Portobello Buffalo Burgers

The only regret I have in putting this meal together last night was that I neglecgted to take any picutres of the streams of juice that dripped from these finished burgers, snaked around our fingers as we ate, and rained down onto our plates.  If you decide to make these, look forward to the experience.  It’s an extra perk of these decadent dream-burgers.

The smell over the burners as the mushrooms and onions browned together was truly intoxicating.  The portobellos add a rich, woodsy flavor to the meat.

Mature mushrooms such as portobellos store higher levels of octenol in their gills, leading to a richer aroma when they’re cut open.   I topped them with a simple slaw made with celery, apple, sugar and cider vinegar that rendered any additional topping or condiment unnecessary

Tender buffalo that melts in your mouth, packed with aromatic mushrooms and topped with a zesty slaw.  Write your own ending to this one.  I just remembered there are two left over in the refrigerator!

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Hickory Bacon Avocado Burgers

Is anyone else able to take a shot like the one above: an unorganized mess of recipes downloaded and printed out so as not to be forgotten?  I have mini-piles of these everywhere – my desk at home, my desk at work, the dining room table, the back seat of my car, my computer bag, the end table in the living room, the kitchen counters, above the refrigerator, on the refrigerator, and most likely one or two by this point underneath the refrigerator.

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Adobo Chile Burgers with Queso Sauce

I would like to take this moment to thank Cristian, our show’s Creative Director, who suggested that the entire crew and staff order lunch today from a Cajun delvery place in Van Nuys… that still hasn’t shown up.  In fact, they are closing in on being two hours late getting me the Alligator Po Boy Sandwich I was very much looking forward to sampling.   Instead, I’m left to subsist on nothing more than an apple, six ounces of yogurt and three Del Taco hot sauce packets.

Cristian… and those who starve because of him.

Now, we’re left with a predicament.  Do we call the place and cancel though they swear the delivery girl is already on the way (as they have for the last hour)?  Do we ask for a discount on our bill?  Or should we request they comp us the entire thing, as the food will most likely be cold when it arrives and much of the crew will have already left for the day?  More importantly, should we ban Cristian from ever being allowed to pick the restaurant again, or give him another chance?

And while I’m on the subject of Cristian, I’d also like to thank him for never getting the name of my blog right (“Hey Gary… you should put this up on Tv Food and Fun!”), always trying to get me to do his bidding (“Hey Gary… you should go over there and ask her why she’s always fucking shit up. We’d all support you.”), and for making fun of my fat cat (“Dude… that is a fat cat”).

As for the burgers below… they are pretty damn amazing and a little on the spicy side.  We had them two nights in a row.  Wish I had one right now.  Thanks again, Cris!

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Open Face Crab Burgers & Red Pepper Dressing

The end of LOST last week unfortunately also spells the end to hosting my regular Tuesday night viewing and food parties.  It’s been a great way for me to keep the new recipes coming through the kitchen during the work week, and a chance to share the finished meals with people other than only MG.  Not that MG would ever complain about being the sole recipient of my food, but it’s nice to get a little buzz going outside of the boyfriend realm.

(If you are one of those people who is planning to start watching LOST on DVD now that its full run is complete, do NOT read the next paragraph.  Just hop over it.)

Unlike many of the LOSTies out there, I had no problem with the show’s ultimately unanswered questions and unresolved issues.  The final episode was wholly satisfying and gave me a genuine feeling of closure.  It was worth the six seasons of commitment, so please feel free to not leave comments asking how Libby ended up in Hurley’s mental hospital, what Walt’s powers were, and how the smoke monster couldn’t leave the island and yet characters saw visions of their dead loved ones in the “real world.”  I have no interest in defending how I feel about the show or allowing someone to try and argue me out of it, and seeing that it’s still a pretty touchy subject with many fans, that’s probably the smartest road to take anyway.

The best part of the show for me was spending time with my mini-community of LOST buddies… eating, drinking, exchanging past story details that might have been forgotten and executing a communal gasp at a particularly mind-fucking cliffhanger.

Even more fun than that was grabbing MG by the shirt collars at an act break, throwing him around the couch and shrieking, “HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON??????” What, I’m suppose to do that with Glee now? I don’t think it’s going to work.

The final LOST dinner party at my place was for the penultimate episode.  LOSTies and co-workers Travis, Laura and Ashley joined me and MG for a night of smoke monsters, frozen time-altering wheels, and open-faced crab burgers with homemade red pepper sauce followed by angel food cake topped with strawberry sauce and whipped cream, which in turn was followed by (in MG’s case only) a bowl of rocky road ice cream.  Recipes and MG’s “this little piggy can’t be stopped” photo are after the jump.

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BBQ Bison Burgers

OK, yeah, so MG and I made complete pigs out of ourselves with these burgers tonight.

ARE YOU LOOKING AT THEM? If so, you can hardly blame us.

MG threw me a culinary air kiss (fingers to puckered lips which then shoot off into my direction – is there a better name for that?) and declared this “one of your most satisfying meals yet!” He doesn’t just give these kinds of compliments out, people, so take a very good look at this burger. I don’t often pat myself on the back, but…

It didn’t hurt that I used ground bison instead of beef or lamb (if you follow me here, you know beef is almost non-existent in my diet, and lamb has recently surpassed turkey as favorite burger meat of choice).

Bison is new to my kitchen. A few of its merits: less fat, less calories, and more protein than a comparable serving of beef. Also, similar to lamb, it just breaks apart in you mouth like magic. In fact, you need to take extra care in the pan as well or it might just fall apart on you during a flip. No matter though… push it back together, or don’t. Scoop it out it pieces, melt a little cheese over it and eat it over the sink.

The meat also really absorbs whatever flavors you pack into the pre-cooked patties.

And while you might feel the need to slather it in BBQ sauce as you would a beef burger, DON’T.

In fact, to be honest, I would have enjoyed it just as much with no BBQ sauce and maybe a fresh slice of avocado in its place. Bacon is most certainly a welcome addition as well.

Dare I go the route next time of cheese, avocado, bacon AND BBQ sauce?

If you were here, you would see the angel and the devil that have magically just appeared on my shoulders and have begun fighting for control of my soul.

Bison, people… BISON!

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Lamb Burgers with Mint Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Listen to me about burgers, because burgers I know.

There will be no complaining in this entry about my fear of being able to master a complicated recipe. There will be no rings of frustration over unfamiliar cooking terms and obscure ingredients I’ll have to buy and will never have need for again.

Because I really like burgers. I like juicy, thick, messy burgers. I like to make burgers.

And I’m good at it, too.

If there’s ever a line for them outside my door, be wise. Get into it.

This is an entry about staying in on a Saturday night with friends and food, booze and television, and really good burgers. I’ll be a little sad inside when I finish writing it.

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Black Bean Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

There’s tremendous controversy swirling around this Sandra Lee recipe.  It’s possible that it may eventually come to blows.  Many love it, but it also has a lion-size share of haters.

Am I naive becuase it never crossed my mind that Sandra Lee doesn’t actually come up with all these recipes herself?  Several commenters on this recipe at FoodNetwork.com suggested that she had a team of test-kitchen chefs who actually come up with these dishes.  Really?  That sounds like a job I’d be up for. Just sitting around the kitchen all day thinking, “hmmm, peanut butter and…. vodka! Yes! That’s it! Back later, guys. I’m off to BevMo!”

The thought never occured to me that Sandra doesn’t come up with all these recipes on her own, but maybe she’s just too darn busy conditioning that shiny blond hair of hers to bother.

It really is shiny hair, too.  Just look at it.

I bet it smells like wildflowers.  Gee.

I’m not sure of the actual time Sandra’s Money Saving Meals airs on Saturdays, but it nearly always coincides with my return home from breakfast with MG at our spot, Vintage Enoteca, where the weekend panini specials are peerless. Flopping down into my reading chair with my feet up on the ottoman, desperate to avoid fading into an eight-hour food coma, I usually catch the tail end of Rachael Ray, followed immediately by Sandra… sunny, inviting, 100% Aryan… opening up a world of flavorful and economically sound dishes, and then delightfully revealing to you that, by using her methods and ingredients over more traditional options, you save yourself…wait for it… a whopping…  thirty cents! Forty-seven cents! Maybe even… en entire half-dollar! Oh that money-saving Sandra, always looking out for that household food budget. With the money you save following her remarkable hints, your home will always be flush in ballpoint pens, postage stamps and Tang.

This past Saturday, Sandra showed me how to make inexpensive, meatless burgers using just black beans, some breadcrumbs, an egg and some seasonings. I happen to be a major fan of black beans, and nearly always have a can or two in the cupboard. Additionally, MG has been looking to steer clear of ground beef, but loves himself a good burger, so this recipe shot to the top of my must-make list. The divisive reviews on Sandra’s page at FoodNetwork.com, however, gave me pause. One group declared the recipe a glowing success, the other an outrageous disaster. Stories of mushiness, blandness and lack of burger cohesion were alarming. After a year, I have yet to experience a major fail in the kitchen, and I’d like to maintain the record, or at the very least not have it obliterated by black bean burgers, so I carefully poured over each review. Some samples:

“The flavor combination is great but I also had problems keeping the patties together. I wound up adding a bit more breadcrumbs to get the texture right. I am thinking I had extra moisture left from draining and rinsing the beans” – Laurie

“Great taste on this one. Very easy to prepare and even easier to eat. The one thing that I would have done differently is to make the patties thinner. I grilled them and, even though they crisped up on the outside, they were still kind of mushy inside.” – Mike

“WORST RECIPE EVER. Falls apart. Tastes bland. Better off putting the mix into a burrito or taco.” – Cheryl

“I make this at least once a week. It is healthy, tasty, and my husband even likes it! I make a side of sweet potato fries that accompany this dish nicely.” – Kristina

I finally decided to proceed, with caution and the addition of some bonus ingredients to ensure flavor and stability.  It was the right move.  These burgers are terrific!  They take a little more TLC during prep and cooking than your standard burgers would, but the pay out is worth it!

I highly recommend you set aside a portion of the black bean mixture and use as filling in another meal – goes great as a filling in tacos or enchiladas, over eggs or nachos, or could be cooked into a chili or even a dip … so park some in the fridge.

The recipe for the sweet potato fries is also Sandra’s.  Lots of taste without the controversy.  Sandy says the fries are so flavorful, you can eat them without ketchup.  Sandy clearly also believes in unicorns, leprechauns and the Y2K bug, because there is NO FRY known to man that doesn’t benefit from ketchup!

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Burgers Diane and Homemade Wedges

Since I’ve started this culinary quest, certain meals have just been ruined for me forever.  Well, they aren’t exactly meals so much as cardboard-packaged frozen food items I used to pick up in the freezer section because I didn’t know how to do much more than boil water and run the microwave at its most basic level.

Nevertheless…  Jose Ole, White Castle, CPK,  Lean Cuisine and the entire Hot Pocket clan… we had some good times together, didn’t we?  And if I had known it was all going to come to such an abrupt end, I would have savored our time together more.  Remember as we waited anxiously to see if Ross and Rachel would ever get together?  And how you were always there to nurse me through the weeks when 21 Jump Street was about the Vietnamese guy and not Johnny Depp?  You stood by me during the Z. Cavarrici phase, the colored hair mousse months, and the George Michael dangling cross earring, and this is the thanks you get… total abandonment!

I rarely even stop in the freezer aisles anymore, which can make things tough when it’s late at night and the hunger hits.  No fast fixes in my kitchen anymore.  In fact, MG and I didn’t sit down to this meal until after 10 in the evening because it took close to an hour to make it from chopping and combining to searing and simmering, but my god it IS true that good things come to those who wait.  These are not just burgers, these are events.  Soaked in thick creamy sauce and accompanied by homemade fries right out of the oven.  Eating it later only meant going to bed sooner with partying tummies and satisfied grins on our faces.

Recipe and more pics after the jump.

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