Does the cheese go over the patty or under the patty?

VIVITA young chefs working around VIVISTOP Telliskivi kitchen island and in Telliskivi Flea Market have created quite a buzz in Telliskivi area restaraunts and other companies.

Young chefs’ smart ideas and courage to experiment in the kitchen were noticed by one of the largest cheese, butter and protein powder (milk powder) producers and exporters in Estonia — Epiim. Epiim belongs to more than two hundred Estonian and Latvian dairy farmers. Epiim dairies were established at the beginning of the 20th century: the first one in 1910 in Põltsamaa and the second one in 1911 in Järva-Jaani. Today, Epiim dairies and cream station produce cheese, butter and milk powder from more than 120,000 tons of pure domestic raw milk per year. The letter E in their name stands for Estonian milk.

VIVITA is more than happy to collaborate with companies who in their operations also pay attention to sustainability and innovation. Epiim values continuity and traditions, but they also contribute to scientific research and innovation. Epiim is a responsible and sustainable company that values animal welfare as well as environmentally clean thinking. Today Epiim is the first Estonian and Latvian food industry to have created sustainability program measuring carbon footprint and greenhouse gases.

The history of Epiim. Photo: Epiim

VIVITA members and volunteers are always ready for exciting challenges. When Epiim brought their products over to VIVISTOP Telliskivi studio for the children to experiment with different recipes, superchef Carlo Vanzani from Fotografiska Tallinn restaurant’s hospitality team gave a helping hand. Together they figured out what would be the the cool and tasty food to cook when you can use dairy products you may have never even tasted before.

Carlo proposed a really nice summer dish — veggie burgers! As Carlo likes to challenge himself and kids and when it comes to cooking with children there is always the aspect of learning, they decided to make the veggie patty for the burger all from the scratch. And also, maybe, just maybe find out the answer to the everlasting question — whether the cheese goes under the patty or over the patty?

Let’s make veggie patty! Photo: VIVITA Estonia

For the step 1 kids received several veggies that they needed to peel and after that grate. Most of the kids had never done this independently but following Carlo’s instructions, all the veggies were peeled and grated without any injured fingers and new useful skills were learned with ease. Eating veggies and dairy products is quite often not too popular among children and one of the ways to encourage children to try out new tastes, is by letting them participate in the food making process.

The basics of peeling and grating. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Step 2 was a bit confusing for children at first while Carlo took the Epiim grilled cheese and started cutting it into smaller pieces. Wait a minute! Shouldn’t the cheese go over the patty? Or was it under the patty? Yes, of course, but not this time! This time we will put the cheese inside the patty!

This time the grilled cheese from Epiim goes inside the veggie patty! Photo: VIVITA Estonia

When all the veggies were peeled and grated, the grilled cheese was chopped it was time for step 3 — to mash it all together into one mixture, season it with garlic, salt and pepper and add a bit of flour to keep the patty together. Carlo shared some good tips about using the garlic in cooking — to bring out the best tastes of garlic, you should smash the garlic under the flat side of the knife before chopping it! The children turned the veggie mixture into nice and chubby patties. Fresh coriander and Epiim sour cream turned quickly into perfect sauce.

Veggie patties and burger sauce. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

As we did not have the barbecue grill, we prepared the veggie patties on the pan. Carlo shared children another secret trick — to make sure that the patty underneath the crispy crust is also done, pre-heat also the oven and as soon as the patties have turned golden, put the them into the oven for 5 minutes! There is no need to do that when you are using the grill, then they can just bake underneath the lid. Using the frying pan independently was something new as well, everyone listened Carlo’s instructions really closely and were eager to try it out by themselves. When the patties were put into the oven for the last finishing touches, kids heated the burger buns.

The tricks and tips of frying. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

To add some juiciness and nice taste to the buns, the sauce from fresh basil and sour cream was spread to on the bun. Then added fresh salad, piece of pickled cucumber and a veggie patty straight from the oven, and the veggie burger was ready!

Juicy and tasty veggie burgers in the making. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

And then — testing, tasting! After the first bite, the room was silent, quickly followed by happy mumble — young chefs were really happy with the result and agreed that the idea of putting the grilled cheese inside the patty was genius!

The moment of truth — how does the burger tastes? Photo: VIVITA Estonia

If you wish to make the same veggie burger at home, follow this recipe*:

You’ll need:

  • 2 carrots
  • 100g zucchini
  • 200g butternut squash
  • 1–2 garlic clove
  • 1 pack Epiim grilled cheese
  • 1–2tbl flour
  • A bit of water
  • Pepper and salt
  • Salad
  • Pickled cucumber
  • Burger buns

*from this amount you will get 4–5 veggie burgers

For a tasty burger sauce you will need:

  • Fresh coriander
  • Epiim 20% sour cream

Peel and grate the veggies, smash the garlic under the flat side of the knife and chop afterwards — this way all the nice taste of garlic will be in the food. Mix the veggies and garlic. Chop the grilled cheese and add to the mixture. Add 1 tbls of water, season the mixture with salt and pepper, mix. If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit of water. Keep in mind that the zucchini in the mixture will also start extracting water so if needed, add then 1 tbls of flour. Mix everything thoroughly and using your hands shape some nice chubby patties.

Prepare the sauce. Take a handful of fresh coriander and a pack of 20% sour cream, mix it all together with a blender.

If you cook the veggie patties on the frying pan, pre-heat also the oven (200C). Fry the patties from both sides until they turn golden, then put them into oven for 5 minutes to make sure they are also well done from the inside.

At the same time heat the buns on the frying pan. Take out the veggie patties from the oven, add sauce onto the insides of the bun, add salad, the slice of fermented cucumber, warm veggie patty and put all the burger together. Hold it with two hands, take a big bite! And then one more and one more! :)

Carlo Vanzan and happy young chefs. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Thank you Carlo Vanzan and Epiim!

Text and photos: Sigrid Kägi/VIVITA Estonia

Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator