I have been invited to a barbecue. How thrilling! Whenever I am invited to such an event I immediately drift off into one of my comforting reveries about the other me.
Cut to pastoral garden scene, enter lovely, floaty woman with toned buttocks and fabulous breasts. Her soft clothes hang beautifully on her willowy frame. Her perfect, happy children and perfect, happy husband smile serenely at her. They love her so. Has she ever uttered a cross word? They struggle to remember…
This delightful vision of beauty takes her seat in some dappled shade, the many people at the barbecue try not to stare as they wonder who she is. She graciously accepts the chilled glass of champagne, tips back her summer hat and engages those around her in light, amusing conversation, peppered with witty anecdotes. People stare at her in frank admiration. Children and small animals come to sit at her feet.
Then I am quickly jerked out of said reverie by the strained face of my host-to-be, who is looking uncomfortable as she says, ‘
Err, so what-umm-exactly, umm, what do people like you eat at barbecues?’
Then I remember that I am vegetarian and that barbecues are all about meat. On my own turf this has never presented me with a problem, I am happy to eat yummy barbecued veg, and will on occasion buy – gasp – processed vegetarian ‘burgers’ or ‘sausages’. I quite like the taste of the latter, but they are not for everyone. I do remember my lovely friend Dave – who admittedly was nursing a rather large hangover – pushing away a plate of Quorn sausages and saying, ‘I’m sorry I can’t eat this stuff’. His delightful wife Vicky was mortified and quickly apologised for ‘my very rude husband’. I thought it was rather funny, I may try and serve them to him again one day.
So I am busily preparing for tomorrow’s barbecue. Of course one can’t take crap processed food to someone else's barbecue, so I have devised some rather tasty burgers. I do not wish to be a self-publicist (although I may end up having to be), but could I draw your attention to the original ‘breadcrumb’ coating the burgers? I am rather surprised at my own ingenuity!
Next time you have some weirdy vegans or vegetarians over for a barbie, you could make these for them, they tick the gluten-free box too.
So, the burgers are sorted, I just need to dig out some floaty clothes to wear for tomorrow. I’ve hunted high and low for toned buttocks and fabulous breasts, can’t seem to find those anywhere.
Quinoa and Mushroom Burgers (if you wish, serve these with Archimedes' Gluten Free Bread Rolls)
(makes about 8, I think they could be frozen, but I haven't tried it)
These can easily be cooked the day before and then re-heated in the oven. This avoids that awkward situation where the host either slaps your burgers down next to some oozing steak, or cooks all the veggie stuff first and you are left looking like a right porker with all your food lined up in front of you, and everyone else has nothing.
For the coating:
Lots of black pepper
0.5 tbsp sea salt (I used Maldon sea salt)
0.25-0.5 tsp chilli flakes
For the filling:
pinch of saffron
0.25tsp ground coriander
8 button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil (perhaps a tad more)
3 medium carrots
400g tin chick peas
4 tbsp rice flour
1.5tbsp ground linseeds
2 'no egg' egg replacers mixed up with either rice milk or water / or if you can eat eggs, 2 eggs
Olive Oil for frying
You will also need some baking parchment and a pastry cutter about 8cm in diameter
- Put all the ingredients for the coating into a liquidiser / blender and grind to a powder. It doesn't matter if a few whole grains of quinoa remain. Spread some of the powder onto a dinner plate, quite thickly, and set aside
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Add the saffron. When it is boiling, add the quinoa and leave to cook according to the packet instructions (about 15 / 20 mins?). When the quinoa is 'al dente' - it should have a slight crunch - drain it through a sieve. Use the back of a spoon to press down on the quinoa to squeeze out most of the water
- Whilst the quinoa is boiling, put the mushrooms, garlic and 3 tbsps of olive oil into a liquidiser or blender. Blend it all to a paste. This took a few attempts, scraping it down from the sides with a spoon, and you might find you need to add more oil. You are aiming for a thick paste
- Put the quinoa and mushroom and garlic paste into a large mixing bowl. Add the cumin and coriander. Peel the carrots and grate them finely into the bowl. Mix it all together
- Drain the tin of chick peas, then use a hand blender to blend them to a thick paste. You could add a bit of olive oil if you're struggling. Add the chickpea paste to the bowl
- Mix everything in the bowl together. Add the linseeds and then the rice flour tbsp by tbsp. You want a thick mass, not too squidgy
- Mix up the 'no egg' egg replacer with the milk or water
- Cut out a square of baking parchment, about 15 x 15cm. Place your pastry cutter onto the parchment, spoon in some burger mix and smooth it around until you have your desired burger thickness. Carefully remove the cutter, (pushing the mix down with the back of a spoon if it sticks to the cutter), to reveal your perfect burger shape!
- Using the back of a teaspoon, spread some 'no egg' over the surface of the burger, this is to ensure the coating will stick. If you are using a real egg, it may be easier to use your fingers to spread instead of a spoon
- Lift the burger on the baking parchment and cunningly tip it onto your coating plate so that the burger lands 'egg' side down. You may have to flip it on and hope for the best
- Coat the other side of the burger with 'no egg' and spoon some coating onto it. You should now be able to lift the burger up and flip it from hand to hand to remove excess coating
- Gently heat a good amount of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, and put the burger in it. Let it heat gently for a while to warm it all through, then turn the heat up towards the end to brown it off. When it is golden brown turn it over to brown the other side
- Remove from the pan and place onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
- Repeat the process until all the burger mix and coating is used up.
- Get your glad rags on, grab your burgers and bubbly and have a lovely time at the barbecue!