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Entries in Grilling (2)


Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Somehow it has been over a month since I last posted about food.  It isn't that I haven't been cooking, but life has been a bit overwhelming since we returned from Asia in April.  First, I started a new job!  After almost six years of practicing law at a firm, I've moved "in-house" to work for the world's largest producer of mozzarella that is conveniently headquartered on our neighborhood.  Proposed alternative titles to "Corporate Attorney" include Counselor of Curds and Moosquire.  In mid-May we finally had our last snow, which means that we are experiencing our first spring / early summer as homeowners. We've spent hours weeding and spreading mulch and laying sod and while the work is incredibly satisfying, it never seems to end!  Between work and household chores the days just disappear.  
This past weekend I finally made time for cooking.  One food item that always disappoints me is the veggie burger.  Store bought versions are usually lacking in flavor and with a cardboard texture and I've always figured they must be easy to make.  I wanted something spicy and flavorful but also a burger that would stick together and stand up to grilling since it is officially that time of year!  With the combination of roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and an egg, these burgers have great flavor and moisture and stick together without issue when grilled.  Adjust the seasoning to your spice tolerance - these aren't spicy per se, but you they have a subtle kick.  I also think you could use any grain (quinoa, millet, oats, bread crumbs) -- I just happened to have cooked brown rice available.
We've been enjoying our burgers over a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and avocado, but only because I haven't made Homemade Hamburger Buns recently.  Now that our whole yard is mulched, perhaps I'll actually get to those before the 4th of July?
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Yield = 6
Prep Time = 1 hour (includes roasting time)
Adapted from Whole Foods
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 onion, chopped (I used a white onion - red or yellow would work well, too)
1 cup brown rice, cooked (I think you could substitute a range of grains, including quinoa or even bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
Hot sauce (optional - I added 3 dashes)
Salt and pepper to taste
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spread the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Using a food processor, pulse the onions and sweet potatoes until just combined being careful not to over-process (I think I did about 5 pulses).  Add the beans and pulse another 2-3 times until combined and the beans are in smaller pieces.  Alternatively, if you don't feel like using a food processor, finely dice the onion and mash use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes and mix them with the onions.  In a separate bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a fork and mix them into the sweet potatoes and the onions.  I think it's key to be sure the onion is finely diced whether you use a food processor or a just hand mix the ingredients.

3.  Add the egg, rice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, and hot sauce (I used about 4 dashes, but we like things spicy).  Form 6 patties of even thickness.

4.  To cook the veggie burgers, either heat a large skillet over medium heat and arrange a single layer of burgers and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes) or grill the burgers!  We grilled ours using a gas grill and they took about 12 minutes, but obviously this will vary by how hot your grill is.  Enjoy the burgers on a bun or served over a salad... I particularly enjoyed ours with avocado.
On a completely separate note, aren't lilacs just the loveliest?  We aren't getting many this year because of our late snows, but they are just so fragrant.  



It's Grilling Season! Homemade Sesame Seed Buns

In Boston, we were a part of something I dearly loved and miss every day - a meat share program through Chestnut Farms.  Each month we picked up a cooler full of delicious, farm-raised meat.  Opening the cooler was like opening a box from under the Christmas tree - half the fun of the meat share cooler was the surprise of what you received.  In addition to the usual cuts of chicken, beef, and pork, sometimes you'd open the cooler to find get a package of breakfast sausages or maple-glazed bacon... and the next month you might get goat.

There certainly are meat shares that I could join in Colorado, but instead we started a new tradition.  My parent's have friends who own and run a ranch and we purchase a steer each year that we share with a few other friends.  As of last week, my freezer is overloaded with 70 pounds of various cuts of beef.  Each is nicely labeled with the cut of meat and we are particularly flush with ground beef which is great as we head into grilling season.   

We hosted friends for dinner on Saturday night and I wrote to say that we "have a freezer full of beef" and that we'd grill hamburgers for dinner.  I didn't provide any context, which was clearly a mistake... I left our friend M wondering if we were just weird meat hoarders or just addicted to red meat.  As I was prepping food for dinner, I realized we didn't have any hamburger buns.  It was raining and grey and I just couldn't motivate to go to the store... so I made them instead!

There is something so satisfying about baking bread.  These simple ingredients come together to form something magnificent!  I suspect you have everything you need to whip up these buns in your pantry and refrigerator (and if you don't have sesame seeds, just omit them - most fell off the buns anyway).  Even better, I love making things at home that you normally buy at the store (e.g., mascarpone cheese, ricotta, graham crackers).  That reminds me that I read about a cookbook entitled The Homemade Pantry: 101 Food You can Stop Buying and Start Making.  Does anyone have this cookbook?  It has been added to my wish list...

Note that when you make these, you need to allow five hours from when you start the buns to when you want to eat them.  There is very little active time, but they need to rise twice.

Homemade Sesame Seed Buns
Yield = 12 buns
Recipe from Issue #122 of Saveur 

1  1⁄4-oz. package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 1⁄3 cups milk, heated to 115°
1 1⁄2 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
4 cups flour
1 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" cubes, softened
Canola oil, for greasing
3 tsp. sesame seeds

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, stir together yeast, milk, and 1 1⁄2 tsp. sugar; let foam.  Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt, and egg.  Mix on low speed until dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook; add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 400°.  Divide dough into 12 portions; shape each into a tight ball.  Place balls on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.  Lightly brush balls with oil; cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 1⁄2 hours. 

Uncover dough and, using a spray bottle filled with water, moisten dough; sprinkle each ball with 1⁄4 tsp. sesame seeds, being careful not to deflate the buns.  Bake, rotating once, until golden brown, 18–20 minutes.  Let cool.