Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Perfect Burger? Part 2

There is always a debate at our house over burgers: Cheese or no cheese? Fried egg on top? Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise? Additions to the ground beef or simply let it be? Mustard? Pickles? It goes on and on.....
On Memorial Day we continued our quest for the perfect burger with this combination: Plain beef burgers on the grill, Hot Pepper Monterrey Jack cheese melted over them, topped with a Chipotle Ranch Mayo, lettuce and tomato. Here's how I made the mayo:

Chipotle Ranch Mayo
3 T. light Dukes Mayonnaise
1 heaping T. light sour cream
2 T. Ranch Dressing
2 chipotles plus a T. of juice from a can of "Chipotles en Adobo"
Finely chop up the peppers and add to the other ingredients. Let it sit for about an hour to meld the flavors. Can be done ahead and stored for about 3 days in the refrigerator.
Lean ground beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese and chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato
For those who are not familiar with Chipotles en Adobo, they are a canned item, found in the Hispanic foods section of every grocery store near me, so I bet they are easy to find where you are! Chipotles en Adobo are simply smoked jalapeno peppers packed with a smokey, onion-y type relish on them. The remaining peppers and sauce can be frozen for another use. They are good in chili, scrambled eggs, salsas -- anything you want to give a smokey little kick to!
Let me also comment that I think the best burgers are make with a little dimple in the middle when you form them. This is another ongoing battle in my kitchen, as my grillmaster husband seems to prefer burgers that resemble flying saucers -- fat in the middle, with overcooked tapered edges. The even formation of the meat and the dimple in the center ensures even cooking and the burger won't puff up with juice in the middle,which is what will happen without the dimple. We do agree, however, that 80/20 or 70/30 ground beef seems to make a juicier, more flavorful burger. The leaner ground beef is often dry and doesn't have too much flavor. If you do use that kind, add a T. of olive oil and a T. of Worchestershire Sauce to your ground beef to keep it juicy when grilled! We also agree that the buns ought to be slightly toasted either in the oven or on the grill, 2 - 3 minutes, cut side down. What do you think? Perfect or not so much?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Broccoli and Tomato Bake

I love this dish! With tomatoes coming in season, and broccoli all over the farmer's markets, this dish is a winner. I got the recipe from a dear friend and it's a hit every time I make it. Don't be afraid to try making a white sauce, it's not nearly as hard as you think it is. Just go slowly, and don't turn the heat up too high while you are whisking away! I promise extreme yummy goodness! It can also be make ahead of time, up to one day, if you like to cook in advance or keep it low stress when entertaining.

Broccoli and Tomates, baked in a creamy parmesan sauce

Broccoli and Tomato Bake

2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced

1 big crown of broccoli, separated into servings that are about 1 in. in the stem w/ a large floret on top

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 c. milk (lower fat it fine)

½ c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese**

Salt and pepper

½ c. Panko or regular bread crumbs (unseasoned)

1 T. melted butter

¼ c. additional shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Steam the broccoli spears for 3 minutes. Remove them from the heat and drain them. They should remain intact and bright green. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and stir in the flour, making sure it is completely incorporated (we’re making a basic white sauce.) Keeping the heat on medium, add the milk and begin whisking the mixture. As the mixture begins to bubble, the sauce will thicken. Keep stirring. When it gets thick, add in the cheese, a pinch of salt and a little pepper. Stir until the cheese melts, and then turn it off. The sauce should be of pourable consistency. If it looks too thick, add a little more milk. Taste it and correct the seasoning, if needed.

Spray a 13 X 9” baking dish with cooking spray or wipe with a little oil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced tomatoes in a single layer in the bottom. Layer the broccoli florets over them. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of this. (At this point you may refrigerate the dish for up to one day, if you like to prepare in advance.) Sprinkle the dish with the bread crumbs and pour on the melted butter. Add the last ¼ c. grated Parmesan if using. Bake for 30 minutes, until hot throughout and bubbly. Serves 6.

**You can use any kind of cheese your family prefers. Cheddar and Swiss will both work well. The original recipe called for Parmesan, so that’s what I wrote