Here’s another look at a frozen supermarket option: the smokey jalapeno burgers from Sainsburys. They are described as ‘mixed beans with a melting nacho sauce and a puffed rice coating’. The nacho cheese is kind of placed right on top of the bean burger, so that when it is cooked, it oozes out after you cut into the burger.
Let’s start with the prices. They seemed a little high, given the cuisine that was on offer as well as the general look of the restaurant. It’s very bright, very Mexican, and more than a little shabby. When you’re reading a laminated placemat menu, you don’t really expect to be paying £10.95 for enchiladas. You choose the type of meal and then the filling, so I chose as follows:
Sun-dried Tomato tortilla baked in the oven, topped with an Enchilada tomato salsa and melted cheeses, served with Mexican Rice, Sour cream, Guacamole & Black bean salsa.
Three Bean Chilli (v)
Black, Kidney & refried Pinto beans combined with Roasted Peppers & Pico Salsa.
They found The Sherlock Holmes on a side street in Quimpere – quite lucky, too, as it was the only restaurant in the area with vegetarian options. As you can see, it is a quaint building in the medieval part of the town. You had the choice to sit inside or outside, and they opted to go in.
It was a very small restaurant with just 5 tables, and a staircase up to another small seating area. The whole restaurant is themed around 19th century London. The decor consisted of old-fashioned street lamps standing around the room, bowler hats on the walls, and lots of references to famous London residents of the time – such as Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper.
There was a fun atmosphere overall, with an open kitchen where diners could see the food being prepared. The host and the head chef seemed to be brothers, with matching quirky facial hair – one with a twiddly, curly moustache, the other with a pointed beard.
It was very busy with locals, and although the food was all made by hand, the service was nonetheless very fast.
The burgers on offer were all given names to match the theme – my parents went for the Long Liz and the Mary Jane Kelly, which you can see above. Other options included the Moriarty, Tower Bridge, Baskerville, and the Queen Mum. They definitely have their branding on point!
So, to the Long Liz: this was a patty made with cooked rice which was then moulded together with raw mushrooms – something that would definitely seem a bit odd if served in this country! Rice burgers are pretty popular in France, as we’ve seen in previous reviews, but the raw mushrooms are a new touch. It was the more healthy of the two options, and by all accounts was very enjoyable with it. The two rice burgers were pretty substantial, and were served together on a ciabatta bread to give them a little more room.
Now onto the Mary Jane Kelly – this was a courgette burger, served with salad, mushrooms, rocket, and houmous inside the seeded bun. It was very filling, and although it had been pan fried, it was not at all greasy. It was well balanced as a whole, with the flavours coming together nicely. The courgette itself did not have much flavour, and was slightly bland, but the other elements of the burger made up for this.
Despite having the houmous in the bun, it was not too garlicky – this seemed to have been made fresh to their own recipe.
The rest of the plate, as you can see, was the same in both meals. There was salad with French dressing as well as a serving of chips. There was definitely enough food to leave them both satisfied with the meal. The salad was crisp and fresh, if rather basic, and the chips were of the standard frozen variety.
The bread used for the buns was very fresh. Overall it presented very good value for money, particularly when compared to other restaurants and pubs that they visited during their trip.
These burgers are, for obvious reasons, exempt from the top rankings – but based on V’s views, I’ve given them a rating all the same.
ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…
TASTE – 7/10
PRICE – 8/10
REST OF EXPERIENCE – 8/10
I made a bit of a mistake while putting this together – I misinterpreted the quantity for the rice. It’s supposed to be already cooked at the weight given here, not dry! In the end, I had so much extra rice that we ended up having it as a side serving with our nut loaf, so maybe not quite the traditional Sunday lunch after all!
It’s great for leftovers and keeps easily for a few days. My favourite trick with anything like this is to cut off a nice slice and fold it into a wrap. You can include any leftover veggies as well that will fit, then heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. It’s especially delicious with peas. There you have an easy and delicious lunch solution for a couple of days after you make it!
Here’s the Vine, and scroll down below for the recipe:
Here’s our rice bowl with butter beans, egg, and tomato:
Everyone should try a quinoa tabbouleh at least once in their lives:
How about giving this roasted butternut squash and pine nut soup a try?:
Finally, our Vine round up had to include how to make your own pumpkin puree:
These galettes came in a few varieties, so we picked up a couple to try out. There was the boulghour de riz, legumes, et colombo; and the sarrasin & boulghour a l’emmental. Just in case you’ve let your French lessons go since school, that’s bulgar rice, vegetables, and lentils (although the translation is not 100% on that one), and buckwheat and bulgar with Emmental cheese. We also grabbed some puffy potato balls and baked beans to go with them.
We served them up with a slice of cheese on top to try and make them a bit more burger-like, and then dug in. I tried them without sauce or other accompaniments to try to get a real feel for what they actually tasted like – this was totally new territory as I’ve never seen anything like this in the UK!
First of all, the Emmental version, as you can see above. It was slightly salty with a texture on the inside like rice, no doubt due to the bulgur and buckwheat. I could not actually discern any cheese flavour – perhaps it was so mild that it just got swallowed up by the other tastes! With the slice of gouda on top it was much improved, as the flavour was quite bland. It was also quite bitty, although I would point out that it was not at all crumbly. Overall, it was quite filling – and though I’m sure it would get boring over time, it wasn’t a bad vegetarian option.
Next, on to the lentil burger, which you can see below. I’d like to note at this point that even baked beans taste differently in France! This one had both the flavour and the texture of a falafel, being quite salty and spicy at the same time. The lentils were included whole in the mixture, and there was quite a peppery taste to it. The falafel flavour was a little orangey too. It was again very filling, and this one was certainly more interesting than the other.
If you are a vegetarian staying in France or looking to try something new, I certainly recommend giving them a try. I’m not sure I could eat the Emmental version too often, but the falafel one was quite nice. I’d go for it every now and then but not too regularly, as it is very salty. Otherwise, it was enjoyable just to try something that was so totally new!
On the VegBurge scale, I give this…
Taste – 6/10
Price – 6/10
Rest of experience – 8/10
The first thing I noticed was that the directions are a little off. You are told to put exactly 400ml in a pan to boil the carrot and sweet potato, but that was nowhere near enough. I added more to help them cook, which they did beautifully – but then you’re told to add the curry paste without draining the water. Even with boiling it for 20 minutes, there was far too much water. I drained the extra and then about half again, and as you can see below, the sauce was still far too watery.
The veggies were also just really boring. I would have preferred to add the stock pot to them instead of the rice – in fact, I cooked my own recipe and did exactly that a few days after we ate this, and it was amazing. The rice did taste good here, but it was a little too creamy – the taste and texture not something I normally associate with rice, making it a bit off-putting.
There isn’t much I would leave the same about this recipe if I was making it again – in fact, I think you’d have to call it a new recipe by the time you got to the end! The green beans were more palatable than I expected, however: boiling brings out the best in them.
So, let’s see a #curryfail in action – here’s the Vine!
This week was the turn of the Mexican tortillas with feta and black beans. This seemed like a great place to start, as we do love Mexican food anyway and eat tortillas often. All of the ingredients came in one big box which we were able to open up and sort through after it arrived. We noticed quite early on that you have to be careful with the measurements – for example, although a 175g bag of rice is included, you only needed somewhere around 150g. It’s difficult to be too precise, too: the measurements on these items were provided in grams, but the recipe cards use cups.
I won’t recreate the recipe here as it is part of the package sold by Hello Fresh, but I can tell you what it was like to make. The quantities of everything were a little off, in my opinion: the tortillas were far too small, and as a result I had to serve some of the food on the side of the plate. Even after I had squeezed on as much as I could, there were still lettuce pieces and some tortilla mix left over. It was not comforting to know that the recipe created 964 calories per serving… Much more than I expected from a company branding themselves as healthy!
It did taste good for the most part, although a lot of the lettuce was quite young and the tomato sauce just would not reduce down to anything nearly resembling enough. It was far too watery, making these quite hard to eat in one piece. I also found the rice a little uninspiring, although the lime flavoured sour cream was a nice touch. Generally speaking, I would have used less filling and perhaps tried making it with actual fresh tomatoes rather than a tin of chopped tomatoes.
Here’s the Vine, showing you the process as laid out on the recipe card:
These are the ingredients that I used for my very own Mexican veggie burger:
- 1 egg
- 1 red onion
- 400g kidney beans
- 400g pinto beans
- 400g green lentils
- 1/2 handfuls of coriander
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
First of all, I mashed the beans and lentils up together after draining and rinsing them. Then I sliced the red onion up into small pieces and added them to the mix. I shredded up the coriander and mixed it in as well, along with a spoonful of the hot sauce. Last to go in was one egg, which I stirred in to the mixture. This was all done in one bowl, so it made a minimum of mess. The hardest part was actually getting the beans to mash. However, it was much easier to use pinto and kidney beans than a few other combinations that I’ve tried before. It made quite a sticky mixture that I was able to shape into burgers, so that was a good start. I created six burgers – I do like them quite large so you could possibly make more with the same mix. I’m not particularly impressed by a burger being a “perfect” shape and smoothness, so I do just leave them looking a bit lumpy and messy. It makes them look more interesting from my point of view!
Cooking was something of an experiment. I set the oven to 200C and then basically kept an eye on it. I figure it would need a good 15 minutes at least, and after that I was judging by eye. When it looked as it it might almost be done, I followed my normal trick of taking the burgers out and adding cheese on top of them in thin slices. It was good old cheddar in this case. Then they were returned to the oven until the cheese was bubbly and oozing down the sides, which makes them all the more fun to serve and all the better looking!
At this stage I also put some aside to cook again later. One word of caution is that you can’t just put them straight back in the oven with cheese on top next time and take them out when the cheese bubbles. They will be starting from cold, especially if stored in the fridge, so they need a little extra time to warm up. Still, they did heat up very well the next day, without losing any taste or texture. I only kept them for a day, so I’m not sure how long they would last for otherwise.
When they were ready, I served them in seeded buns with a bit of dressing as per taste. I also put them with egg fried rice – this may seem a bit random, but we don’t really have traditional burger accompaniments in the house very often. We try to stay away from chips and other potato products where possible, and salad tends to get eaten very quickly. Sometimes a bit of rice is all that’s left! I wouldn’t say they matched perfectly, but it was somewhat interesting to have a contrasting taste and texture alongside the burgers.
I can’t say I was overly impressed with the outcome of this first experiment. There was a little less flavour than I was expecting, and the patties weren’t as solid as I would have liked. Still, for an experiment, they turned out fine. They were certainly edible and even enjoyable. The lentils were perhaps the best part, as they really improved the texture and flavour over what we have tried before. On the other hand, the pinto beans maybe didn’t contribute enough. Cheese is a definite must have, and the coriander helped with the flavour as well. There’s room for improvement here, but it feels like we’re on the right track.
On the VegBurge scale, I give this:
Taste – 6/10
Price – 8/10
Rest of experience – 7/10