ate two of them. I wanted to go back for more.

I was thinking about the different kinds of things that I could do to quesadillas and sanwiches. I was thinking hmm…I have pizza sauce in the freezer, I have olives, I want greens on it: a pizza salad sandwich. I want something creamy, but ricotta can be expensive…cream cheese!

Here it is folks, The Creamy Italian Sandwich.

Ingredients

  • One Francese Roll (you could use whatever kind of roll you like)
  • 2 tbsp. marinara/pizza sauce (I had some in the freezer, you could use jarred or your homemade kind)
  • 2 tbsp. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp. pesto sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarrella cheese
  • 1 cup or more of mixed salad greens (you could also use spinach)
  • 4 pitted kalamata olives

1. Gut your bread. This means tear out all the soft insides of the bread leaving mostly crust behind. This is to your sandwich isn’t too bready. I know, this may make you sad. I love bread too, but there is a lot of other stuff going on in this sandwich to make up for it.

2. Put cream cheese in a bowl. Add pesto, sliced olives, and black pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Now, after eating the sandwich I think two tablespoons of cream cheese was overkill and the pesto unecessary.  Next time I would reduce it to one tablespoon of cream cheese or go with ricotta.

3. Spray olive oil into pan. Spread one tablespoon of marinara/pizza sauce on bread. Spread half of cream cheese/olive mixture on bread. Place in pan. Sprinkle half of cheese on top. Add all your greens. Spread marinara sauce and cream cheese mixture on the other slice of bread. Sprinkle cheese on top of the greens. Add the other slice of bread. Squish down.

4. Put pan on burner and heat to medium. Place a cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich and press down. I suppose you could do this in a panini press or even a waffle iron, if you’ve got fancy stuff like that. I have a cast iron skillet so that’s what I used. Check every couple minutes to make sure the sandwich isn’t burning. Use this time to clean up. Once you smell toastiness, remove the cast iron skillet and check the bottom of your sandwich. If it’s golden flip it and then replace the skillet for another minute or two until the other side of golden. Then dig in and enjoy.

Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs

There are many names for this kind of dish. I mostly call it Egg in the Hole, but I’ve heard it called a number of names: egg in the basket, toad in the hole, and bird’s nest. I looked it up on Wikipedia to see what other names they had:

Rocky Mountain toast, egg-in-a-basket, moon egg, egg-in-the-hole, one-eyed Jack, bird’s nest, gas house eggs, the Elephant Egg Bagel, frog in a hole, camp eggs or camper’s eggs, bull’s eye, egg in bed, egg(y)-in-a-bread(y), moon toast, Moon over Miami, Popeye, Lone Ranger, Wink Eye, and Cowboy Eggs.

Essentially its a fried egg in a hole in a piece of bread, a waffle, or even a bagel. I used California Black Bread from a local bakery. I love this bread. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg in it. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg on it topped with avocado topped with pesto. I think somewhere in the dictionary next to the definition of love are those things put together.

Now this is a dish that unfortunately can never be vegan. Don’t even try. Don’t even try with your tofu scramble. It won’t work. It is not the same. You can never replace eggs this way. There is no oozing runny yellow egg yolk in a tofu scramble. In fact, in my humble opinion, there is nothing but rubbery weirdness in a tofu scramble. Here come the protests…

I want to tell you the story as to how I came to like runny egg yolks. Growing up, I detested eggs in all forms except for scrambled or omelets. I did not like hardboiled eggs because my mother would boil them until the yolks were greyish-green. I thought that was what all hard-boiled eggs looked like. I would refuse to eat the yolks and just eat the whites. I believed I did not like runny egg yolks into my adult years. It was not until I was drunk one night at Santa Cruz Diner that I decided I needed to try runny eggs. So I got eggs over easy with pancakes and bacon. OH MY GOD. Why had I not been eating these? For a while after that I had to try everything with runny egg yolks, the most important of all was egg’s benedict. That’s right, until I was twenty-two years old I had never had egg’s benedict because I was convinced that runny egg yolks were disgusting. I was missing something very vital and important in my life until that point. People, do not be afraid of the runny yolks.

My egg in the hole today is named Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs because I used a cat cookie cutter and the bread is the bag. What came out was pretty damn delicious, quick, and filling for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of bread (I used California Black Bread)
  • margarine, butter, or oil (I used olive oil spray and a non-stick pan)
  • half an avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • pesto sauce
  • alfalfa sprouts

You can top your egg with anything you want or not top it at all. I bet you could make a killer hollandaise sauce to go on it or use salsa and cheese. I used to go to this coffee shop that would do the egg-in-the-hole with avocado, smoked cheddar, salsa, and your choice of Canadian bacon or bacon. It was pretty damn good and that was back when I was doing hard yolks (I’d always ask for it hard and they would look at me like I was missing a significant part of my brain).

1. Heat a skillet on medium with margarine, butter, or oil. Cut a hole in your bread. I used a cat cookie cutter, but you could use a glass. You want to use a large piece of bread not, a small piece or your egg is going overwhelm the bread. This would be a great way to use the heel of the bread because face it, no one eats the heel of the bread. Place the bread in the skillet and crack the egg into the hole. Put a lid over the skillet to cook the top of the egg.

2. When the bottom part of the egg is cooked (you will smell it, if you can’t then use a spatula to lift up and check it), flip your basket over and to cook the white. This will take very little time. Don’t forget to add your cat or circle or whatever shape you used and toast it in the skillet.

3. Carefully remove the bread and egg from the skillet. Place the alfalfa sprouts on top of the bread. On top of the alfalfa, add the avocado, salt, and pesto sauce. Then place your cat (or circle, you totally boring unimaginative person) on top to make it look like there is a dead animal on your food.

Restaurant Reviews

As a recent traitor to omnivorism and convert to cooking vegan, I feel very lucky to live in an area with as many options as Santa Cruz has. Going out to eat is not difficult, it’s not as easy as it was before, but it’s definitely do-able and delicious. There are a couple restaurants in Santa Cruz that are purely vegetarian/vegan: Saturn Cafe, Malabar/Asian Rose, Charlie Hong Kong (I think, though I’m not 100%), Alfresco, and Dharmas.  There is also Black China Bakery which has a great variety of fine vegan desserts. I have only been once to the actual bakery, but they sell their desserts at some local grocery stores and coffee houses. Many of the restaurants have a large variety of vegetarian items.

This weekend Andrew and I got food from Yan Flower, Zachary’s, the Falafel House, and Sitar. Ugh, that’s a lot of eating out, but we almost always cook. On Friday night we got food at Yan Flower before going to see Robin Hood.  Before this weekend Andrew was convinced that there was no Chinese food restaurant that was better than competent. I told him that Yan Flower was pretty good compared to all others in Santa Cruz and therefore could possibly be considered “good”.  We got hot tea, vegetable potstickers, white steamed rice, salty and chilli pepper tofu, and Andrew got Mongolian Lamb. The potstickers were very good, but a little hot (as in temperature) and I almost burned my mouth. The rice was actually good for steamed rice: fluffy and tender. The salty and chilli pepper tofu was fried tofu, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and onions. It was not as salty or spicy as I remember it, but the tofu texture was great. Andrew described it as “egg like” and he enjoyed it as much as he could enjoy tofu. He said the Mongolian Lamb was very good as well.

After taking the night to recover from the mediocrity that was Robin Hood (or Gladiator 2010: Time Travel to The Dark Ages), Andrew and I got breakfast at Zachary’s. Zachary’s is an insanely popular breakfast venue on the main drag downtown. It usually would be insanely crowded at 9am on a Saturday, but we were lucky due to the craptastic weather that we are experiencing mid-May.

I got coffee with soy milk, tofu scramble with avocado, vegan home fries, and oatmeal molasses bread. They make their breads in house and they are all amazing, but oatmeal molasses is my favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed the bread with the avocado spread on it and the home fries were tasty. Tofu scramble just isn’t my thing and this had a rotting garlic scent to it. Andrew enjoyed his scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes with Earl Grey Tea.

Later that day we went to check out the Greek Festival in downtown Santa Cruz. There wasn’t anything to it this year: just a bunch of different food booths. This was mostly desserts with a gyro place and another place where you could get souvlaki. There was no falafel which was what Andrew was looking for. Instead we ended up going to the Falafel House on Walnut Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. The Falafel House is a Syrian/Middle Eastern restaurant. I got the vegetarian combo platter which consisted of baba ghanoush, pita bread, taboulleh salad, falafel, and hummus. Now, I fucked up. I ate the regular yogurt sauce on the falafel instead of the vegan tahini sauce. I didn’t know that they were going to put the yogurt sauce on the falafel and I didn’t feel like bothering them to change it.

I enjoyed the falafel, hummus, and pita bread. I liked the baba ghanoush as well which surprised me since I don’t like eggplant. I definitely think I make better hummus though. I didn’t like the taboulleh salad too much, but I still tried to eat it and it wasn’t wretched. I think I don’t like taboulleh. Another great thing about the Falafel House is the fact that they are always playing Syrian MTV or some other music video channel. Oh and they’re onion rings are amazing.

Today we went out for lunch/dinner instead of cooking because we were bummed after the Sharks losing the first game of the conference finals. Andrew got pizza at Pizza My Heart (a local San Francisco Bay Area chain that began in Capitola). My favorite slice at PMH is pesto. It was the first thing with pesto that I ever liked and converted me to a pesto lover. Screw you campus dining halls for making me afraid of pesto for so long.

At Sitar, I got Chana Masala (vegan chickpea/garbanzo bean curry), vegan naan, basmat rice, ice berg lettuce crap in a compartment, and raita (which I didn’t eat since it’s made with yogurt). The chana masal had wonderful texture: thick sauce, creamy garbanzo beans, melt in your mouth pieces of onion, but it the curry could have been spicier. The rice was a good texture and the naan was good.

Toast and Oranges

This is a breakfast post. For breakfast I had another navel orange and two slices of California black bread toast. One slice of toast has babybel light garlic and herb cheese spread on it and the other has plain butter.