Five flavors for my birthday... And burpees are the answer

My birthday celebration on Saturday involved plenty of ice cream, which I shall review in due time. It is fair to say that what I viewed as failure, others appreciated. Perhaps I should just fail at everything, since people either like my failures, or are too courteous to say that my failures are indeed failures.

The flavors:
1) Buttercream mint
2) Mojito sorbet
3) Chocolate brownie
4) Strawberry balsamic cardamom cream
5) Basil

Hit the jump for more.

The buttercream mint was a rehash of an ice cream I made for Lindsey's birthday. It is based on a recipe by Jeni Britton Bauer, who apparently makes the best ice cream in Cleveland. The first time I made it, it was somewhat of a departure for me. I have always made custard-based ice creams. Britton Bauer's recipes are different because she doesn't use traditional ingredients for her base. Instead, the source of fat in her work comes from cream cheese. Additionally, the cloying sweetness and consistency of the ice cream is also derived from... wait for it... light corn syrup. For this reason, I was reluctant to serve this ice cream, given the fact that most of my peers are at least conscious of the perils of high fructose corn syrup. Britton Bauer uses cream cheese and corn syrup because this kind of base produces a more consistent texture that is easy to scoop and doesn't harden too much. I am dubious of these claims. Perhaps in a mass-production environment use of such ingredients may be more efficient and may produce more consistent results. But in small-batch home environments, use of more natural ingredients may generate tastier results. We shall see when I reproduce this recipe in the future using my more traditional base-- incidentally I have settled on the ice cream base produced by San Francisco's Bi-Rite creamery, and published in their truly awesome ice cream cook book, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones.

Because I could not find the proper ingredients for the buttercream mint this time around, I felt that the flavoring was a little bit off. When I initially produced it for Lindsey's party, everybody raved about it. It paired wonderfully with some grilled peaches. But this time, for some reason, during the flavoring part of the process, when I was supposed to drop a few mint essence drops into the ice cream mixture, and a few natural butter flavor drops into the mix, I kept on hitting the churning paddle with the drops, and not the mix. For this reason, the flavoring didn't really get integrated into the product. Oh well. But people liked it. I have to tell my friends that it was so much better the first time around. What the heck. I thought it was a failure.

The mojito sorbet was my vegan option. I used this recipe from It turned out wonderfully. Everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike, liked it.

The chocolate brownie was an adaptation of the chocolate ice cream recipe found in the Bi-Rite Creamery cook book. Serious Eats reviewed the recipe here. I agree with the reviewer from Serious Eats and will say that this must be the best chocolate ice cream recipe I have ever tasted. They used Hershey's Cocoa in their attempt. I used high quality Green and Black cocoa, which Leslie gave me a long, long time ago, for my version, and it was just amazing. For good measure I tossed in about a cup and a half of brownie crumbles. Because I was pressed for time, I didn't make brownies from scratch. Instead, I relied on the tried and tested Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix, which Wei tossed in the oven for me after she got through mixing the mix up). Always been a fan of the old TJ's brownies. Everybody loved this particular ice cream. Bi-Rite's recipe is truly amazing, and the brownies really kicked the ice cream chocolatey-ness up many, many notches. I will make this again.

Strawberry cardamom has always been one of my go-to flavors in ice cream making. This time around, inspired by the stellar results from the Bi-Rite chocolate ice cream, I decided to adapt my strawberry cardamom to include some of the Bi-Rite mojo. I have long been a fan of their strawberry balsamic, which I get whenever I'm in SF. The strawberry balsamic cardamom cream I made was a mash-up of my own recipe and Bi-Rites. And I present it below. This was a more complex strawberry. The balsamic is bright. The cardamom gives it a nice underlying spiciness, as if it snuck in through the back door. The strawberries I used came from Santa Cruz's Swanton Berry Farms. It's getting late in strawberry season, but theirs are still about the sweetest strawberries I've ever eaten.

Strawberry Balsamic Cardamom Cream 

1 1/2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 teaspoons of balsamico
2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 pods cardamom, crushed
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, beans scraped
2 teaspoons of balsamico

1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, mix together strawberries, 2 teaspoons of balsamico and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir frequently until strawberries are soft and the liquid they release reduces somewhat. 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. If you can put it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, even better.

2. In a medium bowl beat together 1/4 cups of sugar and 5 egg yolks. Set aside.

3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, mix together rest of sugar, milk, cream, the cardamom and the vanilla bean. Bring liquid to a slight simmer. When the bubbles start forming around the edges, remove the cream mixture from the heat and let the spices infuse, by covering the pan and letting it be for about 20-30 minutes.

4. After infusion, temper the eggs with the warm milk mixture by mixing a half a cup of the milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Once the egg yolks have warmed enough, whisk the eggs back into the cream mixture, placing the mixture over medium heat until custard forms. This should take an additional 1-2 minutes, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Once the custard forms, remove from heat and chill the mixture. I use an ice bath. Pour the custard into a medium bowl, straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to make sure the custard is nice and smooth. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with water and ice. Chill for up to two hours.

5. When ready to churn, pour the set aside strawberry mix into the custard, mixing until everything is well blended. Add the two remaining teaspoons of balsamico to the mix.

6. Churn in ice cream maker, following you ice cream maker's directions.

Churning strawberry balsamic cardamom cream

The basil ice cream is a direct application of Bi-Rite's basil ice cream recipe. It was good. Different. Good.

All in all, a good time was had by all. Karaoke followed, and hilarity ensued. Fatness also ensued.

And so today my workout, courtesy of the good people of Toadal Fitness, was particularly challenging. I LIKED IT.

Burpee AMRAP Hell

25 minutes AMRAP

  • 10 one arm kettlebell swings (L)
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 one arm kettlebell swings (R)
  • 10 burpees
  • 100 meter farmer walk with the heaviest kettle bells you can do
  • 10 burpees
  • 250 meter run
  • 10 burpees


National Burger Month 05/08/2011: Lamb Burger with Harissa and Yogurt

Mmm lamb. Cute lamb.

My original plan was to recreate my döner kebab burgers from three years ago. Instead, with a bowl-ful of ground lamb instead of strips of lamb sirloin, tonight's burgers were an adaptation of one of my favorite recipes. The basic components are similar: lamb, harissa sauce, yogurt, pita and a few greens. Preparation is also identical.

Stuff for the burgers:
1/2 pound of ground lamb
1/2 large onion, pureed
ground black pepper

I started with pureeing half an onion in my food processor. In the pureed onion, I mixed 1/2 pound of ground lamb. I salted and peppered this  and set it aside for two hours.

In the meantime, you can read a book, watch some Netflix, and make the harissa sauce.

Stuff for the harissa:
2 tomatoes, sliced in quarters
2 tbsp crushed chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp caraway seed
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt

All of this I mixed together in a food processor and salted some more to taste. This was set aside and can probably keep for a week in refrigeration.

Other stuff to top the burgers:
Some yogurt
Some salad greens
Some more tomatoes

The burgers were grilled for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes each side in medium to high heat. Patties are enveloped in pita bread, topped with yogurt, the harissa and some salad.

And that's it. Mmm lamb. Cute lamb. Tasty  lamb.

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 05/03/2011: Hotdog

This is a hotdog. Really. Or at least, this is what a hotdog would look like if it decided one day it wanted to dress up as a burger.

It started out as two store-bought Hebrew National all beef franks. As far as hotdogs go, the Hebrew Nationals are pretty good. I actually prefer Sabretts, but these were on hand. I don't really go for the Santa Cruz health food store organic hotdogs. It's the classic New York dirty water dog for me.

But how does it begin to look like a burger? With a little bit of violence.

And since these are generally leaner than ground chuck, I needed a binder to keep things together. So I whipped an egg, and got my hands dirty with the minced hotdog.


So this is what it looks like when done. I topped it as I would a regular hotdog: with mustard and sauerkraut.
The hotdog burger was actually Leslie's idea. When she first suggested it, I had a visceral yuck reaction. Executed, it tasted like a hotdog, but did not quite feel like a hotdog. I think the problem for me is that both hamburger and hotdog occupy an overly marked area of my food story. Both are comfort foods that resonate with much personal history and meaning. And while I can make a burger out of other kinds of meats (and those who have read this blog before have seen me do the weirdest crap), stripping a hotdog of what it means and infusing it into a burger was just too much freaky roleplaying.

I think I like the concept better than the product.  

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 05/25/2010: 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 05/24/2010: 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

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 05/21/2010: 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:

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 05/17/2010: 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 dance). 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.

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 05/11/2010: 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.


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 05/08/2010: 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:

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.

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.