Black Bean Burger with Endive Salad

endive salad

To most people salad is not an exciting thing. It’s what you eat when you’re on a diet or a clichéd first date food. But I confess, I love salad. It’s also true that when I make a salad it’s not necessarily going to guarantee a low calorie intake. A salad is a great vehicle for all types of condiments and things you might feel guilty eating if they were not otherwise on lettuce. This salad may be put in the above category, but trust me you will not feel bad about eating it. It is such a nice combination of the bitter Belgian endive with the sweet candied walnuts, plus there’s blue cheese. Oh, blue cheese, how I love you. This recipe calls for crumbled blue cheese, but I really prefer to use a chunky blue cheese dressing to add extra creaminess. My favorite blue cheese dressing for this is Cindy’s Kitchen Real Blue Cheese Dressing Dip, it is so chunky, creamy and delicious.

black bean burger

I’ve been telling the mister for about a year now that he should try black bean burgers. Well, I think when I mentioned this to him he nodded politely, thinking that a burger really should contain some form of meat and definitely a bun. Yet, I think even for a meat lover like the mister he enjoyed these. I keep it simple by making a mixture of spices, black beans and roasted sweet potato and baking the patties in the oven. The juxtaposition between the savory, creamy black beans and the sweet potato is what makes these special. I like these served without a bun and with a dollop of sour cream.

I’ve made these awhile ago, probably two years ago, and I couldn’t find the original recipe. I must say I liked these better the first time I made them. I’m not sure if it’s the recipe or the possibility that now my palate is more experienced. That being said, I did enjoy these and I would make them again.

Endive Salad with Candied Pecans and Blue Cheese
adapted from Robin Miller

2 bunches Belgian endive, leaves separated and rinsed well
1 cup candied pecans
1/4 cup blue cheese, or blue cheese dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Arrange endive leaves on a serving platter. Top with candied walnuts and blue cheese. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil and mustard. Whisk to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Drizzle mixture over salad and serve.

Black Bean Burger

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, drained
1 sweet potato, diced and roasted
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup sour cream
kosher or sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. In a saute pan, saute onions and garlic untill translucent. Place sweet potato in oven and bake until fork tender. Combine onions, garlic, black beans, roasted sweet potato and spices in a bowl. Mash the mixture with a fork until the black beans and sweet potato are half-crushed. Add the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. If the mixture looks too moist, add more breadcrumbs. Form mixture into 4 inch patties and place in oven for 20 minutes or until patties are warmed through and firm. Place a dollop of sour cream on top and serve warm.

{photos by Avocados and Pancakes}

Salmon Fillets over Couscous with Roasted Asparagus

couscous

Salmon and couscous are two ingredients I eat and cook often. Yet, I’ve never cooked or eaten them together, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this recipe. It was such a cinch to make and full of flavor. After I cooked the couscous it seemed a bit dry so I added a long drizzle of olive oil which helped the texture and flavor. This is optional, but sometimes I really do just look for opportunities to finish a dish with olive oil, there’s nothing better!

salmon

Even though this meal is done in well under an hour, it still looks stylish enough once plated that I’m sure dinner guests would think you fussed over it more than you did.

roasted asparagus

The roasted asparagus, well that’s just a staple in this household. It’s true that the asparagus right now does seem a bit listless compared to asparagus when it’s in season, but I have been seeing it on sale quite often lately. Maybe this is the trade off? It is quite good roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, but the Parmesan cheese is what makes converts out of non-asparagus eaters. Trust me, I’ve converted life long asparagus avoiders into lovers with a sprinkle of cheese.

Salmon Fillets over Couscous
adapted from Bobby Dean

Salmon Fillets

olive oil
4 salmon fillets
1 lime
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 turns of a peppercorn grinder, course ground
1 tablespoon garlic powder
butter

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder in small bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil to glass pan and place the salmon. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the top of the salmon and sprinkle with your seasoning mixture. Top salmon with pads of butter. Wrap in foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of couscous.

Couscous

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter
1 cup couscous
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup green onions
olive oil

Combine water, salt and butter in a saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, drizzle with olive oil. Add diced tomatoes, crumbled feta, and green onions. Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
adapted from Ina Garten

1 pound fresh asparagus
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400° F. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Remove asparagus from the oven and top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Turn off the heat in the oven and place asparagus back into the oven for 3 minutes until cheese is melted.

I Like My Fish Filleted

Fish HeadWelcome to my blog Avocados and Pancakes! I never would have believed that one day I’d be starting a food blog. This is simply because I didn’t particularly enjoy eating and I especially didn’t enjoy cooking. Eating to me was just one of those things, a necessity of life, that got in the way of living. Oh, how wrong I was! What I began to discover four years ago is that I just never tasted food the way it was meant to be eaten. Once I discovered eating I discovered cooking.

I grew up in a small Midwestern town with no particular culinary heritage. I suppose I ate what most small town American kids eat, the small repertoire of things your mother knows how to cook. Usually dinner was some form of spaghetti, meatloaf, hamburger, pizza, mystery casserole, and plenty of “home cooked” meals from a box. (Who knew you could make your own stuffing?) No offense to my mother, she is a great cook now, just not then. Yes, my culinary appetite was starved but I didn’t know it yet.

Then, I moved out on my own to a big tall skyscraper in a big tall city and the thing that changed most about me was the way I ate. Sure, at first I stuck with what I knew. Ramen noodles anyone? Admittedly, I thought I was clever when I added broccoli to it. Eventually, I was acquainted with Italian food the way the Italians make it and middle eastern food from the Palestinians. I finally discovered the way food was meant to be eaten. With this realization, I found myself in the kitchen cooking more and more. For the past four years, I’ve been cooking almost every night and learning what our great grandmothers knew about cooking. It’s better when you make it yourself.

So, because I am recently new to this whole wide world of food, there’s a lot left for me to explore. I don’t believe in pretentious ingredients. I’ll leave the truffle oil and lavender scented foam to the pros. I don’t think I’ll ever suck a fish head or eat a raw oyster, but I’ll continue to try new food and new recipes and this blog is where you can witness my kitchen successes and failures.