Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Perfect Hamburger Patties - According to Heather

So this is the second thing that I need to talk to you about before we do more "Knock Your Socks off Burgers".

I started doing hamburger patties this way this year - and every, single time I make burgers, I'm blown away by how juicy and amazing they are.

I'm afraid there's not much of a recipe here.  Which I personally hate.  But sometimes that's just what happens.

You'll need - lean ground beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, an egg, and breadcrumbs.

Dump the ground beef in a large bowl (ick - raw meat picture).  This is 600 grams

 
And the egg.  But make sure you crack the egg in a seperate dish just in case you break the shell and then you'll have to dig OUT the shell and it's totally a mess.


 
Then add in about a teaspoon of salt.  It will be more or less depending on how much meat you'll be using.  This much will make 4 honkin' patties.

Then 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

And a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

 
And a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs.

You want to mixture to be moist, but not soppy.  (GOOD GRIEF I hate those words! lol).  But you don't want the mixture to be dry.

Dry beef mixture = dry hamburger patty = sad face.

 
Then mix everything together until JUST combined.  Don't overwork the meat.  It will seriously (probably) get tough even at this point.

Tough meat = tough hamburger patty = sad face.

I hope you're not getting sick of that.

Then, evenly divide the mixture into 4 portions.  I use a scale (because I'm slightly neurotic) and do 6 ounce patties.  On 4 ounce buns. 

There's a method to my madness.  I also like everyone to get the same.  No fighting over the biggest hamburger or all that.

 
Then, shape the portions into patties about 1/4 - 1/2 inch large than the diameter of the bun you're using. 

And put a thumbprint in the center of the patty.  About halfway through or so is fine.


Now.  The barbecue .  Heat the barbecue to medium high heat.  Like - 400 - 450 degrees F.  Or "1 Steamboat, 2 steamboats".

Put the patties on the heated barbecue and close the lid.

Walk away.

Don't press on the patties. 

Don't move 'em around.

Just let them cook for about 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Or so.  (there are 5 patties in the next few pics - don't worry, you didn't miss anything, I just got distracted the first time around and stopped taking pictures so had to catch up)

 
Then go back to the barbecue and open the lid. 

 
Flip the patties.  Close the lid.

Walk away.

Don't press on the patties.

Don't move 'em around.

Cook for another 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Or so.


Then go back and open the lid.  Put on the cheese if you're having some.  (And why wouldn't you!)

Close the lid and let cook for 30 - 45 seconds.

Then take the patties off the barbecue and let sit for a few minutes before devouring. 


Here are the answers to the questions you must be asking.

1.  Why shape the patties bigger than the buns?
The burgers will shrink up when they're cooking.  Shaping them bigger than the buns will help ensure even bun to patty distribution at eating time.

2.  Why put a thumb print in the center of each patty?
It helps the burgers cook through a little faster, reducing the amount of time required to be on the barbecue, thereby resulting in a juicier, deliciouser burger.

3.  Why not press on the patties or fiddle with them after they've been placed on the barbecue?
When you press on the patties (or fiddle with them), you press out all that lovely moisture that makes the burgers juicy.  Also - this causes flare-ups which can scorch the outside of the patty, making it burned-like.

4.  What makes you an expert?
Nothing.  But this has been working for me and I've been getting rave reviews!  So why not share that!

Hamburger Patties

600 grams lean ground beef
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat grill to medium high heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients and mix until just combined.  Don't overwork the meat.
  3. Divide into 4-ounce portions (600 grams should be 4 patties) and form into patties about 1/2 - 1/2 inch bigger than the diameter of the buns you'll be using.  Press a thumbprint into the center of the patty, about halfway through.
  4. Please the formed patties onto the preheated grill and cook for about 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  5. Flip the patties and cook for another 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  6. Add cheese (if desired) and cook for about 40 seconds.
  7. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Hamburger Buns

Before I go any further sharing these DELICIOUS burgers with you, I feel like we need to talk about two things.

The first thing we should discuss are the buns.

You could totally run down to the store and buy fresh buns - with extra flavor points if they're warm when you pick them up.

But - you can just as easily MAKE buns from scratch that are delicious and tender and hold up to the heavy-duty, juicy, awesome burgers and all the trimmings we're going to be topping them with.

Seriously.  You won't be able to pack a burger patty with cheese, bacon, a fried egg, salsa verde, Pico de Gallo, and chipotle mayo on a flimsy bun.

But these ones will definitely stand up to the whole nine yards.

 
In a large mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer - I prefer doing it by hand) combine the flour

 
Salt.

 
Sugar and yeast.  Whisk that together.

 
Add in the butter (softened!) and cut into smallish pieces.
 

A lightly beaten egg.

 
And then stir in the buttermilk.  You could absolutely use whole milk here.  I did - and it's just as amazing as the buttermilk.
 
 
I try to stir the "dough" together as much as possible before turning it out.  It'll be shaggy and not at all together.  But don't worry.
 
 
Start kneading it together and then for an additional 6 - 8 minutes after it comes together.  The dough should be soft and supple and slightly tacky - but if it's STICKY, sprinkle flour on the dough and knead it in.
 
Once the kneading is done, lightly grease a bowl and turn the dough over in the bowl to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (or warmer) for at least two hours - or until double in size.

 
Once the dough has finished rising, divide into 4-ounce pieces and shape into discs.  You could shape the pieces into balls and flatten slightly - but I just formed the pieces into rounds about 1/2 inch thick.  (I should note here that the original recipe calls for 3-ounce pieces and makes 12 - but I make 4-ounce and get 11 buns or half the recipe and do 5 buns.  Just personal preference)
 
Then let rise for another 60 - 90 minutes.  I've even let it go for another 2 hours.  Depending on the day.
 
I'm very busy!  lol


 
After the second rise is complete, beat an egg with a tiny bit of water and brush on the tops of the "pre-buns" (cause they're not buns yet!) and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or both if you're so inclined.

 
Then bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes until golden.

 
Oh.  Man. 
 
I've been told that making buns from scratch is super-time-consuming - but these require about 40 minutes (maybe?) of hands on time.  Although it is spread out over a few hours.

 
Besides the fact that they are sturdy enough to handle everything you're going to pile on it (more to come on that later!), they are tender and soft and just wonderful. 
 
I mean - I get it.  Days are PACKED with stuff to do.  Buying buns is more often the easiest way to deal with hamburgers.  I promise you though - making them is totally worth it. 
 
Try it for yourself!  You might be surprised...
 
xoxo - Heather
 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Jalapeno Popper Burgers

OOooooOooooh boy.
 
It's May long weekend!  I'm so excited.
 
For most, May long weekend truly kicks off the summer season.  And why wouldn't it?  If you don't live here in Northern Alberta that is.  Or anywhere in Alberta.  Or Canada.  Because it could very well snow!
 
But the forecast looks halfway decent and should involve a BBQ and a backyard fire in the pit I only tripped over all last summer.
 
Before we get to the main event, let's do a quick run-down of other burgers you could try this weekend - or this summer!
 
One of my all-time favorites - Shrimp Burgers.  So light and lemony and delicious!
 
 
 

Just a sauce topping that turns a regular burger into a wild, smoky treat.  Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger sauce.



If turkey is your thing - you could try these Southwestern Turkey Burgers.  But that chipotle pepper ketchup would totally rock a regular beef burger.


And for a Mediterranean twist - how about these Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers?  The mint, the parsley, and the complex of spices topped with a creamy, dreamy Tzatziki sauce is totally perfect for a hot summer day!


But.  You're here to drool over these Jalapeno Popper Burgers.

And drool you will.

Remember my Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich?  Sooooo good.

Same kinda thing here.  But with beef.  And bacon.  And this delish avocado/ranch topping.

 
Except this time I roasted the jalapenos on the barbecue.  Over about 450 degree F heat, put the jalapenos straight onto the grill.  Then give 'em a turn every few minutes until the skins are blackened and loose.  Then let them cool, peel the skins, cut them open and remove the seeds and membranes.  Or you can leave them for the spice factor.
 
Somewhat superior to the oven method, the smoky flavor from the barbecue is amazing.  Plus - no turning on your oven when it's 800 degrees inside.
 
 
Then add the diced up jalapenos to softened cream cheese.  Stir to combine.


Now for the assembly.  Take the ground beef and season it.  Toss in an egg or some bread crumbs for the binding.  Honestly - you could do a Lipton onion soup-type burger (which my Mom has always done) and it's perfect.  Or whatever floats your boat.

Then seperate the beef into 8 pieces and press into patties a little larger than the size of your bun.

And divide the cream cheese mixture between 4 of the patties.

 
Then take the 4 naked patties and place those on top of the cheese-topped patties.  You want to kind of pinch the edges of the patties so that they're sealed together.  That will keep them from flopping apart and keeps the cheese from seeping out.

 
Make sure your barbecue is ready and get those burgers on there.  As far as cook time goes - 400 - 450 degrees F (if you have a thermometer), or whatever medium-high heat is.  Or 2 steamboats count.
 
At this point you can choose if you want to use slices of cheese, or grate up some cheddar and pile it on.  I grated cheddar and I feel like it totally changed my burger experience!  Infinitely better than slices!


 
Look how gooey and melty.

 

For the topping.  You could absolutely spread on a little more cream cheese.  Or put on mayo.  Or ketchup (but that would be weird).  Or whatever blows your hair back.

But.

I recommend doing this topping.  A ripe avocado and 1/2 a cup of ranch dressing.  Just make sure it's nice and thick dressing.  The stuff I brought home was kind of runny and the end result was not that amazing.

The avocado-ranch topping will cool off the heat of the jalapenos - if you're of the brave variety and have left the seeds and membranes.

Now, I'm somewhat faint of heart when it comes to heat, so I diligently scraped out the seeds and membranes of each jalapeno.  Which left a little zing, but no heat.  But the avocado-ranch topping was still a fantastic complement to the burger.

And make sure there's bacon.

Burgers need bacon.  Like meatloaf needs potatoes.  Burgers need bacon.

And buns.  But who's counting.

 

These were totally fantastic.  The saltiness of the cheese, the crisp of the bacon, the sweetness of the cream cheese, the zing of the jalapenos - that avocado-ranch topping.  It all went together like it was always meant to be.

And - to be completely honest - I was somewhat freaked out by the weird combo of ground beef and cream cheese....  They just don't seem like they should go together.  Ever.

It totally works.  Really.  I would never lie to you.

Welcome to summer kids.  Now get out there and barbecue!!!!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Since "it's" officially frozen over here in Alberta, what with the - um - blizzards.  I thought we should do this noodle bake.  I was going to hold off until fall to share this with you, but I certainly think we need a little casserole-y happiness in our day when there's snow on the ground on May 7th.
 
Good grief.
 
If you look at the cast of characters below - there's not a whole lot going on.  9 ingredients. Really!  Only 9.  And I'm sure you're wondering - how can that be good?  Well, stay with me.
 
 
In a large skillet or frying pan, cook the ground beef until only a little pink remains.  Less pink than in the picture below.

 
Then add in the tomato sauce.

 
And the salt and pepper.

 
Then cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes.
 
While the meat is simmering, cook the noodles.
 
And in a large bowl combine:  the sour cream. 

 
The cottage cheese.

 
And the green onions.

 
When the noodles are cooked, throw those into the bowl too.  And stir it all together.

 
Once the meat is cooked and the noodle mixture is stirred together, get a 7 x 11 baking dish.
 
EEK!  No pics here!  Sorry!  Will definitely update with some when I make this again.
 
Dump half the noodles into the bottom of the baking dish.
 
Top with half of the meat mixture.
 
And half the cheese.  You could totally add some more cheese if you want!
 
Repeat.

Bake for 20 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.

And scarf it down.

Trust me.  You're going to LOVE this really simple casserole.

 
It's hearty and creamy without being rich and the noodles lighten it up enough so that you don't feel guilty about taking seconds.
 
Or thirds in my case.
 
No judging.

 
How can 9 ingredients be so delicious?  Why don't you whip this up tonight on this grey, snowy day and find out for yourself!
 
Oh.  And I totally recommend consuming this with a big chunk of bread and a Caesar salad.
 
Worth it.
 
xoxo - Heather