A Picture Book is Born and Turkey Burgers

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting two Kindergarten classes at P.S. 142 in the Lower East Side.   I’ve been doing these visits for years as part of the wonderful non-profit organization, Learning Leaders, who send children’s book authors and illustrators into inner city schools in NYC to read to them.  It was my first time meeting this year’s students—I’ll return for several more visits later in the year.  I spent it reading Night Shift Daddy and Gramps and the Fire Dragon, two of my earliest books that I illustrated.  I explained how a picture book is made, as that is the most common question kids and grownups alike ask me.  Most people are surprised to learn that the author and illustrator usually don’t work together and in some case, never even meet.  I made up a simplified story to explain the process of putting a book together using Gramps and the Fire Dragon.

Click on the image to see the movie.

I also played a fun drawing game with them that my son learned at school and taught me.  It’s called Monster Mash. We created a monster together made up of different animal parts.   I drew the body parts using their suggestions.  This is a fire breathing creature with a dragon eye and body, a parrot nose, dog ears, a snake head, an elephant neck and legs, and a bird’s wings.

a monster mash

This is a fun drawing game you can do with one kid or a group of  kids.  It doesn’t have to be animal parts — I’ve done games where we create a creature out of different foods, for example.  It’s fun because everyone can play and the resulting creatures are always unique and unexpected.  In a lot of ways, collaborating like this is akin to experimenting in the kitchen.  I love the way art and cooking intersect in that way. 🙂


Speaking of cooking, the other night I made Turkey Burgers.  I’ve been fiddling with this recipe over the years, tweaking it here and there.  This is my favorite version.  It can be made with beef as well.  I used a technique I read about in Cook’s Illustrated (#81 July/August 2006 )  in which minced bread is mashed into a paste with milk and then seasoned and incorporated into the ground meat.  The purpose of this is to ensure its moistness.  You can cook these burgers well done and they won’t ever be dry and crumbly.

a different kind of mash...

I started using ground turkey because it’s leaner.  Instead of bread, I sometimes use Panko because it’s lighter.  I add some stronger flavorings in the form of minced onion and garlic along with Worcestershire sauce and salt.
When making patties with the turkey meat, it is really sticky — much more so than with beef — making it a bit harder to handle, but they turn out really delicious.  Sometimes I make them regular size and sometimes I make them mini-sized (these are more fun to eat, especially if you don’t plan on eating them with a bun).

You can eat these American style with a bun — or my favorite way — with rice and Teriyaki sauce.

With bun and sweet potato fries

With homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Moist Turkey Burgers

½ slice of bread, finely minced or about 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup finely minced onion

1 clove garlic pushed through a garlic press

pinch of kosher salt

pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 lb. ground turkey

Non-stick spray

  1. In a large bowl, mash bread and milk together until they form a paste.  Mix in onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Mix in ground turkey.  It will be very moist.  Shape into five burger patties and let rest on a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, thoroughly heat a grill pan on stove for about 4-5 minutes at medium high heat.  Spray generously with non-stick spray.  Cook one side of turkey burgers for about 2 minutes.  Flip and cover pan with a large lid, turn down to medium, and cook other side for about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve on bun or not!

Teriyaki Sauce (adapted from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking)

1/4 cup mirin

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon – 1 tablespoon sugar

1.  Heat mirin in a small saucepan on stove for a minute or so.  Add soy sauce and sugar.  Stir until dissolved.  Simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes until thickened a bit.


Filed under Art Related, Children, Dinner

12 responses to “A Picture Book is Born and Turkey Burgers

  1. Tha hamburger looks wonderful. The drawing is very creative. Great idea!

  2. asrai7

    Your turkey burger looks delicious! I never throught to mix in bread to the burger itself, I will definitley have to try it. Also- Learning LEaders sounds like such a wonderful program! I wish they had more things like that here in the Midwest! Nice post!

  3. I have been meaning to try burgers with teriyaki sauce forever and it kept falling off my “to make list”! You beat me to it 🙂 Easy and yummy and Worcestershire sauce makes everything better.

    I love Harumi’s book….it’s so amazing!

  4. Yum!! Two turkey dinners I know my boys (husband & son) will love! Thank you Melissa! ~ farah

  5. It’s great that you spend time with inner city school kids. I am sure they love every moment with you. Your burger looks delicious. My mouth is watering. Thanks for the great tips for making juicy burgers too.

  6. Love turkey burgers and yours looks great! You’re right, the issue is keeping lean meat moist. I do a goat cheese stuffed turkey burger to get the same effect. if you’re interested, you can find it here: http://fightthefatfoodie.blogspot.com/2009/11/goat-cheese-stuffed-turkey-burgers-and.html

  7. christina tugeau

    yum again! now I’m HUNGRY! we’re getting a new cook top..think I’ll break it in with this! 🙂

  8. Congrats on the book and love the idea of monster mash! How fun! We eat turkey burgers regularly – mini sliders. 🙂 I haven’t posted mine yet although we usually just use mayo & ketchup. I will have to try them teriyaki style next time! I think my family would really love that. I always have teriyaki sauce in our fridge for fish, but never thought about burgers! 🙂

  9. What a wonderful program and delightful that you take part in it…sounds like you will visit the same class again, unless I am mistaken. Such a wonderful thing for kids to experience. And the monster mash is such a fun idea, looks like they really got into the creative concept 🙂 I will click on it and take a look at the movie…
    Your burgers look really moist and juicy, my kids love these 🙂

  10. these are some of the best looking turkey burgers I’ve seen! Love the teriyaki idea too…Theresa

  11. Your turkey burgers look fantastic. I love the home made teriyaki just as much! Thank you for passing both recipes along.

  12. Pingback: Beef Teriyaki Burgers | The Hungry Artist

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