Fresh, Flavorful Chickpea Veggie Burgers!

Fresh, Flavorful Chickpea Veggie Burgers!

If you are feeling big and bloated after the holiday season, you’re certainly not alone. A lot of us are looking to renew our gym memberships, and eat more healthfully, at least through January. This month, the hash tag #Veganuary is everywhere – it’s a trend that started in the UK urging people to try going vegan for the sake of animals and saving the planet.

As a meat lover, I’m not quite ready to jump on the solar paneled band wagon, but I can vouch for this chickpea veggie burger recipe.

Chickpea burgers have so many scrumptious possibilities! You can experiment with different ingredients, like swapping rosemary for cilantro, or topping the burger with sliced and seasoned radishes, instead of cucumbers. I like to sprinkle a little feta cheese on top of my chickpea burger – don’t tell the vegans!

While not the perfect vegan recipe, my veggie burgers ARE filled with fiber – something a much more caloric beef burger can’t claim. This is your go-to recipe for a basic veggie burger that most condiments and giant bun can make extra delicious. I like that you can make it in a skillet just like you would a grilled cheese.

Here you go! HAPPY 2020!!

Chickpea Veggie Burgers

15 minute cuisine

Yields about 6 patties

For the “burger”

1 (12-ounce) can garbanzo or “chickpeas”, drained

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 3 tablespoons

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper

For the buns

6 whole-grain hamburger buns

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled

1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced, about 1 teaspoon


1 English cucumber, sliced

Red onion, sliced

1 ounce Feta cheese, crumbled, about 3 tablespoons

In a food processor or blender, combine the garbanzo beans, cilantro, lemon juice, flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, pulsing until a batter like consistency forms. With a large spoon, transfer batches of the mixture to a non-stick pan, or one with 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying.

Each batch transferred to the pan should resemble a hamburger patty in size and shape.

Cook the patties for 5 to 8 minutes, about three minutes per side. Remove to a platter and top chickpea patties with the cucumber slices, onion and feta cheese.

Add the garlic to a separate pan with butter and sauté on medium low heat about 3 minutes. Brush butter/garlic over the top of each hamburger bun. Toast the top of each bun in an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees for up to 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Place cooked patties on the bottom half of the bun, and top with the garlic buttered bun tops for the perfect bite!

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Since I was seventeen, I spent my Christmases in Florida… most of them in Fort Lauderdale. While the palm trees swayed from ocean breezes outside, we watched old movies and drank hot cocoa inside.  It was a fun way to pretend we were having a White Christmas!

While the Season included baking and tree trimming, shopping and wrapping were not far behind. I remember all the personalized gifts purchased from Paper Mpressions and all the beautiful tablescapes on display at Special Additions. I remember buying the boys matching holiday outfits from Flora Ottimer and finding crafty creations at Cross Stitch Cupboard.

Small businesses have always been a part of our community, like patchwork squares in a storied, family quilt. Our friends are their owners, our families are their customers and together we keep each other wrapped in friendship.

While some of these stores have disappeared, some are still going strong. Cactus Flower, owned by Candy Johnson has been in business for over 30 years. Her customers are not only her friends, they are each other’s friends. In the spirit of friendship (which is celebrated in Canvas and Cuisine), I hope my Fort Lauderdale pals will drop by to say hi, sip some bubbly and support Candy Johnson’s store this Thursday. I look forward to seeing you!

3020 N Federal Hwy

While you’re there, take a look around. Cactus Flower’s vendors are both old and new, and the combination leads to whimsical tables perfect for entertaining.

Meanwhile, please accept this simple, yet elegant holiday party dinner plan as my gift to you. It allows you to prepare everything in advance, so that you can enjoy your party as much as your guests do. And, if you are looking for the perfect serving platter for the salmon, or cake stand for the jam cake… then I’ll see you at Candy’s on the 12th! Merry, merry!


Simple Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Pan Roasted Veggies

Cumin Crusted Salmon with Tarragon Caper Sauce

Cranberry Jam Cake

Pan Roasted Veggies

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine

16 to 20 Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons, plus more for the other veggies

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the other veggies

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the other veggies

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper, plus more for the other veggies

16 to 20 Baby New Potatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

16 to 20 Whole Baby Carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground curry

16 to 20 Asparagus Spears

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Large Yellow Onions

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half and steam (or blanch) until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Cut each potato in half and steam (or blanch) for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with mustard, Parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Steam (or blanch) the carrots for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with brown sugar, curry, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut the onion into wedges leaving the root intact. This will help to keep the onion together. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

You can prepare the vegetable up to this point several hours in advance. When you are ready to serve, roast the veggies until they begin to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.

Cumin Crusted Salmon

with Tarragon Caper Sauce

serves a crowd

20 minute cuisine

For salmon:

1 (2 ½ pound) center-cut whole salmon fillet with skin

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For sauce:

1 cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup cream

3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the whole fillet, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet, coated with vegetable oil spray.  Drizzle the lemon juice on top.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rub this mixture all over the salmon, coating well. Drizzle the top with olive oil.

Place the salmon into the oven.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast until the salmon is rare in the center, about 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or about 15 to 30 minutes for the whole fillet.

For the sauce, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cream, capers, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the salmon with the sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh lemon or orange slices and fresh tarragon sprigs.

Cranberry Jam Cake

serves a crowd

60 minute cuisine plus baking

For filling:

1 (12-ounce) jar cherry preserves

¾ cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, (about 3 to 3 ½ cups)

For cake:

8 large egg whites

3 ½ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

Zest of 2 large oranges, about 2 tablespoons

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 cup milk

For frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 (32-ounce) package powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half (optional)

Place the filling ingredients into a deep pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries soften and begin to pop, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mush up the cranberries. Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Spread the filling into a shallow pan. (A cake pan or pie plate works well for this.) Place the pan into the freezer to cool thoroughly while you make and bake the cake.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray 2 (9-inch) square cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Place a square of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan and spray again. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Use the mixer to combine 1 cup butter and granulated sugar. Stir in the orange zest. Add ⅓ of the flour followed by ⅓ of the milk. Continue until all the flour and milk have been added. The batter will be quite thick.

Fold the egg whites into the batter using about ⅓ of the whites at a time. This will lighten the batter. Use a spatula to scrape and smooth the batter into the two pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a rack, remove the parchment paper and cool completely. Now is a good time to remove the cranberry filling from the freezer. You want it to be chilled – not frozen!

Use an electric mixer to combine 1 cup butter with cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the sugar a little bit at a time. Alternate the sugar and the remaining orange juice. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with a bit of half and half.

Now, here’s the fun part. You can turn this into a four layer cake, by horizontally slicing each of the square cakes in half. Or, you can just use one layer of jam frosting in the middle of the two cakes. It’s up to you how much cranberry to put in the center. Either way you will have cranberry jam left over which is the whole idea. The jam is perfect as an accompaniment to your favorite pork or poultry dish or spread onto your morning Christmas toast! Spread the frosting around the sides and the top of the cake.



Sheet Pan Sauce for Taters

Sheet Pan Sauce for Taters

If you follow me, you know one of my most fav ways to prepare protein is by adding a board sauce. This is a combination of fat, spice and herbs placed onto a cutting board. Transfer your grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish to the board, toss in the “sauce” and then tent to rest for several minutes. The results are flavorful and foolproof – my favorite combination!

Just last night, I was staring at a bag of baby potatoes and my culinary light bulb went off! Why not create a board sauce for veggies? I turned that idea around in my head and came up with a sheet pan sauce. It worked out perfectly!

Here’s how to prep the potatoes…

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut baby potatoes in half. I used Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe. Drizzle the sheet pan with olive oil. Add Dijon-style mustard, Parmesan cheese, bits of fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. Use a spoon to slather the sauce together. Dot the sauce with small pieces of butter. Lay the potatoes, cut-side-down, onto the baking sheet. Pop the sheet pan into the oven and roast until the bottom of the potatoes are browned and golden, about 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and roast until the potatoes are soft and pillowy on the inside and crunchy brown on the outside, about 10 minutes more.

You can add anything you like to your sheet pan sauce. Add spices like thyme and rosemary, or chili powder and cumin. Vary the cheese or toss with fresh herbs. It all works! These potatoes will work spectacularly in potato salad, or reheated with sautéed onion and peppers for a terrific breakfast potato the next day!

This method will work with other veggies like carrots and beets or zucchini and squash. I bet corn on the cob will be perfect with a sheet pan sauce, as will roasted tomatoes, shishito peppers and red onions. Oh…. I’m so excited I could go on and on and on…..

Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Remember how in (the movie) Moana, that little rooster would peck at a pile of corn kernels? The size of that corn was roughly the same as the savory bits in a great pico de gallo recipe. Pico means beak and gallo, rooster, and if you’ve ever been to a really good taco bar, pico de gallo translates to pure heaven! I couldn’t think of a better summer recipe, what with tomatoes in season. Done the classic way, pico de gallo bears the same colors as the Mexican flag: red, green and white. Besides my favorite addition of roma tomatoes, there’s the white onion, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime and salt. You chop, mix and eat. So simple. In the pic above, I’ve blended the ingredients for a smoother bite — it all depends what kinda mood you’re in!

But more on this condiment….In addition to tasting out of this world on tacos, burritos, etc., pico de gallo is perfect on scrambled eggs, steak, fish, grilled eggplant, pasta – even baked potatoes. I like to add a batch to my guacamole, and spend a lazy summer afternoon, scooping it up onto chips and nursing a Corona.

But today, I’m taking the traditional recipe and making it all green, with tomatillos and cucumbers. Tomatillos are smaller and greener than their traditional cousin, the tomato. Tomatillos come wrapped in a cute little husk, and have a tarter flavor than the red guys. I think tomatillo salsas are best on a pork taco.

This green goddess chunky pico de gallo sauce is absolute perfection on a pork filled burrito, or in a bowl of rice and beans – or simply weighing down a tortilla chip.

However you take it, I implore you to wash it down with the coldest of cervezas. Salud!

Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Serves a crowd

15 minute cuisine, + at least 1 hour to marinate




2 cups tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and chopped

2 cups, English cucumber, peeled and diced

½ white onion, finely chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Lime juice, 4 tablespoons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Coarse salt

After chilling:

2 Haas avocados, mashed (Fold into pico de gallo when it comes out of the fridge)

Toss all of the ingredients, reserving the avocados for later, in a small bowl. Season with salt. Cover and chill 1 hour to allow flavors to marry. In a separate bowl, mash the avocados and hand mix into the geen pico de gallo for an extra savory bite.



Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

I got the idea for this recipe on a trip to Spain, and think of it a lot in the dog days of summer. For something so easy to make, the result is an extremely nuanced bowl of flavor, good to the last slurp. I mean who’d have thought strawberries, tomatoes, basil and fresh garlic would be so happy in a blender together?

Prepare to be surprised!

This savory-sweet gazpacho is ideal for using up farmer’s market finds before it’s too late. I want to make this soup every time I pass big mounds of fragrant strawberries at the Watauga here in North Carolina. Though strawberry season in the southeast runs from December through March, they still taste wonderful and overflow at famer’s markets this time of year.

It surprises me how versatile strawberries are. I’ve found they taste excellent with a little pepper sprinkled on them, and in this treatment they get blended into a classic savory gazpacho. The recipe is so refreshing (emphasis on the word fresh) that it made it into my upcoming cookbook CANVAS & CUISINE – a travel diary of food and art. This cookbook loves to linger in the cobblestone streets of old Europe, and features many a Mediterranean and Spanish dish – so if you like tapas, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter to learn more about my new cookbook’s release later this year.

This chilled soup comes from the heart of Madrid. I was on a Tapas Pub Crawl, visiting local taverns and sampling their bar cuisine. One item that appeared time and again on those menus were chilled shot glasses full of spicy vegetable soup called Gazpacho. My home version adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries to the mix. The flavor combo is so good, you might just break into a flamenco dance!

Gazpacho with Strawberries and Basil

Serves 4 to 6

20 Minute Cuisine plus chilling 

2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, about 6

½ English cucumber, diced, about 1 cup

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced, about 1 cup

1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced, about ½ cup

1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and halved, about 2 cups

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 slice white bread, soaked in water

1 cup homemade vegetable broth, or prepared low sodium vegetable broth

½ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cut an “x” with a sharp knife at one end of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water until the skin begins to wrinkle and split at the “x”, about 45 to 50 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pot and place into the ice water. Peel the skin from the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half and squeeze gently to remove most of the seeds. Place the tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cucumber, red pepper and onion. Pulse to combine. Pour the veggies into a bowl.

Place the strawberries into the food processor and pulse until chopped. Stir the strawberries into the veggies. Reserve 1 cup of the strawberries and veggies. Pour the rest back into the bowl of the food processor. Add the garlic and basil. Squeeze the excess water from the bread and add to the bowl. Pulse until the mixture is pureed.

Pour back into the bowl. Stir in the stock, olive oil and vinegar. Stir in the reserved 1 cup strawberries and veggies. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce. Place the soup into the fridge and chill for several hours. Serve the soup with a garnish of fresh basil and a slice of strawberry.

Cook’s Tip

I’ve made this gazpacho both ways – sometimes I de-seed the tomatoes and sometimes I don’t. If you want to skip that step and let the ingredients marry in a pot first, then simply blend them together, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer time, where the farmers markets brighten up the road sides with in season produce, fresh flower bouquets, and vending stations offering all kinds of goodies. As a cookbook author, it’s a chance to run wilder than the azaleas in bloom– and my favorite place to do it is the Watauga Farmers Market in Boone, NC.

I always load up on beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collards, green peas, lettuces of all kinds, and loads of delicious strawberries this time of year.

My Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese takes advantage of the freshest kale, sweetest strawberries and creamy artisanal cheese found in the market. There’s a cheese maker at the Watauga Farmer’s Market in the mountains of North Carolina that makes so many variations of goat cheese that it’s hard to choose. You can taste them all, if you are patient enough to wait your turn.

I also like to create super granola with the seeds and nuts I find at the market. Look for the super granola recipe at the bottom of this recipe. All kinds of possibilities lay in wait under those farmer’s market tents! See you around…

Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
& a Nutty Topper
Serves 4 to 6 as a side salad
30 Minute Cuisine

For Nutty Topper:
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios
¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted, and salted Pepitas

For Dressing:
½ large lemon juiced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ cup olive oil

For Salad:
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped, about 3 to 4 cups
1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced, about 2 cups
4 to 5 medium radishes, sliced thin, about 1 cup
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium skillet pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the pistachios, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Cook until the nuts are just beginning to toast, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the nuts and seeds onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet to cool.

Place the lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Place the kale into a salad bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Let the salad sit on the counter at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the leaves to soften.

Add the strawberries, radishes and goat cheese to the salad bowl. Toss with the kale and dressing and sprinkle the nutty topper over the top.

To make super granola: Just place nuts and/or seeds into a bowl with 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup dried fruit (like cranberries or blueberries), and a tablespoon of honey. Toss with a beaten egg white, a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt. Pour the granola mixture onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°until the oats are golden and toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. Spoon granola over yogurt and berries for a fast and yummy breakfast starter!