Thursday, October 31, 2013

Baked Wine & Spice Grapes with Ginger Snaps for Food 'N Flix October: A Good Year

Time again for Food 'N Flix, where the passions for food and movies intersect each month.  This month we traveled to Provence with A Good Year, hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. A Good Year stars Russell Crowe and was directed by Ridley Scott and is (apparently very loosely) based on the book of the same name by Peter Mayle. I remember seeing A Good Year when it came out in 2006 but it didn't really stick out to me as a film I loved--except for the Provence scenery. Who doesn't love a gorgeous old chateau, and country roads lined with sun dappled trees?! Lucky for me, the film was free on demand through cable--gotta love the timing of that--and I settled in this past weekend for another viewing.

Russell Crowe plays Max Skinner, a busy investment trader with questionable ethics. Max spent his childhood summers at the chateau/vineyard of his Uncle Henry but hasn't spoken to him in years. When he learns that it was left to him in his uncle's will he leaves London for Provence to sell the estate and get back to Londonn. Over the course of his stay, Max mellows and starts to develop feelings for the area, its quirky inhabitants and for a sassy cafe manager, ultimately realizing there may be more to life than money and the next big trade. It's a cute little film, if a bit draggy at times, and Max takes time to warm up to. My favorite parts were the flashbacks to Max's summers with his Uncle Henry as I loved the interchanges between Freddie Highmore (who played young Max) and the great Albert Finney as Uncle Henry.  

Uncle Henry: "Max, have I told you why I enjoy making wine so much?"

Young Max: "You don't make the wine, Uncle Henry - that guy Duflot does."

Uncle Henry: [Reproachfully] "In France it's always the landowner who makes the wine, even though he does nothing more than supervise with binoculars from the comfort of his study. No, I enjoy making wine, because this sublime nectar is quite simply incapable of lying. Picked too early, picked too late, it matters not - the wine will always whisper into your mouth with complete, unabashed honesty every time you take a sip."

There is plenty of wine and French food to be had in the movie but nothing really stood out to me to make. Finally, I was going to go with a classic Eggplant Provencal but while standing in a very long line at the grocery store, I happened to thumb through the current copy of Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine and came across a recipe for Wintry Spiced Grapes. It had wine (ruby port wine) and grapes and I decided it was the wine-inspired dish I wanted to make. I put my eggplant back, grabbed grapes and gingersnaps (not really related to the movie but they looked good in the magazine picture) and I was ready to go.
Baked Wine & Spice Grapes 
Slightly Adapted from EveryDay with Rachel Ray, November 2013 
(Serves 4

1 lb red seedless grapes
1/2 cup sweet red wine*
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
2 strips orange peel
Gingersnaps to serve

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a baking dish, toss grapes, wine, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel. Bake, stirring occasionally, until grapes are tender--about 12 minutes. Discard cloves. 

Serve warm with gingersnaps.

*Recipe called for ruby port. I substituted a sweet red dessert wine. 

Notes/Results: Baking the grapes softens them and brings out more of their sweetness--which along with the wine, goes well with the cinnamon-clove-orange mixture and pairs exceptionally with the crisp spiced ginger cookies. The wine I used--an Argentinian sweet and fruity red that I had already on hand, worked well. This is a quick and easy dessert--although if you end up with the really large red seedless grapes, it takes closer to 20 minutes to get them sufficiently tender. It does seem like a perfect cozy fall/winter dessert. I would make it again. 

Thanks to Tina for hosting this round! If you missed this month's Food 'N Flix and you love food, films and foodie films, join us in November for Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eats.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chocolate French Toast "Sandwiches" from Donna Hay

We are celebrating sandwiches at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. I was going to make a savory ahi tuna sandwich but when I saw Donna Hay's wonderful stack of sandwiches made of Chocolate French Toast from The Instant Cook, I knew I had to make them.

Chocolate French Toast 
Slightly Adapted From The Instant Cook by Donna Hay
(Serves 4)

16 slices soft baguette
100 g (3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, melted
(I added a pinch of sea salt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 Tbsp icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
butter for frying
icing (confectioner's) sugar,  extra, for dusting

Spread half the baguette slices with the melted chocolate (I sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt) and sandwich together with the remaining slices. Combine the eggs, milk and icing sugar, then dip the sandwiches into the mixture. Cook in a large buttered frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Serve warm and dusted with icing sugar.

Notes/Results: Here's the thing, I like French toast sorta, kinda. It's OK. Not something I would usually order for breakfast but I'd try a bite off of your plate--especially if it was stuffed with blueberries or something. ;-) However, melt dark chocolate between two slices (and sprinkle with the smallest pinch of sea salt) and eat it like a (messy) sandwich and it elevates it into something I could love. This was yummy. I used a smooth 70% dark chocolate bar and with the kiss of salt, it was rich and decadent with out being too sweet. I made 3 "sandwiches" out of 6 small baguette slices so that I would have enough to photograph and could only eat two. But what a two they were. ;-) Breakfast, lunch, dessert or a snack this is a simple indulgent treat that I would make again.

You can check out all of the different Donna Hay sandwich creations by going to the Sandwich Sensations post at IHCC and following the links.

***The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight Giveaway!***
Don't forget to enter to win a copy of The New Southwest Cookbook by Meagan Micozzi! Check out my review of this fantastic new cookbook and get the details on how to enter.
14 copies are being given out and there are many ways to get extra entries!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Texas Rose Cocktails with Spiced Snack Mix + My Review (& a Giveaway!) of The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi {#Cookbook Spotlight}

What better way to review a cookbook than paging through it, contemplating the many delicious recipes inside with a cocktail in hand and a spicy nut mix to nibble on?! As part of the Cookbook Spotlight I have been participating in these past couple of weeks it is time to review The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist by Meagan Micozzi and to give you the opportunity (lots of opportunities in fact!) to win a copy for yourself. (Note: Only one cocktail was consumed while writing this review. I take my responsibilities far too seriously to do any drunk cookbook reviewing!) ;-)

The New Southwest has all the things I look for in a cookbook. It's solid, with a hard cover that can be made to sit open well on the counter when cooking. Each of the 80+ recipes comes with a large color photo to drool over as well as a description from Megan about the recipe. I like knowing something about the recipe I am making--where it came from, how to enjoy it--seeing the author's personality coming through. Recipes are easy to understand and follow, even for those of us in the not-so-savvy-to-southwestern-cooking category. There is a helpful 15 pages on The Southwestern Pantry and a chapter on Building Blocks to help with the basics of roasting chiles, making tortillas and other helpful tips. 

There are a good selection of recipes in all the usual categories--Condiments, Breakfast, Drinks, Appetizers & Snacks, Breads, Side Dishes, Main Courses, From the Grill, and Desserts. There is even "A Christmas-Style Extra" at the end--a recipe for holiday burritos, covered in both red and green chili sauces.   

Hardcover / 232 pages
Hippocrene Books (October 23, 2013)

Recipes I have tabbed to make include: Roasted Garlic Guacamole, Quick Pickled Jicama, Whipped Agave Ancho Butter, Roasted Crema, Coconut Crunch Muffins, Breakfast Tostadas with Cumin-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Pinyon Butter Oatmeal, Cucumber & Melon Agua Fresca, Savory Baked Pumpkin Flautas, Fried Sage Smashed Potatoes, Stacked Squash Enchiladas, Vegan Puffy Tacos with Cumin-Spiced Hummus, Citrus & Herb Red Snapper and Chia Cupcakes.

What I have cooked so far:

Heather of girlichef, our Cookbook Spotlight host, selected Mushroom & Leek Migas as our group recipe. I loved this take on a traditional dish with its meaty mushrooms, sweet leeks, crispy corn tortilla strips and creamy eggs. I ate my half-recipe for dinner and wished I had made a full recipe. 

For my Blogger's Choice recipe, I selected the Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts--another dish from the breakfast chapter that translates just as well into lunch or dinner. These are excellent bean burgers--full of flavor, crispy outsides and moist and creamy within. Perfect to sit down over or enjoy on the go.

I am fond of (OK, borderline addicted to) homemade spiced nut and seed mixes. I could care less about store-bought nut and trail mixes but the homemade ones get me every time. It's the reason I hoard nuts in my freezer and why I had to try the Spiced Snack Mix in the book. It's an addictive blend of Spanish peanuts and pumpkin seeds tossed in a blend of cumin, ancho chile powder, ground oregano, garlic powder and other spices. They are wonderful warm from the oven, with the toasted spices and a subtle heat. 

My best "test" of a nut mix is how well, once cooled, it pairs with some of my stash of dark chocolate mini chips for when that sweet & salty craving hits in the afternoon. This mix pairs very well--reminding me a bit of a favorite chocolate chile bar. Yum!  

A spicy snack mix cries out for a cold cocktail like the Texas Rose. My favorite cocktails are ones that are fruity without being too sweet.

Texas Rose
Slightly Adapted from The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi
(Yield: 1 Drink)

2 oz (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 oz (1/4 cup) pineapple juice
1 oz (2 Tbsp) crème de banane* (See Notes/Results below)
1 oz (2 Tbsp) light rum
1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
pineapple wedge for garnish (optional)

Mix the orange juice, pineapple juice, crème de banane, rum and lime juice together in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Fill a lowball glass with ice and pour the mixed cocktail over the top. Garnish and serve.  

Notes/Results: I had a merry chase to find the crème de banane and none of the three grocery stores I tried had it in the liquor section. I even tried my neighborhood liquor store that I vowed not to go into since I once practically had to mortgage my house to buy a last-minute bottle of ouzo there, and still no luck. I could have probably driven across town to a larger liquor store but I am lazy and instead I bought a fresh juice blend of orange, pineapple and banana juices and used the Whaler's Big Island Banana Rum that I had on hand. Not quite the same I am sure but the banana was present and it was ultimately very drinkable. The lime juice and pineapple keep it from being too sweet and the juices make it ultra-refreshing. I can see a lot of imbibing of this cocktail in my future so I'll keep an eye out for the crème de banane.

The New Southwest is great for those loving Southwestern cooking and looking for new takes on classic recipes, those who want to learn more about Southwestern cooking and ingredients and any foodie looking for a colorful cookbook full of tasty recipes. 

Author Notes: Meagan Micozzi was born in New Jersey, raised in Washington, D.C. and educated in New England. In 2011 she launched Scarletta Bakes, a blog devoted to her adventures in southwestern cooking. Micozzi's recipes have been featured on The Huffington Post, The Kitchn, Gourmet, Bon Appétit, and Scarletta Bakes was named a Site We Love by Saveur. Micozzi resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can visit her at

And now... here's how to win a copy of your very own!

 ***The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight Giveaway!***

How to enter:

1. Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment on this blog post letting me know what your favorite Southwestern dish is.

2. There are tons of optional extra entries in the rafflecopter widget!

Hippocrene will be supplying 14 copies of The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi for this giveaway, in conjunction with The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight. Contest is open to anybody with a shipping address in the USA. Submissions will be accepted via the rafflecopter widget through 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Fourteen winners will be chosen by random draw, verified, and be notified by email (from Heather at girlichef) within 48 hours of the close of this contest. The winner should respond within 24 hours of notification, or a new winner will be drawn in their place. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!!!

This post is part of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight sponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef

Mahalo to Meagan, Heather & Hippocrene for a fun event and a great opportunity to review a fantastic new cookbook!

Note: I received a copy of this cookbook from the publisher as part of a Cookbook Spotlight event, however I received no monetary compensation to review it. As always, my thoughts, feedback and experiences cooking from it are entirely my own. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Red Curry Salmon, Greens & Jasmine Rice Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's a hazy voggy weekend here on Oahu which does not do my asthma and allergies any favors. Time for soup with some spice, garlic and ginger to clear out my cloggy head. Asian-inspired soups are perfect for that and for being made quickly, without a lot of effort.

When I made Donna Hay's Coconut & Salmon Laksa a couple of weeks ago, I ran out of the noodles before the soup so I enjoyed the remainder ladled on top of rice. Wonderfully comforting. Then, I made a chicken and rice version for a friend out of surgery and battling infection which he liked. Still, the salmon-curry-rice variation kept hanging on in my mind so I decided to make it into its own soup.

Red Curry Salmon, Greens & Jasmine Rice Soup
by Deb, Kahakai KItchen
(Makes 4-5 Servings)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely grated ginger
2 Tbsp red curry paste or to taste

3-4 kaffir limes leaves, torn
1 stalk lemon grass, peeled and bruised and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce 
1 can light coconut milk 
juice of 1 lime or to taste
12 ounces skinless wild salmon fillet, cubed
4 cups baby spinach & baby bok choy or other greens of choice, sliced  
1 cup snow peas, sliced into thirds
1/3 cup Thai basil, sliced thinly
 3 cups cooked Jasmine rice
cilantro leaves, chopped to garnish
red chili, sliced thinly to garnish
lime wedges  to serve

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir-fry until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and curry paste and stir-fry for another minute. Add the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, carrot slices and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add the fish sauce, stir in coconut milk and add lime juice to taste. Put in salmon, greens, snow peas and Thai basil and simmer until greens are wilted and salmon is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, place a serving of Jasmine rice in individual deep bowls. Ladle soup on top and garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced red chili. Serve with lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Ahh.. craving fulfilled. This is a savory bowl of comfort and good flavors. Nicely spicy and good texture with the the rice and slightly wilted greens plus the crispness of the carrots and snow pea pods. I like to cook the rice separately and add the broth to it right before serving so it retains it shape and texture. Filling without being heavy, this is a good one for a cool, dreary day. I will make it again. 

It's a little quiet in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week but we have a soup and some yummy bean burgers to savor. Let's take a look.

Janet of The Taste Space shares this homey White Bean Paprikash with Soy Curls and says, "This was a fun, delicious paprikash stew. Smoked paprika with total tomato goodness (canned tomatoes, paste AND sun-dried tomatoes) create a luscious base. I had no red wine, and I thought Marmite would have been a good substitute since I loved it in my Beefy Mushroom and Cranberry Stew. However, with no Marmite here, I devised a fun substitute: miso and nutritional yeast. I figured it was that umami we were after and it worked! A touch of balsamic vinegar added a sweet-sour-acid thing. The soy curls were akin to thicker meat strands, but there were also white beans and thicker slabs of red pepper. This really brought me back to eating paprikash and dumplings as a child."

My friend Kim of Stirring the Pot and I are participating in The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight event and we both made the fabulous Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts for our "blogger's choice" recipe pick. Kim says, "These pinto bean burgers are seasoned with a heavy dose of cumin, black pepper, coriander, and garlic so they are mighty flavorful.  Crunchy on the exterior and creamy on the inside this is one powerhouse of a breakfast that will keep you full way into the afternoon. They were a big hit at my house!"

At Kahakai Kitchen, I was equally as enamored with those same Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts finding them to be very satisfying and full of wonderful southwest flavors. I especially liked mine with a layer of baby spinach beneath and topped with a dollop of guacamole and a little hot sauce. Mmm... 

Thanks to Janet and KIm for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Book Tour Stops Here: Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn with Cheddar Cheese Risotto

Bored, possibly depressed, and in the midst of a bit of a "later-in-life crisis," Queen Elizabeth escapes the palace for a little adventure in Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, an entertaining novel by William Kuhn. Incognito in a borrowed navy hoodie (a skull and crossbones grace the back), she slips away to buy some more cheese for her horse and spontaneously ends up on a train headed to Scotland to see the former royal yacht, moored near Edinburgh. It's up to an eclectic group of palace employees along with an unpublished poet/cheese monger/occasional paparazzo to band together to get her back before anything happens to her and before anyone finds out.

Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 8, 2013)

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train is a fun and intriguing book--one part history lesson on Britain and the monarchy, and one part fanciful fairytale. It makes The Queen (one must always use capital when referring to Her Majesty) almost human. Who knew the slightly snarky sense of humor under all of those stuffy layers? It's a joy to watch to watch "Little Bit" as she refers to herself, navigate modern times in the real world. Prince Edward has managed to get her into yoga (each chapter is named after a yoga pose), and the wonders of the Internet--although she is challenged figuring out 'Mr. Google' and 'Miss Twitter'--names she feels "seemed to have been invented for a nursery story." We get to learn the back stories and details of the current lives of the main supporting characters racing to bring her home--The Queen's lady-in-waiting, her senior dresser, the butler, an equerry (a military officer attending the royal household), a stable girl, and the aforementioned clerk from the shop that supplies her cheese. They provide an interesting look at the hierarchy and formality that exists "downstairs" at the palace. Kuhn's background as a historian is fully used here but he writes in such a witty way and with enough heart to keep it all interesting and the book's action flowing along well. 

I found myself wanting to hang out and have a drink with The Queen (she is partial to gin and old fashioned English martinis--"two parts Dubonnet, two parts gin and a bit of lemon peel. All mixed up together. On ice."), and maybe even dare to give her a quick hug. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through Britain that kept me chuckling. Mrs. Queen Takes the Train will appeal to anglophiles, fans of The Royal Family, and anyone who likes a smart, cozy and enjoyable read.  

Author Notes: William Kuhn is a biographer and historian, and the author of Reading JackieDemocratic RoyalismHenry & Mary Ponsonby, and The Politics of Pleasure. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. This is his first novel. His next book, a work of historical fiction, explores the friendship over nearly forty years of Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent.

For my dish inspired by the book, I knew it had to include cheddar cheese in honor of Mrs. Queen and her beloved Elizabeth, the cheese-loving horse that shares her name. I thought of going with a Welsh Rarebit--which The Queen was happy to see on the train buffet, but not too long ago I posted Nigel Slater's gooey Hot Cheese Muffins for Food 'N Flix's viewing of Toast and wanted something a bit different. I ended up looking up recipes with cheddar from British chefs and when Nigella Lawson's decadent Cheddar Cheese Risotto came up, I was sold. I figure it is a more "queenly" take on a comforting mac 'n cheese and I have a container of aborio rice in the pantry that needs using up. This is not a healthy dish by any means but its homey feel makes it perfect for a curl-up-with-a-cup-of-tea book like Mrs. Queen Takes the Train.

Nigella says, "This might seem odd to Italians but it works beautifully: the starchy rice, the sharp Cheddar, both are the perfect counterpoint for each other. I make this on days when I need to escape to the kitchen and have a good, quiet, relaxing and mindless 20 minutes staring into the middle distance and stirring. I heartily recommend it."

Cheddar Cheese Risotto
Adapted from Nigella Lawson @
(Serves 4 as Starter / 2 as Main)

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 finely sliced baby leeks (or fat spring onions)
1 1/2 cups risotto rice  

1/2 cup white wine  
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cups hot vegetable broth* (see Notes/Results below)
1 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks until they have softened. Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed. 

Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir, before adding the next one. Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.

Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do so, and spoon the risotto into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.

Additional information - for vegetarians make sure that the cheese is a brand that doesn't contain animal rennet.

Notes/Results: Cheesy comfort food--what's not to like?!? The leeks, wine and chives on top keep this from being too cheesy (is there even such a thing?!), but it is mighty rich and  a small portion goes a long way. Mine took about 5 cups of veggie broth/water and about 23 minutes to get it to the right consistency of creamy but slightly firm. Like Nigella, I find the time spent over the stove, waiting for the rice to make its magic to be relaxing so a few extra minutes is fine by me. I think that if Mrs. Queen had eaten this for lunch instead of her "solitary Monday lunch" of "A single lamb chop with a thimble full of mint jelly. Three Brussels sprouts. A steamed carrot.  A glass of burgundy."--she would have been full, happy, and in a better frame of mind. Or at least been in a bit of a food coma so she would never have left the palace that day! Nigella certainly does comfort meals well--this is simple, gooey and good and I would make it again.

In addition to the TLC Book Tour, I am linking this Nigella dish up to I Heart Cooking Clubs Potluck week, where the recipes of all previous IHCC chefs are welcome. Stop by and check out all the yummy dishes. 

Note: A review copy of "Mrs. Queen Takes the Train" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.    

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts From The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi {#Cookbook Spotlight}

Stop! Before you turn into that fast food drive-thru, there is a better way to eat a hearty breakfast at home or on the go. These belly-filling Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts from The New Southwest: Classic Flavors With a Modern Twist by Meagan Micozzi. As part of the Cookbook Spotlight event I am participating in (see last week's fabulous Mushroom & Leek Migas here), each of the 15 bloggers participating gets to select a recipe from the book to cook and post about.

Although I was tempted by many recipes in the book, the one I kept turning back to was for these morning bean burgers. Not that you are limited to eating them in the morning--I made the full batch and these patties will end up as lunch, dinner and snacks too. Fabulously fiber-packed, they are a healthier alternative to a sausage muffin but just as satisfying. 

No time in the morning? Assembling them ahead and cooking them up fresh is always best for that crispy outside but, if that won't work for you, cooking them up the night before and getting them ready to go also works well. Put a cooked and cooled patty on a toasted muffin with a slice of cheese and any thing else you want on them (I suggest baby spinach, guacamole and maybe a dash of hot sauce), then wrap it in wax-paper and pop in the microwave for about a minute. You are out the door with a tasty & filling healthy meal!

Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts
Very Slightly Adapted from The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi
(Yield: 7 Patty Melt Sandwiches)

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided + more for frying
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup grated zucchini
2 jalapenos, stemmed and minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
3 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (either canned or freshly prepared)
3/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper* (I used about 2 tsps--see Notes/Results below)
1 tsp ground coriander
7 slices Monterey Jack cheese
7 English muffins, sliced and toasted (I used whole wheat)
(I added baby spinach & guacamole) 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until golden, translucent, and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, jalapenos, and garlic and saute for just 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile, place the beans in a large, heat-proof bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. (Meagan notes: "I prefer to use a fork here for a chunky, uneven consistency.") Stir in the breadcrumbs, eggs, cumin, black pepper, coriander and salt. Fold in the cooked onion mixture. Using a half cup measure, portion off and form seven 'burgers'. Refrigerate if not using right away.*

Once ready to cook and assemble your melts, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-bottomed, lidded skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, applying pressure to the top of the patties to flatten once you have a cooked side facing up. Note that you may need to work in batches so as not to overcrowd your pan, so you may need to refresh your oil between batches.

Once patties are crisp on the outside and cooked through, top each with a slice of cheese, place the lid on the pan and steam just 30 to 60 seconds to melt the cheese. Remove each patty melt to a toasted English muffin bun and serve immediately.

*Note: Meagan says, "These patties can be made in advance. I will often make the patty mixture on a Sunday and then fry them up for breakfasts throughout the week. If you form the patties in advance, you simple need to separate them with parchment paper so that they don't stick to each other. Store in the refrigerator until ready to cook and serve". 

Notes/Results: These are excellent bean patties--crispy on the outside, perfectly tender and creamy on the inside and full of flavor. Speaking of that flavor, I was concerned about the amount of black pepper listed in the recipes--2 tablespoons. I am a black pepper fan but that seems like a massive amount to me. I emailed Meagan just to be sure and she was wonderful enough to send me a quick reply saying that she likes to season her patties pretty aggressively due to the lack of flavor in pinto beans but, she always encourages everyone to season food to their own palates. My little asthma lungs that cough at really strong black pepper ;-) led me to start with 1 teaspoon and tasting the mix as I went, I ended up with 2 teaspoons total of black pepper, keeping all the other spices as written. I really liked the flavor--they are cumin forward--with 2 tablespoons of it in the mix but, I loves me some cumin so it worked for me. Between the garlic, onion, kick of jalapeno and the spices these were well-seasoned in my book--but of course you should adapt them to your own taste buds. In order to boost them even more nutritionally, I chose to put them on whole wheat English muffins and add a layer of baby spinach. I also topped my plated one with a bit of guacamole--extra yum. (I thought it might be too messy for the "portable" ones.) Easy to prepare, satisfying and oh-so-good, this is definitely a keeper recipe for me.   

This post is part of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight sponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef.

Come back next week for a final recipe, my review and a chance to win your own copy of The New Southwest!