Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Food For Thought: The Hack and Writing Cookbooks!

I’m in the midst of recipe testing for my second cookbook—Yes, there will be a follow-up to KEEPERS! My co-author and I are writing a new book of weeknight meals (with a twist…) for Abrams Books, which is a wonderful publisher of lovely books; release date is Fall 2017 so just be patient!—which means that my kitchen is chockablock with ingredients, pots in need of scrubbing, olive oil-stained legal pads filled with scribbled notes, and a refrigerator jammed with Tupperware containing dishes in all states of testing-doneness. It’s a situation, but despite the chaos, I really do embrace the full-immersion of recipe developing because it’s one of the only times where I get to really think about the nature of a dish. How to make it simple, but held-together with solid technique. How to make it unique by playing with the proportions and ingredients, but not adding a layer of novelty or frills just for the sake of making it different. Thinking about what people not only want to really and truly eat after a long day, but ask what they are really and truly are capable of making after a long day. Of course,  there’s also the added element of creating dishes that will appeal to a broad swath of people of different ages, locations, sensibilities, dietary restrictions…easy, right? Ha!

Which brings me to my favorite new lunch hack, something I make when I need to turn off the testing-part of my brand and take a break. It’s the Veggie Burger Deluxe

I’ve made veggie burgers from scratch, even considered coming up with my own recipe, but really, when there is one as good as the California Burger from Amy’s Kitchen (this is not in any way an endorsement…Amy and I have never met!), then, I mean, why bother?

I toast one burger in a skillet with a slick of olive or sunflower oil until warmed through, softened on the inside, and beginning to get crisp around the edges. Top with: Homemade chile-mayo (mayonnaise combined with chopped hot chile or cherry peppers, the kind in a jar that are a bit vinegar-y), pickles, red onion, and avocado wedges. Bun is optional (and perhaps not necessary because this deluxe-topped burger is pretty filling). I’ve also topped it with a generous swath of leftover pesto like the Swiss Chard Pesto from KEEPERS.

The burger does the trick every time—a cooking-hack that is incredibly satisfying and incredibly fast; the “trick” is just to top it with some fresh an homemade ingredients to make it a little more special.  I’ve even made it for an afternoon snack when Belle has a late-in-the day activity like ballet class that starts at 6:30pm. That chunk of time between arrival from school and running off to a sport/lesson/rehearsal that I like to call (and you’ll be hearing more and more about this): The Forgotten Meal.

To be a Forgotten Meal a dish must do the following: Be full of protein and good stuff to keep the energy-levels up, more satisfying than a yogurt or a handful of cheddar bunnies, better for your bod than a Hot Pocket, and a pretty good proxy for dinner. A tall order but one we will be tackling in Book Deux!

So stay-tuned for more and enjoy that burger!