Wednesday, May 26, 2010

National Burger Month 05/26/2010: Housework

I probably won't be able to eat burgers or burger-like food today so I will take this time to point out some wonderful burger links.

But first, here are some cupcakes I made some time ago:

Burger cuppies!

I took a vanilla cupcake recipe, and then I took a chocolate cupcake recipe and then I stuck them together with some buttercream icing that I saturated with primary colors. More of my cupcakes can be found here.

Today's New York Times has Mark Bittman's newest take on burgers. He's done this in the past and I loved all his burger recipes. Even did a couple the last time I did this Burger Month thing.

This year, he goes beyond the basic burger with recipes for a pork fennel burger, a beef tartare burger, a curry lamb burger, and a pork shumai burger.

I think the pork shumai burger looks familiar. Not saying I came up with it first or I'm the original or anything... just saying, you know, we come up with good stuff in our kitchen too (though the prawns in his recipe are a masterstroke). I think I shall be trying the curry lamb and the beef tartare sometime. Perhaps before the end of this month?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Burger Month 05/25/2010: Cheeseburger Soup!

Oh man. I suppose there's enough in here to make it a deconstructed cheeseburger. Yes, there's cheese. And yes, there's ground beef. And I guess if you tilt your head a certain way, the bechamel sauce could be considered the bun component. But the similarities end there.

in yer tummy, everything is soup anyway

I heard about cheeseburger soup a long time ago. I don't remember where. On the way home from jury duty today (I wasn't selected as a juror for reasons I shall not get into here) I got drenched in a rain storm and I really craved a nice hot soup for dinner. Cheeseburger Soup was a way for me to continue with my theme without really compromising on the soup part of my craving. This recipe is not based on any recipe in particular, but all the common ingredients found in the various online recipe sources are in here. There's a burger component, there's a bun component, and there's even a french fries component. But I haven't been literal with my burger treatments all month anyway, so this is probably okay.

1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 potato diced
1/2 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 carrot grated
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp parsley chopped
2 cups chicken soup
1 cup cheddar diced (use Velveeta if you don't want it as oily as I had mine... cheddar gets oily when it melts)
2 tbsp cream cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
Salt-n-Pepa say push it really good

Melt 1 tbsp butter in large pot. Toss in the beef, the celery, the carrot and the onion. Sauté and brown the beef. Once it's brown, toss in the parsley and the basil and stir fry a little bit more. Then toss in the chicken broth and the potatoes. Put a lid on it foo'.


While waiting to boil, make a béchamel sauce by melting the remaining butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat. Mix in the flour. Finally, gradually stir in the milk until the mixture is smooth like béchamel.

Once the soup has boiled, gradually fold in the béchamel. Simmer. Then toss in the cheese cubes and stir until melted. Turn down the heat and stir in the sour cream. That is it. Oh and salt and pepper to taste.

It tastes like... cheese soup with veggies. Don't ask me where the cheeseburger part is. The deconstruction is po-mo and all, and I appreciate that because I like post-modern foodstuffs, but it takes a stretch of imagination that most people don't have. It is kind of yummy on a cold, wet day though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

National Burger Month 05/24/2010: Bacon Veggieburger

Bacon Veggieburger

I needed to eat something veggie so I made tonight's burger a veggie burger. I found this recipe for potato veggie burgers that are really similar to latkes. Any chance I get to use the shredder/grater attachment of my food processor I take, so I hopped on this recipe. The only difference I made was I decreased the potato and increased the spice.

And I added bacon... which turns gourmet into gourm-yay.

Into a grater:
2 potatoes
1 carrot

1 cup corn
1 cup black beans (mashed)
4 scallions, chopped

Mix the stuff.

salt, to taste
pepper, ground, to taste
1 tbsp garlic powder

Mix. Form patties. Fry for about 5 minutes per side over oil on medium-hot pan.

Top with bacon, a couple of strips
And cheese, cheddar

Sunday, May 23, 2010

National Burger Month 05/23/2010: Spam Musubi


This one fits into the other kinds of food pretending to be a burger series.

SPAM is so misunderstood by Americans. It is a thing of wonder, and not a thing to laugh at. Oh if only they knew that half the world survives on SPAM.

I've made SPAM musubi in the past. SPAM musubi is basically SPAM pretending to be sushi. So this particular dish I cooked up is SPAM pretending to be sushi pretending to be a burger. How po-mo.

I briefly talked about SPAM Rice Burgers when I made halibut burgers. There's a restaurant in Japan called Freshness Burger that makes a SPAM Rice Burger using a slab of SPAM and a "bun" made of rice. At first I thought this was genius until I figured out that their idea of a SPAM burger is really just a slice of SPAM sandwiched in a bun with few veggies tossed in. So when I first decided to do SPAM burger, I knew that I needed to mince the stuff to get the texture I wanted. This particular burger-like sandwich is based on the SPAM musubi.

1/2 can of SPAM, chopped up.
some steamed rice, shaped into buns and made into onigiri-yaki (recipe here)
2 sheets of nori cut into 2 inch strips
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp furikake

Mix together the soy sauce and the sugar. Set aside.

Mix together the chopped SPAM (I prefer SPAM Lite), eggs and breadcrumbs. Form these into buns and fry them over medium heat at about 3-4 minutes a side. Take your onigiri-yaki and sprinkle some furikake on it. Wrap each onigiri-yaki bun in the cut nori. Use the sugar-soy sauce mixture to "glue" the seaweed ends together. Lay your SPAM burgers onto the buns. That's pretty much it. It might be nice to brush some of the soy-sugar sauce on the SPAMburgers before putting the top bun on.

I like it. It was great paired with a cocktail made from Mount Gay Rum, pineapple juice and muddled mint.

National Burger Month 05/22/2010: In-N-Out

I really don't have much to say. It's In-N-Out.

On the way to SF. Detoured to my favorite burger stop in Daly City. In a rush.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

National Burger Month 05/21/2010: I want some fried chicken

There are numerous recipes that purport to be KFC's original recipe fried chicken. The initial idea tonight was to remake the KFC original recipe into a chicken burger. But I looked at some of them and they were so totally complex and would've taken me forever to get the secret spices together.

So I searched instead for just "southern fried chicken" and found Paula Deen's recipe. I typically never watched Deen but I appreciated that all she ever had shows about was bacon and butter and bacon and butter. I figured I could trust her expertise in that matter so I adapted her recipe for my use. I wanted to make coleslaw too, but when it took until 9PM to gather all my ingredients, I figured I had to drop that part of the plan so that we could eat before 11. I did make mashed potatoes as a side.

Paula Deen's spice mix:
1/4 cup black pepper, ground
1/4 cup powdered garlic
1/2 cup salt

Southern Fried Chicken Burger Stuff:
1 lb organic chicken breast, chopped, almost minced
2 eggs, beaten
Enough Tabasco sauce to turn the beaten egg orange
1/2 cup self rising flour
Black pepper, ground
Canola oil

Combine the beaten egg and the Tabasco and let the chicken sit in this hot tub of spice for about 10 minutes. Mix the flour and the pepper. Form patties out of the chicken, squeezing out excess liquid. Spice the chicken with the spice mix-- both sides, and all around. Drag the chicken carefully through the self rising flour.

Lay the chicken patties on a hot skillet, where about 3 or so tablespoons of canola oil has been glistening. I'd say medium to medium high heat. About 4 minutes per side. We used francese rolls for buns.

It was actually pretty good. Tasted like fried chicken. I was pretty satisfied and we were able to eat before 11.

And now Cibo Matto:

Friday, May 21, 2010

National Burger Month 05/20/2010: Cornmeal encrusted catfish

Like a serpent in wait, the cornmeal encrusted catfish laps at the air with its slithery tongue, ready to strike when the time is right.

I usually make cornmeal encrusted catfish when I am exhausted for ideas about what to cook. It's a fast dinner, it's easy, and catfish is pretty easy to get. This time around I didn't have any buttermilk to give the fish subtle tang. But that wouldn't have worked anyway since the fish chunks wouldn't have held together if I used it instead of eggs. I could've added a bit more salt or citrus, though. Next time, next time...

1 pound catfish filet, minced
1 egg beaten
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
salt and pepper

Just mix everything together. Let it sit for a little bit so the fish can absorb the sriracha flavor.

National Burger Month 05/19/2010: Nothing to Report

But I had a burger. I had a Jack's cheeseburger. It was a Jack's cheeseburger. I know that I shouldn't really repeat burgers during burger month. I did it yesterday with the Juicy Lucy, and I did it again today with the Jack's. But it hit the spot.

Oh well. This is a bad week for burgers.

National Burger Month 05/18/2010: Tour of California Stage 3

Today, the 2010 Tour of California stopped by Santa Cruz for the finish of Stage 3. I took the afternoon off to hang out at the festival area by the finish line with Bettina, Lindsey, Kate and Isabel. John joined us later because he was prevented from crossing the street on account of bikers. It was pretty laid back. Lots of weirdos have come from far and wide to watch the cyclists. We stood at about 200m to the finish line, at the foot of a hill, expecting a lot of speed from riders about to launch into their sprint finishes. The race setup made for pretty dramatic views of the action. Like these:





So cool to watch Dave Zabriskie win it. We went back home later to watch the whole stage on my DVR and found that the stupid VS Network cut the broadcast with about 4km left in the race to jump to a stupid fluff piece pre-game show for the NHL conference finals!!! How stupid! Even Lance "McOneball" Armstrong agreed. Here's his tweet:
Who's the dumbass @versustv that cut off @AmgenTourofCali coverage w/ a mile to go for pregame hockey?? #pathetic
And we also found out that the VS network camera cut away from where we were standing on the street corner just as we would've been shown. Bettina thought that it caught some part of our legs.

Anyway, we went home and I made a little grupetto (cycling terms are apt) of Juicy Lucies at Kate's request.

Oh and I should post this picture of Jonathan Vaughters, DS at Team Garmin-Transitions, signing this weirdo's manboob. I hope the guy with the manboobs was able to at least say hi to Dave Zabriskie because he sure was dedicated to getting all the autographs from team Garmin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

National Burger Month 05/17/2010: steamedporkbunburger

Clockwise from right: steamedporkbunburger, sr., his lover bokchoy with oyster sauce, and their lovechild steamedporkbunburger, jr.)

I don't know if I can call this a burger either. It's certainly more burger-like than last night's sushi. But this is, like some of my other burgers, a not hamburger pretending to be a hamburger.

This was two days in the making. The initial plan was to turn a Chinese steamed pork bun into a burger. So I started looking for recipes all over the place for steamed pork buns. I found a bunch but was reminded during my search of the wonderful pork buns that David Chang serves at his Momofuku Noodle Bar. I knew that I couldn't do the actual pork belly, and I know I will have to save that for another day-- oh, to have Chang's tender buns in my mouth again. (hahaha)

So I thought I would at least copy that whole folded bun and some cucumber fixins thing and I found this recipe. I at least had the steamed bun part down, or so I thought. My dough was an utter failure at first. It just didn't rise. As the dinner hour approached, I became more despondent. Bettina and Leslie both told me not to be so stressed out about this. In the end, I went and had sushi. When i came back, I found that my dough had finally risen. After a test case using the flat folded bun method, I realized it was best if I just steamed whole chunks of bun without flattening them per the recipe because my test cases were utter failures. Just slice off chunks of dough, about 2 inches high and about 3 inches in diameter and steam these suckers for about five minutes. Reassured that my project hadn't failed yet, I waited another day. And in case my personal attempt fell apart, Leslie went ahead and made her own versions of the buns just to see if those would work differently than mine.

The burger was adapted from this recipe for something called Chinese lion's head pork. It's pretty much the Chinese minced pork recipe version of Vince Carter (can play the small forward and shooting guard positions), or the Chinese minced pork recipe version of Miley Cyrus (triple threat: can sing, can act, and can do lap dances on her gay director's knee). I mean to say that this lion's head pork thing is a recipe that might work well with any number of dishes-- in soups, dumplings, steamed pork buns, or in this case, steamed pork buns disguised as burgers.

The burger:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 scallion chopped
1/2 tsp ginger, finely minced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp rice wine (I actually used sake)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3/8 tsp salt
1/2 of a beaten egg
2 tbsp corn starch
pepper to taste
1 tbsp oil to fry in

Just mix everything together. The cornstarch dries it up a little and pulls things together. It probably will get stickymushy but thats fine. As long as you form a couple of patties, that's great. Heat the oil up in a pan and get it to around medium. Fry the patties in the pan about 3--4 minutes each side, or until it gets a little golden.

Slice the steamed buns and make burgers.

They kind of tasted like good, fresh steamed pork buns.

Monday, May 17, 2010

National Burger Month 05/16/2010: Sushi

I didn't have a burger tonight. I was pretty excited about my burger. I scheduled my evening around my burger. I tried to make my own buns for my project burger. So I mixed stuff up. I kneaded my buns. I let my buns breathe.

But my buns didn't respond.

Limp buns

Despondent, we went to the sushi place and the kind sushi guy gave us free food and free saki. And then I was happy.

And then I went home and found that my buns were perfectly round and plump.

So the burgers will wait for tomorrow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

National Burger Month 05/15/2010: Juicy Lucy returns

Excyooooooze me.

Yo what's up fatties.

I did a Juicy Lucy before. I did it to mark the midpoint of National Burger Month when I did it two years ago. And I'm doing it again today.

Juicy Lucy oozes with charm. Juicy Lucy is pretty obscene. Juicy Lucy is pretty good, the way it wears worcester and garlic salt. And you have to do it with American cheese or it won't work at all.

National Burger Month 05/14/2010: Jack's and burger.

Oh man. I had two burgers today. This is fucking crazy and goddamit I'm really getting fat. I mean I guess I could justify this extravaganza of beef because I missed May 1st and May 2nd and I'm still catching up. So now I just need to double up for one more day and then I'll be all caught up.

And also after last night's burger trepidation, this is me re-upping on my commitment.

So my first burger was at Jack's. I went there for lunch. Jack's has been an old stand by for me, especially since it's a block away from my office. The people who work there are really nice and I don't know whether I should feel embarrassed about this, but they know me by name now and they know what I order all the time, so nowadays whenever I go in there they don't even have to talk to me. As far as burgers go, Jack's are standard fast food fare, but a little better.

But the highlight of my burger day was at a new place called burger. Found out about it last night at Hula's when the bartender told Lindsey that he opened up a new burger place on Mission and Bay. I'll just reproduce my Yelp review here because I'm trying to watch a John Waters movie with Bettina and Leslie right now and the movie's a little distracting.

I've been looking for a good burger in Santa Cruz for a long time. I mean there are a couple of real burger joints in town, but so far none of them have blown my socks off. I know where to go for a good veggie burger, and I know where to go when I want a mai tai with my burger, and I know where to go if I want a fast food burger in the middle of the day.

But finally, there's a place where there's an honest to goodness good burger that's tasty, moist and not too greasy. burger. (with the period) is it. I had what they call a "dude burger" which comes with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato. The bacon was perfectly crispy and not soggy. The veggies didn't have that stuck-in-the-fridge-all-day feeling. The bun had integrity and wasn't limp. And most importantly, the burger was cooked medium and did not seem to have been a frozen hockey puck of beef before it was delivered to me.

Oh, and they make really good shakes. I didn't order the horchata shake, but Leslie did and it was super.

I'm definitely coming back to Burger. soon.

the Dude Burger at Burger.

Friday, May 14, 2010

National Burger Month 05/13/2010: Ahi Tuna Burger at Hula's

I decided to skip the kitchen tonight and meet up with Lindsey, Kate, Ashley and Caroline at Hula's. This really isn't a proper burger review because I committed the ultimate food blogger sin: I didn't bring a camera. But watching people take pictures of their food kind of annoys me whenever I go out to eat so I guess I'm ok with not having pictures (though I have been known to take the camera out every now and then; I just kind of sheepishly whip it out and take a quick snap).

I was actually going to skip a burger last night because I was in the mood for poke or something. I like their pupus at Hula's. But Kate guilt tripped me into ordering one. She said something about making commitments and that sometimes commitments are hard, but once you make them you need to stick to them. And I said, commitment also takes lots of compromise, and I guess by eating a burger I would have to accept that I would compromise my desire to have poke. It's part of the deal. I made a commitment to the burger.

But now that I think of it, compromise only works if it comes from both sides. I compromised my desire to skip a day by ordering an ahi tuna burger at Hula's last night. But the burger ain't compromising anything. What kind of relationship is this? I am being abused by a burger.

I've had the seared ahi burger at Hula's before. While I think some of the food there is pretty good, I don't remember being a huge fan of the ahi burger. It didn't knock my socks out. It was tasty, yes. There was a nice strong taste of ginger in it. The special sauce was zesty. But in the end, I wasn't entirely wowed. The bun was limp and the burger was a little too dry for tuna. So weh weh. So goes my compromise.

On the bright side, The sweet potato fries on the side, and the mai tais were delicious.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

National Burger Month 05/12/2010: Thai Inspired

I originally planned to bring back an old favorite, the Jucy Lucy. I even went out of my way to pick up some Kraft Singles, the king of American Cheeses (notice the capitalization-- I didn't mean the king of American cheeses, which I might actually locate somewhere around Vermont-way). But on my way out to pick up some Kraft Singles, the resident German asked me to also pick up some tom yum soup at Sabieng.

So I decided at the spur of the moment to switch gears and pick up some appetizers from the same restaurant. I really like the sweet potato fritters they have there. And to match the sweet potatoes, I decided to try to do a Thai inspired burger.

I don't know a single thing about cooking Thai, except that they sometimes use fish sauce and they often use lemongrass. So I scrounged up whatever Thai-ish ingredients I could find at the grocery and cobbled together something that maybe might look Thai if you squinted.

1/4 pound of ground chuck
1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp ginger, sliced lengthwise into 1 inch strips
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeño pepper sliced
1 scallion chopped
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
fresh ground peppers
1 tbsp oil

In a bowl mix together the water, the fish sauce, half the lemongrass, half the ginger, half the garlic, half the scallions and all the sugar. Form your beef into a patty and marinate it in the mixture for up to 30 minutes.

Heat the oil up in a small pan over medium-high heat. Toss the remainder of the lemongrass and ginger into the oil and get it nice and fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss the rest of the green stuff on-- the peppers, the scallions, and the garlic. Once the whole mess starts to smell up your kitchen, you can put your burger on and fry for about 3 minutes each side.

When it's done, lay your burgers on a warm bun (I still had some more Filipino pan de sal buns) and top it with some of the caramelized ginger, and the fried jalapeños. Also, if you have any, lay on some sweet and sour sauce to give the sandwich that sweetsalty thing.

It was nice... I kind of wished it tasted spicier. I think maybe next time, I'd mix some of the garlic and ginger into the patty itself.

sweetsalty but needs more spicy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Burger Month 05/11/2010: Pork Adobo

Q: What would Filipino pork adobo look like if it pretended to be a burger?
A: Brown. Pretty damn brown. Come to think of it, all of burger month has been pretty brown. But this was pretty darn brown. Like the skin of oppressed peoples. Pork adobo burger is as brown as they come.

I think in this case the concept was cooler than the execution. I mean it tasted like pork adobo, but the texture of the ground pork just didn't match my expectations. Maybe if I were not Filipino and I have never known what a real adobo tastes like or felt like, I wouldn't object. But even the household German said the texture of the meat was strange. I would prefer that my adobo came in pork and chicken chunks and not ground anything.

So here's how you do an adobong burger.

1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Filipino soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp peppercorns
juice of half a lemon
some ground black pepper

In a skillet, combine the vinegar, the soy sauce, the water, the garlic, the bay leaf, the peppercorns and the lemon juice. Form patties from the pork and spice up with the ground black pepper. Stash the pork patties in the liquid mix for about 20 minutes. After a while, take the patties out and reserve them. Start the stove up and bring the soy-vinegar mixture to a simmer. Once it's simmering, I guess you can plop the pork back in and braise it for about 4 minutes per side. Normally, in an adobo, you would braise the pork or chicken chunks in the simmering liquid for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduces, adding water before it totally sizzles away. But since these are patties, you don't have to braise them for 20 minutes. Cooking time was much shorter.

I served these on warm Filipino pan de sal buns and topped with a salad of mango, tomato and onion.

It tastes right. It just didn't feel right. It was certainly brown enough.


Monday, May 10, 2010

National Burger Month 05/10/2010: Wanna-kalbi burger.

Almost two years to the day! So last time I did this stupid burger month thing, on May 11, I did a bulgogi-inspired burger. I did not plan to almost mark that anniversary with another Korean-inspired burger today, but I guess I just knew it was around time I brought out the kimchi. Tonight I made kalbi-inspired burgers.

I get a whole lot of food-related stuff in my email and about two weeks ago, I got my Chowhound newsletter and it pointed to this. So I took that recipe and used it for my burger marinade for tonight. Marinated for about an hour then I fried these suckers up.

I have nothing else to say except it was pretty damn good.


National Burger Month 05/09/2010: Bistek Tagalog

I hadn't really made a Filipino inspired burger yet. There were a couple of candidates like adobo pork, kare-kare, and even the crispy pata that I toyed with two years ago. In the end, bistek tagalog won out because of its simplicity and my desire to go back to the beef, after days of going all pork and veggie. I also wanted a good reason to use Filipino pan de sal for buns and this was a good reason.

Bistekburger is dedicate to Fabio who says that burgers are not burgers unless they are chuck ground, round ground, and charcoal grilled or fried.

It's really easy.
1/2 lb. chuck, ground
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup hard soy sauce (preferably the Filipino kind)
Pepper, ground
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
Some canola oil

Pan de sal

Mix the grated onion in with the beef. Also season the beef with a little pepper.
Mix the lemon juice and soy sauce together for a marinade. Marinate the beef in this stuff. I would say about an hour, preferably more so that you can get the burger all soy saucy.

When it's coming on close to burger-time, fry the onion rings in a heavy skillet over some canola oil. While the onion fries, you can start forming patties with the beef. It will be wet and sloppy on account of the soy sauce. But this is fine. Just squeeze the soy sauce out so that the burger can have some integrity when you throw it on the pan. Who likes a burger without any integrity? I only trust upright, self-respecting burgers. Remove the onion slices and set them aside. Then toss the burger into the pan and fry, about 3-4 minutes each side (this takes a little longer than a non-marinated burger because the meat's all wet). When it's close to done, toss the remaining marinade in the pan and let it gurgle and splash for a little bit.

Serve over warm pan de sal and don't forget to top it with the reserved fried onion rings. Leslie made some Filipino-inspired salad, with mango, cucumber, onion and tomato. And it worked out pretty well with the burger.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

National Burger Month 05/08/2010: Breakfast - pork sausage and french toast

So I am beginning to take liberties with the definition of burger. I guess I should really name this series "What would ___ dress up like if ___ pretended to be a burger. " Today, it would be "What would sausage and french toast dress up like if sausage and french toast pretended to be a burger."

I made french toast using the recipe I documented here for Andrea's Happyoca Strhubarb Breakfast. Cut them with a cookie cutter to make nice little rounds. If in the Bay Area, the Trader Joe's around here carry a wonderful Cinnamon Twist Bread from Semifreddi's. I think they're a kind of a regional super bakery that sells their stuff at local markets. In all my years of french toast making, I think that Semifreddi's cinnamon twist bread is the best for french toast.

And then I fried up some pork sausage that I procured at my favorite Santa Cruz grocery, Shopper's Corner. They sell sausage without the casings at Shopper's Corner which is very convenient for making patties. I guess I could've gone Jimmy Dean but this was better. Incidentally I also used some of the farmer's market strawberries that Bettina had bought without asking her. She went off on a totally unplanned trip to New Mexico to do nothing but look at pretty rocks. So before the strawberries turned to mush I decided I'd steal them from her.

If I had really wanted to make this fancy I probably would've found some mascarpone to top it with. But it was good the way it was.

This is what sausage and french toast would look like if sausage and french toast pretended to be a burger:

Friday, May 07, 2010

National Burger Month 05/07/2010: Halibut and Fried Ginger

I lied... I'm not going back to beef just yet. Just one more non-beef burger. And then I can go all meaty.

I was browsing the FoodBuzz today and ran into this recipe for steamed halibut with fried ginger from the blog My Fiance Likes It So It Must Be Good. Thank you, MyBFLikesIt! It reminded me of a dish my mom used to make for me and I realized I wanted to adapt it burger-style. I guess that's why I asked around on Facebook if a burger needed to be fried or grilled to be called a burger. The consensus was that yes, it wouldn't be a burger unless it were fried or grilled, though some intrepid souls suggested braising might be good. In the end, this discussion was moot because while I did steam the fish, I finished it on the pan. Was I sliding down the slippery slope to fish cake? Who knows? Anyway, I enjoyed this one.

For the buns, I turned back to an older burger I did a couple of years ago. I made onigiri-yaki "buns" (recipe here). Onigiri-yaki are for all intents and purposes roasted rice balls and are fairly bun-like.  I think for many of my Asian inspired burgers I'm going to go this way. And before you say "Hold on homeslice, that's not a burger bun!" I will point out that there is precedent for this. There's the SPAM Rice Burger from a place called Freshness Burger (which is definitely not a burger-- it's a slab of SPAM!)  and there's also the MOS Rice Burger which uses a bun made of rice and millet. It figures these places are both Japanese fast food chains. I tried a MOS Rice Burger when I was in Singapore and I really liked it.

Back to the fishy business.

For two halibut burgers:
1 pound of fresh halibut filet, diced and divided in two (I felt almost bad for dicing really beautiful halibut; I wanted to pull out my charcoal grill and just throw the filets on it.)
2 scallions sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
2 tbsp ginger sliced into thin half inch strips
2 teaspoons sesame oil
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tbsp canola oil

1. Prepare your steamer
2, On a small plate or saucer, toss some scallions, 1/4 of the ginger, and 1/2 of the garlic. Form the chopped halibut into patties.and lay one over the scallions, ginger and garlic. Drizzle the fish with 1/2 tsp mirin and 1/2 tsp soy sauce. Drizzle 1/2 tsp of sesame oil on the halibut. Finally, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Do the same for the other mound of fish chunks.
3. Place the plates into the steamer and steam for about 7 minutes-- don't over steam it because you'll finish these in the frying pan.
4. While the fish is steaming, turn your attention to a hot pan and heat up the canola oil and the rest of the sesame oil. Toss the remaining ginger into the pan and fry until it browns, about 5-10 minutes. Just in time for the fish to be done.
5. Carefully scoop the now steamed fish from the steamer and lay it onto the frying ginger. After about 30-45 seconds, or just enough time to brown a little, flip the burgers over and brown the other side. Do the same for the other burger.

Serve over prepared onigiri-yaki.

That should really fulfill the non-beef quota for the week, Tomorrow, real meat.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

National Burger Month 05/06/2010: Veggie Burger #1, shrooms and salsa

It's the sixth, I've had three days of burgers in a row, and I'm already jonesing for something veggie. I don't know if this is a good sign. But I don't know how to make a veggie burger unless it's the kind I take out of the freezer.

Found this recipe by weheartfood that looked really good, but I didn't follow it to the T. Wish I could say that I actually knowingly adapted it, but all the changes (mostly in method) were a result of my laziness and carelessness.

My mushroom burger:
1 pound of mushrooms (equal parts crimini, portobello and shiitake), chopped
half an onion grated
cup of parmesan cheese grated
4 cloves of garlic minced
2/3 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 cup of grated parmesan
handfull of parsley chopped
couple of glugs of olive oil

Save for half the breadcrumbs and half the parmesan, mix everything together and sauté the mixture over medium heat until the mushrooms cook down, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mix the rest of the stuff in. Let it cool down for about 10-15 minutes.

You can work on the salsa while everything settles. About 4 plum tomatoes (1 pound) diced finely, half an onion diced finely, half a jalapeño pepper minced, about 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro chopped. Juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside so you can top your burger with it.

Now return to the mushrooms. Form into patties and fry in a glug or two of olive oil for five minutes each side. I think this makes about four mushroom burgers.

Eat your burger and feel good about having met the veggie quota. Tomorrow, go back to beef.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

National Burger Month 05/05/2010: Karl Marx's Birthday Special-- The Grillete

May 5 is a special day. Most people say it's Cinco de Mayo, and the last time we did this we celebrated with a special Cinco de Mayo burger. But this day is also notable because it is the anniversary of Karl Marx's birth. Happy birthday, mein freund!

keeping it social

Over dinner, I got to introduce more people to the wonderful world of National Burger Month! I figured that it would be nice to celebrate today with something that our buddy Karl might have eaten back in the day. Frikadelle is made of different minced meats (usually a mixture of pork, veal or beef) and a few spices. In other places it could be called a meatball. But tonight we're calling it a burger. Some would say that the American burger traces its roots to this very German dish (and many a red blooded American would vehemently disagree with this because the American institution that is the hamburger cannot be tainted by anything Euro, and by extension commie). But these little patties of goodness do go back centuries, long before the King started flipping Whoppers. And I kind of like the image of Karl Marx tossing back a few of these suckas with his friend Friedrich Engels over a few steins of bier (on Friedrich's tab no doubt-- Karl pretty much lived off of the playboy Engels's wallet). And so in his honor, we eat frikadelle. Or more precisely, grillete, which is what they call these bad boys in the old German Democratic Republic. If we're doing Marx, we might as well do it East Berlin style.

The frikadelle (AKA grillete):
1/2 pound ground chuck (those who know me know that I only like my beef from organic grass-fed cows named Chuck)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, grated
1/2 cup of parsley minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and fry at medium-high heat.

Top with sauerkraut. I bought some really delicious sauerkraut from this stall at the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market called Farmhouse Culture. Really delicious sauerkraut.

Place on toasted buns and plate them. Serve next to your copy of Marx's Kapital Vol. 1 so that the international working class can infuse your dinner with plenty of love and goodness.

this is what democracy looks like in the daytime

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

National Burger Month 05/04/2010: Prosciutto Cheeseburger

the only good kind of oil spill

So I think I might actually make a month out of this. Of course this would mean that I have to make up the two days I missed-- but that's not a problem.

For the second day in a row, I get to introduce somebody to the wonders of National Burger Month. And that's kind of fun. Of course, being that it's only officially my second day of NBM I'm still laying the infrastructure-- I did not plan on celebrating this month all over again and I have to grease the wheels, so to speak. We haven't really blogged anything here in burger central for a long time and much of my existing burgerblogging systems need to be dusted off. I couldn't find my tripod. I had to get the good china out. And the biggest challenge is that I somehow have to make do without an actual grill this time around. Sean had reclaimed his old BBQ grill and I will have to strategize for a whole month's worth of burgers anew and not have a grill to work with. I do have a few surprises coming down the pike so I am getting a little excited about this whole endeavor. The best part is that I will be personally accountable for fattening a few people who have not ever been party to National Burger Month.

Today's burger is one of those clean out the fridge burgers... I know this is not an elegant way to start NBM, but oh well. The whole thing wasn't planned. It hadn't really entered my mind until Kate brought out her wonderful Santa Cruz Farmer's Market burgers when I visited her place a few days ago-- the night before NBM started. But those awesome burgers planted the seeds. As of last night I really hadn't given this thing much thought. But this morning, in the shower, I started thinking of all the great burgers I could make to continue in the tradition of my last big burger celebration. And so here we are.

I had a bunch of prosciutto in the fridge. And I had some more of that wonderful New Leaf organic ground chuck from grass fed cows. And I had my old stand by recipe (or a variation thereof). And I had a dream.... and that's all it takes to make the world a better place.

And so here it is. For the burger:
1/2 pound organic ground chuck from grass fed cows
a bit of salt
a bit of pepper
half a cup of grated onion with juice
about a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
about a teaspoon of Sriracha, the sauce of champions
and a generous dusting of garlic powder

Toss it all together and grill or fry at medium-high for about three minutes on each side.

Top with melted cheddar cheese and a few strips of prosciutto.

I use buttered brioche buns for the bread.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Monday, May 03, 2010

And we're back!

The Spring brings many things. Baseball's back, been going on for a couple of weeks now. On May 1st, we celebrate International Day of Labor. May 5th is not only Cinco de Mayo, it is also my good friend Karl's birthday. The second week of May is Bike Week. May also marks the return of this blog. It wakes from its slumber because there are things to celebrate-- namely, National Burger Month.

While I don't think I will be doing that crazy 31-days-worth-of-burgers thing, I do think that I should celebrate the occasion by bringing out the beef (and other minced foodstuffs) every now and then. I'll try to be as creative as I was back then, but I have no promises.

I start with what has become my standard recipe for burger. In my past month-long celebration, I did it all: fancy burgers, simple burgers, no nonsense burgers. But through trial and error, this particular configuration has become my very own basic burger. Here it is, the recipe for two burgers:

2/3 pounds organic, grassfed ground chuck
1/2 cup of grated white onion with onion juices
a bit of garlic salt
a bit of freshly ground black pepper
a couple of squeezes of Sriracha (aka hot cock sauce)

And to garnish:
a bit of white onion caramelized
some cheddar to top it all off

Grilled or fried at medium-high heat. 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side.

Burger at dusk, resting like a jaguar, ready to strike.

Pretty good, if I should say so myself. Welcome to National Burger Month.

Before posting this I looked through all my previous burger posts and reminisced a little. Oh those were good days, simple days. I get misty eyed thinking of some of my old friends like döner kebab burger and Jamaican Jerk burger. They were great pals. Here are my favorites, a few of the bad mofos:

There were others too. All of them were dear, dear friends and I miss them all.