I absolutely love food trucks. I am really lucky that Dan is more than happy to be dragged round to where ever they happen to be congregating. He doesn’t mind that I insist on doing an entire lap to check out my options and then always go back to my first choice. Best of all he always shares his food with me.
When the Vue cinema asked if I would like to create a street food inspired recipe as part of their promotion of the film Chef I couldn’t say yes fast enough (which is probably why mine was the first recipe to be featured). They were even kind enough to send me a pair of tickets to go see the movie, which was a bonus as I have a love of Jon Favreau’s movies and any film about food so I was already planning on seeing it. The film, a story of a once famous chef opening a food truck, was everything I hoped it would be; extremely funny in places, heartwarming and full of excessive shots of melted cheese (which inspired these post movie sandwiches). The winning aspect of the movie, the main character is incredibly well developed and written, but most importantly likeable. Sure he can be a jerk, he’s flawed and he’s human, but throughout you cheer his victories and forgive his mistakes. It’s the kind of movie I could watch time and time again, along with Julie and Julia and When Harry Met Sally.
The burger recipe I created was inspired by my attempts to eat a more balanced and plant based diet. Summer isn’t summer without an excessive number of burgers, and whilst a love the traditional beef patty sometimes it is fun to mix it up. I have been experimenting with adding more vegetarian dishes to my repertoire and have been surprised by how varied and delicious the results have been. We try to make three dinners a week vegetarian (then two fish and two meat) which makes buying responsibly sourced meat more affordable and has the added bonus of making it easier to eat seasonally.
One of the downfalls of vegetarian cuisine can be when a vegetable is simply substituted for meat. A mushroom is not an alternative to steak, it’s unimaginative and chances are you it won’t fill you up either. Flavour and texture are important, which is why sweet potatoes are one of my favourite fridge staples, they can easily be whipped into something delicious. These thick patties are chock full of mexican inspiration from mixed spices, fresh coriander and a generous helping of black beans for protein. I prefer my food extra spicy so I added two green chillies to the bean burger mix, but feel free to add as much or as little as you like. To balance out the hot burger it is paired with a cooling guacamole. Stripped back to the barest ingredients soft ripe avocado, a little lime juice and a handful of herbs, makes the simple sauce the perfect creamy and tangy accompaniment. These burgers could easily be made vegan by omitting the mayonnaise and using a vegan bread roll (these are from this recipe and use an egg glaze).
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serves four recipe by Jennifer Brown for BAKE as part of the Chef Street Food Campaign
for the burgers:
400g sweet potato
½ tsp coarse sea salt
½ tsp peppercorns
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp paprika
1 clove garlic
1 tsp olive oil
0-2x green chillies (depending on how spicy you like your food)
1x spring onion
100g black beans
100g plain flour
for the simple guacamole:
4x burger buns
4x tbsp mayonnaise
1x tomato, sliced
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into 2cm cubes. Put into a pot of boiling water and cook for 8 ½ minutes until soft, a knife should be able to pierce it easily. Drain and leave to cool.
- Place the dried spices, salt, pepper, garlic and oil into a pestle and mortar and grind into a thick paste.
- Finely slice the chilli and spring onion, and chop the coriander.
- When the sweet potato is cooled, mash until completely smooth. Stir though the spice mix until evenly distributed.
- Using a wooden spoon gently fold through the spring onion, coriander and chilli.
- Drain the black beans, and then stir through the burger mix.
- Gently stir the flour into the sweet potato a tablespoon at a time until it forms dough. Depending on how moist the potato was you may not need all the flour. Just keep slowly adding it until the flour stops being absorbed into the mix.
- Liberally flour a chopping board. Split the dough into four equal portions. Then, in floured hands, roll each portion into a ball, and then squash slightly to form a burger patty.
- At this point, you can either lightly cover the board in cling film and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook them, or you can cook them straight away.
- To cook add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the burgers and fry for 20 minutes, turning at 5 minute intervals to prevent from burning, whilst still allowing them to crisp slightly.
- Whilst the burgers are cooking make your simple guacamole. Finely chop the coriander, juice the lime, skin and pit the avocado. There are a few ways to make the guacamole, you can pound it using a pestle and mortar, blitz it in a food processor or methodically mush it with a fork in a bowl. My preferred method is to squeeze it into the desired consistency with one (very clean) bare hand. I find it to be quicker, you have better control over the end result, and it is immeasurably satisfying.
- When the burgers are cooked, halve the buns and toast. Generously smear with mayonnaise, place the lettuce and slice of tomato, lay the burger on top, and then finish with a generous scoop of guacamole.