Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Purple dinner: beet burgers on homemade buns with blue potato fries

The pictures do not do justice to the deliciousness of this meal. Lester found this recipe as an idea for using up some beets and tofu we had around, then got all excited about having an all-purple-all-the-time meal and suggested making french fries with the blue potatoes he had lying about. I hadn't made bread in a while, so I decided to make the buns too (a consensus of these and those). The buns were the limiting factor here--everything else can be done between when the dough starts rising and when the buns come out of the oven--so if it's a warm day like it was today then this doesn't take unreasonably long. I highly recommend any of the components on their own too: the buns were soft yet sturdy, the fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the burgers were flavorful and held their shape, everything was really just spot on. One burger apiece was plenty with fries and salad on the side, so the three of us had three burgers and five buns leftover.

hamburger buns:

1 c warm water
1/4 c milk
2 t yeast
1 egg
2 T sugar
3.5 c all-purpose flour (plus a bit for dusting)
2 T softened salted butter
1 t salt
melted butter for brushing

Whisk together the wet ingredients (water through sugar) with a fork. In a large bowl, squeeze the flour, butter, and salt together with your hands until slightly crumbly. Pour in the wet ingredients and knead for several minutes; the dough will come together but still be sticky. Place in a spray-greased bowl, cover with a plastic bag, and place in the sun to rise for an hour. (Now's a good time to start roasting the beets and boiling the potatoes.)

When doubled, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to deflate. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Cut the dough into eight pieces (or more, these were large), roll each into a ball, place on the parchment, and flatten a bit with your fingertips. Let rise for another hour. (Now's a good time to finish assembling the burgers.)

Preheat the oven to 375F and place a pan of water on the floor of the oven. Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter. Bake for 16 minutes until golden on all sides but still very soft. (Now's a good time to fry the potatoes, and you can stick the burgers in the oven at the same time.) Transfer to a cooling rack, separate from each other if needed (mine are all angular because they rose into each other in a hexagonal-close-packed arrangement), and brush with a bit more butter so they stay soft.


2 medium beets
half a head of garlic, peeled
quarter of a yellow onion, peeled
one large purple bulb from a spring onion, peeled
olive oil
1/2 c walnuts
9 oz firm tofu
2 t nutritional yeast
2 t soy sauce
1.5 T ground flax seeds
1/2 t paprika
2 t cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350F. Wrap each beet in foil and place on a baking sheet. Place the garlic and onions (feel free to substitute with whatever onion-like substances you have around) on another piece of foil, pour on some olive oil to coat, wrap up the package, and put it on the baking sheet too. Roast everything for about an hour.

While you wait for the beets to cool down enough to peel, dump the garlic and onions with their oil into the food processor. Add the walnuts and grind until fine. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until homogenous, then scoop into a bowl. Peel the beets by rubbing the skins off under cool running water. Put the beets in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not juiced. Stir the beets into the rest of the mixture until everything is bright pink.

Preheat the oven to 375F--the same temperature as the buns could be baking at, not coincidentally. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray thoroughly with spray grease. Plop 6 equal-sized lumps of burger mix onto the parchment and pat into rounds with your fingertips. (These burgers were the same size as the buns, but if you make smaller buns then make smaller burgers.) Spray the tops of the burgers with more spray grease. Bake for 15 minutes, flip with determination onto the same baking sheet, and bake for another 15 minutes. We served these on toasted buns with mayo, sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced pickles, and Little Gems leaves, but all sorts of other toppings would work well too.


one or two blue potatoes per person
canola oil
sea salt

Wash the potatoes well and slice in half the way that maximizes the surface-to-volume ratio. Boil in a few inches of water for 5-8 minutes until just barely tender, and certainly on the side of not falling apart as these potatoes are wont to do. Slice into wedges or sticks, and leave on the cutting board to cool and dry for a while.

When it's just a few minutes until dinnertime, heat some oil in a pot to 350F (plus or minus at least 20 degrees for me). I got away with using a bit less than a pint of oil in a medium saucepan, just barely enough to submerge the tip of my candy thermometer, but more is presumably better. Deep-fry the potatoes in batches for 4-6 minutes; more is not better here because it starts becoming all crispy outside without the fluffy inside. Drain on paper towels, toss with sea salt, and serve hot with ketchup or whatever you like.

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