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Mad Men Mini Burgers

April 1, 2012

“How do you say ice water in Italian? Hilton. How do you say fresh towels in Farsi? Hilton. How do you say hamburger in Japanese? Hilton.” – Don Draper

Sorry, Don: in our house, when we say hamburger, we mean black bean and grated beet burgers with gouda and cilantro aioli. The 1950’s would be appalled! However, despite the outrageous departure from true Mad Men food, they were a GREAT way to welcome back the new season last Sunday, and I’m super excited about episode two tonight (are you??)

Our friend Katie C, of cupcake fame on the blog, came over last week with Old Fashioned’s and mini cheesecakes in hand, and joined us for this Mad Men-era inspired menu. We started off with these mini burgers, which I would actually classify as “small” but “mini burger” seemed more in the canapé theme. These would of course be just as good in regular-sized burger form – see our Black Bean Burgers post for some ideas!

Mini Buns

250 grams all-purpose flour
5 grams salt
3 grams yeast
120 grams water
Optional: one dollop of starter

Mix together the dry ingredients, make a well in the flour, then add the water and starter. Mix together thoroughly, then knead for about five minutes. Let rise for at least an hour.

Divide into six small pieces, punch down to make a flat piece of dough, then fold in any corners one at a time, pressing down until you have a relatively round shape. Press the dough so it’s quite flat – these rise a lot in the oven and you can end up with much taller buns than you anticipated!

Dust with flour and let sit for about 15 minutes. Just before putting in the oven, slash the tops with a serrated knife (not too deeply, or you’ll have trouble slicing the buns in half). Bake at 475˚ for about 5-10 minutes until a very light brown starts to appear, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes. It’s best if these don’t get too crusty, because they’ll be hard to eat with all the filling inside.

Bean and Beet Burgers

This recipe is adapted from one of the most wonderful burgers I’ve ever had, at a place called Communitea Cafe in Canmore, AB. I’d never put beet in burgers before, and what a great way to add some new flavour and texture, and avoid the bean overload in a patty, which can be a bit heavy.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 large beet, grated
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2-3 tbsp flour or cornmeal
about a third of a bunch of cilantro

If using a food processor, add the onion and cloves and pulse a few times until finely chopped. Add half the beans and blend until fairly smooth. Remove the blade and transfer to a bowl. If you’re doing this all by hand, just chop the onion and garlic, then use a potato masher or fork to take care of the beans.

Add the rest of the beans, grated beet, cumin, flour, roughly chopped cilantro, and salt and mix well. If the mixture won’t come together in your hands to form patties, add a bit more flour/cornmeal and stir.

Heat a pan on medium, then add enough oil to cover the bottom. Form patties in your hands, and cook until browned on each side, adding more oil for each new batch. Try to make the patties about the same size as your buns!


– Sliced gouda
– Caramelized onion (optional: splash in a bit of red wine when onions are almost done to deglaze the pan and add a bit of flavour)
– Cilantro aoili: combine minced garlic, finely chopped cilantro, and mayonnaise (I recommend Hellman’s) all to taste in a bowl, and spread on the buns

As another part of our small bites meal, we made these – yum:

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