“I just want your extra time…” Today we officially celebrate the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice! This year marks the first semiannual Swamp Solstice Bike Parade—a festival conjured by me, KP and our dear friend the Joneses. We noticed a summer lull in New Orleans’ social calendar, probably because most find the weather intolerably muggy and hot. Indeed, the heat index over the last week was well over one hundred in the Crescent City. We also selfishly wanted to have a parade, but most all other holidays are already taken with well-established leadership. THUS, we created Swamp Solstice—an evening Bike Parade complete with music along the ride and poetry readings at each stop. This year’s theme is “I just want your Extra Time,” inspired by the passing of Prince. T-shirt design is my department, and behold:
Our slogan, “let’s get tilted.” The first twenty got free tank tops, and then riding along to Prince tracks DJed from speakers in a bike basket, we went from Urban South to Courtyard Brewery to Barrel Proof to Nola Brewery and back.
Thank you to the intrepid first krewe of Swamp Solstice; we look forward to the next solstice on December 17th when we celebrate the contrast, from light to dark.
Let us not forget the celebration of yesterday, that of all Good Fathers everywhere; I know at least three:
Get thee to a grill and bring in the summer with flavor, flame and char. You don’t even need real meat to enjoy a juicy summer burger, y’all. Believe me, I was the last to convert, and here I am on the otherside, drooling over bean and mushroom veggie burgers. A little spice goes a long way to replace saturated fat…
Black Bean and Shiitake Burgers with Banana Pepper Mustard
Adapted from Food and Wine
1 ounce dried shiitake mushroom caps (about 12)
1 1/2 cups lightly packed parsley leaves
1 large shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (whaaaat??)
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Oil, for grilling
6 brioche buns, split and toasted
Banana Pepper Mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, for serving *** see below for mustard recipe ***
In a heatproof medium bowl, cover the shiitake caps with boiling water and let stand until softened, about 25 minutes. Drain well, then coarsely chop and transfer to a food processor. Add the parsley, shallot, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped.
Meanwhile, in another heatproof medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of boiling water with the soy sauce and agave. Stir in the textured vegetable protein and let stand until rehydrated and tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the shiitake-parsley mixture, black beans, flax meal and salt. Using a fork, lightly mash half of the beans against the side of the bowl and stir to combine.
Using moistened hands, form the mixture into six 3/4-inch-thick patties; pack tight. Transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan; oil the grate or the pan. Grill the burgers over moderately high heat until charred on the bottoms, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the patties and cook until lightly charred and heated through, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Serve the burgers on the buns with the Banana Pepper Mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.
Banana Pepper Mustard
Adapted from Food and Wine
1/4 pound yellow banana peppers—stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
In a medium saucepan, combine everything except the mustard and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the peppers and onion are soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until very smooth. Add the Dijon and puree until just incorporated. Season the mustard with salt. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely, then refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
Enjoy the heat. You can generate your own good breeze by hopping on a bicycle–pedal from one Live Oak shade spot to another.