Tuesday, 12 May 2015

black bean burgers and my mushroom vow

My love for black beans, a staple in my kitchen, knows no boundaries and these black bean burgers are the ones that made me switch entirely to veggie burgers. I wouldn't say no to a good burger made with quality meat but when I crave a burger, I crave these. It's not only because of the taste; it also has something to do with the ingredients, the nutritious fresh produce on my table when preparing the meal.

Fresh coriander is something I like having in my kitchen. I love its pungent flavour and as of late, I find myself increasing the amount I use in recipes. If I don't have it there is something seriously wrong in the world! Or perhaps just in my kitchen. Cilantro is another word for fresh coriander, used in the US from the Spanish word. Then there are some who call the leaves Arab parsley while others call them Chinese parsley. Confused much? Well, now you know.

We have developed a black-bean-burger ritual. Each time I make them, which is quite often, one of the toppings I prepare is fried mushrooms in light olive oil with garlic and a pinch of salt, which I also serve on the side.

Speaking of mushrooms, many years ago a friend of mine attended a lecture with a Buddhist monk who said something like no one should eat mushrooms because they didn't grow in sunny places. Everyone is entitled to opinions and believes but let me just tell you this: No monk or philosophy was coming between me and my mushrooms and from then on the rebel inside made a solemn vow to eat even more of them. That's just how I roll.

I have actress Gwyneth Paltrow to thank for the recipe, which I adapted from her cookbook, Notes From My Kitchen Table. It is easy to prepare but what you will need is cooked brown rice, so make sure you have time to boil the rice (takes about 25 minutes) or do it beforehand. You will need 30 g uncooked brown rice to make 75 g cooked (for the Americans out there not used to grams, cook three tablespoons of rice).

I like my veggie burger fried but I have added an oven-baked choice for those who aren't fond of fried food. I doubled the ground cumin in the recipe and I use 2 tablespoons of fresh coriander. I also added the red chilli flakes and nutritional yeast flakes, which I mark as optional. I serve these with the mushrooms and garlic mentioned above, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, and quality mayonnaise or home-made. The recipe contains onion so I don't feel the need to add raw onion or red onion to my burger, but when I'm craving something spicy I like adding jalapeno from a jar. Sometimes I enjoy these with a small glass of ice cold beer with freshly squeezed lime.


1½-2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon ground cumin
optional: a pinch of red chilli flakes

½ teaspoon fine sea/Himalayan salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 can (400g) organic black beans
75 g cooked brown rice
1-2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro)
optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 tablespoons organic flour (if frying)
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (if frying)
4 wholemeal burger buns

Cook 30 g brown rice beforehand. Drain and rinse the black beans. Set aside.

Peel the onion and garlic and chop finely. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan, then sauté the onion, garlic, cumin and chilli flakes (if using) for about 5-7 minutes on low-medium heat.

Add the salt, pepper, black beans and rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Finely chop the fresh coriander and add it to the mixture with the nutritional yeast flakes (if using). Remove from the heat.

Mash the mixture with a potato masher just to combine and get some cohesion - you want the burgers to have some texture. Let the mixture cool until it's easy to handle. Form the mixture into 4 burgers (at this point you can set the burgers in the fridge for a few hours).

• Fried burgers: Dust both sides with flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and brown the burgers on both sides, about a minute on each side. Serve them on grilled wholemeal buns with all of your favourite fixings.

• Oven-baked burgers: Place the burgers on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake at 190°C/375°F (175°C fan oven) for 8-10 minutes on each side.

Uppskrift á íslensku.

Recipe adapted from the book Notes From My Kitchen Table by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Friday, 8 May 2015

European facade

Happy VE Day! I was sipping tea and thinking about the emotions that people experienced on this day seventy years ago when the war in Europe ended. I felt the need to post something European and I remembered a photo in my files of this facade of a building in Luxembourg. It houses the Café Les Artistes (at 22 Montée du Gründ) in Grund, the oldest quarter of the city. There was always something about that door.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

yellow fabrics by Fermoie

I am going through one of my phases of yellow textiles; I see yellow patterns everywhere. My relationship with this primary colour can get complicated because there are shades of yellow that I'm drawn to like bees to honey while others don't do much for my aesthetic side. The yellows that entice me are golden and mustard yellows; yellows with a hint of red in them, like turmeric and saffron. My latest crush comes in the form of fabric samples that I recently got from the English fabrics company Fermoie.

The wide-striped sample is a fabric called Cotton York Stripe (L-039) and the other pattern is called Cotton Rabanna (L-190), which seems to melt my heart each time I look at it. Both these high-quality fabrics are made from 100% cotton. I got more colours and patterns that I will lay on my table and show you later ... when my yellow phase is over. (In my image above, in the bottom-left corner, you see part of a photo by Chris Court in the book Gypsy: A World of Colour & Interiors by Sibella Court.)

Fermoie was founded by Martin Ephson and Tom Helme, the two gentlemen who also founded Farrow & Ball (which they sold). I like the simplicity of their palette that consists of five colours - reds, yellows, greens, blues, and neutrals - available in various light and dark hues. According to Helme,
Fermoie's aim is to capture the life, light and enjoyment of old woven textiles. We print traditionally with a light touch using pigments creating a subtle impression but with the depth of a woven fabric. (Fermoie - About)
The design is drawn by hand in their studios and printed on natural fabrics in their factory in Marlborough (the base cloths are woven in Lancashire). If you happen to be in the Chelsea area in London you will find their showroom at 2 Pond Place.