2 September 2011

A Women Game Changer Creates Spanakopita Burgers

Turkey Spanakopita Burger and Fries with Yogurt Dip

She's here!!! Born in Glen Falls, New York, Rachael Domenica Ray, grew up with restaurant-owning parents, who helped nurture her interest not only in everything related to food but also the business side. She must have sprung out of the womb with a gleaming smile and a positive attitude. Rachel worked as a manager at many different food companies, including the fresh foods department at Macy’s, and Mister Brown’s Pub at a popular hotel, The Sagamore, in upstate New York. You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about her life here on her website. Whether you love her or are a "hater" all of Rachel’s achievements have amounted to her not only becoming a household name, but acquiring an estimated net worth of millions in the double digits. Even if you have one foot heavily in the "hater" camp we all know who she is! For a small town girl, with no formal culinary training, this is quite an achievement! I wish I were Rachel Ray and had even a small amount of her ambition, or her lifestyle. It seems that if you fall under Oprah's radar, success is never far behind.

Personally I like her cooking style which reminds me of sitting down to a delicious meal at the kitchen table at home surrounded by all the people you love. She is my adopted "cousin" Rachel who can feed an army with whatever she has on hand and make it into something worthy. Nothing over the top gourmet, just simple every day food jazzed up a bit with funky names and sometimes "other worldly" flavour combinations, but the bones are there. She deserves to be taken seriously. Can you be a fan of a persons cookbooks and not their network shows?  As an aside, I am not over the top in love with the Food Network as a whole these days. If they bring any any more reality cooking shows to the table I may gag on a "wooden spoon":D Frank Zappa and Moon Unit may have something there:D

Nothing is more intimate, or more effective, than cooking and sharing meals together in our home kitchens. Afterall our lives revolve around food and family! A breeding ground for Rachael's warmth, energy, and boundless curiosity. She reaches scores of fans through her popular Food Network shows, bestselling cookbooks, her own line of cookware created by Meyer, knives by Furitechnics, signature food ingredients by Colavita and lifestyle magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray. In 2007, Rachael launched the Yum-o! organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking and in 2008 she partnered with Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to create a line of pet food of which all her proceeds are donated to organizations that help animals in need. I like a gal who gives back and is not all about the celebrity.

One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and join Mary on this journey and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today. In doing so I have learned more about myself, and have learned more than a few new recipes and techniques.

For 50 weeks we will experiment with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list". Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it will be an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. Follow us on this journey while we take an in depth exploration of these women's lives and what has made them who they are. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below. If you would like to join in  please contact Mary. This is an informal event and you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. We will be posting every Friday.

What have we been up to this week for our 13th Game Changer:

Mary of One Perfect Bite - Mexican Lasagna
Val of More Than Burnt Toast -Turkey Spanakopita Burgers with Fries and Yogurt Dip.
Joanne of Eats Well With Others - Grilled Eggplant Subs with Mozzarella and Tomato Jam
Susan of The Spice Garden  - Crispy Curried Fried Chicken
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed  - Rachel's Sesame Soba
Heather of Girlichef  - Orange-Cashew Chicken
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney -Red Wine and Blue Burgers
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living  - Tuna Marinara Sauce
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud - Tuna Noodle Casserole
Linda of There and Back Again - Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese
Amy of Beloved Green - Rachel's Oat Berry Bars
Linda of Ciao Chow Linda

Back to the Future....

Over four years of blogging I have found many wonderful recipes to share on these pages. Some from my own kitchen, some from your creative blogs and web sites, and some from well known celebrities and chefs. I have been feeling a little nostalgic and was browsing these very pages just the other day, creeping back to the very beginning in 2006 when More Than Burnt Toast was in it's infancy and no more than "knee high to grasshopper". We all have those stellar recipes from when we first started when we were lucky enough to find one comment and have maybe one reader; in my case even before I was taking photos of the dishes I prepared. My other motivation for reconnecting with the past is to create uniform formatting on this blog and this is a fun way for me to revisit past posts.

 So here are a few flashback recipes from the very first baby steps here at MTBT with...

But on to the recipe. I can't tell you how many years this particular recipe has been on my "to try" list. Turkey or chicken burgers can tend to be dry, but with the addition of spinach and feta cheese these were moist and flavourful. I must admit that I used a Greek spice mix rather than the Montreal Steak Seasonings suggested but I am sure you can get away with either.

What did I learn this week... That I can embrace Rachel Ray and frozen french fries. Many "kitchen-phobes" have started cooking because of her.

**Turkey Spanakopita Burgers and Fries with Yogurt Dip**
  • 1 package store-bought frozen french fries, any variety
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 chopped, 1 crushed
  • 1 red onion,  chopped
  • 1 box frozen spinach (10 ounces), defrosted
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, lightly crushed in the palm, divided
  • 1/4 pound feta crumbles
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground chicken or ground turkey breast (the average size of package)
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1/3 English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise, plus 1 small, 2-inch piece of cucumber, peeled, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2-2 cups good quality plain yogurt (look for Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup arugula, coarsely chopped or shredded
  • 4 crusty rolls, split 
  • 2 roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (a generous handful)
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives (about 10-12 olives)
  • Hot pepper rings or pepperoncini (optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to directions on the package and bake fries until crisp.

 2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. To one side, add a little EVOO and a tablespoon of butter. When butter melts, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook for five minutes. Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool. Return pan to heat.

 3. Wring the defrosted spinach dry buy twisting it in a clean kitchen towel over your sink. Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl with cool onions and garlic and season with one teaspoon of oregano. Add in feta crumbles, then chicken or turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of EVOO. Mix and form into four patties, 1-inch thick. Raise heat on pan to medium-high. Add patties and cook six minutes on each side.

 4. Season the sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with salt and pepper. Toast rolls, if you prefer.

 5. Place remaining chopped cucumber, the crushed clove of garlic, yogurt, one teaspoon oregano and juice of 1/2 lemon in a food processor. Add a little salt and process the sauce until smooth. Transfer to a small dish and serve with the fries as a dipping sauce. Rinse out the processor bowl and return to base.

 6. Place red peppers, parsley and olives in food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until a paste forms. Place cooked burgers on roll bottoms. Top the burgers with sliced cucumber, tomato, reserved red onions, shredded arugula and hot peppers, if using. Slather roll tops with red pepper and olive paste and serve with chips of choice.

Serves 4

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I really love that idea! What a scrumptious burger. really mouthwatering.



  2. I used to love Rachel, then got weary of her, and now I'm just happy she's happy and successful. :-) These burgers and fries look and sound amazing. I can't wait to try a yogurt sauce like that.

  3. I am a big Rachael Ray fan. I love that she has brought home cooking back to the masses! And this burger looks absolutely delicious. I have had very good luck with her burger recipes!

  4. Another terrific post, Val. Your burger looks and sounds delicious. Havea great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. I think it's just amazing what Rachael has accomplished. She has changed the way new cooks cook and has gotten a lot of people cooking who never thought they had the time or interest. I say hats off to her.

    That said, on her show she never stops talking and I'm a nervous wreck until it ends. Your burger looks delicious and I love the tomato topper. I would have used the Greek spice mix too.

  6. Inspired by a woman and devoted by all mankind! GREG

  7. Got to love this burger from Rachel Ray - she loves burgers, and this recipe typifies her style. Great post!

  8. Lovely post Val, and this look dleicious Im hungry!!!! gloria

  9. Though I occasionally get irritated by her ridiculous phrases and her obnoxious voice, I have to concede that I have NEVER been disappointed by Rach's recipes and I do approve of the message she's trying to put out there. She is known as the queen of burgers and these look awesome!

  10. Val this burger looks killer delicious. I'm more in Joanne's camp. If I hear EVOO one more time in her "unique" voice.........
    Hasn't anyone ever told her even a good thing can be burned out for heaven sakes!!!!

  11. This looks like a really delicious burger. Juicy and flavourful. I love Rachael's cookbooks (I have two), but never watch her show. I do think she has some pretty good recipes though.

  12. Her cooking is approachable and flavorful; her technique efficient, and you have to admire her success. I'm glad you chose to honor her...it's not all about haute cuisine!

  13. I don't hate Rachael Ray at all. I can't stand her as a TV hostess, because she's so Type "A" and barely lets her guests get a word in, edgewise. HOWEVER, it truly was Rachael Ray who changed my package mixes kind of way of cooking, many years ago. I think her cooking shows so many people that you can make fast meals, from scratch that are user-friendly. I've made these burgers a LONG time ago, and forgot all about them until now. To this day, I have a few of her recipes (including her Sloppy Joe's) that are family favorites. She doesn't deserve the dissing she gets from gourmet cooks. I like her, and I'm glad that you featured her on this post.

  14. If everyone had Oprah has a guardian angel! Yes, it is very admirable what RR has accomplished and how she has encouraged many a non-cook to have fun in the kitchen. Actually, she was the first TV cook I regularly watched for a while.

  15. I've never watched her show and shy away from Food Network and "reality" as devised by them. That said, her approachable method to cooking is to be lauded. I remember devising my own 30 minute - even 15 minute meals when my kids were teens and their schedules were nuts. (I became a master at meals that could served at 3 different times). And the idea f taking ground turkey and creating a spanikopita burger is inspired. As are the welcoming photos.

  16. Yummy looking burger! great twist on a traditional hamburger.

  17. That is a really nice mention about Rachel Ray - love that she made it this far!

  18. What a great idea! You're the perfect person to take part! Your posts are always so inspired and filled with interesting tidbits. And those burgers don't look too bad, either!

  19. I don't get all the "hate" shown towards her...she's quite inoffensive. Love the twist on this burger Val...very original and creative! And those fries bring back a lot of memories!

  20. Mmmm...Rach always has some killer burgers- and these are no exception, they sound amazing!

  21. What a great recipe, that burger sounds amazing. Great job with Rachael!

  22. What a great recipe, that burger sounds amazing. Great job with Rachael!

  23. girl, i had no idea you were such a RR fan! I"m a fan of her business acumen. she's definitely created a wonderful and moneymaking empire for herself!
    lovely burger. i'm all about the turkey!

  24. This is a great looking burger.......makes my mouth water!

  25. I like that with no formal training she did a lot of things in her life. Some of her recipes are pretty good also. I watched her show once in a while.

  26. These do look really good. I haven't tried many of Rachel's recipes. We don't have cable so I have never seen her show but the more I hear about her convinces me I have to check out her 30 mintue recipes.

  27. Okay, I have to say it--Yum-Oh! If this recipe tastes half as good as your photo looks, it will be a regular menu item in my house!

  28. What a creative idea - thanks for bringing it to light!

  29. Rachel certainly knows how to make burgers right. Looks amazing!

  30. rachael is definitely queen of burgerville, and this appears to be another winner. it's taller than my face, but that would only slow me down for a second. :)

  31. Truly a lovely photo of Rachael, Val. And while I am not her biggest fan, I do like this recipe and she does deserve to be on that list. She has definitely influenced an entire generation of home cooks.
    Now that I'm back, I'll be joining you with this series starting next Friday.

  32. RR has certainly done well and I totally admire her work ethic - never really been a big fan although I do have her garbage bowl which surprisingly enough is something I use every single day!!!

  33. Such an honest post Val. I am not a Rachael hater, because like the said, she got a lot of "kitchen phobes" in the kitchen, cooking, and because out of all the FN chefs (back when I was watching in about 2007) she was the only one who didn't have "connections" - she did it all on her own, and she has a lot of good ideas and recipes.

  34. I'm not a RR hater or lover, more of a Rachel Who?? I don't watch the food network, so I'm not familiar with most celebrechefs.

    The burger looks outstanding! A fresh twist on a classic that says, "You know you want me!"

  35. That burger looks excellent - very flavourful.

  36. That burger is calling my name! It looks fantastic.

  37. I'm hard pressed to find any of her recipes that pass the test. All I've tried are just barely above edible.

  38. Now that's a nice looking burger!

  39. Really enjoying this series.
    The burger sounds extra tasty. Not fancy but down to earth like RR herself, who wouldn't be happy with that lunch?

  40. In my opinion this looks like a delicious recipe and i think that it is not so difficult so i will try it very soon. I will post again after i will try it, thanks for sharing.

  41. In my opinion this looks like a delicious recipe and i think that it is not so difficult so i will try it very soon. I will post again after i will try it, thanks for sharing.

  42. Not a big fan or Rachel. But a big fan of this burger....

  43. I like the idea but will be tweaking it. Spanakopita doesn't contain garlic so that's one. The picture looks great!


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