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You asked for it

Beef-less burgers add up to flavor minus fat

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 19, 2003

People are interested in eating more low-fat foods, and they are on the lookout for healthful, tasty recipes.

John Val asked for recipes for veggie burgers made from scratch and for fish cakes.

Veggie burgers made with mushrooms, brown rice, onion, oats and low-fat cheeses fill that bill. They can be sauteed or cooked on a grill, and the patties freeze well.

Veggie burgers are not the only low-fat patties in town. When they are made from fish, they are called fish cakes. Gene Groner shares an "any kind of fish" burger recipe that begins with a can of fish.

Gene's fish cake recipe calls for 11/2 pounds of catfish fillets, but use other fish if you wish.

Joe Lanni makes salmon cakes with fresh salmon fillets that he rubs with lemon pepper seasoning before cooking. The well-seasoned salmon mixture is chilled, then shaped into patties and sauteed until brown.

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For: John Val of St. Petersburg.

From: Ann Faulkner of New Port Richey.

Recipe: Gardenburger original veggie patty, a version from Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.


  • 2 tablespoons bulgur wheat
  • 1 pound mushrooms, quartered (4 cups steamed)
  • 1 cup diced onion (1/2 cup steamed)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Add 1/4 cup boiling water to the bulgur wheat in a small bowl and let sit for about 60 minutes. The wheat will swell to about double the volume.

Steam the quartered mushrooms for 10 minutes or until tender, then remove them from your steamer, and replace with the onion. Steam the diced onion for 10 minutes or until the pieces are translucent.

Keep these two ingredients separate, and set aside.

Add 1/2 cup of water to the oats and let them soak for about 10 minutes, until soft.

Drain any excess water from the bulgur wheat and oats, then combine the grains with the steamed mushrooms, rice, cheeses and spices in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times, until ingredients are chopped fine, but not pureed. You want a coarse texture with some identifiable chunks of grain, mushroom and cheese.

Pour the mixture into a bowl with the steamed onion and cornstarch; mix well.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and set a large skillet over medium/low heat. Spray the skillet with a light coating of olive oil cooking spray. Measure 1/2 cup at a time of the patty mixture into the pan and shape with a spoon into a 33/4-inch patty that is approximately 1/2-inch thick. Cook the patties in batches for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until light brown on the surface.

When all of the patties have been cooked in the skillet, arrange them on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and bake to 20 to 25 minutes in the oven. Be sure to turn them over halfway through the cooking time.

You can serve the patties immediately, or freeze them when they have cooled.

Makes six veggie patties.

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From: Gene Groner of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: Any Kind of Fish Burgers.

Any Kind of Fish Burgers

  • 1 can of fish (a 151/2-ounce can of salmon or any other canned fish)
  • 12 single soda crackers, crumbled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 buns
  • Cucumber sauce (recipe follows)

Drain, flake and debone the salmon. Mix well with crackers, egg, onion, pepper and celery salt. Shape into four patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet and brown patties quickly on both sides. Serve on buns. Makes four servings.

Cucumber Sauce

  • 3 large cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (or unflavored yogurt)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Dash garlic powder

Peel, halve and seed cucumbers; chop very fine. Mix with salt and chill at least two hours. Drain well. Add remaining ingredients. Chill. Makes 31/2 cups.

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From: Gene Groner of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: Any Kind of Fish Cakes.

Any Kind of Fish Cakes

  • 1 1/2 pounds fish fillets
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 large potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups crushed butter-flavored crackers
  • Cooking oil
  • Tartar sauce (optional)

Poach or bake catfish fillets. Drain and refrigerate. Flake cooled fish into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, potato, onion, parsley, hot pepper sauce, garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Mix well. Shape into eight patties. Coat with cracker crumbs. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook patties, a few at a time, until browned on both sides and heated through. Serve with tartar sauce, if desired. Makes eight servings.

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From: Joe Lanni of Brooksville.

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Salmon Cakes.

Lemon Pepper Salmon Cakes

  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon fillet
  • 2 egg whites (use yolks for another recipe or discard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 15 low-sodium crackers, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

About one hour before cooking, remove skin and bones from salmon; rub the lemon pepper seasoning on both sides of the salmon fillet. Place the salmon fillet on a microwaveable dish, cover with wax paper and cook 3 minutes on high.

Remove the dish and set aside to cool the fillet.

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and stir in the next four ingredients. Break up the salmon into chunks and fold into the egg white mixture.

Stir in the cracker crumbs; cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator to chill.

When ready to cook, heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the butter or margarine and the oil. When the fat is hot, take a portion of the salmon mixture from the bowl and shape into a 3-inch cake and lay it in the hot skillet; repeat with the rest of the mixture and cook to brown both sides.

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-- You Asked for It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked for It, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.

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