Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cafe Septieme: Seattle, WA

Now that's a good veggie burger. Cafe Septieme's offering is a house-made mixture of tofu, carrots, oats, and spices, fried up and put on a bun. It is slightly crunchy on the outside, and soft in the middle. I thought it needed a bit more salt, but that's easy enough to fix. There is a lot of dedication that goes into this burger: in addition to the patty, the ketchup, aioli and relish are all made in-house. The lightly-toasted bun is commercial, which at first I viewed as a minus point, but the patty itself is so soft and flavorful that the dull commercial bun would allows the patty to shine. My one complaint is the awkward pickle slice, which at about an inch thick is too much to put on the sandwich.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Amy's Bistro Burger

I'm not familiar enough with French cuisine to understand why Amy's decided to dub these delicious little patties the "bistro burger," as their prominent ingredients are mushrooms and rice, giving them a more Eastern European flavor. However, since the word "bistro" is derived from the Russian word meaning "quickly," thanks to Russia pushing Napoleon's troops back to Paris in the War of 1812, it may be an appropriate name after all. Regardless, these veggie burgers are pretty good; not Amy's finest, but good. Mushroom is the predominant flavor, with the only distinguishable spices being salt and coarsely-ground pepper; a little celery rounds it out nicely. They are not particularly high protein (only 5 g) and their squishy, ricey texture is already too starchy to be good on a bun. In comparison to Amy's Texas and Classic Burgers, which are firm, chewy and satisfying, the bistro burger tastes wimpy and anemic.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Morningstar Farms Asian Veggie

Mmm... These are delicious. I rarely buy patties with eggs and dairy, which is why these don't make it in my freezer very often, but a gift of a box from a friend reminded me just how tasty these are. If Dr. Praeger's are like bad Chinese Food, then these are good Chinese food: a combination of egg, carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, celery, soy sauce, and some spices for a slight kick. Even in the microwave, they cook up crisp (they're kind of greasy). As far as making them an actual burger, some hoisin sauce on a light bun would probably be amazing. They'd also be good sliced up in salads. Or, eaten plain!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dr. Praeger's Tex Mex Burger

My complaints with this burger are similar to the California Burger: too squishy, too much frozen vegetable flavor, not enough protein (only 5 grams). It has a better color, thanks to the black beans in the mix, but it just isn't great. I tried grilling it on my Foreman, and it just spread out on the grill. Maybe it's because I microwaved it for just long enough to de-thaw it. Basically, I was expecting Amy's Texas Burger, and this doesn't even hold a candle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dr. Praeger's California Burger

Very colorful patty, with corn, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, and soy beans all clearly distinguishable. You can tell exactly what you are eating, though the overall green tinge doesn't beg to be consumed. I wasn't thrilled with my first bite, but by my last I wanted more. It's delicious along the same lines as bad Chinese food: it tastes like the good doctor took a bag of frozen vegetables, mashed them together with a little garlic, and fried this up in a bunch of oil. You know it's not fine cuisine, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy the experience. Despite the greasy texture, it is still lower calorie than many of its competitors; it is, however, also lower in protein: only 6 grams. The box recommends that you heat the pre-cooked patties in an oven or on the grill; I didn't have access to either, so I microwaved mine. The result was a mushy, starchy patty that would probably be too squishy to be goof on a bun but is still pretty tasty. One thing: as a native Californian, I am perplexed as to what makes this burger particularly "California." Maybe the garlic?

I just looked at the ingredients and figured out what bugs me about it: green beans. Huge chunks of frozen green beans. Huge chunks of frozen green beans have no place in a veggie burger.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

FitSugar Veggie Burger Breakdown

Here is a side-by-side nutritional comparison of all sorts of veggie burgers.

Bean Burrito Burger

2 cans of black beans
1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 cup dry TVP (about 1 cup reconstituted)
1 cup broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup corn
1 small chile
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
flour or soy powder, if necessary
cheddar cheese (optional)

1) Saute the onion, bell pepper, chile pepper, and corn until soft.
2) Reconstitute the TVP in the broth; drain
3) Mash the Black Beans in a large bowl and add TVP, rice, sauteed vegetables, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. If mixture is too moist, add flour/soy powder to mix 1 tbs at a time.
4) Fry/grill and serve with chipotle aioli (chopped canned chipotle pepper and mayo to taste: 1 pepper is enough for probably 1/3 cup mayo)

These have been my most successful veggie patties to date, though I would cut back the rice by about half to make them less of a burrito on a bun. Vegetarians often measure the success of their recipes on whether or not meat-eaters enjoy them, and my favorite carnivore asked for a second. (I stuffed his with cheese and melted more on top, so this might have been cheating- I thought they were tasty without the dairy).