I haven’t always shunned meat.
Growing up, our meals consisted of, traditionally, very well-balanced meals; a protein, a carb, and two veggies. All things considered, we ate very healthily.
Three-ish years ago, however, I reflected on my dietary regimen and came to the realization that I didn’t even like meat. So why did I continue to cook it and eat it? I was trained like Pavlov’s dog. When the dinner bell rang, I cooked accordingly. Huh. Interesting self-revelation.
With that realization burnt into my soul, I swiftly ostracized meat and adopted a more environmentally- and morally-friendly routine. And I have never regretted the transition. Actually, it was one of my most fabulous decisions.
The only thing that I sometimes miss is a good burger. Not that I have any actual desire to eat a meaty patty, but, I do miss the comforting feeling that a burger evokes. Good thing I have found a few fabulous vegetarian alternatives to satiate that comfort-food craving (I particularly enjoy: Quinoa Lentil Burgers with Cilantro-Hempseed Pesto and Vegan Veggie Burgers).
What I had been missing until now, however, was a good recipe for burger buns to wrap burger-night up with a delicious, bready, ribbon. A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon this recipe, as my veggie burgers were, dejectedly and lonesomely, thawing from their stint in the freezer. How incredibly convenient! I immediately bunny-hopped my way into the kitchen to ensure that they were ready for dinner.
They are perfect.
And they are attractive.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.
3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours.
5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Interestingly, the bulk of my immediate family have now adopted a virtually-meatless routine.
High five to vegetarianism!