Bean burgers

Well, it’s been a year – literally, looking at the last post’s date. Urm, oops?! For reasons, really haven’t been doing much cooking, and very little ‘new’ and blog-worthy. Hoping that gets to change now, and indeed I have started with a few bits here and there. Now just to remember to blog 😉

cooked beanburger on a cheese-topped bun, with potato wedges and salad on plate in background

These bean burgers – so adaptable – have been in rotation for a long while now, based on the HelloFresh recipe I tried ages ago. So that experiment was worth it! I found their take very basic, and have been on a mission to improve it since. Finally feeling I’ve ‘cracked it’, was beyond time for a blog post – not to mention a page for the recipe so *I* don’t forget what went so well for next time!

What I most love about this recipe is how versatile it is. From the korma burgers originally – which I’ve used with other curry pastes, added veg, and even some lime pickle and/or mango chutney – I’ve gone on to make pesto burgers (nice, but maybe a little more limiting on suitable toppings), BBQ/jerk burgers, and several variations on a more mexican-y based option.

I also feel they’re nice and healthy, much more so than store-bought ones that so often disappoint. You can vary the sizing, too – having made some just too big, I now try to restrain myself and match the burger buns! But nothing stopping you doing smaller ones for kids, etc.

Eight shaped bean burger patties, ready to cook

They also totally match my love of batch cooking. I got nine burgers out of a recent batch – making them pretty cost effective, too. I reckon these worked out at something like 30p per burger?

So what made this batch so much better? For a start, I got my breadcrumb ratio right! I always make a double batch from the original recipe, with 2 tins of beans (kidney and black, or pinto, for variety), but have sometimes forgotten to double the breadcrumbs – oops! Makes for very crumbly burgers when you haven’t used enough binding. I also took a while to decide if panko breadcrumbs were used in the same ratio as regular ones – yup, 100g = 100g.

Talking of breadcrumbs, hoping you don’t buy yours! I have a bag in the freezer, and every time there’s a tail end of a loaf needing used, I quite often just crumble it and add to the bag.

The other new ‘win’ was bringing in just a little of the fabulous Cookie and Kate veggie burger recipe, in the form of adding a mashed, pre-roasted sweet potato. Really helps with the binding, and it’s delicious!

The photos above make everything look a little red, but this is from the addition of paprika, as well as a little chilli and hot sauce (a smokey one, for a rich flavour), and tomato puree. I’d also added diced onion and peppers, because I think veggie burgers should have y’know veggies in them!

The possibilities with this recipe seem endless, so I hope if you do add your own spin you come back and tell me about it! 🙂 Happy cooking!

Tonic at Home: Starburst Martini

Eh… how long have I been sitting on one cocktail review to do?! Time to finish this series on the Tonic at Home mix’n’match hamper!

I’ll show my age here and say this was previously known as an Opal Fruits Martini – so, expect it to be sweet and fruity. The ingredients include:

  • vodka
  • creme de cassis
  • apple juice
  • raspberry syrup

Tonic at Home Starburst Martini

It pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a sweet and fruity kind of a thing. It’s borderline on being too sweet, but not quite, although I thought it would have been nice with a little bit more of a sherbet-y tang. Still, very drinkable.

Also worth mentioning that this did lurk in my freezer for quite some time and it was perfectly fine. Not sure how much I breached the recommended timescales, but didn’t seem to affect it.

So… would I drink this again? Sure, no issue – although it wouldn’t be my first choice. There are some nice variations on the recipe online, many involving strawberry (liqueur and lemonade) although there seems to be a wide range. From my own cocktail cupboard, I would need to buy creme de cassis, although I might try it with Chambord (raspberry liqueur) at some point. Hmm, that does sound nice…! 😉

Tonic at Home: Lychee Daiquiri

If I’m being honest, I have very little idea of what lychees taste like. Like this, perhaps?! As a cocktail, it’s a lightly fruity, sherbet-y kind of a taste, and I like it. It is quite tangy, though – I was pretty sure there was lemon juice in there at times. What we actually have is:

  • Bacardi
  • lychee puree
  • apple juice
  • sugar syrup
  • citric/malic acid

That seems really simple, and it was easily my favourite of the daiquiris in the Tonic at Home Mix and Match hamper.

Tonic at home Lychee daiquiri

Reading a little more into what makes a daiquiri, it’s a family of cocktails with rum, sugar/syrup, and citrus juice. So the strawberry daiquiri is actually a variation, as it doesn’t use citrus juice. You may have also heard of a caipirinha, which is similar (and delicious), but uses a sugar cane spirit. There’s the equally classic Mojito, which is rum, sugar, lime, mint and soda water. And the classic Margarita is also similar, but uses tequila instead of rum.

Lychee isn’t the easiest of flavours to buy in this country – unless you’re talking shampoo, it seems! But I’ll keep an eye out for it, as this has been a very pleasant introduction to the flavour. And an education into daiquiris in general!

Tonic at Home: I’ll Be Your Wingman

I must confess, out of everything in the Tonic at Home Mix and Match box, I genuinely thought I was going to dislike this quite a lot. There are so many ingredients, several of which I’m really not keen on, and the only hint I had about what it might actually taste like was a mention of – bleh! – parma violet sweeties, on the Tonic website.

Tonic at Home I'll Be Your Wingman cocktail

  • pink gin
  • violette (violet liqueur)
  • raspberry syrup
  • cherry puree
  • elderflower cordial
  • aquafaba – aka chickpea water, for a vegan-friendly ‘froth’

It… wasn’t that bad. Oddly thick, I wasn’t expecting that, but it tastes like fruit and berries, and not – as I feared – of sickly flowery sweets or elderflower.

I have no idea where the name comes from, or if there are other versions of this other than Tonic’s own. Despite it tasting a lot better than I expected, I wouldn’t go out of my way to have another nor will I be attempting to make my own. Although I say that, and then wonder about cherry cordial, raspberry syrup, and Sprite… hmm, maybe not 😉

Tonic at Home: Strawberry Daiquiri

If you look up the Strawberry Daiquiri on Tonic’s website, they’ve managed to omit any mention of strawberry in the listed ingredients! The packet has more accurately listed:

  • Bacardi (white rum)
  • strawberry puree
  • sugar syrup

I mean, how simple can you get (at least before you add some chemical-y sounding bits, but let’s not go there ;))?

Tonic at Home Strawberry Daiquiri

This is another one that seems simple enough to replicate at home, and to be honest I think it’d taste better. There was something disappointing about this – it’s not unpleasant, it just failed to impress me in any way. I still drank it, of course! 😉

Looking online for recipes, there are some decent-looking twists on this, including fresh lime juice or lemon and lime soda. Frozen strawberries make for a nice chilled drink – best use for those, really, it’s not a fruit that freezes well – and some places recommend a mix of fresh and frozen fruit.

Eh, it was alright, but definitely not a favourite from the Mix and Match hamper.

Tonic at Home: Pornstar Martini

About the only think I’m not keen on with this cocktail is the name – it’s not a real martini 😉 The name doesn’t mean a great deal, it turns out, it was just meant to sound “bold, sexy, and playful”. Hmm.

Anyway, Tonic’s recipe lists:

  • vodka
  • passion fruit puree
  • caramel syrup
  • aquafaba – this is chickpea water, used to give a vegan-friendly ‘froth’. You don’t taste it, honest 😉

Tonic at Home Pornstar Martini

I’m slightly surprised not to see any mention of a passionfruit liqueur, such as Passoa. Ah, yes – we’ve stumbled across another one that I’ve both tried elsewhere, and that I’ve had a go at making at home! This is quite a popular one for making at home, with all of the ingredients readily available.

Typically, you are served a small glass of Prosecco with a Pornstar Martini, although whether you pour that in with the main cocktail is up to you.

I’m quite a fan of these. Vodka is a nice easy spirit to drink with any flavour, and passionfruit has that delicious mix of sweet and tangy. It feels and smells so very tropical, too.

So yeah, I liked this one, but I think I’d rather buy some Passoa and a carton of passionfruit juice, and make my own. Sorry, Tonic! Still, a nice inclusion in the Mix and Match hamper – so nice, in fact, you get two!

Tonic at Home: Cosmopolitan

There was a long while when the Cosmopolitan was ‘my’ cocktail, mainly because it was so easy to make – and absolutely nothing to do with any TV shows, honest! 😉 Vodka, cranberry juice, and orange liqueur – Cointreau for me, Triple sec in the Tonic at Home cocktail – simple and delicious!

Of course, that just means that when I’m trying a new ‘version’, my first reaction was more along the lines of “Hmm, that doesn’t taste quite right.” I think the difference is that Tonic adds sugar and some chemicals, and I don’t really feel they’re in the drink’s favour at all. I’m also fond of the ‘twist’ of lime juice usually added, so sweet definitely feels a bit wrong here.

Tonic at Home Cosmopolitan cocktail

That said, it’s still very drinkable, and it did grow on me as I finished the cocktail (hic). Still, far from my favourite from the Mix and Match hamper – I think I’ll stick to doing this one myself, with just three ingredients and my own control over relative quantities.

Tonic at Home: Pina Colada Daiquiri

It’s turned practically tropical in Scotland (yeah, yeah, hitting 20C is a bit of a ‘it’s too hot!’ kind of moment here ;)) which calls for some tropical kinds of cocktails!

Tonic at Home Pina Colada

Up to this point my main experience of a Pina Colada would be the earworm of a song that praises rain and disses yoga and is thus clearly quite confused, and that’s before it turns out the guy is trying to cheat on his wife – with his also-cheating wife. Hmm. In drink form, though, the ingredients are:

  • Bacardi white rum
  • coconut puree
  • pineapple juice
  • sugar syrup

Other versions seem to omit the syrup, but I’m starting to notice that Tonic does like to sweeten things up. The use of coconut milk or cream elsewhere also makes this seem like a pretty easy one to replicate yourself.

Which makes it a bit of a shame that I didn’t really like it! I’m sure it was a perfectly nice Pina Colada, but the mix of flavours didn’t sit well on my palate. I love pineapple, but between the extra sweetness and the cloying coconut, it tasted a bit sour and off to me. 

I finished it, right enough, and it did improve as I went on. Yes, probably because alcohol, but also as I grew accustomed to what this ‘should’ taste like. However, I’ll swerve this in future – I’d rather just put rum in pineapple juice and stop there!

Fun fact: Pina colada apparently means ‘strained pineapple’.

Tonic’s web page for their cocktail is here.

Tonic at Home: Puerto Rico Boat Trip

I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this one – one of the pre-mixed cocktails in the Tonic at Home Mix and Match selection. Let’s start with the ingredients:

  • Raspberry Bacardi rum
  • velvet falernum (see below)
  • triple sec (orange liqueur)
  • plum bitters

(and some less interesting bits and pieces like water and E numbers)

Talking of water, it sure looks a lot like it:

Puerto Rico Boat Trip cocktail from Tonic

What is that ‘velvet falernum’ thingy? It’s a rum-based liqueur made with sugar cane, lime, almond and cloves. Cloves sounds really scary, but definitely wasn’t getting that in the cocktail, so all good.

Now, turns out I should have read the description on the website, as it’s pretty accurate: “the flavours of Haribo and sherbet” – yes! It’s sweet and sherbety and rather surprising, especially given the rather dull appearance. And it’s a nice sweet and sherbety! 🙂

The website also tells me that this is Tonic’s twist on the classic ‘Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’ cocktail, which to be honest I’ve never heard of. A quick internet search shows me that it involves white rum, falernum, orange liqueur, lime juice, and sugar syrup – a little bit more accessible, I’m thinking, although it’d be a shame to spoil a good thing – and the PRBT is a pretty good thing! Recommended 🙂

Tonic at Home: Watermeloooan

So… which of the Tonic at Home cocktails that came in my Mix and Match selection seemed best to suit a sunny bank holiday? Several seemed likely – and fruity! – candidates, but let’s go with… the Watermeloooan!

I have no idea why it’s spelled like that, no o.O

Again, I forgot to take any photos (you’ll spot a theme here as this ‘series’ goes on, you really will!) so here’s the one from Tonic themselves again:Tonic at Home Watermeloooan cocktail

The ingredients include:

  • Olemca Altos Tequila (I had a lesson once in why good tequila is good and bad tequila not – worth a few extra £!)
  • cranberry juice
  • watermelon syrup
  • orgeat (an almond and rose syrup, apparently)
  • grenadine (another syrup, most famed for the red colour – used in Tequila Sunrise)
  • triple sec (orange liqueur)

I’m going to state right off that I don’t see me trying to replicate this one at home – watermelon syrup and orgeat are both missing from my ‘cocktail cupboard’, and I wasn’t so keen on this cocktail to spend £20 buying a couple of bottles (or, heaven forbid, trying to make syrups even though they are totally easy honest o.O).

Now, I’m in two minds about watermelon. As a fruit – not so keen. I love melon, but the watermelon is well-named and just watery. Flavourless. Despite that, there is such a thing as ‘watermelon flavour’, which I’ve enjoyed in soft drinks (J20 do a refreshing one) and perhaps least authentically but most memorably: Nerd sweets. Am I showing my age?! Used to really love the watermelon ones of those!

Absolutely none of that comes across in this cocktail. It’s not unpleasant, but it is… disappointing. It tastes rather artificial, too. I suppose I’d drink it again if handed one, but I very definitely won’t be going looking for it.

Still, first disappointment, and it’s just a ‘meh’ rather than an out and out complaint.