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Ultra-stacked burgers and exotic wines

Publish Date: 02 Mar 2018

Authored by: Martin Nordin

Think it’s the meat that makes the burger? These mouth-watering veggie versions – plus an indulgent side – are guaranteed to convert you, each matched to an exotic wine.

Deep-fried zucchini flowers stuffed with cream cheese and Parmesan
Serves six

Forget the usual go-to fries – these zucchini flowers are the ultimate accompaniment.

12 zucchini flowers
¾ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 egg
1 cup of beer, such as lager or brown ale
1 litre peanut or deep-frying oil
Sea salt

½ cup cream cheese
2 tbsp single cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the zucchini flowers in cold water to get rid of all the dirt. Leave them on a tea towel to dry.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk the egg in another bowl, then stir the whisked egg and beer into the flour mixture. Stir to form an even mixture.

Mix the cream cheese, cream and Parmesan in a bowl. Season to taste. Put the cream cheese filling into a piping bag and pipe a little filling into each flower. Carefully fold in the flower petals so the filling does not run out.

Line a bowl with a few layers of paper towel and put it next to the cooker.

Heat plenty of oil to 180°C in a high-sided saucepan. Reduce the heat and try to keep the temperature at 180°C as far as possible.

Dip the flowers in the deep-frying mixture and deep-fry 3–4 flowers at a time for about 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Push them around carefully with a slotted spoon now and again.

Lift the zucchini flowers out and drain on the paper towel-lined bowl. Sprinkle with salt and turn them so the salt is evenly distributed.

Wine match: 2016 Anselmi San Vincenzo

Winemaker says: Made up of 70 per cent garganega, with chardonnay and sauvignon also in the blend, this wine has intense aromas of peach, pineapple and floral notes. With a bright, fresh acidity, this wine is the perfect foil for these fried zucchini flowers.

RRP $45 |

Pea burger with cream cheese mix and king oyster crisps
Makes six burgers

1 onion
½ tbsp butter
Olive oil, for drizzling
30g fresh mint + a few leaves to garnish
15g fresh lovage
2–3 eggs
50g panko breadcrumbs
800g peas (cooked and cooled, or thawed frozen ones)
4 garlic cloves
4 spring onions
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying

Cream cheese mix
120g cream cheese
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
Sea salt and pink pepper

King oyster crisps
2–3 king oyster mushrooms
1 litre peanut or other deep-frying oil
Sea salt

To serve
6 burger buns
Butter for the buns
Crushed pink peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the onion and cut them into quarters. Put them in an ovenproof dish, add the butter and drizzle the olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the onions in the middle of the oven for 20–30 minutes or until they have developed some colour – they can even be a little burnt. Take out and allow to cool.

Put the oven-baked onions, mint and lovage in a food processor and mix until everything is finely distributed. Add the eggs and panko breadcrumbs, and mix until well combined. Finally, add the peas and pulse-blend or mix quickly for a few seconds so the peas break up a little.

Peel and finely chop the garlic and spring onions, and stir them into the pea mixture.

Take a handful of mixture at a time and shape into 6 round patties, either by hand or using a food ring. Put the patties on a plate and cover with cling film. Put in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer, so they will hold together better when you fry them.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Mix the cream cheese with the garlic in a bowl. Add salt and pink pepper to taste.

For the crisps, thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat the oil to about 180°C in a high-sided saucepan. Add the slices of mushroom and deep-fry until they are golden brown, pushing them around with a slotted spoon. Remove the mushroom crisps and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt on both sides.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Fry the patties over a medium heat for a few minutes on both sides, until they have developed a nice colour. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake for about 5–10 minutes.

Butter the buns on the cut surface and fry them quickly in a frying pan or grill them in the oven.

Place a patty on the bottom of each bun. Put a generous dollop of cream cheese mix and some oyster mushroom crisps on top, finishing off with mint leaves and a little crushed pink pepper.

Wine match: 2015 Dominique Roger Sancerre Domaine du Carrou

Winemaker says: With notes of white flowers, citrus, white and yellow fruits, this wine is a great pairing for the green peas. Its generous minerality also allows it to cut through the cream cheese and refresh the palate.

RRP $50 |

Zucchini burger with grilled spring onions & wild garlic
Makes six burgers

100g butter
¾ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
100ml milk
1 egg
½ cup cold water
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium zucchinis
Butter for frying

Grilled spring onions
2 tsp roasted pepper seasoning (2 tbsp each of coriander seeds, Sichuan pepper, whole black peppercorns)
2–3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Sea salt
6 spring onions 

To serve
1 bunch wild garlic or chives
6 burger buns
Butter for the buns
Sriracha sauce or Kimchi as necessary

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter over a low heat.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the milk and egg, and whisk together to form an even, fairly thick batter. Stir in the butter and water, then fold in the panko breadcrumbs. Put to one side.

Finely shred the zucchinis with a mandoline, preferably using a grating attachment. You can also coarsely grate the zucchinis with a normal grater, but bear in mind they will then release liquid, which you must remove.

Put the zucchini strips on a baking tray and douse them with the batter.

Heat a frying pan and put in a knob of butter. Transfer a little of the zucchini mixture at a time to the frying pan using a fork, and form small pancakes. Fry for a minute or so on both sides so they take on a golden colour. If you want, you can use a food ring to start with, so the zucchini pancakes hold together better, in which case you should put the food ring straight into the frying pan and fill it with the zucchini mixture.

Transfer the zucchini pancakes to an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for
5–10 minutes.

For the roasted pepper seasoning, heat a dry cast-iron pan over medium heat. Toast the spices until the seeds start to go golden brown and there is a clear spice aroma. Pound the spices in a mortar or mix them to a fine powder with a hand blender. Store in a jar.

Put 2 teaspoons of the seasoning into a large plastic bag. Pour in the rapeseed oil, sesame oil and salt. Put to one side. You can add other seasoning such as garlic and chilli if you wish, for extra flavour and heat.

Cook the spring onions on a barbecue or fry them in a dry frying pan over a high heat, allowing them to develop a little colour. Put the onions into the bag of marinade, tie the top and leave for 10–15 minutes so the spring onions steam in their own heat.

Chop the wild garlic or chives. If you can get hold of wild garlic with flowers or buds then use them too. They not only look nice, but also have a lovely mild flavour reminiscent of roasted garlic.

Butter the buns on the cut surface and fry them quickly in a frying pan or grill them in the oven.

Put two zucchini pancakes on each bun and top with spring onions and wild garlic, and a little Sriracha sauce or kimchi as necessary.

Wine match: 2014 La Sorda Rioja

Winemaker says: With aromas of strawberry and raspberry, this tempranillo, graciano, mazuelo blend has subtle hints of cinnamon and spice on the nose. It is a juicy wine with a fine acidity, which will work beautifully against the flavours and texture of this burger.

RRP $40 |

Grilled halloumi burger with onion and mushroom mix topped with fresh thyme
Makes six burgers

3 x 200g packs of halloumi
Onion and mushroom mix
1 tsp Roasted Pepper Seasoning
2 onions
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dark balsamic vinegar
250g baby portobello or field mushrooms
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks

To serve 
6 burger buns
Butter for the buns
Fresh thyme

Make the roasted pepper seasoning as described in the zucchini burger recipe (see above).

Peel and chop the onions*. Put the onions and butter in a cold saucepan. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and put the lid on. The onions will soon start to release liquid, and the flavours will be concentrated as a result of cooking in their own juices. Stir with a wooden spoon about once every 5 minutes for 30–40 minutes, and check that they’re not burning (if you notice they’re starting to get dry you can add the vinegar earlier).

Remove the lid, pour on the vinegar and increase the heat. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring, until you have a sticky onion mix. Put the pan to one side.

Brush the mushrooms with a little oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms in a frying pan – it doesn’t matter if they get a little burnt – then cut them into pieces the same size as the onions.

Put the mushrooms in a bowl together with the onion mix. Stir in the egg yolks and season with 1 teaspoon of roasted pepper seasoning.

Light the barbecue (if you want to barbecue).

Rinse the halloumi if necessary and dry it using paper towel (personally I find halloumi a little too salty, so I always rinse it before cooking). Slice it and fry or grill it immediately before the burgers are served.

Butter the buns on the cut surface and grill carefully on the barbecue or fry them quickly in a frying pan.

Place some slices of halloumi on the bottom of each bun. Spoon over a generous amount of onion and mushroom mix and finish by sprinkling over a little fresh thyme.

*When I chop onions that are to be caramelised, I first cut off the roots and tops, and then halve them lengthways, from root to top. I then peel them, and slice them up in the same direction. When you slice in this way you cut against the onion’s cell structure and the onions will break down faster when you fry them. You thus get a softer and creamier result.

Wine match: 2016 Quinta do Portal Colheita Rosé

Winemaker says: Dry and fresh, this rosé is made from Portugal’s Douro varieties and has a delicate pink colour, with aromas of wild berries and pomegranate. Crisp and refreshing, it is a great match to lift these halloumi and mushroom flavours.

RRP $45 |

This is an edited extract from Green Burgers by Martin Nordin, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99

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