Burger & Bites

Ahhh, the holidays.  What would they be without good people and spectacular food??  I started this Peace Party idea a few years back.  Simply put, you light a candle for peace while sharing an inspirational  quote, poem or story.  Each year has brought doubled over laughing mixed in with the occasional tear.  As I sat around the table and took it all in, it reminded me just how much there is to be grateful for.  On a non-food related link, Yoko Ono has put up a Peace Tower in Reykjavik and Rolling Stones Magazine compiled a list of the reader’s top peace songs.

Switching forward, a few months back my friend Dara and I went to a restaurant  in Tampa called Ocean Prime.  We sat at the bar and ordered the Sonoma Goat Cheese ravioli and Ahi Tuna Tartar.  The tuna tartar was not only visually stunning (a small tower of awesome goodness), but the taste was incredible.  Part of the fun of cooking is having something delicious at a restaurant,  then going back home and duplicating the same item into a much healthier version at half the cost.  So I took this single serving appetizer and broke it down to serve a handful of hungry women at the Peace Party!  (Recipe follows)

The second appetizer that was served during the holiday soiree was generated from my chef pal Laura. She calls it the “white trash” appetizer,  but by no means will it leave your guests quoting from the Jeff Foxworthy redneck dictionary; instead they will be asking for the recipe.

Tuna Tartar on Sesame Wonton Crisps

(A) Wonton Crisp recipe is here.  I used Kudzu because it is a healthier version of cornstarch.  Recipe said 5-6 minutes, but is took twice as long.  Wontons can be found in the frozen section at any Asian grocery store.

(B)  Fresh tuna was bought day of party and chopped finely.

(C) Ponzu Sauce recipe is here. You can buy Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce at the grocery store.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Naturally brewed soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, salt, bonito extract, lactic acid, lemon juice, autolyzed yeast extract, natural lemon and orange flavors with other natural flavors, sodium benzoate as a preservative, succinic acid, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.


(D) Guacamole-  mash an avocado, add cilantro and lime juice.  My clever Mom suggested adding some wasabi paste to it- which sounded great.


Seriously, go by an 8 oz. block of cream cheese, a tube of wasabi paste, soy sauce, and mix up some white/black sesame seeds.

Cut the block of cream cheese in half horizontally, fill with wasabi paste, roll in the sesame seeds.  Then place on a platter and pour soy sauce on the bottom.

Serve with rice crackers.

So if you ever financed a tattoo or grilled spam, you might want to ask yourself..”Am I a redneck?”  But I suggest serving this on a pretty platter and watch some folks experience their first try of wasabi.  That is worth the price of admission alone.

And now onto the burger.  On my never ending quest to find the veggie burger like the one I had in NY at Quantum Leap, Counter was on the list to try. Three different size burgers to choose from, 11 types of cheeses, 28 toppings, 18 sauces, 4 buns, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I ended up ordering the veggie burger with cheddar cheese, fried onion strings, avocado, and BBQ sauce.  The ingredients in the burger were fresh vegetables and rice.  Which from experience, the rice lends itself to being dried out.  So I give Counter an A for effort- tons of choices to decide from, decor was nice, and the sweet potato fries were a bonus.  But Quantum Leap still is the top rated veggie burger thus far.

If anyone has inside knowledge to Quantum Leap’s veggie burger recipe- do  tell.  Until then, I will continue on with my quest for a Chicago veggie burger that will make me stop in my tracks.

Happy 2010 to everyone!

p.s. Out of all the nieces in world, how did I end up with the best two???


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