Thursday, March 31, 2011
Beef and Portabello Double Cheeseburgers with Grilled Green Onions, Sharp Cheddar and Espresso BBQ Sauce
I don't know how many times I've gone out to eat somewhere fancy, perused the menu full of foodie fantasies, and wound up ordering the burger. If I'm being honest, a good burger is probably my favorite thing to eat on earth. Not lady like. But true.
I can't help it - I get it from both parents. While my husband inherited a double dose of sweet teeth (I'm convinced his blood is 90% sugar at this point) I might as well be part vampire. In fact, one of my fondest childhood memories with my now long-divorced parents is hunting down and enjoying a good burger at some little Texas hole in the wall. Be it country diners or truck stops or even a Whataburger when that's all that was available.
But that's not the real reason. I mean what other food is as satisfying, versatile, and fun? I'll admit that sometimes I get so carried away with all the possibilities (bacon, grilled onions, pimiento cheese, lamb burgers, pork burgers, pesto burgers - someone stop me...) that I forget the sheer nirvana that is the unadorned, simple-as-Simon burger. American Cheese. Meat. Bun. Heaven. But as fantastic as the plain ones are, they're not really worth a blog post are they?
This burger, however, is worth sharing. It requires a roll of paper towels and a pint of beer to get it down. The first patty is beef, liberally seasoned on the outside with salt, pepper, and onion powder while the second is a meaty roasted portabello. Sharp cheddar is melted over the beef and the whole thing is topped with grilled green onions. But the party doesn't start until it's all been doused in a sweet yet smokey espresso BBQ sauce (I'm lying - it's equally good without it or even with a more savory style BBQ sauce.) But as much as I love this particular combo, I'd be hard pressed to call it my absolute favorite burger. I mean how does a mother choose a favorite when she has several dozen children? She doesn't, that's how.
So instead why don't you tell me - what's your favorite burger - homemade or otherwise?
Beef and Portabello Double Cheeseburgers with Grilled Green Onions, Sharp Cheddar and Espresso BBQ Sauce
* Makes 3 burgers.
* Make the BBQ Sauce ahead of time and keep in the fridge, heating up over the stove just before serving the burgers.
* 1 lb grass fed ground sirloin, preferably 80-85% lean but not leaner than 90%
* Liberal amounts of kosher salt and pepper and onion powder, for seasoning
* Whole Wheat or Soft White Hamburger Buns
Form the meat into 3 patties, trying not to overwork the meat. Season both sides liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium/high heat and cook the burgers about 4 minutes then flip over. Let cook another 2 minutes then top with the desire amount of cheese and cook another 3-4 minutes until cooked to your liking and the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat, put on a bun and top with each with a roasted portabello, green onions, and bbq sauce if desired - recipes follow.
* 3 portabello mushrooms, stems removed and 6 stalks of green onions, white ends trimmed off, rinsed and dried
Add the above veggies to a greased, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 375 for 18 minutes, until the mushrooms have sunken and the onions have begun to wilt and caramelize a little (alternatively you can grill them until they've begun to brown and caramelize - about 3 minutes per side.)
* Plenty of Cheddar Cheese Slices
* BBQ Sauce (recipe follows) or your favorite homemade or store bought
Espresso Barbecue Sauce:
* From Michael Chiarello
* I like to let the sauce cool, then blend it in the blender for a smoother consistency (and to hide the garlic from my husband;) but you don't need to do this
* Recipe can be halved - it makes tons!
4 tablespoons mashed and minced garlic
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cups ketchup
2 cups honey
2 demitasse cups espresso (or about 1/2 cup of strong coffee or instant espresso)
Fresh ground black pepper
Mash garlic with the side of a knife and then mince finely to release oils.
Add olive oil to a preheated saute pan. Add the garlic and saute until it gets light brown, about 1 minute. Add cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and honey and stir well. Add a pinch of grey salt, then whisk in the coffee. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: about 5 to 6 cups
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sometimes the easiest way to spice up something old and familiar (i.e. the everyday burger) is to change its clothing. Cilantro mayo gives burgers a Southwestern spin along with a healthy dose of attitude. Of course you could also slather it over grilled corn with some crumbled cotija cheese for a great-off-the-grill side dish. Oh the fun of accessorizing!
1/2 cup light or regular mayo
large handful of cilantro, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, or more if you like more heat
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Will keep for up to two days well covered in the fridge.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This is what happens when I skip lunch. I didn't intend to skip lunch (after all, this is me we're talking about.) It just happened. We went out to run a few errands and ended up staying out all day. I kept thinking we'd make it back in time for me to heat up some roasted tomato soup but by the time we got home it was dinner. And I was starving.
Now that I've justified this somewhat over-the-top-man-feast, I feel slightly better. Oh wait - did I mention I served it with fried onion rings and garlicky sauteed collard greens? Hmm. I should really go and exercise. But not before I tell you that my husband declared this his favorite meal of all time. I also have to mention that I can't help eating it without singing the lyrics to "Big Poppa" - "A t-bone steak, cheese, eggs and Welch's Grape..."
Forgive me - I'm a child of the 90's. RIP Biggie!
The New York Madame (New York Strips with a Fried Egg and Goat Cheese)
* Heavily inspired by/subconsciously lifted from Giada DeLaurentiis.
* Serves 2 very hungry people who may or may not have skipped lunch.
2 NY strips with plenty of marbling around the edges
salt and pepper
2 oz goat cheese, divided
fresh chopped herbs - cilantro and basil, or flat leaf parsley
Pull your steaks out a half hour before you're ready to grill them. Season them on both sides with liberal amounts of mustard powder, fennel seeds, fresh thyme leaves, and just a teensy pinch of nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and let come to room temp for about 20-25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400. Add about a teaspoon of olive oil to a large rimmed skillet and put over medium high heat, letting heat through and tilting to coat the bottom of the pan (you just need a thin layer.)
Season the steaks on both sides with fresh cracked pepper and kosher or sea salt. Add to the pan and let sear - not touching them - for 3-4 minutes until you have good browning and the steaks lift easily (release from the pan) when you try and pick them up with tongs. Flip and cook another 3 minutes or until you have equally grand bronzing, then carefully and quickly transfer to a greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes (less for medium rare, longer for medium well, depending on the thickness of your steaks.)
While the steaks bake in the oven, remove the goat cheese from the fridge and set aside. Pour off all the excess oil from the pan you seared the steaks in but enough to leave a thin coat and put back over medium heat (you can also give a spritz of nonstick spray to ensure the eggs don't stick.) Carefully crack the eggs into the pan, giving each its own space, and fry for about 2-3 minutes, until just sunny side up and fried only on the bottom. You want to cook the eggs less than you would for your usual sunny side up eggs, only because you're going to put them on top of hot steaks and they'll continue to cook because of this. Also you want your yolks runny here - that's the beauty of it - and once they're cooked - there's no more golden liquid to be had.
Take the pan off the heat and set the eggs aside while you retrieve the steaks.
Pull the steaks from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and smear with goat cheese - about an ounce per steak or to taste, then cover each with a sunny side up egg. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper, then top the entire 'madame' with fresh minced herbs - any kind you like. Basil, parsley, and/or cilantro are wonderful here.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Can I tell you about the time I fell in love with tomato soup? I was in college having lunch with my sister at La Madeleine (fancy!) and I ordered a mug of their tomato soup and Caesar salad thinking I was being virtuous. I can't remember what we talked about. All I can remember is the damn soup. It literally drowned out everything around me. I was in a bubble and it was peaceful and warm and I never wanted to leave it.
But eventually, we had to leave and as we approached the exit I spotted some of the delicious soup for sale. In jars. With the calorie count on them. Turns out, there were about three gallons of heavy cream in each 1/2 cup serving. Don't ask me to do the math - I'm an advertising dork not a scientist - but trust me it was something crazy like that. I have it in my head that it was 60 grams of fat per serving. In other words I could've eaten an entire deep fried chicken or grazed my way through the Texas State Fair for less calories. And it had been soup.
Tomato soup was an evil dirty whore. She'd lied to me with her fresh pink color and visions of spending entire summers in a bikini. From then on I avoided it like the plague. Okay I lied. I got over my phobia eventually. When I was sick I ate Campbell's Tomato with my grilled cheese (not bad) and occasionally whipped up some various chef recipes (Giada's Tomato, Rosemary, and White Bean...divine.) But none were of the creamy variety. I had been scarred.
Until now. My dears - let me introduce you to a creamy, luscious tomato soup without a drop of cream in it. Again I'm not a scientist. I can't tell you why it tastes so naughty and rich and cream-laden. Maybe it's from roasting the tomatoes or the addition of fennel which incredibly doesn't make it licorice-y. But I'll be honest. I don't want to know.
I just want to eat it.
Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup (without a drop of cream!)
3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in half crosswise and scooped free of seeds and watery pulp
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium head fennel
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 carrot, chopped
1 peeled, whole garlic clove, lightly smashed
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 sachet of fresh herbs (a handful each of flat leaf parsley, cilantro, and basil tied together in cheese cloth)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and set your tomato halves on it, cut side up. Drizzle over enough olive oil to coat them, using your fingers or a pastry brush to spread the oil over each one. Flip them to cut side down, smear any leftover oil over the tops and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake the tomatoes for about 40-45 minutes until the tops are just beginning to blacken a little and the tomatoes have shrunk. Set aside.
While the tomatoes roast, trim the stalks off your fennel bulb, peel away the outer layer and remove the bulb base then chop. Add the 3 tablespoons of butter to a large dutch oven and bring over medium heat. Once just melted, add the shallots, carrot, garlic, and fennel. Season lightly with pepper (hold off on the salt for now) and saute until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Be careful not to let the vegetables burn or the butter brown. Once softened, add 2 cups of the chicken broth and the herb sachet.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and let gently bubble away, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and retrieve the sachet, squeezing once cool enough to handle to get all the juice and herby flavor out. Discard the sachet then add your tomato halves and any juice collected in the pan to the pot. Let cool slightly before blending.
To blend, add in batches to a blender or all at once to a food processor and process until nice and smooth, being sure to scrape down any strays from the sides as necessary. Return to the dutch oven and put over low heat. Gently stir in 1 cup of the chicken stock, and then use your judgement wether you want to add more or not once well stirred - just depends on how thick or thin you like your soup.
Taste for salt and pepper, adding any more if need be. ONE WORD OF CAUTION - if you're making the soup for another day and going to refrigerate it - maybe hold off adding more salt as the soup will continue to 'develop' in the fridge. By the time it's reheated - it might be saltier than you think it is.
Serve garnished with fresh herbs, if desired.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I am so sorry I have been MIA with my posts and comments lately. I have been busy attending SXSW - my first time ever even though I'm from here...practically.
Anyway I am so thrilled to report back to you with what I've seen, heard, and learned. I even went to a blog panel with Molly Wizenberg of the famous blog Orangette and book, A Homemade Life. But as sexy as SXSW sounds - it's exhausting and at times actually painful. Especially when you're nearing your mid thirties and your best night imaginable involves dinner at home and being asleep by 11:30. The point is - tonight was my first evening of respite from all of the festivities and I took full advantage and made dinner at home ( know - I'm crazy!)
I may be over biased based on the past few nights in a row of eating Taco Cabana at 1 am (nothing wrong with that...if you're 20) but this dinner will go down in history as one of my all time favorites on earth. It made me grateful to have taste buds. In fact I'm drooling now just thinking about it even though I only finished it two hours ago.
The meatloaf recipe was courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis. How bizare is it that my two favorite meatloaf recipes on earth come from a woman famous for Italian cuisine (the other is her lamb meatloaf.) This meatloaf has nothing in common with the other recipe aside from sundried tomatoes (I.E it has everything in common, if you're a sundried tomato fan.)
Anyway as you make the meatloaf you will think to yourself - 1/4 cup olive oil? Really? But you will carry on with the hope that the recipe was created by a famous person and printed in a danged book for Christ's sake and therefore must be accurate. But later when you check on it in the oven you will look at the liquidy mess and say I knew it - it was a damn typo!
But then you'll finish cooking it, having no other choice at this point, let it cool, and notice that the drippy mess has somehow transformed into a beautiful 'loaf'. And then you taste it and realize - that bobble headed beauty knows her stuff! It's downright dreamy. Rich and complex with the feta and sundrieds yet light and clean at the same time. One of my favorite all time recipes...but again...did I tell you how I felt about sundried tomatoes? Or that I have been binge drinking for the past five (seven) days?
Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sundried Tomatoes
* Lightly adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and drained well
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt (you may use less if you're salt sensitive or if using plain bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package lean ground turkey (usually about 1.1 pounds)
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, eggs, olive oil, lemon zest feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and/or it looks 'set' and no longer a liquid-y mess, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve with or over roasted carrot and vidalia salad with dill dressing, below.
Mustard Dill Dressing for Roasted Carrot and Vidalia salad:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
pinch fresh cracked pepper
Combine all ingredients into a glass jar or other and shake until emulsified.
2 Vidalia onions and 4 carrots, sliced into thick slices, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 375 for 45 minutes, turning over halfway.
2 cups Romaine lettuce or other type lettuce, for salad
* Toss lettuce leaves with salt, pepper and dill dressing. Top with roasted carrots and onions.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Ever see a recipe and think that's the one! That's going to be my show-stopping signature!! Well, I thought this recipe for homemade jerk chicken would be one of those. I even waited years to make it, never having the time to cook the marinade, blend it, cool it, then put the chicken in it overnight.
I don't know what went wrong. Maybe it was because it's better with dark meat (I used a whole chicken.) Maybe because the marinade didn't include any salt (I added some to the recipe.) It even smelled to die for in the fridge while marinating...but once cooked was...okay. Not bad. Not great. But all those flavors - what the f?!?
If you have a great homemade jerk chicken marinade - please end it my way.
Jerk Chicken, from Food Network Get Grilling
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons Pickapeppa sauce (see Cook's Note, below)
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
zest of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 whole chicken, backbone removed and split
Pulse the vinegar, rum, brown sugar, scallions, garlic, chile, Pickapeppa sauce, ginger, allspice, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a food processor to make a slightly chunky sauce. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring, until the oil is absorbed and the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Cool. Stir in lime zest and salt.
Rub the jerk paste all over the chicken halves, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
Prepare an outdoor grill with a medium-high fire for both direct and indirect grilling. Position a drip pan under the grate on indirect side. Place the chicken, skin side down, over direct heat and cook until skin crisps and has definite grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Move to indirect heat over the drip pan and cook skin side up, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let the chicken rest about 5 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.
Cook's Note: Pickapeppa -- the celebrated Jamaican bottled sauce -- is a blend of tomatoes, onions, sugar, cane vinegar, mangoes, raisins, tamarind, peppers, and spices. Fans use this "Jamaican ketchup" on all manner of grilled foods. It adds a distinct punch to this version of the island's spicy jerk marinade.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Cherry Whiskey Sours
* Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey, preferably Jameson
4 ounces homemade sour mix, recipe below
2 teaspoons Maraschino cherry syrup (such as Reese brand)
Maraschino cherries or lemon slices, for garnish
Combine the whiskey, sour mix, and cherry syrup in a large old-fashioned glass with ice, or strain into a martini glass. Stir, garnish with cherry and/or lemon slice, and serve.
1-ounce lemon juice
2 ounces water
Combine lemon juice and sugar, then dilute with water and stir to dissolve sugar.
Yield: 4 ounces
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I thought I was a genius when I came up with this recipe back in December. Then I bought the South Beach Wine and Food Festival Cookbook and found a similar recipe in it by Ferran Adria. Oh well, my SAT scores should've told me I wasn't Mensa-bound.
This is a slightly rogue guacamole in the fact that it's not 'mushed' - I like keeping the chunks of avocado as whole as possible in this version. This recipe also has the untraditional element of green apple in it. Don't worry - it won't taste 'apple-y' per say but the fruit gives it a refreshing twist that other guacs don't have. Not that I've ever met a guac I didn't like, except for the pre-packaged store bought variety. After all, guacamole isn't all that unlike Cinderella - her beauty expires at midnight.
Guacamole with Green Apple
Toss the following together gently in a medium bowl. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or with tacos or fajitas or any grilled meats.
* 2 Hass avocadoes, seed and skin removed, chopped
* 1/2 small green apple, finely chopped
* 1 smallish jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed and chopped fine
* juice of 1 large lime and zest of 1//2 the lime
* 2-3 tablespoons minced red onion (up to you)
* large handful chopped cilantro
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I have grill fever. The first day of March here in Texas is warm and sunny and not conducive to getting work done, though I am being forced to. But it's hard when you're having visions of sizzling steaks, juicy burgers, and beer can chicken sitting pretty on the grill.
My current obsession is ribs. I spent the first 30 something years of my life avoiding them, thinking them messy and fatty, and the last few years praising Jesus for those exact same traits. Now I'm making up for lost time with a vengeance, as if my whole reason for being on this earth is to try any and every iteration of them, from smoked to roasted and sauce less to those doused in thick, sweet goop.
After all, there are a lot of animals with ribs in them. And they should all fear me. I'm looking at a squirrel right now in my backyard thinking how adorable his tiny ribs would look on a plate. Just kidding - I feed possums cat food for crying out loud - but you get my drift. I'm temporarily possessed by a five hundred pound truck driver. It'll pass, I'm sure, though I kind of hope it won't.
Sunday I made baby back ribs (in the oven because I was out of propane, classic!) from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea (order this on Amazon now if you don't already have it) and they turned out flipping fantastic. So good in fact that they made me want to make more and more ribs. So stay tuned.
PS - my slaw recipe, though pretty, sucked. Anyone have a good, vinegary (cause that's how I like it, y'all) recipe to share?
Happy Grilling Season!
Martha Hall Foose's Mustard Rubbed Ribs with Vinegar Mopping Sauce
* There is nothing difficult about this recipe but it is a time sucker. Be sure to factor in the 24 hour dry rub and the 3-4 hours of actual cook time, with basting. The upside is the mop sauce doesn't need cooking - just mix and refrigerate.
* 1 slab of baby back ribs, rinsed and patted dry
* 28 oz low sodium chicken stock, only if roasting in oven
* 1 can or bottle of beer, only if roasting in oven
* ingredients for dry rub and mopping sauce below
Step 1 - Make the dry rub (whisk together ingredients listed below) and thoroughly coat your rack of ribs with it, pressing in and smearing around with your fingers. Cover the ribs tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge a good half hour before cooking.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon black pepper (she uses a whole tbsln)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Step 2 - whisk the ingredients below together for your mopping sauce and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made a day or two ahead.
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I halve this because I'm a wimp)
Step 3 - Grill or Roast!
If roasting, preheat the oven to 300. Prepare your largest roasting pan with a rack. Pour the can or bottle of beer in, then enough chicken stock to reach up the sides to 1/4 inch or so (you don't want the liquid to touch the ribs.)
Set aside a half cup of the mopping sauce for serving with the ribs. Place the ribs over the rack then baste thoroughly with the mopping sauce then continue to roast, BASTING EVERY HALF HOUR WITH THE SAUCE, for 3 1/2 hours, or until the bones move lightly when twisted. Also be sure to continue adding stock to the bottom of the pan to keep it from drying out/burning - if you run out of stock you can just add water.
Slice them up and serve with leftover mopping sauce.
If grilling, place coals on one side of the grill and set a drip pan on the other side. Set the rack 6 to 8 inches above the coals and light the coals.
When ready to grill, you should be able to hold your palm over the coals for about 2 seconds and there should be a light ash coating on the glowing coats.
Place the ribs on the grill opposite from the coals and cover.
Cook for 20 minutes, keeping the temperature at 200 to 225F. Brush with the sauce, cover, and continue to cook, brushing with the sauce every 30 minutes covering between moppings, for 3 hours or until the bones move slightly when twisted.
Slice and serve with remaining sauce.