Salmon Wellington

HAPPY EASTER!

Easter is here and Salmon Wellington is the perfect holiday meal! The richness of the mushroom duxelles, pairs perfectly with the hearty salmon fish fillet and scallops and the buttery puff pastry just takes this dish to the next level.

Mushroom duxelles is an intensely flavored combination of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and fresh herbs such as thyme or parsley that are slowly cooked to a paste-like consistency. French in origin and named after the marquis d’Uxelles, this mushroom condiment is traditionally used in the preparation of beef Wellington, but it can also be used to flavor soups and sauces as well as to fill omelets and ravioli. 

Wellington fillet as we know it today was first made famous by the American chef and star Julia Child, who introduced the filet de bśuf en croûte, the French crust beef fillet, as ‘Filet of Wellington Beef’ during her TV show ‘The French Chef’, on the 1965 New Year’s Eve episode. From that day on, the recipe began to appear in various recreational circles in North America, as well as being taken up in the most important cookbooks.

A Salmon Wellington is a copycat version of the popular English ‘Beef Wellington’. Because puff pastry takes about 20 minutes to bake (salmon takes 12-15 minutes), keep the salmon refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble. Starting with cold salmon ensures it doesn’t overcook. To prevent the bottom from getting soggy, pat dry the salmon thoroughly before assembling. Also, make sure to cut slits on the puff pastry once assembled to allow the steam to escape. Don’t open the oven until ready since puff pastry needs full consistent heat to bake into flaky layers.

You’ll be so impressed when it’s time to take it out of the oven because it just looks amazing. However, you’ll be more impressed with how it tastes. Just like an elegant and flavorful fish pie!

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Salmon Wellington
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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SERVINGS
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Instructions
Mushroom Duxelles
  1. In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms to a roughly diced consistency,15-20 seconds. In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, a heavy pinch of salt & pepper, shallots, garlic, rosemary & thyme. Sauté until moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Scallop Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine the scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into scallop mixture.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into FOUR- 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Divide mushroom mixture evenly & spread over 4 pieces of pastry leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  3. Center the salmon pieces on top. Next, top each salmon piece with a quarter of the scallop filling.
  4. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on the baking sheet & brush with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. While salmon is baking, mix all sauce ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.

Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto

Beef Stroganoff is a perfect dinner party dish – inexpensive and easy to prepare yet rich and luxurious. History reveals a simple but elegant dish of steak meat sautéed with onion and cooked in a sauce of sour cream, seasonings and usually, mushrooms.

This dish was invented sometime in the early 1800s and had its North American heyday in the 1950s and 1960s.

The best cuts of beef for stroganoff are tender, juicy cuts such as:

  • boneless rib eye
  • boneless sirloin.
  • sirloin steak tips.
  • beef tenderloin.

In researching beef stroganoff, I’ve seen recommendations for all sorts of things to serve it with, including kasha, egg noodles, French fried potatoes, rice, mashed potatoes with chives, wild rice, and the leftovers on buttered toast points.

Since Brion & I always enjoy risotto, it seems like a good choice to pair with our stroganoff. I’ve made risotto from rice, couscous, orzo and they were all good so today I’m using barley.

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Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto
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- 6 SERVINGS
Ingredients
Servings
- 6 SERVINGS
Ingredients
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Instructions
Beef - Marinade
  1. In a large zip-lock bag or glass dish, whisk together oil, soy sauce & Montreal Steak Spice. Add cubed steak & marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Mustard Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in chicken stock and mustard. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut tomato into thick strips. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook tomato until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir into mustard sauce; add salt, liquid smoke & sour cream.
  3. In same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drain beef using a strainer, discarding marinade. Add sliced onion & mushrooms to pan; cook and stir until onion is softened. Add beef & cook until meat is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add mustard sauce; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened. Keep warm until serving.
Barley Risotto
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain simmer. In another large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion & salt. Cook and stir until liquid evaporates. Add barley; toast in pan.
  2. Stir hot water into barley 1 cup at a time, waiting until liquid has almost absorbed before adding more. Cook until barley is softened but still slightly chewy, 15-20 minutes; stir in parsley. Serve immediately with beef.

Chicken Legs w/ Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing

We tend to believe that if something takes more work, it automatically means that it has more value. Of course, anyone that follows this blog knows that I, being a ‘food industry’ person, quick isn’t generally what I’m all about. But in a world that thrives on making things complicated, dare to be simple some times. Enter the Stove Top Stuffing universe….

These chicken leg ‘quarters’ make such a nice meal when paired with stuffing. The smoky bacon flavor, the earthiness of the mushrooms as well as the slight sweetness of the cornbread stuffing complement each other well.

In a society that gravitates towards labels stamped with terms like organic or GMO-free, sometimes the simplicity of quick fix food can be a treat.

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Chicken Legs w/ Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp of drippings.
  2. Sauté celery & onion in drippings until tender. Add mushrooms, herbs & seasoning; cook & stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in stuffing mix, celery leaves, parsley & bacon. Add broth & gently combine. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan or line with greased foil paper.
  4. Wash & trim any excess fat from chicken leg quarters. Loosen skin over thighs to form pockets for the stuffing.
  5. Fill thigh 'pockets' with stuffing & place in baking pan. Place any remaining stuffing around the 2 leg quarters to bake at the same time. Cover with foil for about 30 minutes then uncover & finish roasting until chicken is cooked through & stuffing is lightly browned.

Garden Grain Burgers

CELEBRATING HERITAGE DAYS!

Heritage Festival in our city of Edmonton, Alberta Canada is one of the world’s largest multicultural events, taking place every August. It features over 70 pavilions representing almost 100 countries set up in William Hawrelak Park. All ethnic minorities of Canada come together to exchange experiences, entertainment, cultures and to celebrate Canada’s diversity. Thousands of visitors come to enjoy the tastes, smells and sounds of different nations around the world.

Due to the Covid-19 world pandemic this year, the annual August long weekend tradition of the Edmonton Heritage Festival will not be celebrated in Hawrelak Park, and is instead being reformatted from an on-site event into a virtual festival. You will be able to enjoy performances from past events, entertainment from countries around the world, explore new cultures and authentic recipes, as well as order food from local Edmonton restaurants. More than 40 pavilions are ready to celebrate our heritage online.

These grain burgers are one of my favorite ‘burgers’. Heritage Day seems like a good reason to enjoy some!

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Garden Grain Burgers
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine rice, bulgur wheat, seasoning blend, poultry seasoning & water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat; cool completely. Cover & refrigerate overnight if possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar & onion. In a food processor, process cottage cheese & egg substitute until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in parsley, salt, basil, celery seed & chilled rice mixture. Divide mixture into 12 balls & shape into patties.
  3. On a large non-stick griddle, cook patties in oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned & crisp. Serve on lightly grilled Ciabatta buns with your choice of garnishes.
Recipe Notes
  • If using a BBQ, place patties on a oiled sheet of foil paper to grill.

Seafood Tarte Soleil

Tarte Soleil or sun tart, is a stunning example of how the simplest recipe can be turned into an artistic creation. I’m forever looking for a new idea to incorporate seafood into our meals. I’ve never been a huge fan of puff pastry but it certainly does have its place. A flour, water and butter based preparation that has a neutral flavor makes puff pastry perfect for either sweet or savory dishes.

You have probably heard the phrase ‘laminated’ dough. This refers to the process of folding butter into dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. The gluten in the flour also gets developed during the folding and rolling process. This is unlike other baked goods where butter is creamed in with the sugar and flour. The laminated dough, when baked, results in a pastry with hundreds of flaky, airy layers.

The three original laminated dough’s are puff pastry, croissants and danish. Croissants and danish contain yeast, puff pastry does not. In addition, danish contains egg which the others don’t.

Whether you like this type of pastry or not, there is no denying, it has lent itself to many ‘creations’, giving them a unique taste, that most will enjoy.

With a nice combo of wild salmon and baby scallops inside my sun tart, it was not only a pretty presentation but had a great taste.


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Seafood Tarte Soleil

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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine salmon, scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into seafood mixture. Set aside in refrigerator.

  2. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet at least 12 X 12-inch in size. Remove 1 sheet of thawed, puff pastry from refrigerator & roll out on 1 of the sheets of parchment to form an 11 1/2-inch square. Using a pot lid or bowl, cut the largest possible circle from the pastry. Transfer the pastry (on parchment) to baking sheet & place in refrigerator. Repeat procedure with the second piece of pastry.

  3. Remove the first pastry circle from the fridge. Spread the filling mixture on the circle, to within 1/4-1/2-inch of the outer edge. Use a pastry brush to lightly wet the edge of the pastry. Top with the second circle of pastry, using your fingers to lightly press the pastry together.

  4. Place a 2 1/2-inch diameter glass or jar lid in the center of the pastry. Use a ruler & the tip of a sharp paring knife to score the pastry from the edge of the glass to the outer edge of the pastry at 12, 3, 6 & 9 o'clock. Score each quarter in half, making 2 triangles. You will have 8 triangles when your'e done. Place tart in freezer for NO MORE than 5 minutes before continuing.

  5. Use a sharp scissors to cut each triangle cleanly along the score lines from the outer edge of the glass. Remove the glass. Place your index finger of your left hand at the top of a triangle (where the glass was). Use your right hand to twist that triangle 3 times. Go around the circle, repeating with each of the remaining triangles. Refrigerate tarte for at least another 5 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare egg wash & brush it over the tarte. Bake about 20 minutes. Rotate the tarte 180 degrees & lower the temperature to 375 F. Bake another 10 minutes or until a rich golden brown color. Remove from oven & transfer to serving dish. Nice to serve with a dill cream sauce & fresh steamed broccoli florets.

Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese

Despite our ever present nostalgia for the foods of childhood, tastes and recipes are always evolving. I came across this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine recently. It has all the flavors of a favorite casserole come together in the comfort of ‘mac & cheese’.

During the Great Depression era, the idea for boxed macaroni and cheese was born when a salesman used a rubber band to pair packets of the then newly developed, grated Kraft cheese with boxes of pasta and convinced stores to sell them. In 1937, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (known as Kraft Dinner in Canada) was introduced with the slogan ‘make a meal for four in nine minutes for the cost of around nineteen cents’. It was an immediate success in the USA & Canada.

Traditional mac & cheese is a casserole baked in the oven, however, it may be prepared in a saucepan on the top of the stove. This particular casserole recipe takes the whole idea to a new level. Chicken, bacon, macaroni, three cheeses and Ranch dressing! I had tasted ranch dressing on chicken and bacon pizza so why not? Brion and I loved the end result making it a ‘keeper’ in our meal rotation.

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Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook macaroni to al dente stage; drain & return to pot. Lightly butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt & pepper until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until blended. Stir in ranch dressing. Add chicken & sauce to macaroni, tossing to combine. Transfer to baking dish.
  3. Toss bread crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni. Top with bacon. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with minced parsley.
Recipe Notes

Egyptian Kofta

Over the years, our travels have taken Brion and I to many interesting places in the world. Each has left us with amazing memories.

In November of 2009, before Egypt was in such disarray, we explored this ancient country. You could safely say that time has not lessened the mystique of the world’s oldest tourist attraction. No matter how many pictures you look at, or how much you read on the internet, there is just nothing as powerful as seeing the real thing. Brion’s ability to speak fluent Arabic was a huge bonus for us while in Egypt.

The flight from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Cairo, Egypt was a bit grueling at 16 hours long but we ‘recovered’ fairly fast. To make the most of our vacation, we divided it into four segments; – five days in Cairo, six days in Alexandria, eight days on a Nile River cruise and the last week at Sharm El Shiekh on the Red Sea.

The Nile River cruise was definitely the highlight of the vacation. We boarded the ‘Helio’ cruise ship in Luxor which took us to Aswan and back. Each day the ship would dock at various sites along the way and our personal guide would take us to explore temples, tombs, the high dam and the beautiful botanical gardens at Kitchener Island. It was such an incredible experience viewing the sights and sounds as you slowly sailed along. Travel is a good reality check to make us appreciate what we have in our own lives and so often take for granted.

Every evening, the supper buffet on the ship was created with a different theme. One of the items Brion really enjoyed was ‘EGYPTIAN KOFTA’. Egypt’s local and rich resources of fresh foods coming from the Nile Valley, has given the world some of the most coveted cuisines. Egyptian food is a mixture of all the different civilizations that came to Egypt in the history of its existence.

The word kofta (or kefta) has its origins in Persia. Although you can make meat, seafood or vegetarian kofta, the most popular in Egypt is a mixture of ground beef and lamb combined with onions, garlic, parsley and a ‘BAHARAT’ spice blend.

Along with my recipe today, I thought you may enjoy to look at some of the photos from our Nile River cruise. 

 

 

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Kofta
This is the burger meat of the Middle East.
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Servings
skewers
Ingredients
Servings
skewers
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Soak 16 wooden skewers in water for about 1 hour; remove from the water when you are ready to begin. Lightly oil grates of grill or BBQ & preheat to medium high temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Divide meat mixture into 16 portions. Mold each onto a wooden skewer to form a 'kofta kebab' about 1-inch thickness.
  3. Place kebabs on lightly oiled, heated grill or BBQ. Grill for 4 minutes on one side, turn over & grill for another 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with mini pita breads, tahini, hummus or yogurt dip.

Dinner ‘En Croute’

Today, November 24, our neighbors to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving. Over the years, Brion and I have been in the USA numerous times on this occasion and enjoyed the food and holiday atmosphere very much. Today’s blog post acknowledges the American holiday with some special meal choices.

At the heart of a memorable dinner is the main entree, so why not make it just a bit more special by serving it  ‘En Croute’.  In the culinary arts, the term en croute (pronounced ‘on Kroot’) indicates a food that has been wrapped in a pastry dough and then baked in the oven. Traditionally the type of pastry used was a simple dough called pate pastry. Today, puff pastry  is frequently used for most en croute recipes.

The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until it is golden brown is how long the item will spend in the oven. Some of the best choices are beef tenderloin, salmon or a brie cheese, due to the fact they require less time to cook.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, Beef Wellington or as the French called it, ‘Boeuf en Croute’, became very popular. It was an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate and wrapped in pastry. My first introduction to this meal was a much more low key  version. It was simply achieved by making a nicely seasoned meatloaf, wrapping it a basic pastry and baking it. My mother would serve it with a tomato soup sauce. Definitely good but not quite the elegance of the true en croute entrees.

Two favorites of mine are variations of the classic ‘boeuf en croute’. One uses boneless turkey breast topped with a cranberry, hazelnut stuffing and baked in a tender puff pastry then served with a citrus-fig cranberry sauce. The other one is a seafood en croute using fresh salmon. The salmon is topped with shrimp or scallops in a seasoned egg/cream mixture and baked in puff pastry. A dill cream sauce is served to compliment this entree. Having a few alternatives to change out your traditional holiday meals always keeps it interesting.

 

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Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings
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Instructions
Turkey en Croute
  1. Saute garlic & onions in olive oil & butter 1-2 minutes. Add bread crumbs; toss until they begin to brown slightly. Add hazelnuts, thyme, cranberries, salt & pepper. Add only enough turkey stock to make stuffing hold together.
  2. Place the first pastry sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place turkey breast along the center line of the pastry sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Place stuffing on top of the turkey. Place the second pastry sheet over the turkey & stuffing. Trim the edges to form an oval shape. Save the trimmings in the fridge.
  3. Bring the edges of the dough together & seal by pinching them. Roll the dough from the bottom layer over the top layer & press down all the way around the perimeter of the pastry. This creates a tighter seal. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of the pastry. Decorate, cutting leaf shapes from trimmed pastry & score leaf veining into them with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut four 1/2" slots in the top of the pastry to let steam escape. Chill for 20 minutes or longer in the fridge before baking. This helps the pastry to puff.
  4. Bake at 400 F. for about 15-20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the center has reached at least 170 F. to be sure the turkey is completely cooked, about 35-45 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into servings.
Citrus - Fig Cranberry Sauce
  1. Simmer all ingredients together slowly for 30-40 minutes or until the cranberries are fully cooked & the mixture reduces & thickens to a jam-like consistency. Stir the sauce often as it simmers. Remove the star anise (if using). Store in a plastic container in refrigerator until serving time.
Seafood en Croute
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into four 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Place a salmon fillet in center of four rectangles.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the shrimp (or scallops), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into shrimp mixture. Spoon about 1/4 cup over each fillet.
  3. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on a 15 x 10 x 1-inch parchment lined baking sheet; brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe Notes
  • The original recipe source for the Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey & Citrus Fig Cranberry Sauce can be found at rockrecipes.com
  • The cranberry sauce uses star anise or extract but feel free to omit it if you do not care for that flavor.
  • The Seafood en Croute recipe is one that is featured on tasteofhome.com  which has always been my favorite 'go-to' recipe company forever. 

Garden Grain Burgers

Some of my favorite foods have always been vegetables and grains. Being a farmer’s daughter I guess it all makes good sense. When ever I had the opportunity to try a ‘veggie’ burger in our travels I would do so only to be disappointed.

When my parents were still alive, they lived in Southern Alberta. Whenever Brion & I could take time from our jobs, we would make a weekend trip to see them. We would leave Edmonton right after work on a Friday night. We always made Red Deer our supper stop and then continue on. The trip usually took about five hours. 

Our favorite restaurant at that time was a place called Glenn’s. I came across the perfect Garden Grain Burger on their menu, which tasted like non other I had tasted before. For a long time I tried to replicate it with no real success. Then one day I happened to see a recipe on the tasteofhome.com website  that had all the same ingredients. I tried it, made a few very minor adjustments and loved it.

I’m passing it on to you today, adding it to the ‘burger series’. Even if you are not into vegetarian eating I’m sure you will enjoy the flavor. The ingredient list is long but it makes twelve patties so some can be frozen for another meal when time is of the essence. 

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Garden Grain Burgers
A satisfying combination of brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats, mushrooms & cheese gives an almost nutty flavor to this meatless 'burger'.
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the rice, bulgur, seasoning blend, poultry seasoning & water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat; cool completely. Cover & refrigerate overnight if possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese & onion. In a food processor, process cottage cheese & egg substitute until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in parsley, salt, basil, celery seed & chilled rice mixture. Shape 1/2 cupfuls into patties.
  3. On a large non-stick griddle, cook patties in oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned & crisp. Serve on lightly grilled buns with mustard, lettuce & tomato slices.
Recipe Notes
  • If you decide to freeze some of the patties, do so before grilling. 'Flash freeze' them on a tray individually, then wrap in foil tightly & place them in a plastic bag in a air tight plastic container. When you are ready to use them just thaw & grill.