National Burger Month 05/09/2011: Veggie Burger with Beef Topping

This is a veggie burger from Trader Joe's:

This is a little under 1/4 pound of beef chuck that I have massaged with salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce:

This is a veggie burger resting on a bed of beef: (I had to slice off parts of the veggie burger so that it would fit in its bed)

This is a veggie burger, resting on a bed of beef, with beef topping:

And this is a surprisingly terrific burger, one of the best I've had this month:

Really, this was a revelation. I was expecting it to just okay, but I can't believe how the good it tastes. I think it's because the Trader Joe's veggie burgers are spiced a little bit (I think I taste cumin and garam masala) and those really set the beef off. Also, the texture was terrific. Some veggie burgers tend to mush up when cooked, and they mushed up nicely here and kind of kept the burger perfectly moist. If only I didn't feel like I just ate two burgers at the end of the night. Ugh.

National Burger Month 05/06/2011: Chorizo Burger with Pico

I was originally going to do this burger on the fifth of May, for obvious reasons, but I ended up getting my act together the day after.  This was inspired by a comment my cousin Jon left on my Facebook page about a burger he made for a bunch of his friends.

My chorizo burger uses about a 50-50 blend of grass-fed beef chuck and chorizo bought from one of the many local Mexican groceries in Santa Cruz. Seasoning was simple; I used just a little salt and pepper. For his burgers, Jon used Goya chorizo, and I can't even imagine how that would taste. The burgers were grilled over medium heat in the old barbecue.

I topped my burgers with a little pico de gallo salsa, which I talk about here on a previous Cinco de Mayo burger. I can't believe that was 2008. For 2011, I left out the avocado.

Extremely pleasing. But the chorizos-- I think they wreak havoc on the tummy, if you know what I mean.

edit: I also slathered on some Philly cream cheese on the burgers after grilling. Could've used farmer's cheese, but the Philly was such a good contrasting saltiness to the spiciness of the burgers. So creamy, so good.

National Burger Month 05/04/2011: The Basics

Every year since I've done Burger Month, I've ended up with a burger recipe that I deem my burger standby.  In previous years, they've been simple (just the grass fed beef chuck with salt and pepper) and they've been a little spicier (shown in the link, underneath a layer of prosciutto).

But I think one of the best parts of burgers are that while I could go all out and do something with ground lamb, topping it with a bunch of feta or something, in the end the burger is just as good in its basic utilitarian unit. There is something to be said about the efficiency with which one can prepare a great sandwich, with the least amount of prep work.

In any case, my go-to standby burger, since last year is a simplification of the spicy burger that I linked to above. I lose the siracha (still what I believe to be the king of hot sauces) and the garlic powder this time, and leave it with just a little more spice than burger with salt and pepper. I've turned to this recipe for the greater part of the past year and I think it's done well.

Stuff for one burger:
1/3 pound grass fed chuck (always the grass fed)
a couple of turns of the black pepper mill
a couple of pinches of kosher salt
a pinch or so of garlic salt (the kind I use is sold by McCormick and comes in a salt grinder)
and a splash or two of worcestershire sauce (I prefer the original, Lea & Perrin's)

This is all mixed together and shaped into a patty, and cooked on a hot grill for about 3 to 3.5 minutes per side, for a nice medium.

My bread preference right now is a fresh brioche bun. Brioche because the buns they sell at Trader Joe's are just the right size for a 1/3 pound burger, and also because when toasted, the butter in the bun just smells so good. But be careful! They burn easily!

So there you have it, my go-to basic burger for 2011.

And here's a pic (because I was told I needed to have a pic). That's the basic burger on a grill pic.

National Burger Month 05/02/2011: Cheeseburger with Extra Stuff

This burger is hiding something.

I actually did something like this shortly before National Burger Month. I ate it in front of Bettina. She had something healthy... a salad, or something. And I had this. She asked me whether I was going to do Burger Month, but at the time I was still uncommitted. I guess I could say that this burger inspired me to go on.

But anyway...

It's not really the cheese. This is Vermont Cabot Cheddar. Just that would make this just a good burger.

This is the Cheeseburger Eggsplosion. It's not my invention. I actually got it from my favorite burger site, A Hamburger Today. They blogged about it about a month ago.

It starts with a hole.

And then we stick an egg in the hole.

And then we flip it over. 

And then we get it all over ourselves.

This is the Cheeseburger Eggsplosion.

National Burger Month 05/01/2011: Teriyaki Beef Burger with Grilled Pineapples

I'm still unsure if I should keep on doing this. As recently as a week ago, I was like, "burger month? I think it's a bi-annual thing." This could be just for today, but last night I was equivocating again.

After a recent vacation to the Philippines, I had grown a couple of pants sizes larger. I can't help it if I can get a buffet and a massage for $15-- I was like a human wagyu cow. In the ensuing months, and after a couple weeks of riding my bike everywhere, I have gotten back to wearing my pants without suffering from belt line bruises at the end of the day. But National Burger Month is here and it is a dangerous thing. And it's so tiring to think of a new burger a day.

So I equivocate.

To celebrate the beginning of the National Burger Month and les damnés de la terre on this May Day, I have a teriyaki beef burger that I top with grilled pineapple rings.

The teriyaki marinade for the burgers is simple, based off a recipe from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes of the World. I marinated ground beef for about one hour, then formed it into patties, which I grilled, along with pineapple rings. This is a very simple burger.

For the teriyaki marinade:
1/4 cup sake
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
1 tbsp sugar

National Burger Month 05/31/2010: Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich Burger with Bacon and Tomato

Yes. It is the final day of National Burger Month. Once again, I cannot wait to not have to come up with a burger-like thingie every night, after having eaten burgers or burger-like thingies for much of the month. Oh, but we had some good times. I liked breaking out the classics again, like the Juicy Lucy. And I liked playing dress-up with food that would otherwise not be in burger form, pretending to be burgers for an evening.... Steamed halibut burger, I shall miss you dearly. Spam Musubi burger, au revoir. As Julio Iglesias once sang, "To all the grills I've loved before... they travel in and out my door..."

I wanted to finish out the month with something kind of traditional, but with a twist. My favorite burger blog, A Hamburger Today, first published their Hamburger Fatty Melt a couple of years ago. Their version was just two grilled cheese sandwiches sandwiching a burger patty. They stuck it pretty traditional: white bread, Kraft singles and a burger. They have since updated their creation with the introduction of the Bacon Burger Fatty Melt. That's a nice burger. The Bacon Fatty Melt is a tribute to excess. I think they went with multiple layers there. They stack as follows:
  • Bacon-stuffed grilled cheese sandwich as bun top
  • Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Four-ounce beef patty
  • Bacon-stuffed grilled cheese sandwich as interstitial bun (a nod to the Big Mac)
  • Bacon
  • Cheeese
  • Four-ounce beef patty
  • Bacon-stuffed grilled cheese sandwich as bun bottom
Nice. But not really my style. I went with a little more subtlety on my version.

My stack goes:
  • Sourdough grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese, mayo and tomato
  • Four-ounce beef patty with 1/2 tsp minced shallot, salt, pepper, and a few drops of Tabasco
  • Sourdough grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese

It's not that I have something against Kraft singles. I find them useful for specific applications. And I'm not a food snob since I am not averse to white bread. But I think sourdough went so well with good extra sharp New York Cheddar. And they do make a good sourdough here in the SF Bay Area. The burger itself, with the shallot (inspired by the steak tartare burger), was so fragrant, so moist. I also cut rounds out of grilled cheese sandwiches so the bread to burger ration wasn't wack.

So there it was. Oh yes, I used mayo inside the grilled cheese. Some people are dogmatic about grilled cheese sandwiches. But this burger isn't about burger dogma. None of this month was, so I think changing up the grilled cheese part of the puzzle was apt. I think that tossing a slice of tomato and spreading some mayo on at least one of the pieces of bread makes the grilled cheese sandwich so much creamier and fuller.

This was definitely one of the highlights of the month. I think it could've been the best burger I made all month. It was simple. It wasn't too fancy. And it was comfort food on top of comfort food (literally). The resulting sandwich was so juicy, so tasty. I sat there, post-burger, thinking that I couldn't have ended burger month better.

K. I'm done with this month. I'm Audi 5000.

National Burger Month 05/30/2010: Sirloin Tartare Burger

Sirloin tartare burger. Anchovy is key.

Back in the kitchen again. I can't keep on eating out for my burgers, and I really need to close out National Burger Month with some that I cook at home.

A few days ago, I remarked that I love it when Mark Bittman does his thing with burgers. I am a Bittman fan, and I am trying to cook every single thing in his awesome, awesome work, How to Cook Everything, which I feel is the contemporary equivalent to Irma Rombauer, Marion Becker and Ethan Becker's Joy of Cooking. It is the cookbook to own if you need to own a single cookbook.

In a recent New York Times piece, Bittman writes his version of the steak tartare, in burger form. My burger tonight is a faithful recreation of Bittman's recipe.

I used grassfed sirloin for my burger. I think the best part of this was the anchovy. The anchovy gave the steak tartare burger so much more dimension. The capers were a nice touch, and the medium boiled egg to garnish was also okay. But the anchovy pushed this burger from good to superb. I cooked my burger to medium, but I kind of wish I cooked it medium rare so I could appreciate the quality beef even more.

Also, from now on minced shallot shall replace my traditional grated onion whenever I have this option. The shallot made the burger so much more fragrant.

Oh yes.

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.

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.

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 05/12/2010: 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

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.

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

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.

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.

Presidential Debate #3: Town Hall and the Hawaii vs. Arizona Burger Battle

It's time for this week's edition of my debating rap. Debate is 6PM on Tuesday. We're watching it at our place...We might barbecue too. I might make burgers (since Andrea's presence has shocked me out of my burger making leave of absence). Come on by if you want.

Check check... One two. Check check.

So. I'm not as prolific as my man Jay Z.
But I gotta keep it going cause McCain is crazy.
And I know I'm running out of time
Trying to sell a busted rhyme
But this time this time
Got my tequila and some lime
If McCain is Megatron Obama's Optimus Prime
So last week I had my snacks and drinks
And Palin had her fur minks
In four weeks I'll have Cor-vaw-see-yay
I'll say "Prost!" The glass clinks
So the old grandpa he's starting to freak
Tossin out his message going all negative
Need his metamucil now it's his laxative
And again the Keating five's a gift continuing to give
Because the shits hit the fan for him
And his message was always all wack and dim
And he can't spout any change
And his chances are slim
Running on empty he don't got no sanity
Maybe he'd have done better had he chosen Tim Pawlenty
But I'm not bemoaning this turn of the events
Only place safe for him is Fox with Sean Hannity
Michigan is gone and now he defends the red states
And on tuesday a town hall number two of the debates
At 6PM Tuesday night one-oh-five on Younger Way
We're gonna hit it on the DVR doesn't matter if you're lates
Now I'm not so sure about the next moderatuh
It's NBC the original G Tom Brokaw
In the tank with John McCain, G's a democrat hatuh
But the polls they say it's time MacDaddy seeyou latuh.

Uhuh. Uhuh.


Debate food report

big bottle of wine
lots of bottles of beer
Afsaneh's rice
Salad with bunch o walnuts, cranberries and swiss chard
No drinking games. Just drink.

The Hawaii vs. Arizona Burger Battle

Recipes are below. The Hawaiian pineapple teriyaki was pretty good. I'm not sure which burger won. Some people liked the versatility of the dry-rubbed burger (it went well over the Iranian rice dish that we also had-- but a burger with rice and no bun is not an American burger in my books). Yet another person claimed that the Hawaiian pineapple teriyaki sauce went very well over the Arizona burger but that's just too easy. While non-exceptionalism is okay, we like our burgers to challenge us by themselves.

I needed:
2 pounds of grassfed chuck, divided into two batches
formed into sliders, about 4 ounces each

Hawaii: Pineapple teriyaki soy marinade

  • 1 (14 ounce) can pineapple chunks, with no sugar added juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 dashes sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (probably closer to 1 1/2)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

1. Mix all in saucepan
2. Simmer for five minutes
3. Blend with immersion blender

Arizona: Southwestern Spice Rub
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 8 dried chilies -- stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1. Cook cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
2. Combine seeds, chilies, and remaining ingredients in a blender; process until mixture resembles coarse powder.


I wanted to do kalbi, but I don't presume to have a real Korean recipe, so I did some research online, mostly here on this thread on ChowHound, and took bits and pieces from different places. But who's going to find Korean pear in Santa Cruz, California?

3 pounds of beef short rib cut thinly (I believe the term is "flanken" if you want to speak butcher)
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup good soy sauce (I didn't have any good soy sauce so I brought out the brute-force extra-strength Filipino soy sauce)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3-4 scallions chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds
black pepper (to taste)

and of course... 1/2 can to 1 can of Coca-Cola (to taste)... better if it's the Mexican coke in bottle so that it has real sugar rather than corn syrup.

The phosophoric acid in the Coca-Cola helps to tenderize the beef. This was all left to marinate for at least 8 hours.

These were barbecued on a medium-hot grill, flipped often. The beef is cut really thin and is almost falling apart after marinating for 8 hours so it burns really easily, so you have to be on the ball with this. I think each cut took about 5 minutes to cook.

It wasn't like walking down the street in K-Town in NYC, but this wanna-kalbi was actually pretty good.

It's been a while since I blogged-- but not because I haven't cooked. I actually intended to blog more often than I did this month, taking time to take pictures, but it just didn't happen. I feel bad because I was also tagged to tag and I passed the tag on, but I haven't actually blogged much in July. Oh well. Onward!

National Burger Month Day 31: Sirloin Burger with Seared Foie Gras and Shiitake Stirfry

Is this really it? Thirty-one days of burger-influenced gluttony are finally over. I am both saddened and elated to be done with this thing. I think I will not do a month-long food celebration for a long time, no matter how wonderful the food I wish to celebrate is. On the other hand, the past month has been a good time. It's really funny how community formed around little round patties of chopped stuff, even if people didn't particularly like little round patties of chopped stuff.

For my last burger of the month, I wanted to do the most indulgent burger I could do. I figured that I would try to replicate Daniel Boulud's extravagant burgers, but from the outset, these were impossibilities. Boulud makes a burger with Kobe wagyu beef, braised shortribs, truffle and foie gras. I cannot get wagyu beef easily, and I do not want to spend $75 for 2 ounces of black truffle. So instead of doing an exact replica, I tried to incorporate whatever I could.

My burgers were made with grass-fed organic sirloin that I milled myself. These were seasoned simply with salt and pepper and grilled to medium. I topped each burger with foie gras, which I seared on a griddle to get the juices running. On top of this, I placed some sliced shiitake mushrooms which I stir-fried in truffle oil (which were my closest substitutes for real truffles). Finally, I shaved some gruyere over the whole works.

The mushrooms and foie gras definitely gave the burgers added depth and richness. The burgers, unfortunately, were underseasoned (I could've sworn I salted the bejeezus out of them). But in the end, the flavors worked pretty well together.

I think that with these foie gras burgers I came full-circle with this whole burger challenge. I started with those delicious James Beard burgers that I thought were the very essence of burger. I didn't know I'd blog the whole thing the way I had. Along the way, we departed from our predefined calendar and with the help of enterprising grill-partners, turned out some pretty wacky burgers. This evening's burgers were very much like those first ones I made, but dressed up some. The sirloin was as simple as those first, James Beard burgers were. The foie gras and the shiitake did not take away from the essential meat.

I don't think I can look at burgers the same way again-- certainly not after 31 days of minced meat (with some potatoes and tofu thrown in). But finally I can now cook something else for dinner.

Yesterday, I went to the nearest In-n-Out Burger joint. My guests wanted to try them out as they didn't have In-n-Out in New York. So I obliged, despite saying that I wouldn't touch burgers again for the foreseeable future, having just done thirty-one days of them. I ordered what I used to order at In-n-Out: a cheeseburger animal style with fries well done. Back before my burger endeavor, I used to think that In-n-Outs were terrific burgers. But yesterday I was astonished at how mediocre they are. In-n-Out is just another fast food burger.

National Burger Month Day 24: Chili Cheeseburger

Andrea is gone, but National Burger Month must go on!

Usually, chili cheeseburgers are these messy things. You can order them at fast food restaurants and they usually just give you their regular hamburgers with gooey chili dripping on top. I wanted to make one too, but instead of just my regular burgers with chili on top, I wanted the chili to permeate the very beings of these burgers.

I made the chili first. This was a quick and generic chili so it's probably not going to be a backyard classic anytime. It's a start though, so maybe I'll work with it more in the future to really make it jump.

1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup chipotle chili powder
1/4 pound of ground chuck (optional)
some olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 can of black beans
1 cup of canned whole plum tomatoes with juice (about 16 oz.)
some red wine vinegar
3 cups water
some lime juice
salt and pepper

Toasted the chili powders first on a cast iron skillet. Put the stuff aside. I made two batches of chili-- one for vegetarians and one for carnivores. In the carnivore batch I sauteed the ground chuck until brown then put it aside. Sauteed the onion, garlic and jalapeños in olive oil until they were soft-- about 8 minutes. Tossed in the toasted chili powders, the canned tomatoes, beans, the vinegar and the water. I also did this on the meat side. After all of this stuff was in the pan, I just let it simmer for about half an hour, seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice I saw fit.

After the liquid reduced enough for me to recognize it as chili, I pulled some of the vegetarian chili out and soaked my hamburger patties in it for about 30 more minutes. And this I proceeded to grill when all was done.

Burgers were topped with even more chili (the con carne went on my burger), some shredded cheddar, sour cream, and most importantly, Frito corn chips. My chili needs work. It was hot, but unrefined. I mean it was delicious, but I feel like I got punched in the mouth. The burgers themselves were great, but the chili recipe needs to be polished some to inject it with the nuances of a good chili. I must consult my Texan contacts. I guess it's a start, but I'll have to revisit this sometime.