Black Bean Burgers with Fried Eggs and Avocado-creme June 18, 2009

Brunch just got better … here’s a Tex-Mex-influenced addition to your breakfast table (or dinner table for that matter).  You can even make everything a day in advance and just reheat (well, except for the fried eggs), assemble, and serve!  Don’t forget to put out the hot sauce too, for an extra kick.



Black bean cakes:
1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
4 tsp hot sauce
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (canola or vegetable work best)

1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise, peel and pit removed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBSP lime juice

6 fried eggs





Black bean cakes:

1. Heat oven to 300°F and arrange rack in the middle, then place cornmeal in a shallow dish and set aside

2. Place beans, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, onion, hot sauce, and salt in food processor, pulse about 15 times until incorporated and beans are broken down (but some whole beans remain).

3. Form 6 patties and dust each patty on both sides with cornmeal, and
place on baking sheet or plate.

4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, then place 3 patties in pan and fry until golden (about 3 to 5 minutes per side – but watch out they don’t burn!).

5. Transfer fried patties on baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm (and then repeat with remaining patties).


* Place all ingredients into food processor and process until smooth, then season with salt.


Put it all together:
* Place bean cakes on serving plates and top each with a fried egg and 2 TBSP of avocado-creme!!



Polenta with Broccoli and Tomato June 11, 2009

I usually stick to grilling or toasting the pre-made roll-o-polenta, but after a week of unexciting regular go-to’s, I decided to branch out and experiment.  Success!  Not only is basic polenta delicious and cheap, it’s super easy to make and goes with just about anything you’d pair pasta with.  It’s hearty and luscious, and a great way to showcase your favourite vegetables … plus it suits gluten-free diets perfectly! I had a head of broccoli that needed some love, and one brand new hunk of tasty parmesan that was just begging to be grated … and voila!




For the polenta

4 cups vegetable stock (although you can use water too)

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/4 cups cornmeal

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits


For the vegetables

2 tbsp olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 large bunch broccoli, chopped into tiny florets (5-6 cups total)

1/3 cup water

3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (you can use canned if you forgot to buy fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn down to a simmer.


2. Add cornmeal to stock in a slow stream, whisking, and continuing to whisk after it is all added for about 5 minutes.


Note – Allow to polenta to cook gently while the vegetables are prepared.


3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, and once oil is hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute).


4. Add broccoli, toss with oil, then add the water and cover to steam until tender.


5. Uncover broccoli once tender, then add tomatoes, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes more) – season to taste.


6. Season the polenta to taste, mix in parmesan cheese and butter, then pour onto plates and top with cooked vegetables (serve with a sprinkling parmesan cheese).



Coconut Layer Cake June 2, 2009

Filed under: My bakery — s mcdowall @ 7:25 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I made this cake for my Mom’s birthday recently, and it was a big hit.  Bear in mind, the woman is one tough cookie to please culinarily wise, so the fact that it went over so well is a pretty good indicator of the greatness of this cake!  If you love coconut like I do, then this will be a little slice of heaven for you.  WARNING: hard to say ‘NO’ to seconds.



2 1/4 cups cake flour or plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp coconut or vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1/2 dairy and 1/2 rice)

1/2 cup egg whites (it’s about 3-4 large eggs, separated)


Buttery-coconut filling and icing:

 1 cup powdered sugar

 approx 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

 approx. 1/2 cup coconut milk

 For garnish: sweetened shredded coconut




1. Grease two 8″ round cake pans and preheat the oven to 350F, then sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a plate.

 2. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, and then add in the extract.

 3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and egg whites.

4. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to butter, mix until smooth.

5. Add in 1/2 egg white mixture and then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture – beat well!

6. Add in remaining liquid and flour mix, and combine until well incorporated (you may want to use a hand beater for this).

7. Divide batter between 2 cake pans and bake for 30-35 min, or until done.

8. Cool cake in pans for about 5 min and then cool on the racks. 


*To make filling/icing:

1) Mix room-temp butter with 1 TBSP of coconut milk and a fewe tsp of icing sugar and combine well.

2) Continue adding icing sugar, until more liquid is needed (it’ll get really clumpy).  Add in a little coconut milk and butter at a time, interspersing with icing sugar, until you get the desired consistency (should be perfect for spreading). 


*To layer the cake:

1) Once completely cooled, slice each layer of the cake horizontally into half into 4 slices – place one layer on a cake platter.

2) Spread with 1/4 of icing on it – then top with another layer of cake and repeat.

3) Place the last layer on top and spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing. NOTE – I WAS IN A RUSH, SO THIS TIME I SKIPPED 4 LAYERS, AND JUST DID 2.

4) Sprinkle and press sweetened coconut all over the outside of the cake.

5) Chill cake for 1-2 hrs to set icing and coconut – then serve at room temperature (it will keep nicely in fridge for a few days as well).



The Un-Meat Burger

These “meaty” burgers are made with lentils, and are not only healthy and low-fat, but exceptionally delicious on their own or with all your favourite fixings. Surprised? Try them and see. They’re a breeze to make, especially if you use a can of lentils instead of cooking dried ones. Substitute rice or chickpea flour for the bread crumbs for a gluten-free version!



* 1 cup dry lentils, well rinsed

* 2½ cups water

* ½ tsp salt

* 1 TBSP olive oil

* ½ medium onion, diced

* 1 medium zuchinni, diced

* ½ tsp pepper

* ¾ cup rolled oats, finely ground

* ¾ cup bread crumbs

* 1 egg



1) Place the lentils, water, and salt in saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until water is nearly gone and lentils are very soft, with splitting skins (or use 1 can of ready to eat lentils).

2) Sauté the onion and carrot in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

3) Mix the lentils, onions, zychinni, pepper, and optional spices in the large bowl, then mix in the ground oats and bread crumbs, followed lastly by the egg.

4) While still warm, form the lentil mixture into patties, which can now be frozen, refrigerated (for up to 5 days), or cooked immediately.


Cooking (2 possibilities):

A. In a frying pan, heat a bit of oil, place a burger on top, and fry until brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat on other side and serve. *These taste great on their own, or the same way traditional meat burgers are served.


B. In a 400ºF oven, bake the burgers on a greased baking sheet until light brown, about 15 minutes (turning once midway through).