Monday, April 16, 2012

For Two: Portabella Mushroom Burgers

Last night, I went a little overboard with dinner.

It’s not exactly a secret, but I am obsessed with mushrooms. I seriously can’t get enough of them. I eat them plain, in pasta, over rice, in sauces, on salads, in soups, marinated, sautéed, stuffed, you name it. So when the craving for burgers presented itself, I naturally made it all about the mushroom.

Grilled, Marinated Portabella Mushroom Burgers with Grilled Vegetables and Avocado Spread

For Burgers:

2 medium sized portabella mushrooms
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 T butter, melted
1 garlic clove, chopped
1t brown sugar
For Avocado Spread:

2 ripe avocados
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

I wanted something to balance the textures and flavors of the burger, so I came up with a few simple, yet delicious sides:

Homemade Toasted Sesame Potato Chips

1 large russet potato
2 T toasted sesame oil
salt to taste


Corn on the Cob

2 ears of corn

Bite-Sized Banana Splits

(Dessert inspired by OhSheGlows. Ice cream inspired by Whole Foods Market)
2 frozen bananas
2-3 strawberries
1 cup vanilla soy milk
2 T almond butter
6 oz dark chocolate
1 T canola oil
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup shredded coconut

One of the things I find extremely helpful when preparing a detailed menu is taking the time to think about what menu items take the most time. For this particular meal, the item that is the most time consuming is the Bite Sized Banana Splits (dessert before dinner!). The first thing you will need to do is freeze two bananas. Ideally, this will have been done a day in advance, but the ice cream will work just as well for this purpose if the bananas are only partially frozen. Once the bananas are frozen, place them in a blender with a cup of vanilla soy milk and two tablespoons of almond butter. Blend until smooth.


Cover a miniature muffin pan with a sheet of plastic wrap. Spoon equal amounts of the ice cream into the muffin cups, filling to the top. There will be plenty of ice cream left over, and I recommend freezing it for later or, if you’re like me, eating it on the spot. Next, slice up some strawberries and place one slice on top of each cup of ice cream. Place in the freezer for approximately two hours or until the center is no longer liquid.

Meanwhile, you can prepare the mushroom marinade. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic, whisking to combine. Pour the mixture over the cleaned mushroom caps in a large plastic bag and place in the refrigerator, turning every half hour until ready to grill.

Now comes the fun part: the homemade potato chips.

Just a side note: Before yesterday, I had never made potato chips before and had no idea what to expect. So naturally, I thought it would be a great idea to use unnatural amounts of herbed sea salt on both sides of the chips. (Note to self: There is such a thing as too much salt.)

I am happy to say that attempt two yielded much more satisfying results. Simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees, slice whole, skin-on potatoes to about an 1/8 of an inch, and toss them in toasted sesame oil. Place chips on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake for ten minutes, turn chips and bake another twenty minutes, watching carefully so the chips do not burn. Remove them from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.

And naturally, you’ll have to taste one just to make sure they’re fit for consumption.

Or make that two…

And now onto the second stage of the dessert.

Place the oil and chocolate chips in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high until the chocolate has melted. Meanwhile, chop the pecans and place in a nonstick skillet, toasting on medium heat until they are nice and golden. Place on a plate with the coconut flakes and mix to combine. Remove the ice cream from the freezer. They should look something like this and be like ice cubes to touch. If they are still liquid in spots, return them to the freezer for another half hour. The chocolate sauce will hold up well at room temperature until you are ready to assemble.

Note: this is an ideal dessert to make with a few kids or extra hands to keep the coconut nice and white, but if you are on your own, use a large spoon to dip the ice cream into the chocolate sauce and then drop into the topping. Be prepared to get really messy fingers.

Place the finished bites on a tray and return to the freezer until ready to eat. Note: thaw five-seven minutes before consuming.

To prepare the avocado spread, slice two ripe avocados lengthwise and mash roughly with a fork. Add lemon juice and salt (I used a seasoned salt mix from Penzey’s Spices, but you can really use any sort of salt for this purpose), stirring until the spread is malleable, but still slightly textured. Cover and set aside.

And we’re almost there. To prepare the vegetables, shuck the corn and set a large pot to boil. Slice onions and peppers and tomatoes in thick slabs. They should look something like this:
The corn will take about ten minutes to cook, so whenever you are ready to begin sautéing the vegetables, put the corn into the boiling water.

Next, preheat the oven to the lowest setting and remove the mushrooms from the marinade. Place them on a medium skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally to avoid burning. There is no health related reason to cook the mushrooms, but I think the flavor is more concentrated when they have been sautéed for a few minutes. Just be careful not to overcook. Place the mushrooms on a tray with slices of bread and put in the oven to keep warm. Finally, sauté the onions and peppers until they begin to caramelize. Remove the mushrooms and bread from the oven. Spread both sides of the bread with avocado spread, place a mushroom, cap side down on the bottom slice and fill the cavity with the vegetables. Top with the remaining slice of bread and serve alongside the chips and corn with a frosted glass of fresh limeade.

And craving accomplished! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, but make sure to save room for dessert. Also, using baguettes was a delicious idea, but also a completely impractical one. If you actually want to eat your burger like a burger and not like an uncooperative steak like I was forced to do, use a softer roll or even a pita instead.

Yield: 2 burgers

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