Monday, December 27, 2010

Bacon Blue Cheese Burger with Caramelized Onions


About a year and a half ago I was driving up from Los Angeles to Portland and I stopped in Eugene for the night because my brother attends the University of Oregon there. The next day we skipped breakfast and went out for an early lunch at his favorite local eatery, Dickie Jo's, an amazing and delicious burger joint. They let you pick out all the toppings and they have a great variety of cheeses for their burgers, in addition to having fantastic banana milkshakes. I ended up with my brother's favorite, a bacon blue cheese burger with caramelized onions. It was incredible. I'm usually fairly overwhelmed by blue cheese, but when it melts it seems to have a much milder taste, or maybe it just seemed milder because of all the other great flavors that were going on in the burger, particularly the sweetness of the caramelized onions. Sweet Lord, my mouth is beginning to water just thinking about it. I re-created this earth-shattering burger for my family while I was home in Portland for the holidays, (no we didn't eat burgers for Christmas, I was home for a couple weeks so there was ample time for burger eating before Christmas), and they came out just as outstanding as I remember them being. My family loved them, and all eight of the burgers were devoured within twenty-four hours. I hope you guys give this burger a try, it really is an amazing salute to ground meat.

Ingredients:

8 Medium-Sized Plain Hamburger Buns
2 lbs Ground Beef, 10% fat
1/2 lb Bacon
1 Large Sweet Onion, sliced
1 Large Tomato, sliced
Iceberg Lettuce
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
8 Tablespoons Crumbled Blue Cheese
8 Tablespoons Thousand Island Dressing
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Siracha, or other preferred hot sauce
Ketchup (optional)


Heat the butter in a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced sweet onions and lower the heat to allow them to simmer in the butter. Cover, and continue to cook them for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they do not burn, until they look like the photo on the left. Once the onions are done, place them in a bowl and set them aside. Then grill the bacon in the same frying pan until they have reached the desired crispiness.


While the onions and bacon are cooking, mix the ground beef, worcestershire sauce, siracha, cumin, and salt and pepper together in a large bowl until well blended. Shape the mixture into patties that are about 1 inch in height and 5 inches across. It is okay if they are wider than the buns, the patties will shrink when they're cooked. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add several burgers to the pan, giving them an inch or so of space between patties. Cook them to the desired done-ness, (i.e. rare, medium-rare, well-done...), making sure to flip them so both sides are cooked evenly.


Once you flip them a final time, add 1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese to the top of each patty and allow to sit there for a few minutes before removing the patty from the pan. Place the patties on a tray lined with paper towels. Repeat this process with all of the patties until they've been cooked. Toast the buns lightly, then lay them out open-faced. Place 1 tablespoon of thousand island dressing on the bottom of each bun, then place a tomato slice,  a patty, a small scoop of caramelized onions,  a piece or two of bacon, a leaf of lettuce, and then place the top bun on top of the lettuce. If you want you can also put some ketchup on the top bun before placing it on the burger. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Croquettes


A few years ago while I was studying abroad in Germany I was lucky enough to get to visit Holland, twice! The first time we went to Amsterdam on a school field trip to attend a media-product-type convention. We stayed there for the weekend and had a fantastic (and crazy) time. Then I went again about a month later to visit my cousin Mercia who lives in a suburb of Amsterdam. We went to museums, walked around the beautiful canals and ate a TON of good food. My personal favorite of the many great things we ate there were the croquettes, or "croquetten", which consist of meat, usually mixed with potatoes and seasonings, and then breaded and deep-fried until crispy, when they are then served piping hot with a side of mustard. My Theia Anna, who is originally from Holland, told me to try them while I was there and I am so very happy I did! She loves them too, and she recently got a recipe for them from her nephew, and then sent it on over to me. So of course, I made them immediately afterwards, and am now sharing it here. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do, as they are quite excellent.


Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken, rinsed and with giblets removed and discarded
3 Cups Italian-Style Breadcrumbs
1 (3) Ounce Packet Instant Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 Eggs, beaten
3 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
Several Cups of Oil for frying (I used canola oil)


Fill a very large stock pot a little over half full with water and bring it to a boil. Add the chicken to the pot and add more water, if needed, until the water level is about 4 inches from the top of the pot, or until the chicken is just covered with water. Lower the heat to a steady low boil and simmer it for an hour, flipping the chicken over halfway through to ensure that its evenly cooked.


Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Save the chicken broth and set it aside. Remove the skin from the chicken and discard it. Pick all of the meat off of the bird and throw away the remaining bones, fat and cartilage. Place the meat in a food processor and blend until the meat is smooth and dough-like.

Put the meat in a large bowl and add the instant mashed potatoes, butter, salt, pepper, cumin, parsley, and worcestershire sauce. Gradually begin stirring in the chicken broth until the mixture is a nice soft dough, but not too crumbly as you don't want to croquettes falling apart while they're being deep-fried.


Flour a flat surface and then roll out the dough into a rectangle so that it is about 2 inches thick. Cut the dough into  roughly 2 by 4 inch rectangles. Place the beaten eggs in a medium sized bowl, and place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Begin to heat the oil until it reaches 355 degrees Fahrenheit.


Dredge the dough rectangles in the breadcrumbs, then in the eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs again, and set on a plate. Do this with all of the rectangles. Then deep fry them in the hot oil, several at a time, depending on the size of your deep fryer, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they turn a nice, deep golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels.


Allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a separate plate and serve them immediately with a side of mustard. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate them and then reheat them in the oven for a few minutes so that they stay nice and crunchy on the outside.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Apple & Pumpkin Snowball Doughnuts




This past weekend I had a Christmas party for a small group of friends, and I decided to make some doughnut balls covered in powdered sugar, so that they would look like - duh dun duh duh  - snowballs! I'd never made doughnuts before, but I did have some experience deep frying pastry dough for desserts with some Greek recipes, so the whole deep-frying venture wasn't as intimidating. I went ahead and gave this a try, and decided to make half of the doughnuts with some apple sauce and the other half with some pureed pumpkin I had laying around. They were absolutely fantastic, REALLY rich and cake-y on the inside, with a nice coating of sweet powdered sugar on the outside. Having them right from the fryer was good too, they were so warm and fluffy! I hope you guys like them as much as me and my friends did, these doughnuts are pretty awesome.


Ingredients:

1 Egg
2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup While Milk
1/4 Cup Applesauce
1/4 Cup Pureed Pumpkin (canned pumpkin)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Several cups of frying oil (I used canola oil)

Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Set it aside. In a small mix together all of the dry ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Set it aside. Mix the milk and egg into the butter mixture until well blended. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until a dough-like substance has formed. Divide the dough in half and place it in two separate medium to small sized bowls. Add the pumpkin to one bowl and the applesauce to the other bowl and mix each of them until they have the same consistency throughout.




Heat the oil in a medium sized deep fryer until it reaches 375 degrees fahrenheit. Drop the applesauce mixture by tablespoon fulls into the fryer and then do the same with the pumpkin mixture until there is about one or two inches between the doughnuts floating in the fryer. Fry them until they're golden brown, about two to three minutes on each side. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Allow them to cool for 20 minutes, then blot them with another paper towel to remove the excess oil. Pour the powdered sugar into a large shallow bowl and roll the doughnuts in it until they are well covered. Place them on a plate, sprinkle a little more powdered sugar over the top, and serve immediately.