Sunday, May 5, 2013

Just a number

This year has flown by. Yesterday was already Andy's birthday. One more year, one more chance for culinary celebration of my lifting buddy/idea tester/personal assistant/ambulatory heat blanket.

Unfortunately, the birthday chemist was continuing to work status-post all-nighter at lab, and I was coming off a quality three hours' sleep. Celebration was deferred. After the caffeine jitters wore off enough for us to imbibe large amounts of water and pass out for about twelve hours, I made a wish-this-were-ironic birthday dinner of quinoa burgers with green goddess dressing on vegan buns.

Green goddess dressing has a large number of variations as interesting as its history. Traditionally, it contains mayonnaise and sour cream; most modern updates are lighter on the saturated fats. I opted to use egg yolk and just a bit of nonfat Greek yogurt, with just enough acid to bind the whole thing together. It was just a touch too garlicky (probably the fault of the garlic/chive duo), and the parsley didn't speak as much as I wanted it to.

It's also an expensive proposition, unless you have an herb garden*. Either plan for a week of herbaceous dinners or make this for a crowd. Then again, I may or may not have eaten it by the spoonful...

Quinoa veggie burgers
1 cup quinoa, well-rinsed
1 cup cooked spinach
1 medium sweet potato, baked until barely tender (but not fully squishy
1 egg white
2 cloves garlic, minced (omitted this time because the dressing is so garlicky)
1.5 tbsp wheat gluten (optional)
paprika, salt, and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa as directed and allow to cool. Make sure there isn't much residual moisture therein. Squeeze as much water as possible out of the spinach and chop it finely. Grate or finely chop the sweet potato and squeeze as much moisture as possible out of that as well. Mix all ingredients together, pulsing a few times in a food processor if necessary for good structural integrity. Shape into six patties. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes per side, or until firm and crispy but still moist at the center. Cool slightly before removing from the cookie sheet.

Vegan whole wheat flaxseed buns
1 cup warm water
1.5 tsp yeast
2 tbsp brown or turbinado sugar
4 tbsp olive oil, or 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 egg, or 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 egg's worth of vegan egg substitute
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup flaxseeds, divided

Mix together warm water, sugar, and yeast; let sit until the yeast has bloomed. Mix in the flours and knead until the dough is springy and smooth. Let rest 20 minutes, then mix in the salt and about 2 tbsp of the flaxseeds. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about an hour and a half. Punch down and divide into six even portions. Shape into a ball by pulling the edges of the dough together at the bottom. Smack the dough ball firmly onto a flour-dusted surface, seam-side down. Spray the top of the unbaked buns with olive oil and sprinkle them with the rest of the flaxseeds. Let rise for half an hour, or until doubled in size. Give another spritz of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Green demigoddess dressing
(Makes about a cup)

2 cloves garlic
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks (The original recipe uses mayo and sour cream; if you're sketched out by raw egg yolk, use more yogurt instead)
2 tbsp yogurt
4 anchovy fillets
1 minced shallot
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium bunch chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves (not the stems)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup fresh dill sprigs
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh chives (I used 1/2 and found it a little too garlicky)
1/4 cup fresh spinach (optional)
pepper to taste (you likely won't need salt)

In a food processor or with an immersion blender, blend the garlic, lemon, egg yolks, anchovy, shallot, and olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth; thin with more olive oil if necessary.

*Oh, happy day!

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