Tag Archives: Didi Emmons

Quick Sushi Balls

Recently, I was asked to donate a few trays of appetizers for a fundraiser. Because the fundraiser was emphasizing sushi, I decided to create something really new. This recipe is much less tedious than making maki rolls, and if you’re not a seaweed lover, you can control the seaweed flavor, or not add it at all and still get all the tasty quality of a good California Roll.

This recipe – which I’ve modified slightly – is from Vegetarian Planet, a great cookbook  by DTV guest chef Didi Emmons.

2 c. cooked sushi rice (prepare according to directions, usually 2 c. of rice to 2 c. of water)
1/3 c. rice vinegar
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1-2 sheets sushi nori seaweed sheets, chopped or processed (optional)
2 carrots, minced
5 scallions, green part only, chopped fine
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds

While rice is cooking combine vinegar, sugar, salt, seaweed, carrots and scallions in a large bowl. Toast the sesame seeds and set aside. When rice is done turn into the bowl with the dressing. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Let the rice sit for a hour or two – the mixture should be sticky. When the rice has cooled, with wet hands, roll into ping pong size balls, then roll the balls in the sesame seeds and set aside. Sometimes I add a little avocado or pickled ginger. This recipe is flexible, so feel free to add or delete what you like. Refrigerate for up to two days but bring to room temperature before serving.

Ginger Wasabi Dipping Sauce

1 T. wasabi powder
1/4 c. water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1″ fresh ginger, sliced thin
2 T. canola oil
1 t. sugar
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in processor and process until ginger is chopped fine. Serve with sushi balls.

Didi’s Kasha-Crunch Burger


This burger is a favorite. Your main mission is to pan fry the burgers until a thick crust forms. Any heavy-bottomed seasoned skillet will work but, to create the perfect texture, my pan of choice is cast iron. Be warned: no-stick pans will not do the job properly!

I like this burger served “naked” with a dollop of Thai hot chili sauce. Another excellent way to serve these is to make small “meatballs” and serve them on top of spaghetti with tomato sauce. Or for a satisfying brunch dish, make one rather large and flat panfried burger for each person and nestle a poached egg on top of it.

Serves 8

2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. short or long-grain brown rice
2 t. kosher salt (more or less, to taste)
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped mushrooms (button, crimini, Portobello)
1 c. kasha (buckwheat groats)
1 c. chopped toasted walnuts (cashews, hazelnuts, or other nuts)
3-4 T. chopped fresh tarragon (or parsley)
Flour for dredging the burgers
Vegetable oil for frying

To prepare:
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a couple of minutes more.

Add the rice, salt, mushrooms, and 5 cups of water to the vegetable mixture and bring water to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes. Now stir in the kasha and cook until the rice and kasha are tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about another 20 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and herbs. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor and pulse until coarsely or finely chopped. The mixture can also be left “whole,” as another option. Put processed burger mixture in a large bowl and cover it if you aren’t forming the burgers right away. Otherwise, proceed as follows.

Dust your hands with flour and, using your hands, form the mixture firmly into large patties. Lightly coat each pattie with flour to create the crust.

Heat a generous amount of oil (1/8- to 1/4-inch depth) in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the burgers until the undersides are dark golden brown, about 5 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning. Flip the burgers, and brown the other side in the same manner.

Note: These burgers can be formed into patties, separated by wax or parchment paper and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. For longer storage, up to 2 months, burgers can be frozen. It is best to individually wrap burgers in plastic before freezing. Frozen burgers must be defrosted completely before cooking.

I find that defrosting them in their wrapper in the microwave for two minutes makes the burger easier to handle and able to keep its beautiful rounded shape. The added bonus is that it is already warm inside, therefore it cooks and browns much faster. Microwaving also gives you the flexibility to cook up a burger at a moment’s notice.

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

This autumnal chili, invented by Didi Emmons, uses pumpkin flesh and seeds. The curry and cinnamon makes this chili a bit exotic. It’s a dish that Didi and her cat Henry thoroughly enjoy.

Serves 6

1 sugar pumpkin, about 2 lbs.
1 T. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 T. chili powder
1 T. curry powder
½ t. ground cinnamon
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ½ c. cooked bulgur
1 can organic kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
½ c. toasted (green) pumpkin seeds
½ c. chopped cilantro leaves and stems
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the pumpkin in half with a large knife such as a cleaver. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon, remove the stringy innards, and rinse the seeds in a colander to remove any bits of flesh. Lay the seeds out on a paper towel to dry. Place the pumpkin open side down and bake until the flesh is soft, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and put it aside to cool. Now sprinkle the rinsed and dried pumpkin seeds on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt, if desired, and toast in the oven until they are nicely browned and crisp, about 10 minutes, depending upon your oven. Set them aside.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, as well as the spices. Stir often for about 5 minutes, or until the onions turn soft. Add the tomatoes and bulgur and about 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, spoon the flesh from the pumpkin and add it to the simmering chili along with the beans. Cook the chili for about 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary to attain a chili-like consistency. Right before serving add the toasted pumpkin seeds and the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

Beet Burgers (Didi Emmons)

Didi’s Beet Burgers

Didi Emmons came on the show and made these burgers and ever since I was hooked. They’re truly spectacular. Note that these must be cooked over low heat, otherwise, the sugars in the beet will burn. But really, even if you’re hasty and burn the burgers, they’ll still taste fabulous. I recommend eating it bun-less, next to a big salad, with a puddle of hot sauce. You can freeze burgers in individual packages for easy preparation.

Makes approximately 8 burgers

2 T. vegetable oil
3 small beets, scrubbed well (about 1 lb.)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped (roasted)
1 mediun carrot ( scrubbed and roasted)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3-4 good quality beet green leaves
½ c. walnut pieces
1 c. raw millet
2 slices of whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
½ c. wheat germ (optional)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the oil on a baking sheet. Cut the beets into quarters and place them on the sheet pan. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic too. Lightly season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Bake until the beets are cooked, about 25-30 minutes, or until a knife enters the beet easily. Let the vegetables cool for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the millet. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and add the millet. Cook the millet for 30 minutes, over very low heat, and covered. When the millet is finished, put it into a large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

In a food processor, combine the walnuts, the bread, the garlic, and the pumpkin seeds, and wheat germ, if using. Process until the bread is a nice fine crumb texture. Add the mixture to the millet.

Now add the vegetables to the processor and process until well chopped. Add the vegetables to the bowl as well. Stir the mixture with a large spoon and season liberally with salt and pepper. When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, chill it for 1 hour.

Form about 8 generously sized burgers with your hands, packing each down into a nice even height.

To cook the burgers, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan, over low heat. When the pan is hot, add the burgers. Do not move them once they are in the pan because this will cause them to fall apart. Let the burgers cook for a few minutes, then with a spatula, carefully flip them and continue cooking the other side until nicely browned. You want to develop a nice caramelized crust. Repeat with the remaining burgers, or freeze the extras in individual baggies for a convenient burger meal whenever you need it.