Coconut Shrimp w/ Spicy Rhubarb Sauce

I have an obsession with rhubarb. I think because it is something I grew up with that makes it a nostalgic thing for me. Now, I’ll be the first to admit when it comes to rhubarb, my mind immediately jumps to desserts. But, over the years, I’m leaning more and more to using it in savory ways.

Tart and tangy, with just a little bit of sweet and spicy complexity, this rhubarb sauce is a unique and unexpected twist that is perfect served with coconut shrimp.

Brion & I love coconut shrimp which is really odd given that neither of us like coconut?? One of the nice things about this meal is that it takes minimal prep work but gives great results. We have tried many versions of sweet & spicy sauce with these shrimp and enjoyed them all. Today we’re experimenting with this savory rhubarb sauce. Should be good!

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Coconut Shrimp w/ Spicy Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Rhubarb Sauce
  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon & cumin. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb & onion; increase heat slightly & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Cool then place in a food processor with Hot Red Pepper Jelly & process to a smooth sauce. Adjust the amount of red pepper jelly used to your liking. Set aside.
Coconut Shrimp
  1. Using 3 separate bowls, place flour in the first, beaten egg in the second & panko/coconut mixture in the third.
  2. Clean & devein shrimp. Dust them with flour then dip in the egg & lastly coat with panko/coconut mixture.
  3. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Melt butter then add oil. Once the combo is heated, place the shrimp in the skillet & cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  4. Place cooked shrimp on paper towel then serve with spicy rhubarb sauce. We enjoyed these shrimp as a main course with rice & some steamed broccoli.

Breakfast Enchilada Bake

ENJOY FAMILY DAY!

First held in the province of Alberta in 1990, Family Day is supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta. It was to give workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families to help prevent the erosion of family values in Canadian society.

‘Family Day’ is a public holiday in 5 Canadian provinces, where it is a day off for the general population with schools and most businesses being closed. However, there are some provinces where the holiday is named slightly different and for different reasons.

Family Day was scheduled to fall between New Year’s Day and Good Friday in order to grant another day off between these celebrations as they are approximately three months apart.

This meal seems so appropriate for today. Just put breakfast in the oven, sit back, enjoy a coffee while it bakes. What a great way to start a ‘family day’ together!

Easy to make, a breakfast bake sits in the fridge for several hours or better yet, overnight, so when you pop it in the oven the following morning, all the work will have already been done. Plus, variations abound according to your tastes and favorite ingredients: substitute sausage for bacon (or use both). Forego all meats for a vegetarian version and substitute fresh spinach, roasted peppers, blanched broccoli. Of course, make-ahead breakfast bakes are genius and forgiving; it can use up multiple supplies in your kitchen, appeal to a variety of tastes and be absolutely delicious every time.

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Breakfast Enchilada Bake
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Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
  3. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.

Herbed Seafood Crepe Cake

Crepes hail from the Brittany region of France and can be served either sweet or savory. While savory crepes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour, this particular recipe calls for wheat flour.

In North America, pancakes are a breakfast time staple best served with a large helping of syrup. However, crêpes — the humble French pancake’s ‘skinny‘ cousin — come in both sweet and savory form and can be enjoyed any time of the day. Crepes differ from typical North American pancakes in that they don’t contain a leavening agent causing the batter to rise, hence the flat outcome.

Around 2001, Emy Wada, a Japanese pastry chef who had studied in France, introduced a ‘mille crepe cake’ at her New York city bakery. The word mille means ‘a thousand‘, and while there really aren’t a thousand crepes, it might seem like it! 

Crepes have become a favorite, sweet or savory delicacy all over the world. Made with just flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and butter, its simplicity is transcended by its versatility. A crepe can be used as a wrap or even stacked to create an elevated dessert or entrée.

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Herbed Seafood Crepe Cake
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Herbed Crepe Batter
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Herbed Crepe Batter
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Instructions
Crepe Batter
  1. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together eggs & milk. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients then whisk in melted butter. Batter should be runny. Place in refrigerator while preparing the filling & sauce.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, sauté shrimp in olive oil for several minutes. Add zucchini, green onions & garlic; stir-fry for several minutes. Add mushrooms & sauté over medium-high heat until mushrooms release their liquid & soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add ginger, soy sauce & water; cover pan & cook on low heat for several minutes or until cooked. Set filling aside. Grate cheese.
Sauce
  1. Sauté minced garlic & onion in butter. Add crushed, undrained tomatoes (& water, if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Place in a food processor & puree. Reserve for serving with crepe cake.
Cooking & Assembly
  1. Using a large nonstick skillet or crepe pan, add a small amount of butter over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup crepe batter onto skillet & form a circle with the bottom of cup or swirl it around the crepe pan so it flattens out. Cook 30 seconds on the first side or until it firms up, then carefully flip the crepe & cook for another 15-20 seconds. Repeat until all batter is used.
  2. Place a crepe on a large serving plate, top with a portion of the shrimp filling & some of the grated cheese. Continue with remaining crepes, filling & cheese.
  3. When ready to serve, place entire crepe cake in microwave & heat only until warm & cheese has melted. Slice & serve with warm tomato-onion sauce.

Tourtiere Galette

Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.

While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.

Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.

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Tourtiere Galette
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Cornmeal Pastry
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas.
  2. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
  3. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
Recipe Notes
  • Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.

Grilled Korean Chicken Tenders

Despite the similarities in Asian cuisines, there are marked differences. Korean cuisine reflects a complex interaction of the natural environment and different cultural trends.

Korean food is bold, unique and well worth exploring. Strangely enough, it never has achieved the stature of Chinese food in North America and in recent years has been overtaken by Thai and Vietnamese.

Korean cuisine is largely based on meat, rice, vegetables and seafood. Dairy is fairly absent from the traditional diet.

The key ingredients needed in Korean cooking are garlic, fresh ginger, green onions, sesame seeds and oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, dried red chilies and hoisin sauce. Each contributes to the oriental rule of five flavors: sweet, hot, sour, salty and bitter. Traditionally, Koreans also have tried to adhere to an arrangement of five colors in their meals: red, yellow, green, white and black.

Balancing flavor is both science and an art. The five taste elements build our overall perception of flavor. When each element is perfectly balanced, not only on the plate, but across the entire meal, its just amazing!

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Grilled Korean Chicken Tenders
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Instructions
  1. Place chicken tenders in a Ziploc bag. In a bowl, combine all marinade ingredients except green onion. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade & transfer the rest to the Ziploc bag with chicken. Refrigerate & marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Over medium heat, grill the chicken tenders for 2-3 minutes or until they no longer stick to the grill. Turn the chicken, spoon reserved 1/4 cup marinade over tenders & grill an additional 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Serve over rice & garnish with green onion.

Zucchini Crusted Turkey Bratwurst

Versatile & plentiful, zucchini has endless applications. To mention a ‘few’, we’ve made zucchini bread & muffins, noodles, roasted it and put it on kabobs with chicken. It’s used in curry, ratatouille, stir fry and relish, etc. etc. etc. But just when I think there’s nothing I can do different with it, another idea pops into my head.

Among the family of sausages there is perhaps none so beloved in North America as the bratwurst. There are many interpretations of bratwurst, with variations on texture, flavor, size and cooking methods. Traditional bratwurst, which is German in origin, is made with pork & veal. Turkey bratwurst is a popular alternative to this traditional kind because of its low fat content.

For this recipe, I combine ground turkey with a combination of ‘German’ bratwurst spices and formed them into long sausage shapes. The shredded zucchini/cheese ‘crust’ is wrapped around each sausage and baked. All the flavors blended so well, creating yet one more use for zucchini!

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Zucchini Crusted Turkey Bratwurst
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Zucchini Crust
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Zucchini Crust
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Instructions
Zucchini Crust
  1. Place the shredded zucchini on paper towel & sprinkle LIGHTLY with salt. Cover & blot with another piece of paper towel. Allow to sit for about an hour to release excess moisture.
  2. When zucchini is ready, place in a bowl & combine with remaining 'crust' ingredients.
Turkey Bratwurst
  1. Combine all ingredients & mix well. Divide mixture into 5 equal portions, shaping each into a 5-inch long sausage.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Divide zucchini mixture into 5 equal amounts. On a piece of plastic wrap, place a portion of the zucchini mixture & pat it into a small rectangle large enough to enclose a sausage in it. Lay a sausage on the zucchini; use the plastic wrap to help roll the sausage & enclose in the zucchini crust. Repeat with remaining sausage,
  3. Oil a piece of foil paper. Place foil on a baking sheet. Top with crusted sausages & bake for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.
  4. These are nice served with baked potatoes & corn.

Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello ‘Buns’

CELEBRATING HERTIAGE DAY!

In 1974, the first Monday of August was made an official provincial holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans. Businesses can choose whether or not to recognize the day as a general holiday, which most do.

Our choice of meal for today are some special beef burgers on Portobello buns. Mushrooms are often cooked and served as a meat substitute in today’s ‘plant based’ society. Large Portobello mushrooms are the general size and shape of hamburger buns so using them to sub for buns seems only logical. I guess you could say they are the earth’s natural burger bun!

I have fond memories of my first introduction to a Portobello ‘burger‘. It was in the quaint little village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.

Some 35 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long cobblestone alley/corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger.

This version , the Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of the came in a grilled ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.

In the case of today’s blog recipe, we are using the mushroom cap as the bun. The guacamole is a great accompaniment to the beef burgers along with smoked Gouda cheese, tomatoes and the mushroom ‘buns’.

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Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello 'Buns'
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Guacamole
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Guacamole
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Instructions
Portobello Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. & place rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with foil paper & set aside.
  2. Brush the mushroom caps (top & bottom) with Italian dressing & place them, gills side up , on the lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes then flip them over & bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. When mushrooms are ready & the juices have been released, remove them from the baking sheet. Place them on a wire to drip off a bit.
Guacamole
  1. On a piece of plastic wrap, mash avocado with lime juice, salt, garlic, onion & cilantro. Fold plastic wrap over guacamole & set aside in fridge.
Beef Burgers
  1. Preheat barbecue grill (or roast burgers in oven).
  2. In a bowl, combine all burger ingredients & mix well. Divide beef mixture into 4 equal parts & shape into patties. Grill patties 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Divide cheese between patties & allow to melt.
Assembly
  1. Top each of the 4 mushroom caps with some guacamole, a burger patty & tomato slices. These are definitely the kind of 'burger' you want to eat with a fork & knife. Of course you could always squeeze the whole thing in a ciabatta bun!

French Mussels w/ Bacon & Leek Risotto

Thanks for the memories! This phrase says it all when I think back to the wonderful time we spent in France. Although this holiday is now 20 years past, the memories remain very vivid and special.

My sister, Loretta had joined Brion & I on this French vacation which had made it even more special. Our journey began in Paris where we had rented a car, then travelled south (about 613 km/380 miles) to the sleepy little village of St Thibery. For this segment of our trip we had rented an apartment to use as ‘home base’ during our time in this part of France. Many of these houses are from the 14th,15th & 17th century. The apartment was quaint but adequate even having a roof top patio.

St Thibery is situated between the larger towns of Agde & Pezenas and is just a short distance from the Mediterranean Sea. On one of our day trips we visited the town of Agde. It is one of the oldest towns in France and is captivating by its maze of narrow streets. Agde was built of black basalt from a volcanic eruption thus the black color of its buildings.

It was here we discovered a nice restaurant where we enjoyed some classic French steamed mussels. It would be an understatement to say how much the three of us enjoyed this feast of fresh seafood.

During the time we spent in the area, we made the 20 minute drive from St Thibery to Agde just to have some more mussels on numerous evenings.

Brion & I decided to revisit the taste of those ‘French’ mussels today with our supper meal. Of course, nothing compares to the ‘taste of a memory’!

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French Mussels w/ Bacon & Leek Risotto
Instructions
Risotto
  1. Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan, then turn heat to low & keep at a simmer.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon & sauté until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain & set aside.
  3. Remove all but 2 Tbsp bacon drippings from skillet (add extra olive oil if necessary to equal 2 Tbsp) then add leeks, mushrooms & shallot. Turn heat up to medium-high; season with salt & pepper. Sauté until vegetables are tender & starting to turn golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic & sauté for 1 minute. Add rice; stir to coat & cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Turn heat back to medium; add wine & stir until absorbed by rice. Add hot vegetable broth; stir near constantly until rice is tender & all the broth is absorbed, about 25 minutes. If broth gets to a hard boil, turn heat down. Remove skillet from heat; stir in thyme, parmesan cheese & cooked bacon. Keep warm until mussels are ready.
Mussels
  1. Heat olive oil & butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onion & garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mussels, wine, cream, butter & parsley. Season well with salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Mix well, cover pot with a lid & cook until mussels are cooked through & opened, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Serve mussels along with the juices in the pan with risotto & crusty or garlic bread.

Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits

CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!

For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It is Canada’s oldest non-religious holiday and although we still hang on to the British Queen’s name (for old times sake), this truly Canadian holiday has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days and a lot to do with some great food.

This holiday is called ‘May Two-Four’ in some parts of Canada, a name that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls (May 24th) and Canadian slang for a case of twenty-four beers (a ‘two-four’), a drink popular during the long weekend.

I’m sure, for many this weekend, barbecuing will be up front and center with burgers, steaks and ribs taking top billing. Brion & I decided to wait a bit longer to start barbecuing and have some turkey sliders today instead.

In keeping with some food history ….

The name ‘slider’ originated in the 1940’s when sailors in the US Navy would refer to mini-burgers as sliders because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down. Fortunately around 2007, sliders evolved from miniature ‘grease bombs’ to elegant culinary creations that now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.

There’s something inherently appealing about a small burger. For the diet-conscious, the idea of a small gourmet burger is more feasible. When dining out, ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties as they are often served in pairs.

The modern day slider has been reinvented from the traditional beef patty to being made from chicken, pork and veal as well as various seafood options. Having our turkey sliders in stuffing biscuits definitely added that gourmet touch.

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Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium. Add all stuffing ingredients & cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl & cool completely.
Biscuits
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt until blended. Add butter; with finger tips, combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk & one third of cooked, cooled, 'stuffing mixture' until JUST blended.
  3. Divide among the 24 muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each). Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown; transfer biscuits from pans to wire cooling rack.
Turkey Sliders
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. In a bowl, combine turkey, salt & remaining cooked 'stuffing mixture'. Form into 24 patties (2-inch width); place on foil-lined baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Assembly
  1. Slice warm biscuits in half. Add turkey patties & dollops of mayo & cranberry preserves.

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.