Black bean burgers and spicy sweet potato oven fries

There are a lot of feral cats in this neighborhood and most of them seem to be in heat at the moment. This wouldn’t be a big deal–I never noticed it other years–except that it’s turning poor, simple Fuzz Ferdinand into a desperate, manic creature who races around the apartment in the wee hours, back and forth between the office, where there’s an open window whose ledge he can get onto, and our room, which is at the back of the building and therefore closer to those yowling temptresses just begging for a man like him. (He’s neutered, but apparently not immune to the charms of a strong, horny yowl.) He jumps up on the bed, generally my side since I’m closer to the door, generally on me, runs to the other side of the bed, which is closer to the window, pauses breathlessly, then realizes he could actually hear them better (and possibly even smell them) in the other room, so he jumps down and tears ass back to the office, where he sits for a minute and realizes that he’d be closer to them if he were in our room. Back and forth. Over and over. He really is a Cat of Little Brain, but he’s sweet and he’s handsome and I assume the feral cats will all get knocked up and stop begging for it outside our window every night. At that point, he’ll forget all about being lovelorn and I’ll be able to do what passes for sleeping through the night for me again.

I suppose this would be a good time to make a donation to that one-woman neighborhood TNR (trap, neuter, release) effort. First though, the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.

I’ve made these a few times, enough that they’re becoming a staple around here, using Kenji “New York’s Christopher Kimball” Lopez-Alt’s recipe as a basic guideline. In truth, though, once you’ve run through it the process once, it’s not really something you need a recipe for. I combine two cans of drained, rinsed black beans, one pureed, one coarsely mashed with a fork; a couple of minced chipotle peppers in adobo (I buy a big can a couple times a year and freeze the peppers individually with a dollop of sauce, so I always have them onhand); a big handful of coarsely chopped raw cashews, and a another handful or so of grated cotija cheese. Now that I’m looking at the menu, I see that Kenji adds caramelized onions too, which is a step I’ve always managed to miss, but they’d be a great addition. I also haven’t taken the time to roast the beans first, but again I’m sure the burgers would be the better for it. Then I add a few spoonfuls of yogurt and an egg and mix in cracker or panko crumbs until the mixture holds together. And that’s it. Form into patties and cook in the oil of your choice (I use either bacon fat or coconut oil) for four minutes on each side. They’ll get a nice crust and make for a thoroughly satisfying dinner, especially with cheese and a strip of bacon or two.
20140514-083859.jpgI get eight patties out of the recipe and freeze the extra, which means four dinners for a minimum of effort, especially since they’ll defrost and then cook in almost the exact amount of time it takes to make a fresh batch of spicy sweet potato oven fries, which are the perfect side.20140514-084008.jpg

Spicy sweet potato oven fries
serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fry-sized pieces
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp garam masala or other sweet curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika

Heat oven to 400. Put coconut oil in a small, oven-safe dish and put in the oven until it’s melted. Mix the spices into the oil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, spread the sweet potato pieces out, and pour the spice mixture over them. Toss to coat. Spread the sweet potato pieces out as evenly as possible, trying to have them all touching the backing sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flip them over, and bake another 20 minutes.

They’re flavorful enough to eat on their own, but I’m partial to thick yogurt with sriracha and a bit of salt stirred in as a dipping sauce.



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