May 29, 2013

The Perfect Burger

$100,000 Burger aka
7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burgers with Crispy Watercress Salad, Roasted Cashews, and Minted Basil Aioli

In our household the debate about how to prepare the "perfect" burger carries on. We came close to perfection here with an approach that abides by the principle -- the simpler, the better. Minimal handling of the meat, no frills and additives to the beef, just a bit of salt right before they hit the grill, et voila. We really thought we were onto something here, until we stumbled across this article -- What does a $100,000 burger taste like? If our burger recipe calls for simplicity, this promotes the opposite. I have not yet had a chance to try this at home, but I share the recipe for those curious about what a $100,000 burger looks like. 

Recipe by Erin Evenson


Green Curry Glaze
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layers discarded, crushed with the back of a knife and chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Minted Basil Aioli
1 cup mayo
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

6 slices pancetta

Crispy Watercress Salad
3.5 cups canola oil
1 cup rice flour
1 cup chilled seltzer water
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 heads young watercress, stems trimmed
3 shallots, thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp Thai fish sauce (low-sodium)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha

Burger Patties
2 lbs ground chuck
fat from cooking pancetta

vegetable oil for brushing grill rack

6 French sandwich rolls, split
1 1/4 cups chopped roasted salted cashews

yield: 6 burgers

1. light grill and let heat settle to medium

2. to make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely pureed. pass the mixture once through a sieve to remove any chunks, and set aside.

3. the make the aioli, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve the burgers.

4. place a large cast iron skillet on the grill. add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 7-8 minutes. transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain and pour the fat from the skillet into a large bowl. reserve for later.

5. to make the salad, return the skillet to the grill, add the canola oil, and heat until shimmering. combine the flour, seltzer water, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl, whisk to blend. add the watercress and stir to coat. 

6. add the shallots to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 30 to 45 seconds. transfer to a paper towel to drain. working in small batches, remove the watercress from the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. fry until golden brown and crisp, 45 to 50 seconds. transfer to paper towels to drain.

7. in a small bowl, whisk together the lime zest and juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and sriracha until combined. set aside.

8. to make the patties, add the chuck to the bowl containing the reserved pancetta fat. combine using your hands. form the meat into 6 equal patties.

9. brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. place the patties on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until juices begin emerging from the top of the patties. baste the patties liberally with the glaze, flip the patties, and douse the other sides of the patties with the remaining glaze. grill the other side for 4-5 longer (for medium-rare, long for desired doneness). transfer the patties to a plate to rest while assembling the other ingredients.

10. grill the rolls, cut side down, until they are lightly toasted. spread the cashews on a plate. spread the cut sides of the buns with aioli and dip each roll top, aioli side down into the cashews, pressing gently to make sure the cashews adhere.

11. to assemble the burgers, combine the fried shallots and watercress in a large bowl and toss to combine. drizzle the lime dressing over the mixture and toss again. place a pancetta slice on each bottom bun, followed by a patty. place a mound of the watercress salad atop each patty. finally, top each burger with the cashew-aioli buger tops.

12. serve immediately!

May 22, 2013

Backyard Bounty

Marinated Spring Onions

We have received a very warm welcome into our new neighborhood vis a vis our friendly new neighbor - Paul. He is an avid gardener with little spare time to cook (on account of his very busy dog walking schedule). We are counting ourselves lucky to live in such close proximity to someone with such a wealth of gardening knowledge, and even luckier when we become the benefactors of his backyard bounty. Recently, he gifted us this beautiful bouquet of spring onions. 

Similar to our chimichurri recipe, these  green onions can be used as a condiment or marinade & they pair incredibly well with grilled meats. Using a sharp knife, slice the white parts of the spring onions paper thin. Toss together with 1 tbsp walnut oil (expensive, but worth every penny!), 1/2-1 tsp balsamic vinegar & a generous handful of fresh, chopped thyme. Let sit for a few hours -- for best results overnight. The walnut oil breaks down the bitterness of the onions & allows these onions to take on a delicate nutty flavor. We served with a grilled skirt steak, but this would also be great with grilled vegetables and perhaps feta cheese. Frankly, these are so good, we tend to snack on them alone. 

And we always reserve our scallion greens to make a Korean Seafood Pancake (Haemul Pajeon). It has taken us years to finally get this right - and this last time we nailed it (perhaps we have Paul and his backyard inspiration to thank)! I was feeling too spooked by the prospect of yet another failed attempt to document this particular round, but perhaps this recipe from Apartment Therapy's thekitchn can provide a springboard for experimentation, should you feel inspired to try this at home. 

photo credits:
#1: Andrei Sinioukov; #2: thekitchn

May 14, 2013

Feature Ingredient: Harissa

Harissa-Spiced Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta 
with Swiss Chard & Red Onion 

Do you ever use harissa? On a recent whim, I bought a container of this Tunisian hot chili sauce. I am having a great deal of fun experimenting with it. Next time around, I will definitely try this homemade version from Saveur. I kept this recipe simple with a healthy dose of greens. However, this base recipe leaves plenty of room for experimentation with any of the optional ingredients suggested below.

1/2 box fusilli pasta
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1/3-1/2 cup harissa
salt & pepper, to taste
kalamata olives (optional)
pine nuts (optional)
1 can of chick peas (optional)
sliced chicken breast (optional)
fresh chopped parsley (optional)
4 oz goat cheese (optional)
1 cup diced roasted sweet potatoes (optional)
yield: 3 servings

1. bring a large salted pot of water to a boil & cook pasta according to package directions. 

2. meanwhile, saute the swiss chard & red onions in olive oil. add a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness of the onions as they cook. 

3. drain the cooked pasta. add in the sauteed swiss chard, red onion, and 1/4 cup harissa. stir to combine. taste & adjust to desired heat level, adding 1 tbsp harissa at a time.

4. have fun experimenting with any or all of the optional ingredients!

Harissa and Sweet Potatoes

there is something particularly satisfying about the combination of harissa and sweet potatoes. check here, here, and here for some inspiration.

Harissa and Proteins

BBC's Good Food recipe index demonstrates how harissa can really shine with meat and seafood dishes as well, including chicken, prawns, salmon, and lamb

May 10, 2013

Exploring the Savory Side of Fruits

Week's Worth of Produce: Our Household

Following our post on what a week's full of groceries looks like around the world, I wanted to share some recent inspiration from our weekly Washington Green Grocer bounty. We get a large box of mixed vegetables and fruits delivered, which I am finding adds a nice produce-forward mentality to our meals, especially coming off of winter where meat-heavy, comforting meals take center stage.

Our first delivery literally had me dancing with delight in our kitchen. The pineapple was  a royal welcome into the club. 

After a few particularly inspired meals (which unfortunately I did not take the time to blog about), I realized the fruit:vegetable ratio in the box tipped far too much on the fruit side for us. I have basically come to learn one thing about myself, if something cannot be eaten with olive oil, I am generally not interested. 

Below I share a round-up of recipe links from my recent endeavor to explore the savory side of fruits - hopefully these will inspire you to combine ingredients in new and unusual ways. I have not yet tried all of these recipes, so cannot vouch for them.






May 08, 2013

Week's Worth of Groceries: A Global View

This is what a week's worth of groceries looks like from all around the world -- brought to you by Peter Menzel, a freelance journalist known for his coverage of international feature stories on science and the environment. The below photos are excerpted from Menzel's joint book with Faith D'Aluisio Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press, 2005) in which the authors explore daily life around the world through the lens of food. The authors capture a week's worth of food purchases from 24 families from different countries. The couple won the coveted James Beard Best Book Award in 2006 for this publication, and in 2005 received Book of the Year for the volume from the Harry Chapin World Hunger Media Foundation.

What do you think? What similarities do you find across the food cultures? Is anything particularly shocking? or exciting? Based on these pictures, where would you like to most visit? Sign me up for China and Turkey!









Great Britain











United States