MoM July ’08 Bon Appetit: Cheddar Burger w/Chipotle Ketchup – Cover Girl Makin it Work!

That’s right, getting in just under the wire for our Magazine of the Month, it’s the cover recipe.  

Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit
Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Not sure where the bullet went but I suppose when this is your 9 gazillionth BBQ issue, somebody tells the photographer to do whatever the hell they want, just get it on my desk by Friday.

Ingredients
Onions:
1 pound red onions, cut crosswise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Olive oil
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Chipotle ketchup:
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chiles from canned chipotles in adobo* plus
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can
2 teaspoons (or more) balsamic vinegar

Burgers:
2 1/4 pounds ground beef (15% to 20% fat)
Coarse kosher salt
6 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
6 large English muffins or hamburger buns, split, cut sides grilled
6 tomato slices (optional)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Preparation

For onions:

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat): Arrange onion rounds on baking sheet. Brush with oil; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and pepper. Transfer onion rounds (still intact) to grill rack; close cover. Cook until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Reduce heat or move onions to cooler part of grill. Close cover; cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Toss with vinegar. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.

For chipotle ketchup:
Mix ketchup, chiles, adobo sauce, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in small bowl. Season with salt and more vinegar, if desired. do a h e a d Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

For burgers:
Shape beef into six 1/2-inch thick patties. Sprinkle patties on both sides with coarse salt and pepper.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place burgers on grill. Close cover; cook burgers until bottoms start to darken and juices rise to surface, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers; cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes longer for medium-rare. Top with onions and cheese. Close cover; cook until cheese melts. Place muffin bottoms on plates; spread with ketchup. Top with burgers, tomatoes, if desired, spinach, and muffin tops. Serve, passing remaining ketchup separately.

*Dried, smoked jalapeños in a spicy tomato sauce called adobo; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets.

I’ll tip my hand a bit here and say this turned out almost really good.  Piece by piece then, the burger was a burger.  The cheddar could have been smoked because as it was it just was kinda there.  The spinach was fine and a nice contrast to the richness of the rest of it.  The chipotle ketchup, while making me cringe and want to babble about tablescapes, was really good.  I’m a sucker for adobo sauce, but as I was halfing the recipe and didn’t quite half the amount of chipotles I put in, it came out a little hot.  I also forgot that Mrs. Citizen Chef had sunburned lips.  Ahem.

The onions though, were awesome.  Nothing revolutionary in the prep here, but the dash of balsamic at the end really brought out the flavor.  And honestly, I haven’t found the food that doesn’t get better with a little balsamic.

The english muffin.  This is where it fell down a bit for me.  You know how in almost every sci fi movie, they run around with a different kind of flashlight?  Like it’s mounted on their hands, or their heads, or on their waist or something?  Like it must be the future because they’ve progressed so far beyond the antiquated hand-held flashlight.  That always bugs me because the future versions aren’t really any better than the normal version.  They are trying to improve something that doesn’t need improving just to be different.  The english muffin.  No I didn’t forget what I was talking about.  As you will see from the upcoming pic, I neglected to toast mine and that might have helped, but in the end the english muffin bun on this was just a flashlight tied to a small pony.

~Citizen Chef

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Weeknight Cooking: Orange Szechwan Chicken

I have a weakness: Orange Chicken from any Chinese restaurant. I don’t know what my problem is, but I see it on the menu and I must have it. It’s delicious and makes me happy. The downside to most orange chicken dishes is that they’re breaded, deep fried and have more sodium than Scrooge McDuck has money. So, for the past year, I have been on a search for orange chicken dishes that I can make at home and won’t eventually kill me.

If that wasn’t hard enough, it turns out our distinguished web admin does not like orange chicken. That’s unfortunate since I do all the cooking in our house so he has to eat whatever I make, like it or not. I try to do my best in finding a good compromise, but I’ve ended up serving him a variety of orange chicken dishes that he didn’t like. He prefers other, more savory dishes.

Last night, I cooked up the perfect compromise and, dare I say, we are now on a b0x0r r0xing alert. Consider yourselves warned.

The orange in this dish is not too strong, giving it just the hint of citrus that I was looking for. This was balanced nicely by a savory soy/sherry mixture that did not compete with the citrus. I originally found this recipe on Recipezaar about a year ago, and it sat in a pile that I recently went through. This is my version.

Orange Szechwan Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
4 green onions, diced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced and peeled
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup jasmine rice

According to the recipezaar nutrition chart, this makes 4 servings. Each serving has 4.2 grams of fat, 159 calories, 32mg of cholesterol and 582mg of sodium. If you want to bring the sodium down even more, use low-sodium soy sauce and omit the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and still get tasty results. I think the serving size is wrong. Last night I served this on top of jasmine rice and did not serve it with sides. As a stand alone dish, it was 2 – 3 servings.

Now for the directions. As it is with all of my stir-fry dishes, get your rice going first. Follow the package directions.

In a medium bowl, mix chicken, soy sauce, sherry, green onions, red pepper flakes and ginger.

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch, sugar, salt and orange juice. Cover and refrigerate.

Put the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Let the oil heat up for a few minutes before you put your chicken in there. If you aren’t sure whether or not it’s hot enough, carefully place a piece of chicken on the pan. If it sizzles right away, you know it’s ready. If not, then wait until the piece starts to sizzle. Add the chicken mixture to the pan and stir fry until the chicken is browned on all sides and is tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. Once it started to cook, the soy/sherry aroma wafted up and made my stomach grumble.

Whisk the orange juice mixture. I say whisk because getting cornstarch to break up and dissolve in liquid can be difficult with a fork. If you’re having trouble, whisk it. Add it to the chicken and cook until mixture is slightly thickened and coats the chicken, about 3 – 4 minutes. The faint citrus scent made my mouth water – I couldn’t wait to dish this up and try it.

This was delicious and light, and I couldn’t stop eating it. Even after I was full, I had to keep eating. The orange flavor was just a tease in my mouth, and went well with the soy and ginger. This is going in my dinner rotation and will be made until everyone is sick to death of it… and probably still after that.

If you like your chicken extra “orangy” then add 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the chicken and soy mixture before adding it to the frying pan. Overall this took me about 20 minutes to make, and that includes prep time. Not too shabby! Serve this over hot rice and dig in!

The Next Food Network Star Finale

Today is Tuesday, so I hope by now you’ve caught up on the season finale of The Next Food Network Star. I’ve had a chance to skim a couple of other blogs and it seems that everyone has a different opinion, and there’s no real clear favorite – at least not in the internet food community.

In the episode prior to the finale, three contestants went to Vegas to shoot a short promo/teaser for their own television show. Aaron had Bobby Flay walking him through the whole thing, step by step, holding his hand. Adam had a choreographed number with Guy Fieri berating him the whole time. Lisa’s was the most difficult, but she had the scripted card in her hand the whole time to tell her what to say – and she still couldn’t do it. Not that it was easy to do with Guy Fieri behind her making snide remarks.

Afterward, each contestant had to put together a buffet for 50 people and do a short presentation. Even though Aaron’s absolutely appalling presentation was so uncomfortable I actually got up and left the room, I was too distracted by what I saw in the first challenge. After watching each contestant’s video promo, I was disappointed by all three. The judges must have felt the same way, because they could not make a decision on the final two, and brought all three back to compete in the last challenge.

Honestly, I think the judges did that because Aaron was the favored contestant, and he completely blew it in the buffet presentation.

So now comes the season finale: All three contestants get to make a 4 minute television show. Each one comes up with what they want their show to be, and they present it to one of their top producers. This producer turns it into a show, and they film it on Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals set.

Lisa comes up with “Beautiful Basics” – simple cooking that could easily be in a 5-star restaurant. That’s the part of Lisa that really interests me. She’s fashionable and elegant, and she can show you how to cook in the “spirit” of fine dining in a very simple way. That appeals to me. What doesn’t appeal to me is that she still gets a tad robotic in front of the camera, and her movements while she’s cooking is a whirlwind. It doesn’t look quite as fun as it should be, even though it’s interesting. Still, I would definitely cook her food.

Adam was just hilarious. He came up with “Always Hungry in Philadelphia” and he talks to viewers via the internet about recipes that they’re getting bored with, and gives them his exciting new version. It did come off a little like another show that’s already airing, but Adam is such an entertainer that I wanted to keep watching. Previously I was not an Adam fan, but after his show, I truly was. He did a “dancing roasted chicken” sitting on top of a beer can. There was a nice looking spice rub that went over the chicken, and some spices and garlic that went into the beer can to “faux” smoke the chicken. Overall he was really great, and his comedic value made me want to watch him all the time.

Aaron went last, in a segment called “Big Daddy’s Kitchen”. He cooked some steak with collard greens, topped with some fried plantains. When I watched the show, there was a lot more audience reaction shown with Aaron’s video of people laughing and really getting into the show. I’m wondering if they were watching the same segment I was, because I didn’t think Aaron was all that funny, engaging, or entertaining. I also didn’t think his food was that original. After the food was plated, Aaron said to the camera, “If you don’t think this looks good then you need your eyes checked!” Again, the cameras panned to the audience who were doubled over, laughing. I wasn’t laughing. I actually felt he was being condescending to the audience. It was like watching a “next notch up” Guy Fieri.

So here’s the end spoiler with a lot of my opinion involved. Read at your own risk.

In the end, Aaron was crowned the winner, but I think the judges had crowned him the winner a long time ago. They liked him from the start – that his food was consistently decent was the proverbial icing on the cake. After the buffet disaster in Vegas, I think it blew the judges’ confidence. They were afraid to give it to anyone other than Aaron, and brought all three back just in case. When Aaron proved he wouldn’t be a complete disaster in front of the camera he was crowned the winner. I do wish Aaron the best of luck and I hope he proves me wrong, but I don’t think his show will be one I watch. He wasn’t entertaining enough for me. I really wanted Lisa to do well, but I think she needs to work on softening her expressions and movements in front of a camera. My favorite at the end was Adam – not only would he appeal to the food masses, but he is someone you would want to watch just to be entertained. Then again, maybe I didn’t see the entire video clip so there was more going on than the home viewers were privy to. In any case, we wish Aaron the best of luck on his win.

The Next Food Network Star: Ending Bungle

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I haven’t said anything about the latest two episodes of The Next Food Network Star, and I apologize for that. This morning I got online, fully intending to say something before this weekend’s finale, when I saw something quite surprising on the Food Network Addict’s (FNA) website:

The Food Network accidentally posted the finalists’ exit interviews and the winner’s video on their website.

It has since been pulled but… Whoops. What a shame that the struggling network continues to bungle things up. Last week’s Food Network Star episode garnered more ratings than Bravo’s darling “Project Runway” – and they botch the momentum with this. What a shame.

Here is the statement the Food Network released to FNA:

“FoodNetwork.com experienced technical difficulties last night. As our viewers have seen on The Next Food Network Star this season, many twists and turns have taken place during the show. We encourage all to tune in on Sunday at 10pm to see who will be the Next Food Network Star.”

They’re trying to salvage the wreckage, but the damage has been done.

For those of you who watch the show and don’t want the ending spoiled, have no fear – FNA has deleted all of the comments that would give the ending away, so you can go check out the info without fear.

Mulligatawny Burgers

It’s time, once again, for the weekly Build a Better Burger Contest, uh, burger.

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Yes, I’m still trying to entice you to buy this book. If you’re into experimental and less traditional burgers, this is a great resource. The winning burgers from 1990 – 2004 are listed: The Grand Prize, First Prize, Second Prize and, always a quirky burger, the Award for Creativity. Today’s burger is the Grand Prize for the 1996 competition and the first burger by a female contestant to win the competition, proving once and for all that chicks like fire, too: Mulligatawny Burgers.

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Photo courtesy of Build a Better Burger

This burger is paired with Sauvignon Blanc.

What originally drew me to this burger is that I love apples and curry together, and the sound of it with a souped-up chicken patty was irresistible.

Mulligatawny Burgers

Curried Apple Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped tart apple
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Pinch of ground cayenne

Patties
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 pounds freshly ground chicken
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped tart apple
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fine, fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon curry powder

You may or may not have noticed that I keep marking these burgers for the “Weeknight Cooking” category. Often times, I think the home cook rules burgers out because they should mostly be a “grilling” item, which involves a whole production with a BBQ. You’re waiting for me to bring up the George Foreman – and you’re right, I am! I have whipped these up on a Foreman grill for a delicious weeknight meal. Also doable in a pan, although you know I am partial to the George.

To start, make the curried mayonnaise: Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to blend well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Toast the almonds. You can either do this in a fire-proof skillet right on top of the grill, something on your stove or, as I mentioned yesterday, in a toaster oven. Set aside to cool.

Combine chicken, egg white, green onion, and apple in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls. Finely chop the toasted almonds (or give them a quick whirl in a food processor or coffee grinder) and combine with the bread crumbs and curry powder in a shallow bowl, stirring well. Coat both sides of the patties with the almond mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, just until the juices run clear when the patties are pierced in the center – about 4 minutes on each side.

Serve with lightly toasted sourdough rolls, fresh spinach leaves and some of the curried apple mayonnaise.

First impressions about this burger (I’ve made it a few times now, so I’m trying to think back to when I took my first bite): Admittedly, this was the first real non-traditional burger I had ever tried and after my first bite, I was a little conflicted. I had to think about it while mulling over the mild, fresh flavors in my mouth until I could decide that I was completely and totally sold. The nuts were a surprise. I’m not usually a huge fan of nuts in anything other than cookies, so to come in contact with the nuts was a shock, but not off-putting. Toasting them makes them a little soft, and that’s why I didn’t mind them. The curried mayonnaise goes fantastically well with the burger – the sweetness of the apple with the mayonnaise and a hint of spice marries the patty nicely.

Verdict: Make it this weekend!

Hawaiian Kabobs

I love kabobs! They’re a happy outdoor food-on-a-stick. They’re also fast and easy. In honor of BBQ month, I wanted to share the first kabob I ever made, and have been sharing ever since. This is my go-to kabob for fun, informal gatherings.

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I recently brought these to a cookout. The way grilling in my house goes is this: I make the food, the AwK web admin grills it. So I make up a bunch of these kabobs – two boneless, skinless chicken breasts go a LONG way on these kabobs – and we bring them out to the event. We threw a few on our Baby Weber and, when they came off the grill, they were gone in seconds. After that, there was a rabid cluster of people standing around the grill (and our illustrious web admin) wanting kabobs. Toward the end of the afternoon, people were putting dibs on certain ones and, not helping my “let’s have a baby” argument, there was a cluster of four or five children around our web admin during the entire afternoon, constantly asking, “Are they done yet? Are they done yet?” Funnily enough, the next time we brought kabobs, the children already knew to be patient, while the adults were pestering about the food. At least I have that going for me! Nice work, kids!

When I saw this on Recipezaar for the first time, I definitely liked the ingredients, but that wasn’t what caught my eye. Despite my complaints about how much time a marinade will take up when you’re trying to get a quick meal out, this one has a delicious marinade that only takes one hour. That’s it. Not a full day or overnight. Just one hour. I was sold.

Hawaiian Kabobs

marinade
1 (15 1/4 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple chunks
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

kabobs
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large green pepper, 1 inch pieces
12 medium mushrooms
18 cherry tomatoes
Whatever else you like to put on your kabobs, if anything

Ok, so this is pretty simple. Drain your pineapple, and keep 1/2 cup of juice. Set the pineapple aside. Mix the juice with all of the ingredients listed in the marinade. Turn the burner on medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Place your chicken in a shallow dish – try to keep it to one layer. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Reserve marinade – don’t throw it away. You’re going to use it to baste the kabobs. On skewers, alternate chicken with pineapple and the veggies you’ve picked out to accompany it. I personally like the look of the tomatoes, pineapples and green pepper together, because they’re so colorful. Grill kabobs over hot coals until done, about 20 minutes. Turn and baste frequently with marinade.

A quick word about skewers. Don’t use metal skewers – the metal heats up and will burn your mouth. Don’t use those. Instead, use wooden skewers. If you are serving these kabobs to children, be careful because those skewers are very sharp. I’ve drawn blood a couple of times with those things, so just keep it in mind.

Until then, grill away!

On the Side: Celery Salad with Walnuts

When I’m putting together a BBQ, it’s pretty common to add a side of vegetables to balance out the meat. The most common veggie side that I’ve seen for a BBQ is corn on the cob, since you can simply pick it up. But what about other options? If it weren’t for the fact that it was outdoors, most of us would go with lettuce-based salads. Having to spear the lettuce with a plastic fork seems unwieldy to me, so I tend to avoid it.

Recently I came across a simple and delicious celery salad in a Tastes of Italia magazine. The reason I liked it so much is that it was easy to eat (scoop it up with a utensil and pop it in your mouth) and because of the lightness. The red wine vinegar gives it a little tartness that will spruce up any meal. The best part of all is the toasted walnuts and cheese together – when you take a bite, the texture is like biting into a caramel. The flavors are just so amazing together. You don’t have to use cubed Parmesan; if you prefer other cheeses, then by all means use those instead. Because there are not many ingredients in here, I would not omit, only substitute.

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Photo courtesy of Tastes of Italia Magazine

Celery Salad with Walnuts
1 cup walnuts, toasted
6 celery stalks, cut into 1/8 inch slices (crescents)
2 ounces fresh Parmesan, cut into bite sized pieces
16 black olives, pitted
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

To toast the walnuts, you can either place them in a skillet over medium-high heat and toast until lightly colored or in your toaster oven. I generally go with the toaster oven because it’s cleaner. Place a piece of foil on the toaster oven tray and spread your walnuts out so there is only one layer. Turn the toaster on to cook and the lowest temperature it can go (mine is 200-degrees F). Don’t turn it up any higher – the nuts are so close to the coils that they will burn if you do. After a couple of minutes you will start to smell the toasted nuts and they will start to color a bit. They will be done. To clean up, all you have to do is throw away the foil and put the oven away.

In a large bowl, combine walnuts, celery, cheese and black olives. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and oregano. Toss with salad, taste for salt and pepper and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Here’s the finished result when I served it.

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Food News: Robert Irvine Returns

By now you know about the “scandal” regarding former Food Network Star, Robert Irvine. If you don’t, it was discovered that Robert Irvine had lied about his somewhat impressive resume and also that he had been flirting with Paula Deen on camera, causing nausea in viewers everywhere. Unfortunately, it was only the resume embellishment that brought media attention, and caused his dismissal by the Food Network. His popular show, Dinner: Impossible, was turned over to the newest Iron Chef America, Michael Symon, and was to be extended to a full hour. Since then, Robert Irvine pretty much disappeared from the mainstream media and has not been heard from since.

He’s back. Last week he put up a brand new blog and is “setting the record straight” about his resume.

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Strategic move on his part, I’d say. Dinner: Impossible is starting up its new season with host Michael Symon and a lot of the viewer feedback is not as glowing as the Food Network would want. Fans of the show say Symon is boring, dry, and his annoying cackle-laugh grates on everyone’s nerves. Another strange thing to note is that the show did not extend to an hour length program as initially promised, but is airing at the original 30 minutes.

Maybe the producers realized Symon would be too boring for an hour long program.

I don’t know. What I do find interesting is the timing of the show being aired, the reception of the new host being not so favorable, and Robert Irvine returning to the media. Right now Irvine seems to be slowly and smartly rebuilding his tarnished image. Yesterday’s blog entry mentioned some interesting themes that seemed all too calculated:

1. Previous television experience before he was ever on the Food Network
2. He had been a successful executive chef before becoming a celebrity
3. He had amazing sous chefs working under him who are now executive chefs
4. Name-dropping Emeril Lagasse

The rest of the entry talks about braising – what it is, what it does to the food, how delicious it is, that it is the “food of love”. In this he is trying to remind us that he really does know about food, and he’s trying to win us back again. The previous entry is trying to assure the public that there was still a lot of truth to his resume, and he’s trying hard to prove himself.

Do I care? I don’t know. The guy can cook and is a very entertaining person to watch on television. He’s proven himself capable of those things. Because of this, Irvine is surely going to win his way back into the public’s favor. Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s trying to tie himself to Emeril Lagasse because he wants to try and become a part of the Martha Stewart empire? That would be a smart move, but who knows? It’s an interesting theory at best. For now, we’ll watch and wait and see what happens.

Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers

As you know, July is AwK’s BBQ month! It’s that special time of year when we get to talk about the things that are near and dear to my stomach:

Summer food.

I’m talking BBQ, Potlucks, Picnics, Family Gatherings, Friendly Get-Togethers, anything at all that requires getting outdoors and heating up the grill.

Or, at the very least, plugging your George Foreman into the socket on the back deck.

I’ve talked about the Build A Better Burger book before when I reviewed my 4th of July burger, Tuscan Burger Bruschetta. Now it’s time to talk about one of my absolute favorite burgers in the book: Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers

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The combination of fresh basil, minced red onion and sun dried tomatoes with a little pesto mayonnaise — It is so savory. And yes, when it’s the middle of winter and I’m jonesing for a delicious, flavor-packed burger, I have broken out the George Foreman. I have no shame in admitting it!

Burger Patties
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup Zinfandel
1/4 cup lightly packed minced fresh basil
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic salt

This burger won the Grand Prize in 1990. I have made it repeatedly and always with fantastic results.

Light some fire – preferrably in a grill with a cover. If you don’t have fire or you aren’t allowed to be anywhere near it, try for a stove or the George Foreman grill. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high.

The recipe tells you to mince the onions and basil, and finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Instead, I just toss those into my food processor and give it a whirl. It saves time and minces things beautifully — this is an especially good trick if you’re serving this dish to someone who doesn’t like to feel an onion in their mouth. The onion is minced up finely so that it lends to the flavor, but isn’t obtrusive.

Take the minced mixture out of your processor and put it in a bowl with the rest of the patty ingredients. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. If you’re using a George, you don’t have to do this because the George is perfect in every way. The Foreman Grill is like the Fifth Element, but of food.

Too much?

Okay anyway. Moisten 8 large basil sprigs with water, then put them directly onto the fire – this is the basil smoked part. I don’t do this because there’s already basil in the burger, and I’m fine without going through the trouble of adding basil smoke. Also, it’s pretty pointless if you’re cooking on the George because there is no fire. Same thing with pan cooking the patties — there’s no point. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference (5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium). During the last couple minutes of cooking, place some large sandwich rolls, cut side down, on the rack to toast lightly. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with a slide of Monterey Jack cheese.

To assemble the burgers, use some pesto mayonnaise:

Pesto Mayonnaise
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto

You can see where we’re going with this. Put the pesto mayonnaise ingredients into a bowl and mix. I really do like the taste of this, and it does add some complementary flavor to the burger. Do NOT use Miracle Whip. I wouldn’t anyway but in case you were thinking about it, I really just don’t think the sweetness of the Miracle Whip can do anything other than obliterate the pesto, much less the savory flavors of the burger.

To assemble: Spread the mayonnaise over the cut side of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, a tomato slide, an onion slice and a basil sprig. Add the roll tops and serve.

Amazing.

Granita, Slight Return – er REDUX!

So taking as my inspiration Miss Macchiato’s post for the granita and the bag of limes I got from our CSA fruit box that I didn’t know what to do with, I decided to make a lime granita.  Look here for the original write-up, but I substituted lime juice for the strawberry puree, and lime zest for the lemon zest, because again that’s what I had.

The result was very light and refreshing and sour as all get out because the limes turned out to be from the Florida Keys part of Wisconsin.  MAN those things had a punch to them.  It would have been great with some tequila on top, too.

Here is my 9 year old daughter with the finished product:

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What will the next granita creation be?  Mixed berries thrown in a juicer?  Iced tea granita?  Sorrel?  HAM??!???

~Citizen Chef