Friday, March 22, 2013

Lemon Tahini Dressing with The Camper's Special (aka Bean and Grain Burger)

 I have no idea why this is called a Camper's Special, but I do know it's pretty special and I'm a happy camper when I eat it. It's my favorite thing to order at one of my favorite restaurants, Sammy T.'s, and I've been ordering it for years. What makes it special? Well there's the bean and grain burger smothered with grilled peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions. And then there's the Chi-Chi dip (AKA hummus) hiding inside the cheese (mozzarella and cheddar) covered wrap. But really what I love is the Lemon Tahini Dressing that's served on the side. I wish they'd bring it in a vat.

     I looked far and wide for a Lemon Tahini good enough to enjoy with my Camper's Special at home, and made countless batches from countless recipes. None were what I was looking for. But then I had dinner with a dear friend and there it was, hiding in plain sight on her salad- the elusive, delicious Lemon Tahini Dressing.  Just what I needed to go with my homemade Camper's Special.

     Even if you don't have a Camper's Special to eat with it, this Lemon Tahini is fabulous for pouring over your salads or drizzling on your stuffed pita sandwiches or for dunking your veggies. Please excuse me while I go make a vat of it.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
Arthur Gordon, Irregardless Cafe, Raleigh N.C.
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. onion, minced
2 Tbs. green pepper, minced (My dressing looks a little pink in the photo- I used a red pepper)
1  stalk celery, minced
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 c. light olive or grapeseed oil
2 Tablespoons water (I omit this, because I prefer a thicker dressing)
Blend (or process) the tahini, tamari, onion, bell pepper, and celery. Puree well if you want a smooth texture. Process in lemon juice and white pepper. With motor running, add oil and then enough water to get desired consistency. I prefer it a little on the thick side but that's just a matter of taste.

Camper's Special Top your Bean and Grain Burger (recipe follows) with hummus, sauteed onions, green pepper, tomato and mushrooms. Wrap it in a grilled flour tortilla and top it with mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Heat at 350F until cheese is melted. Serve warm with lemon tahini dressing. Yum.

Bean and Grain Burgers
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1tablespoon olive oil
1 (19 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and ground or coarsely chopped
3 slices whole wheat bread, blended in food processor
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup raw wheat germ

Gently saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are slightly browned. Mix onions together with remainder of ingredients EXCEPT the wheat germ. Form mixture into 8-10 patties. Coat each patty in raw wheat germ and grill on a non-stick surface until heated through and gently browned.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Easy Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake

     Okay Spring...any time now. Today we woke up to a dusting of snow that eventually changed over to a biting cold rain. Not the kind of weather that makes you think of daffodils and bunnies, is it? I was tempted to just pull the covers back up over my head and go back to sleep 'til I heard the birdies singing and felt some warm sunshine peeking through my window.

     I might have been tempted out of bed with this Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake, but unfortunately it was long gone. I made it a couple of weeks ago, and boy do I wish I had a slice now. The good thing about it is it's super quick and easy to put together, and it looks and tastes like you spent hours. Tart little bursts of cherry preserves in each bite of creamy almond filling will give you a sunny outlook even if the weather won't cooperate.

     The original recipe from Pillsbury used apricot preserves, which I'm sure would be equally delicious. I had cherry jam in my refrigerator love cherries with almond so that's what I went with. Why not make both and see which one you like best? 

Easy Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake
Very slightly adapted from this Pillsbury recipe
Coffee Cake
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 oz.) almond paste, crumbled
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1 Tablespoon sliced almonds

  • Heat oven to 375F. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment. With a mixer on low speed, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in crumbled almond paste until well mixed.
  • Unroll dough onto cookie sheet or parchment. Press into a 13x7inch rectangle, pressing perforations to seal. 
  • Spoon the cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the center 1/3 of the rectangle. Evenly spread the preserves on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  • On each long side of the dough, make cuts 1 inch apart to the edge of the filling. Fold opposite strips of dough over the filling, and cross the strips in the center to resemble a braid. Seal ends.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • Mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled braid and sprinkle with almonds.
  • ***You can assemble this up to 2 hours ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Uncover and bake as directed in the recipe.

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