Grilled Burgers

It’s really hard to blog dinner recipes right now because I am mostly just throwing random food on the grill. I have mostly been making burgers, steaks, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables that are simply grilled over charcoal. I thought I would update my burger recipe because I have really refined this. There are a lot of fancy things out there with people grinding their own brisket and steak for burgers. One day I would like to go on that adventure. For now I like to use a ground beef with about 30% fat. You can buy leaner meats but your burgers will suffer. The extra fat is where all the flavor is kept. My favorite cheese for burgers right now is creamy havarti, it is to die for. And of course I always have extra bacon around which makes any burger even more insanely good. The other key to a great burger is the pickles. I prefer boars head dill sandwich pickles.

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You will also need a perfect bun (don’t worry, I am working on a recipe!) like a brioche or onion roll. Fresh Market has the most impressive brioche burger buns. But I cannot count the number of times we have eaten burgers on the 4 hour baguettes. When I am trying to be healthy and we have extra burgers, I eat them for lunch without buns. These burgers are so delicious they don’t even need bread. But in all honesty, I usually pity people who are trying to be low carb and eat a juicy burger without a perfectly toasted bun. Mostly because if you don’t buy buns, how can you have extra buns around for bun fights with your friends. I like to have light red wines with burgers. But there is nothing more perfect than a dry rosé before dinner on hot summer days. Your grill master will definitely appreciate it if you bring him a glass of Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence. This is a very refreshing, light pink wine from France. Here is an updated recipe for how we are making burgers this summer.

Burgers, Summer 2014

1 pound 75% lean ground beef
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 dashes liquid smoke
1 tsp ground onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs (you can substitute panko)
1 egg
4 brioche buns (plus extra to throw at your friends)
Optional but not really optional: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, bacon, your favorite cheese, ketchup, mustard

Mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and dry seasonings. Use your hands to mash everything together until it is all evenly incorporated. Mix in the bread crumbs. Add the egg last, making sure to mix it well into the ground beef.

Divide the meet into 4 similar sized balls (I like to use a kitchen scale and weigh out 4 oz portions). Form the patties by pushing out from the center and rotating in your hands to hold the meet tight together. You want the center to be a bit thinner than the outer edge of the patties.

Prepare your charcoal or gas grill to a medium heat fire. Cook the patties for 4-6 minutes per side. 135 degrees will be medium but you can cook them to your desired level of doneness. (This will also vary depending on grill temperatures.)

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Balsamic Stuffed Mushrooms

My husband rarely picks things out at the store. Mostly he just walks around pushing the cart and looking at sports news on his phone. But one day at the store, he reached out for portobellos and said “Let’s get these.” I do not care for mushrooms, but for him I will cook whatever he wants. Especially when he chose something at the grocery store for once in 2 years. I actually ate one of these mushrooms, and it was pretty good. But he should really be the one who writes this post because he absolutely loved them. This recipe was inspired by my current obsession for all things balsamic vinaigrette. Which actually stems from all the amazing fresh strawberries that I am putting on salads lately. The blog has really been all over the place this summer. Mostly because at home I have just been grilling simple things and the rest of the time I am eating the most amazing salads ever (with the leftovers from the grill).

 

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You can buy pretty great balsamic vinaigrette from the refrigerated dressing section at the store. But if you have an extra few minutes, you should definitely make your own. Below is the vinaigrette recipe I have been make. Soon I will post a perfected creamy balsamic vinaigrette that will make you want to eat a salad immediately. Whether you like mushrooms or not, this recipe will impress all your friends at your next barbecue. In case you don’t know anything about mushrooms, here is an article about how to select and prepare portobellos.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a screw top mason jar (or whatever container you have on hand) and shake until combined.

Balsamic Stuffed Mushrooms

6 large-ish portobellos
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp italian seasoning blend
1 tsp chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup butter, melted

Use a spoon to scrape out the gills of the mushrooms (they can be eaten but will turn everything a murky brown color). Paint the mushrooms inside and out with vinaigrette. Arrange hollow side up and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat a gas grill to medium heat or prepare a medium heat fire in your charcoal grill. Mix together the panko, mozzarella, parmesan, italian seasoning, chopped garlic cloves. Pour melted butter over the dry mixture and toss together. Stuff the mushrooms with the panko mixture.

Place mushrooms with the stuffing side up onto the grill. Cook until the cheese is bubbly and melted, about 7 minutes. Shift them around occasionally so that they cook evenly.

Knives

I have been asked a lot of questions that involve “well which one do you use?” So I thought I would start a series of posts that address kitchen equipment. I scrutinize most recipes and try to make them as simple as possible. I really encourage you to cook with what you have and I personally try to avoid super specialized kitchen equipment. My kitchen manager, however, will claim that there is nothing simple about my cooking when he is doing the cleaning up at the end of the night. Definitely clean as you go. Thomas Keller talks about working clean in his book Bouchon Bakery and I have truly tried to practice this. When you look at food you made and think “this looks like a mess” its probably because you aren’t working clean. I cook in a small apartment kitchen but I find it most important to work on one clean countertop that is free of clutter. Its never good to jam up your kitchen with a bunch of equipment when the best tools you have are actually at the end of your arms (and in your knife block). So lets get started with the basics here and then we will move on to more advanced kitchen tools. We will begin by discussing knives.

You really just need one super sharp Chef’s knife. This one is amazing, Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. There are plenty of super expensive knives out there but this one will perform above and beyond your expectations. If you really have no knives and need a whole set, then get something like this J.A. Henckels Knife Block Set. But I still recommend the Victorinox Chef’s Knife in addition to any knife set.

You should store your knives in a block or in sheaths. If they are bumping around in a kitchen drawer uncovered, they will get dull. It is best not to put knives in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent and the jets are abrasive and will damage the fine edge of the knife. Wash them in the sink with soap and water. Sharpen knives every couple of weeks depending on how often you use them. And please absolutely do not scrape your cutting board with the sharp edge of your knife, just turn it to the other edge! These kitchen knives are actually sort of serrated at the microscopic level, this edge is called the grind, and these microscopic serrations will get dull if they are not cared for properly.

French Onion Tart

Vidalia onions made their appearance in Fresh Market a couple weeks ago and I was so excited! I buy them two bags at a time. When I am not making tarts, french onion soup, caramelized onions pizza, we are grilling these onions. I cut them whole into fairly thin slices, pop out the middle rings of the onions, and shove butter in there. Then I just wrap them in foil and grill the little foil onion bundles. You really cannot overcook these onions, just keep them at the edge of the grill while you cook all the rest of your dinner. Prepare to have a spiritual experience when you taste these extremely simple but insanely delicious grilled onions. It seems wrong that the grilled onion recipe is actually just a bonus recipe because I make them at least once a week in the summer. Savory tarts have been on my to do list forever! I love the beautiful presentation of a tart and the possibilities are endless! I am anxiously awaiting for my beefsteak and cherry tomatoes to grow up for the tomato tart I have planned. This french onion tart has a sort of custard base. It is super simple and a total crowd pleaser. The flavors are very rich and I think it may be even better served in the fall. But since vidalia onions are in season right now, I could not resist working on this recipe.

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I actually cooked some bacon thinking I would put that in this tart, but I left it out! I know, super uncharacteristic of me. Honestly, the flavor here is so fabulous, it does not need to be tainted by bacon. (Blasphemy!) I did chop up the bacon and make a BLT salad though. If you have not made tart or pie crust before, give it a shot! This recipe is so easy. You can make this dough ahead of time and store it in the freezer. Just let it thaw in the fridge before attempting to roll it out. If the idea of making the dough is just too much, the pie dough in the freezer section these days is pretty good. If you do not have a tart pan, you can use a 9 inch pie pan or even a disposable foil pan. But you should probably buy this Wilton Nonstick Tart Pan because, it is one kitchen accessory that will not be collecting dust. So please, please, please let nothing stop you and go get some Vidalia onions. You should definitely serve this tart for brunch or lunch with a salad and a glass of Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. This wine will cut through the rich flavors of this tart. It has bright citrus flavor with summery floral notes.

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French Onion Tart

Pâte brisée 
250 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp ice water

Filling
1 1/2lb yellow onions (~4), halved and sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
1 cup beaf broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated gruyere, comte, or swiss cheese (~2 oz)
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Make the crust
In the large bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse in short bursts until the flour/butter resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and pulse just a few more times. It will appear very clumpy. Take the dough out and knead it gently into a ball.

Lightly butter a 9 inch tart pan. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment until it is 11 inches in diameter. Peel the top layer off and flip the dough into the prepared tart pan (uncovered side down). Drape the dough into the edges of the pain, do not press or stretch. Trim the edges, leaving enough to fold over the hanging edge, creating a double thick tart edge (prevents shrinkage or breakage).

Press foil against the surface of the shell and freeze for 1 hour.

Make the filling
In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and toss to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes and then remove the lid. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. Saute without the lid for 30 minutes until the onions are fully caramelized. They should be a deep golden color.

Pour in the beef stock and turn the heat up to medium-high. Simmer until the broth is nearly completely evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cool for 20-30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Stir the lukewarm onions into the egg/cream. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Assembly
Fill the prepared and frozen tart shell with onion-egg mixture. The filling will be about a quarter inch from the top. If you used a pie dish or a larger size tart pan and the filling level looks low, beat another egg with a little cream and add this in. Sprinkle the cheese over the custard and bake for 25-30 minutes. The tart is done when you pierce it with a sharp knife and no wet egg mixture is released.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Momofuku Brownie Pie

When I got my hands on Momofuku Milk Bar , I could not wait to bake dessert! There are some special ingredients required for a number of the recipes. You should have all the ingredients for this brownie pie on hand. It is very rich and I actually cut up the leftover pie into 1 inch squares. The perfect texture of the brownie with the crunchy graham cracker crust is an addictive combination. This is so simple to make and you get to use a disposable tin pie dish, what’s easier than that? I have been working my way through Robicelli’s A Love Story with Cupcakes and it has been a truly fabulous journey. I needed to switch up my dessert style and this was just the book to do that. I often read cooking magazines or check out cookbooks from the library, and I mark the recipes I am interested in with post-its. Well, I would pretty much mark every page in Momofuku Milk Bar.

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This brownie pie is the perfect dessert to take to a 4th of July barbecue. Now below you are going to make two recipes, the filling and the graham crust. The brownie pie only uses 3/4 of the absolutely delicious graham crust. You could use this to sprinkle on ice cream or fresh fruit. But that leftover 1/4 recipe is actually the amount you need to make compost cookies. So save it in the freezer for when you make compost cookies, because if you don’t make compost cookies, you are an idiot. They are unbelievable cookies! You can actually make the graham crust ahead of time and form it in the pie tin and store the pre-made crust in the fridge. I hope by now you have all purchased a kitchen scale, it really is the best way to bake. It is actually less of a hassle than dirtying all those measuring cups and of course is more accurate. Almost all the baking books I pick up lately are in grams. I have had this American Weigh Pocket Scale for a few years now and it has not failed me! It uses AAA batteries and measures down to the tenth of a gram. It is really a great value for $18.

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Brownie Pie

3/4 recipe graham crust – 255 grams
125 g 72% chocolate (I used a combo of 60% and 80%)
6 tbsp butter
2 eggs
150 g sugar
40 g flour
25 g cocoa powder
2 g kosher salt
110 g heavy cream

Graham Crust

190 g graham cracker crumbs
20 g milk powder
25 g sugar
3 g kosher salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
55 grams heavy cream

Make the graham crust

Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt, together in a medium bowl. Whisk the butter and cream together. Pour the wet ingredients into the graham crumbs mixture. The butter will glue the crumbs together, you may need a little more to get it to hold its shape. Add 1 tbsp at a time.

Make the brownie pie

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Measure out 210 grams of graham crust into a 9 inch pie tin. Press the crust into the pie tin, covering the bottom and sides completely.

In a microwave safe bowl, mix together the chocolate and butter. Heat on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time until they are melted. Stir with a spatula until glossy.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and the sugar on high for 4 minutes. The mixture will be fluffy and pale, in the ribbon stage.

Switch out for the paddle attachment. Add the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix on low. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, until all mixed in.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, paddle on low for 1 minute. Stream in the cream on low speed, mix for 45 seconds.

Remove the bowl and gently fold in the 45 grams of graham crust.

Place the pie tin with graham crust on a sheet pan. Scrap the batter into the pie tin. bake for 25 minutes. It will puff up in the oven.

You will likely not have any leftovers, but if you do, store them in the fridge.

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar