Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man extremely tired and lazy about updating his blog.
ok, that aside, i will attempt to be more timely in my updates, just in case someone is waiting with bated breath for their sunday fix.
this week, i had a real craving for a cheeseburger. that may sound a bit pedestrian compared to my normal fare but trust me, i jazzed it up a bit to make it worthy. when i was developing the idea, i knew i wanted to make beer battered onion rings as one of the sides but i was stuck for a vegetable side. i owe it to my darling wife who gave me the idea of making coleslaw. its one of those foods that i eat on occasion but have never even considered making. well, color me convinced, it was both easy and quite tasty given the base recipe that i started with and the modifications i ran.
Cheeseburgers. i feel they are one of the most decadent foods, seared ground up flesh of cow with cheese and condiments. cooked properly, they are absolutely to die for. tossing ideas around, i remember a recipe that i came across a while back, probably in bon appetit, that made the cheeseburgers with the cheese on the inside. that struck me as perfection, gooey goodness penetrating the center of a tender cooked burger, whats not to love? well, i had specific flavors in mind when it came to this burger and decided to go with blue cheese and bacon for the filling. with such a fine burger, it seemed to me a shame to even consider using a simple store bought bun so i did take the trouble of making my own, freshly baked and tasty. so, without further ado, here is how i did it:
another great recipe from epicurious, the addition of chives and shallots made this wonderful. i loved the way it snuck up on you and bit you with the sharpness of the shallots. me being me, i added 6 cloves of slivered garlic to a half portion of this recipe. i figured the whole batch would be entirely too big and i would have slaw for weeks. here is the link to the recipe, please check it out: Creamy Coleslaw with Chives and Shallots
i went through several different iterations of bread recipes but honestly none of them seemed to capture what i was looking for. several of them were simply to time consuming and constituted a project in their own right. i decided to focus on form and function above flashiness of ingredients. it is amazing what proper treatment of a bread recipe with reward you with. i made a basic bread dough consisting of 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/4 cup warm water, a tablespoon of yeast, a twist or two of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. mix well to combine and work into a dough ball. on a floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes or so until it is silky and pliant. place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for an hour and a half. after the rise time, separate the dough into 6 pieces. at this point, i have to mention the excellent book, the bread baker’s apprentice for enlightening me on the next step. the book described the best way to get a proper crust is to ensure the dough is stretched and that there is proper surface tension on the outer layer. it’s difficult to describe the method for this but try to visualize it and i will try to put it into words. working with one dough ball at a time, roll it between your palms to create a smooth ball. then, form it into a bun shape by curling the edges of the dough under the dough ball, rotating the dough 90 degrees with each stretching. you want the top of your bun to look uniformly stretched in all directions. be careful not to tear the dough as you are basically creating a thin layer of dough with all the rest of the dough tucked inside of it. repeat for the other five dough balls and place on an oiled baking pan.
cover and let rise for another hour. after the second rise, gently cut a cross into the top of each bun, trying not to overly disturb the doughs texture. brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. let cool and slice in half just before service.
first off, cook up 6 slices of bacon until crisp. i started with 8 but somehow only six made it into the recipe. bacon has a way of disappearing in my kitchen, its really weird. drain the bacon well and mix with a nice large chunk of blue cheese, crumbling and combining to form an integrated ball of goodness. set aside. next, mix 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef with one beaten egg, salt, pepper, oregano, sage and a nice drizzle of worchestershire sauce. mix well by hand to combine and separate into 12 small balls.
working with two balls at a time (insert dirty joke here), flatten them into very thin patties. spoon a portion of the blue cheese mixture on top of one patty, smooth it out and top with the second patty. press the edges together and form into a nice solid burger with your cheese mixture completely encased. repeat 5 more times (duh). normally, i would strongly advocate firing up the grill but refer to my previous complaints about the fact that i do not have a grill here. what i do have is a pan that was recently used for making 8 – i mean 6 slices of bacon. so, medium high heat, about 4 minutes per side or until the burgers are done to your satisfaction. serve with thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced tomato, brown mustard and ketchup. accept the accolades of your adoring public.
the onion rings:
i’m a sucker for anything that’s beer battered. these are tasty without going to crazy on outlandish with the ingredients. a single onion is enough to feed two people, adjust according to your audience size.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cold beer
Slightly beat the eggs in medium mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well with electric mixer. Use immediately to batter thickly cut rings of yellow onion. fry the onions in very hot vegetable oil until browned and crispy, turning to ensure even cooking. drain well and serve.
overall, the meal was good. the burgers were a bit overshadowed by the strength of the blue cheese but i would counter that by plussing up the spices in the ground meat, not altering the blue cheese filling. i think a healthy dose of cracked black pepper would do the trick. we were lucky enough to get some sam adams winter lager in here and it was the perfect accompaniment. i am so excited to be in colorado for the old chicago winter beer tour, i am a huge fan of the winter seasonals with the mixtures of spicy undertones and thick hoppy-ness. oh and did i mention there is a t-shirt involved? man, beverages and free t-shirts, this thing is custom made for me!
i’m thinking of doing some thai style wrapped fish packets with a noodle dish on the side next week. still in the thought process so it may change altogether, we shall see.
20 more to go…