Friday, July 27, 2012

How To Make A Burger Cake

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, girly boys and manly girls, people who like to eat good food, and a lot of it, I have something very special for you. The Burger Cake. It’s possibly the greatest thing you’ll see today, maybe even this week. It could even be the greatest thing you’ve seen in your life, depending on how much you like burgers, or if you are American. Take a look at this. Yes, that is a draught bottle next to the burger. This image is not photoshoped. I know. It’s ok. Wipe those tears of joy away and get ready for the instructions on how to make this thing of beauty. The one above fed eight people. Four of them, men. One of those men was just short of seven foot. What I’m getting at is this burger is a monster. It’s mind blowing. You need one in your life, and around your mouth. Here are the instructions:

1 custom made hamburger bun
Patty:1 kg beef mince
500g pork mince
2 table spoons honey
2 table spoons NoMU spicy peri-peri rub
2 table spoons NoMU bbq rub
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Philadelphia cream cheese
2 packs streaky bacon
2 table spoons mayo
1 x bag butter lettuce
200g Tussers cheese
2 table spoons Pronto Mama relish
2 x avos
1 x onion fired in balsamic

Mix the ingredients for the patty well and form into two giant patties. Dust with flour and fry for about 5 minutes on each side before cooking in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes, until cooked through and not pink inside. Return to the frying pan and fry for another 5 minutes until brown on either side.
The serving is where it gets interesting. It is a cake, so think like someone cutting a cake. If you want to keep it together, well as much as is possible with a mutant like this, don’t cut each slice. Half it, the quarter it, you’re gonna need a spatular and a very large bread knife.
Then you need a table of people, unless you are very greedy or trying to commit food suicide, a lot of beer, and some good red wine.


Sweet Potato Ginger Soup

Eating a rainbow of colors isn’t so easy in the winter, but here is a soup that is as sweet and pungent as it is colorful. More accurately, the soup will be as colorful as the sweet potatoes that you choose, which come in an array whose colors include red, orange, purple, yellow and white. With the added benefit of only 3 grams of fat per serving, this soup is a winner for your health.

1 teaspoon ghee or olive oil
1 pinch red chili flakes
1 cup chopped leeks or onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoons tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
5 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
6 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the red chili flakes, leeks, ginger, and aminos. Sauté for two or three minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and sauté until they are well coated and begin to brown slightly. Add the coriander and garam masala. Sauté another two minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable stock to cover the sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender. Blend with a hand blender or food processor into a smooth consistency, adding more stock as necessary. Reheat before serving and garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

Quick & Easy Piadina

What is Piadina?

The piadina was, for me, love at first sight. Most people, when I would describe it to them, would say, “Oh, it’s kind of like an Italian tortilla!” Not quite!

I have not been attempting to whip these little wonders up here at home in the States for quite awhile as I am a wheat- and corn-free cook; even in restaurants my husband and I try as much as humanly possible to stay away from grain, especially wheat and corn. But when given a choice of what to eat and shop for, I stick with quinoa. However, yesterday at our local organic market, I spied spelt tortillas and I couldn’t resist buying a package!

My wheels started turning as I remembered piadina. Then, I found myself in the cheese section with my spelt tortillas in hand and, will wonders never cease, there it was–stracchino! Stracchino is the Italian cheese that I would most often enjoy in my piadina on the Adriatica, but never found here in the States. I would have this along with some fresh arugula! I said to my husband, “That’s it, I am going to make us piadina!”

Before I begin to share how I am now recreating the piadina at casa mia, I need to add that if you are one who would like to start the process from scratch, I have found a wonderful online guide on the making of piadina (as taught to a blogger who took a piadina course by some terrific people in Riccione, Italia!) I see no reason why you could not substitute an all purpose gluten-free flour, spelt or even quinoa. You may explore the guide here: How to Make a Piadina alla Romagnola.

Feel free to play with the recipe a bit to suit your dietary needs or do it the easy was as I did by just buying some organic spelt (or flour/whole grain) tortillas for a quick version!

Once you have gotten to the point of making the flatbread and have it in front of you, this is where the fun starts as you can add almost anything as a filling to make a piadina. Most afficianandos grill them up in a non-stick skillet or well-greased crepe pan (I use coconut oil) and then load them up with stracchino cheese or mozzarella. At this point, with the piadina in the pan, you can add the cheese to melt it a bit and then slide onto a plate or just spread the soft cheese once the piadina is heated. You can also top with soy cheese if you prefer non-dairy. It’s easy to make vegan or veggie versions, too. You can add sliced avocado, diced tomatoes with a little garlic and basil, then just add fresh arugula, and whatever you like such as; prosciutto or pancetta, grilled onions, black olives, sun dried tomatoes (I like to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my diced veggies first), add dried or fresh basil or other fresh herbs, then just fold them over in half and enjoy! For a sweet version spread with Nutella! Voila–Piadina Adriatica!

With piadina you have the chance to be as creative as you like, just like pizza and/or panini. I hope you all get to visit the beautiful coastal town of Riccione and its environs one day and try the local cuisine, but until then, Buon Appetito!

Zucchini with Lemon Butter

Baked Zucchini Halves with Lemon Butter

It’s garden time!! This means zucchini is often available either in your own garden or your neighbor’s. This is a tasty way to make your garden delights come to life with flavor and juiciness. The seasonings are subtle but come together in a delicious way with just a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. We bake ours but you can also grill them.

6 small zucchini – cut off ends and cut lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or *Earth Balance, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice (pinch of lemon zest too if you like)
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon granulated onion
Pinch oregano – dried or fresh
Pinch curry powder
Pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, shredded

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash and trim zucchini ends. Cut lengthwise and arrange in pans face up.
  • In bowl or measuring cup whisk together melted butter with all sauce ingredients, except for parmesan. Allow to cool.
  • Brush sauce on zucchini (try to get a good amount of mixture on each zucchini half.) Sprinkle with parmesan.
  • Bake uncovered in oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and serve.

Serves: 6

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

*Earth Balance: a vegan buttery-tasting spread made with olive, soybean and canola oil.

Caramelized Onions with Mustard Sauce

Caramelized Onion Halves with Mustard Sauce

Rich and delicious! This soft caramelized baked onion dish is made with a scrumptious mustard sauce – it is sweet but balanced with mustard. We bake our onions but you can also grill them.

½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
5 large sweet onions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the ends off of onions, cutting as little as possible and then peel. Cut in half horizontally.
  • Place on sprayed pan with the wide side facing up.
  • Whisk together sauce ingredients in a bowl until slightly thickened, then brush on onion halves.
  • Bake covered in oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and add more sauce. Increase oven heat to 400 degrees.
  • Bake another 20 minutes or until onions are slightly browned on top.

Serves: 8-10

Total cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Grilled Radicchio Salad With Parmesan

Although I never buy it, I love the look of radicchio – those thick, crisp, maroon leaves with raised white veins are so pretty! But we got a simply beautiful head of the stuff in our most recent Hearty Roots CSA share, the typical coloring of the outer leaves tinged all over with a surprising and lovely green.

Since I never buy radicchio, I’d never cooked with it, either. So I turned to the internet for inspiration, of course (how did we do anything before the internet???) I found several simple yet yummy-looking recipes for grilled radicchio. I liked the idea that grilling the veg over high heat has a way of transforming its decidedly bitter taste to something mellower and vaguely nutty.

The rest was history. I quartered the radicchio (you want to include part of the core in each piece to prevent it from falling apart), tossed the pieces with a generous mixture of olive oil, fresh orange juice, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper (don’t skimp!) and asked my husband, our resident grillmaster, to go fire things up.

You will need to watch the radicchio wedges closely as they can burn easily (a little char is good but too much is bad) and turn them often.

Although you could just drizzle some good quality balsamic vinegar over them once they’re done and tuck in, I found the idea of a salad more appealing. Cut the wedges into chunks, drizzle with a simple balsamic vinaigrette (suggested recipe below or feel free to use your own), and shave some Parmesan cheese over the whole thing.

The flavor is divine! Although some bites were still on the bitter side, I found it surprisingly addictive (sort of similar to the way I feel about this divine salad of shaved brussels sprouts, raw kale, toasted almonds and Parmesan.) The combination of the salty cheese, the sweet balsamic and the nutty, slightly bitter greens is goooood.

I only had one head of radicchio but I’ve doubled the recipe below so you can feed four (or maybe five – depends how many people find it addictive…) with it.

Grilled Radicchio Salad With Balsamic Dressing & Shaved Parmesan
4-5 as a side


For the salad:
* 2 heads of radicchio, quartered, so that each chunk has some of the core/stem holding it together (otherwise, you might need to put the leaves in a grill basket as they won’t hold together)
* A big handful of fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried, stems removed
* A big handful of fresh parsley leaves, rinsed and dried, stems removed
* Several glugs of olive oil
* 1/2 cup orange juice (optional)
* Parmesan, Pecorino or Romano cheese to taste
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
* Roughly 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
* 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Make the dressing. Put the salt, garlic, mustard, maple syrup or honey and balsamic vinegar into a food processor or blender and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until the dressing comes together. Or, you can also just whisk it all together with a fork if that is more your speed or you don’t feel like washing a food processor (I know I never do…)
2. Prepare your grill for high, direct heat.
3. Coat quartered radicchio with olive oil and orange juice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper – make sure each piece is well-covered.
4. Grill the radicchio over high heat, uncovered. Watch closely and turn often to prevent them from charring too much. You want them cooked and lightly charred in spots but not totally blackened. Remove to a bowl, plate or cutting board.
5. Chop the radicchio quarters into bite-sized pieces and toss with the dressing. Garnish with shaved or grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Romano cheese (I urge you not to skimp on the cheese.) Serve hot or let cool down – it’d be good both ways.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad

What barbecue is complete without a big bowl of fresh watermelon slices? This, though, can be both a blessing and a curse — with a summer stuffed full of outdoor grilling, the ubiquitous treat can get a little tired. So, instead of just cutting up a watermelon and calling it a day, why not put a new spin on it? Check out this fantastic recipe for watermelon and arugula salad — it’ll be a perfect addition to your Memorial Day weekend festivities!

Watermelon and Arugula Salad


5 cups arugula, packed
8 cups watermelon, cubed
1 1/3 cups feta cheese
1 tbs fresh mint, chopped
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Whisk oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Place arugula, watermelon and feta in a large bowl, and drizzle vinegar and oil mixture and chopped mint over it. Toss.

2. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before serving.

Eggs in Bell Peppers

1/2 bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ thick “rings,” with inner membranes removed
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon olive or vegetable oil

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place pepper rings in skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
2. Crack egg into the middle of the pepper rings.
3. Cover and let cook for about 3 minutes. If you like harder eggs, 5 minutes should do the trick.

Serve with: fresh fruit and toast.

Leftover Breakfast Rice

1 cup leftover brown rice
1 cup soy or cow’s milk
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Fruits, raisins, and nuts for topping

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat rice in milk and butter.
2. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in brown sugar. Remove from heat.
3. Top with sliced fruit, raisins, nuts, and whatever else you desire

Whole-Grain Toast with Banana and Nut Butter

2 slices whole-grain bread
Almond or peanut butter
1 banana, sliced

1. Lightly toast bread. Spread nut butter on toast and top with banana slices.

Other Tasty Toast Options Beyond Jam:
- Tofu spread & sliced fruit
- Cream cheese & berries
- Slice fruit & honey
- Sauteed kale
- Ricotta & cherry tomatoes

Yogurt, Fruit and Granola

1/2 cup plain, vanilla or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fruit, chopped — berries, bananas, peaches, whatever you have on hand
1/4 cup granola
Optional: nuts or seeds, honey or maple syrup to taste


1. Scoop yogurt into a cereal bowl. Add granola and mix lightly. Top with fresh fruit and serve.


2 packets sweet waffles or 1 brioche loaf
150g white chocolate
300g fresh (or frozen) raspberries
55g castor sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml sour cream or crème fraiche
3 eggs
5 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp icing sugar
Small packet whole shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 200/400/Gas 6. Cut waffles into 1″ pieces. Chop white chocolate. Chop pistachios. Place half of waffles in Deep Dish. Sprinkle with half chopped chocolate, half pistachios and half raspberries, repeat layers.
Combine sugar and flour in Bowl. Whisk together with sour cream, eggs and vanilla essence. Spoon over top of raspberries.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and set in centre. Cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired.


(This works great !!! Good for when all your family is together. The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet !!!)

Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them, or whip prior in a small bowl.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, polony, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc.

Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes [we did 15 minutes]. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.
(Careful of the heat escaping)

Imagine having these ready the night before, and putting the bag in boiling water while you get ready. And in 15 minutes, you've got a nice omelette for a quick breakfast!!!

Quick Spinach Bake

Spinach Quickie

1 Puff pastry - 1 Pyrex dish rectangular or round pie dish

Spray n Bake Pyrex dish - Line with puff pastry

Chop and boil a bunch of spinach for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain

Chop 1 onion and 250g Bacon.  Fry bacon and onion

Layer 1 - Spinach

Layer 2 - Crumble Feta

Layer 3 - Fried Bacon and Onion

Layer 4 - Sliced Mushrooms

Layer 5 - Sliced Tomatoes

Mix together 1 Egg and 100ml of Milk, Salt n Pepper to you taste.  Pour over.

Cover quiche to be - with 1 cup of grated Cheddar Cheese

Oven 180 degrees Celcius

Bake for 30-40 minutes till pastry is brown

Finished product

Serve with potato wedges or salad.

ENJOY !!!!!!!!

Herbed Potato Salad

Fresh Salsa

Great Grape Smoothie

Zucchini Sauté

Apple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Cornbread with Spicy Blackeye Peas

Banana Berry Pancakes

Banana Berry Dynamo

Savory Grilled Fruit

Paradise Freeze

Melon Cooler


Mango Chicken Stir-Fry

Jicama Pina Breeze

Quick and Creamy Grape Shake

Vegetable Medley with Salsa Dip