Turkey mantou burgers with parmesan wafer

Get cooking with kids: part 4

Originally appeared in the March 22, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

For this fourth installment in this kid-centric series, I had my mind set on some sort of sandwich.  And to avoid the same old, same old, I set my sights on introducing the little ones to a unique sort of bread—mantou.

You likely won’t find this at your local market, so it will take an investigative trek to an international market.  But like so many of these little adventures, it’s unceasingly rewarding.  Mantou is a yeast-leavened bun, similar to bao (pronounced bow), a sort of stuffed bread popular in Chinese cuisine.  The buns are usually steamed, producing a delicate dough yielding an enjoyably chewy texture, and its fermented flavor is mildly sweet.

In the midst of your gastronomic quest, steer toward the freezer section of the store, where you’ll find a host of frozen rolls and doughs—of both the stuffed and plain varieties.

The turkey is, of course, lean, so I’ve added in a little hoisin sauce as both binder and flavor component.  And I won’t even get into the host of toppings you can pair with these burgers—the sky’s the limit.  Combined, these elements create a kid-friendly sandwich that’s predictable enough to be pleasing, while abnormal enough to be enticing.


Turkey mantou burger with parmesan wafer

Makes 2 sandwiches

  • 8 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • To taste, salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 plain mantou or bao buns
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • As needed, all-purpose flour

1.  Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine 8 ounces of turkey with hoisin sauce.  Add a small amount of kosher salt and pepper.  Divide meat into 2 portions, and shape portions into patties.  In an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a small amount of canola oil.  When heated, add patties one at a time, searing to golden brown color, reserving the cooked one on a plate.  When patties are cooked, put back in pan and place pan in oven to finish cooking (12 -15 minutes).

2.  Meanwhile, place mantou buns in a large freezer bag; seal halfway, allowing an open portion to release steam; cook for 30 – 40 seconds, or until buns have softened.  Set aside.

3.  Now make parmesan wafer: In a small bowl, combine parmesan with just enough flour (a few sprinkles) to coat the cheese.  Using a non-stick sauté pan, place half the parm mixture flat in the center, making a wafer-thin disc.  When wafer has started to get crispy (about 40 – 60 seconds) flip with a spatula.  Set wafer aside.

4.  Slice mantou buns and proceed to assemble sandwiches—turkey patty, parmesan wafer, and choice of toppings.



Butternut squash gnocchi

Don’t knock-it till you’ve tried gnocchi

Originally appeared in the November 17, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

You might say that for something as simple as dumplings, it’s a contradiction for gnocchi (particularly this recipe) to be so labor intensive.  But to many cooks, culinarians, and pastry purists, part of the pay-off is the process.  Consider the labor-of-love involved in making tamales—think about the low-key technique of braising.  Moral of the story: the time invested is worth it.  Read more after the jump: (more…)

Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto

Risotto:  it’s a stir thing

Originally appeared in the October 27, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

Risotto—we’ve talked about it before; and if anything resonates it’s probably this:  It’s not fast food.  Of course, this is far from a bad thing.  The risotto method—which resembles a pilaf technique in the opening steps—utilizes a slow-simmering process to coax starch from the squat-shaped grains of rice.  We’re using Arborio for this pumpkin and pancetta permutation (mainly because of its easy-to-obtain availability), but you can also use carnaroli or vialone nano.

And speaking of availability, when it comes to procuring a pumpkin, this is prime time.  (And here’s a fun autumnal addition:  clean your pumpkin seeds, toast them appropriately, and use them as a garnish.  Just a thought.)  Click here to read more: (more…)

Pesto Sauce

Yield:  1 ½ pint

  • 12 fluid ounces olive oil
  • 3 ounces pine nuts
  • 6 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, grated
  • 4 ounces Romano, grated
  • To taste kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Place one-third of the olive oil in a food processor or blender, and add in all remaining ingredients.  Blend or process until smooth.  With motor running, add remaining olive oil and continue blending until thoroughly incorporated.

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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