Sunday, September 26, 2010

Northstar challenge. Round 2.

Second attempt at re-creating the Northstar veggie burger? Not a complete fail-- it was a pretty good burger, but far from Northstar's.

The Kitchn posted a recipe (and the picture below) a year or so ago, and I finally got around to trying it July 4th for a family cookout in Cincinnati.

I made some changes to the initial recipe because in a conversation with an employee I found out they add chipotle peppers. There didn't appear to be anything smoky about the original kitchn recipe.

In my first attempt, I added about 3-4 Tb of adobo sauce, caramelized the onions and canned beets for 30 minutes, threw in pureed dried dates for sweetness, and 1/4 cup or so of oats to help them bind. The final product was beautiful, but a little too spicy, a little too sweet, not quite enough salty, and definitely not enough umami. We used a cast iron grill pan over a gas flame to cook them- 6-8 minutes on each side, and they were good.

My second attempt yesterday was different, but probably equally successful (or not?). Dylan thought they were better than the first. I think the texture improved, but not the flavor. I used a 3-grain blend (rice, spelt, barley) from Trader Joe's instead of short-grain brown rice, and also used a package of their refrigerated cooked beats and shredded them instead of chopped canned (or fresh). I still added adobo sauce, just a bit less; about 2 Tb of unsweetened applesauce instead of the dates; LOTS of ground black pepper; and more sea salt. And some soy sauce. And Kitchen Bouquet. And... a little bit of everything else in the kitchen. I added more rolled oats, and let them sit in the fridge few hours before grilling them, on a real grill. We brushed them with oil, and probably grilled them a total of 15 minutes or so on each side. They were the right sweet, smoky, spicy, and salty. The outside was charred and crispy from the grill, but the inside wasn't bright enough, and it was still missing the depth and richness from umami. I'm not sure what I'll try next time. It's been at least 6 months since I've had the real thing, so maybe I should go to Northstar and then brainstorm.

Here are a few ideas for the next batch
1. Cook rice/grains in a mushroom veggie broth + beet juice for more flavor and color
2. Mince and caramelize portobellos with the beets and onions
3. Experiment with other soy sauces
4. Balsamic vinegar instead of cider

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Current favorite Way Yes song shot with our newish camera: