Tag Archives: Onion

Burger Bar Bash planning tips


It’s summertime and grilling season for a lot of people, aka the season to eat and cook outside cause it’s too darn hot to cook inside.

Well, kinda.

Personally I like my air-conditioned kitchen, it’s bug free and convenient, for me.

However, I also love to host parties, as you may have gathered from this blog.    And one of the funnest parties is a Burger Bar Bash.

We used to host these at least once a year when we lived out west, and it was always popular.   We hosted a couple at the campsite when we lived in a RV a few years ago.  I had very generous friends who let me use their BBQ grills, cause I only had a small one.  And I no longer even own that one, but I have my George Forman grill and quite frankly I’m happy with that.

But lately, I’ve been craving a good old fashioned Burger Bar Bash again.

So until I get around to doing it, I thought I would let you in on some planning tips.

First off, depending on your pocketbook and budget, you may only want to make all the toppings and have everyone bring their own meat.

I’m kinda funny that way, but I like to do it all.

From the meat to the toppings to the buns, I’m a bit of a control freak that way.

First off, figure out how many people you can accommodate, budget wise, or space wise.

I used to plan on just over one pound of hamburger meat for every three people.  And as I said, I like to ‘control’ it all so I make my own patties.   Told you I was a control freak on this. I learned that a 6 oz. uncooked patty would fill up most people.   And I always make extras, just in case a teenage boy or three wanders in. Quick math lesson, 15 lbs. of hamburger meat will make 40 patties.  And any leftover patties that aren’t cooked, just go ahead and freeze.
And…  I’m rather picky on the whole fat to lean ration on my hamburgers.  I like a 50/50 ratio of ground chuck and ground round.  I want some fat, but I hate to bite into a grease burger.  ***SHUDDER***  And even though I made a mixture, I did not play in the meat.   You can toss it gently together and then just barely pat the patties together.   I also had turkey burgers for those people who don’t eat red meat, as well as Veggie Burgers for those who don’t eat meat at all.  (I’ve been known to just make those for myself, cause I like them).
You can buy the veggie burger patties or make them yourself.  Your call.

And don’t forget the dimple in the burger when you grill them.   They cook evenly that way.

OK, now we have the meat handled.    Well, kinda, I’ll clue you in on one of my fave burgers later.

Next up is the buns.  And here is where I get super, super picky.  I hate, abhor, despise those buns that fall apart as soon as you bite into it.  They just moosh up and well, I won’t buy them.  And usually, the bun is way too small for my burgers and the toppings.   So, I buy French Hamburger buns.   You know the kind, they’re made from French bread, and they do hold up.  And I’ve also been known to buy a loaf of French Bread and just cut it into 4ths or 5ths and make buns that way.  And I’ve just discovered Pretzel Buns, which seem to be pretty sturdy as well.  A good Kaiser roll can work also.  Your call on that one, but please don’t use those puny little buns that get sold in an 8 pack.  I think they’re only good for those cardboard patties some hamburger chains sell, cause they can only handle a two ounce patty, a small squirt of mayo and mustard.
I’m not opinionated on this subject, at all.  Am I?

Condiments are next.  I have the usual,  Ketchup, yellow mustard, brown mustard, BBQ sauce and Mayo.  And have also been know to put out a couple of bottles of hot sauce as well.  I cater or attempt to cater to most tastes.

Then there is the lettuce, tomato and pickles and raw onions.  You can shred the lettuce and place it out in a bowl if you like or just tear up the leaves into quarters and pile them loosely onto a platter.  I’ve found that one head of lettuce will do about 20 or 30 burgers.    I also have two kinds of pickles available, as some people like Dill Pickles and others like Bread and Butter pickles.   I can go either way.  But I have to have a large slice of raw onion on my burger, and I don’t care if it makes my breath funny.  I can always pop a mint.

So there are the basic toppings, condiments, etc.   And it works.

But…

I like to go a little further.

A lot further.

I cook up a pile of bacon, have some good pastrami handy, some sauteed garlic, some caramelized onions, sauteed Mushrooms and two or three kinds of cheese for people to choose from.   I really don’t care for the processed cheese slices, but that’s me.   I usually offer some good Cheddar or Colby Jack, some Provolone and some Blue Cheese.

And here’s where it really gets fun.   Grill your burgers, brown your buns if you like, place them on a big platter and let your guests build their own.

You would be amazed at how much fun that is.
Especially when one of your guests builds a Dagwood style burger and can’t get their mouth around it.

Ummm. that might actually be me.

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Samosa’s, Gluten Free and Regular


First off, I don’t eat Gluten Free, nor am I vegan, or vegetarian.    However, I do like healthy foods.

Mostly.

And since I do have some friends who are either vegetarian, pescatarian or gluten-free, I try to find recipes that they can eat as well.

My assigned blog a few months ago for Secret Recipe Club was Judee Gluten Free.     I had fun going through her recipes.   And if you read this blog at all, you know I love my appetizers.

Really, I do.

And I had a heck of a time deciding what to make for SRC that time, there were too many recipes I wanted to try.   I ended up making the Green Goddess Hummus,  and it was very good, but I didn’t stop there, I wanted to try to make these Samosa’s which I decided were perfect for one of our gatherings.     So I made these up.

Eggless Buttermilk Crust:
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour ( or if you are not gluten-free regular flour)
1 cup buttermilk, plain yogurt or (coconut or rice milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice added)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Mix flour, buttermilk, and salt and work with a fork until dough can form into a ball. Dough will be soft. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes if too soft to work with. Divide dough into quarters and roll out thinly.   Use a 4 inch cookie cutter to make circles.

This dough is hard to work with, so I took a tip I got from another website and used sheets of wax paper to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling-pin as well as the pastry sheet.

Sweet Potato Filling

2 large sweet potatoes, steamed and cubed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup onion , chopped small
3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped small ( or chopped tomatoes with some juice from a can)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated  ( I used the ginger root I keep in the freezer, and used my Microplane to get the tablespoon of ginger needed)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp cumin
cayenne pepper ( optional)
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons raisins, soaked for about 20 minutes
2 tsp olive oil and olive oil spray
Directions
Mix chopped onion, garlic, fresh ginger, cilantro, tomatoes, curry powder and turmeric and 2 tsp of olive oil together .

Steam sweet potatoes whole with skin until soft.  Peel and chop up a little before adding to the other ingredients.

I put the peas, onion, garlic and tomato in a bowl, then added the warm sweet potatoes.

Saute cumin seeds or mustard seeds in olive oil spray in a frying pan for about 1 minute. Pour chopped vegetable mixture over cumin seeds and cook on low heat until onion and garlic are soft.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another minute or so.  (Next time I make this, and I will make the filling again, I will add a little more moisture in the form of another tomato cause it did need it.  But this was my fault for not getting a juicy tomato to begin with.)
Spoon 1 tsp. of mixture into each crust. Fold dough around filling and seal edges with fingers. Press edges together with fork for decoration.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until browned.

Dip into raita,

Raita Ingredients
1 small Kirby cucumber, grated
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp dried mint, crushed
salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Grate your vegetables; add to yogurt  and mix well by hand

To be honest here, I did not like these at all, the filling was wonderful but the samosa shells, not so much.  They baked up kind of weird, and tasted funny to me.   I did serve them anyway, and some people tried them.   However, I think I need to work with gluten-free flour some more and try to get something more edible out of it.

I had so much filling left over, I hurried up and made some not-gluten free dough.
Samosa Dough
2 cups flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1-3 tbsp. water

I was in a hurry so did not ‘rub’ the butter into the flour, I just threw the butter, yoghurt, flour and baking powder into the Kitchenaid and turned it on.  As the butter and yoghurt mixed into the flour, I dribbled in a little water to help the dough come together.   Just a couple of tablespoons.  As soon as it formed a nice ball, I changed to the dough hook and let it knead together for a couple of minutes.  I knew I wanted a soft, silky dough.  I then let it rest for ten minutes before rolling it out.
Cut circles with my cookie cutter, and filled them with the remaining filling.

 

Don’t they look pretty?   I then placed some plastic wrap over them, and put them into the fridge for a couple of hours.
This dough was wonderful to work with, it stretched beautifully, and is one I will make again and again.

Just before our guests arrived, I heated some oil in the pan and fried them until they were golden brown, on each side.    And let me tell you, they were so good, fresh out of the pan.   I did serve them with the dip, but really, you didn’t need it.

Carrot Pakora


I was asked to join with some other bloggers in a new place called Taste and Create.   Basically, you are paired with another blogger and make a recipe from their blog, take pictures, and blog about it.   Much like another group I’m a member of.  And since I really don’t go out into the blogosphere and look for more food blogs, I’m more a stumble upon and gee where did I see that recipe at person, being assigned a blog is great.   And I got assigned a doozy of one, and I’m so excited to explore it in more detail.

I love Indian food, the hotter the curry, the better, but I really only know a few dishes to make,  and this blog makes a lot of Tamil dishes, so I get to learn  about Tamil cooking as well.  And I’m also trying to eat more meat free dishes as well, so being assigned this blog Veg Nation was serendipitous.  I love that word, anyway.

And gee, guess what, we’re having Tapas this week so I get to try a recipe out on a bunch of people.    My only problem, there are too many good ones on her blog I want to try.    I want to try some of these, Corn Cheese Balls, and then there was this one, Carrot Pakora.  ,And as soon as I can locate finish making some Gram Flour, I’m making these for Tapas Night.

Roasted some canned chickpeas til they dried out.

I then put them in my spice grinder to make the meal.

Also had to make some rice flour.

Which was interesting, and even though I didn’t get it as fine as maybe it should be, I tried.

Finally I was ready to make the Carrot Pakora’s.
Grated up the carrots, and chopped the onion.

Added them to the rice and gram flour.   Mixed it together with the spices, tasted it, and added more chili powder and some cumin.  Just felt it needed it.   However, I did need to add a fair amount of water.   I didn’t measure it, but the whole mixture was so dry, that when I tried to make it into balls and fry it, they just fell apart in the oil.   And I really think I should have added even more water, cause I lost a lot of the carrot in the oil.
Since we were entertaining last night, I wanted to make these as part of our Tapas Night.
So I made the balls, and set them aside.

And fried them up a little later on, and they were very tasty, different, but tasty.   I am going to try and buy some real rice flour and real gram flour and make these again.    I liked them a lot.

These were served with a mango chutney, which I happened to buy a while ago and had no idea what I was going to use it for.  Just wanted it, in the pantry, just in case.

Here’s Veena’s recipe

2 grated Carrots
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup gram flour
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp Asafoetida  (I didn’t have any of this)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp. cut coriander

Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them and transfer it to a bowl, add the onion and coriander and then add in the flours and the spices.   (Veena says that the moisture in the carrot is enough to mix the flours but I had to add more water).
Heat the oil in a pan or in my case, I used my Fry Daddy, ( I don’t use it often, but boy am I glad I have it.)
Make small balls of the dough and drop them in the hot oil, let them fry for about 3 minutes or until they brown up, remove from the oil and drain on some paper.

Serve warm with chutney, I used some mango chutney I had in the cupboard.

There you have it, my first recipe for Taste and Create.    And I’m so glad I was asked to join.   I got to try to make something I’d never heard of before and it was good.

Peas n’ Rice


It’s been awhile since I’ve had some Peas n’ Rice so I thought I would make some this week.    I’m lucky in that I have access to Pigeon Peas here, but if you don’t have any in your store, just use some black eyed peas.   They work very well.    And my version of this dish isn’t as totally authentic as it could be, but I make it to our taste, and we like it this way.   Most recipes call for salt pork, but we like the flavour of ham in this dish.   This is a great way to stretch a little bit of ham to feed a lot of people.

To start with, get your ham out and cut it into little bitty pieces.  Throw in a couple of slices of bacon as well, bacon goes with everything.  You want a fine dice here.    You need about 4 oz. or more.   As I said, this is a great recipe for stretching a bit of meat.   And with the rice and peas, you’re actually getting a lot of protein as well as some complex carbs.   It’s all good.
Saute it in the pan until golden brown,

stir it once in a while as you’re chopping up a green pepper, a stalk or two of celery, and an onion til they are also a fine dice.

Throw them into the pan with the sautéed meat and cook until the veggies have cooked  through, and are getting a little mushy.
When they are just a little mushy, add the tomato paste and stir in to the pan, and let it cook down for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.

And then add the can of drained Pigeon Peas,

And another couple of tablespoons of Tomato Paste, if desired.   I like my Peas n’ Rice with a fair amount of tomato paste.

Then stir it and let it cook for another couple of minutes before adding the rice, water and thyme.   If you have fresh thyme, place 4 or 5 sprigs on top after the rice is added.     Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.

Serve alongside some Bahamian Mac n’ Cheese, and enjoy with a nice cold Kalik.

Recipe

4 slices bacon, finely diced
2-4 oz. ham, finely diced
1 whole green pepper, finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 stalks celery, finely diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15 oz. can Pigeon Peas  (or substitute Black eyed peas)
1 cup rice
2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme or
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Saute the bacon and ham until they are nicely browned, add the veggies and sauté lightly, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.   Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring frequently.    Add the Pigeon Peas and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  Finally add the rice and water as well as the thyme, cover and let cook until the rice is done.    Serve alongside a grilled meat or Mac n’ Cheese.

One of my treasured cook books is this one:

And this is where I go for the recipes, of course I had to put my spin on the Peas n’ Rice.   I’ve made this the ‘proper’ way before, but really like the smoked flavour of the bacon and ham better.

Try this for a little different dish, and something you can share with your family.

Spinach Maria and Boat Club for June


I am so thankful for being able to attend our monthly potlucks at Boat Club, it means I get to try lots of new dishes and if I’m lucky I get recipes as well.  The best of both worlds.    And last night was no exception.

We had everything from ham to salad to desserts.    We really do have the best cooks here.  I say that every month, but it’s true.

And I have to admit to taking the easy way out this time.   I made my Blooming Onion bread and a Black Olive Tapenade, mainly cause I had the ingredients to hand and they were easy to make, and I wasn’t feeling inspired.  I did change up the Blooming Onion Bread a little, mainly cause I had some cheddar cheese and some Pepper Jack cheese that I’d already sliced and that were in the freezer.    And of course I always have at least one can of Black Olives on hand so I can make a quick Tapenade.  I used some Ciabatta rolls I had in the freezer for the Tapenade, and that worked well also.

Now without further ado, drum roll please….   Here are the dishes we had last night and I’m following that with the recipe for the Spinach Maria, which was OMG good.

 

Blooming Onion Bread

 

Tapenade with Ciabatta Roll slices  

 

Spicy Asian White Bean Dip

 

Ham

 

Fresh Sliced Cucumbers

 

Spinach Maria

 

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno’s

 

Fresh carrots and tomatoes

 

Dessert

 

More Dessert

 

Creamsicle Cookies

 

Salad

And here’s the recipe for the Spinach Maria.   And this was shamelessly copied from this blog Nibble Me This  which has some really yummy looking recipes and stunning photography.     This is usually served in little ramekins at Calhoun’s restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

Calhoun’s Spinach Maria

 

5 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach

4 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

5 tablespoons melted butter

6 tablespoons flour

8 ounces  Velveeta cheese

8 ounces cheddar cheese

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (for topping)

Thaw spinach in refrigerator for 24 hours. Squeeze as much excess water as possible out of spinach. Heat milk and spices in 4-quart saucepan on medium heat to just below a boil (190 degrees). Then reduce heat and simmer. Saute chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add to saucepan. Combine 5 tablespoons melted butter with flour in a small suate pan. (This is the first step of making a roux, which will thicken the sauce.) Mix until completely blended. Cook on low heat 3-4 minutes to make roux. Add roux to milk in saucepan and mix well. Continue to cook until sauce thickens.

Cut Velveeta, cheddar and Jack cheese into small cubes and add to saucepan. Continue to mix until all the cheese is completely melted and blended into sauce. Be careful not to burn the sauce while cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Add drained spinach to cheese sauce, mix until completely blended. Spoon into 11-by-9-by-2-inch casserole dish and top with grated Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

 

Pico de Gallo


I love Pico de Gallo, and in fact have been know to make it up on a whim, just because.   And then have proceeded to eat half the bowlful.   Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, cause Pico de Gallo is basically just onions, tomatoes and jalapeno’s.   And so long as you don’t load up on chips, you don’t need to worry about the calories.   Pico de Gallo is just plain good food.    I’ve actually posted the recipe here but it was buried in a post about Acapulco chicken.   And that was not fair to it.   I think it deserves its own post.  So there!

First up, get out your trusty gloves, you don’t want to be messing with jalapeno’s unless you’re properly covered up.   Trust me on this one.   It is very important, unless of course you’re into pain, at which point just go ahead and disregard this.    Just kidding, but I’ve made the mistake of rubbing an eye when I’ve had Jalapeno juice on my hand and the agony, totally not worth it.

Start by getting your ingredients together.  And nothing in this is really exact because you’ll be making this for you, and whatever your heat tolerance is.

You want some lovely fresh jalapeno peppers, a couple of tomatoes, an onion, cilantro, lime and salt.    Start by dicing up a Roma tomato or two, depending on how much you are making, you want a fairly fine dice, then dice up a white onion, again a fairly fine dice.   And now for the fun, depending on your tolerance or love of heat, you want to mince or very finely dice 1-3 jalapeno’s.  Start by whacking off the stem end, slicing them in two lengthwise and then cutting out the seed and membrane.

 

 

 

Add all together and stir, squeeze the juice of a lime over it, add a handful of finely chopped cilantro

and about a half teaspoon of salt, or less to start.  Stir it all up and taste.   You can always add more jalapeno’s or tomatoes or any portion to make it to your taste.  This is your Pico de Gallo after all.

Pepper Beef


You ever change what you’re cooking in mid stream?    I did the other night.   I had a lovely sirloin steak that had been thawed a couple of days and needed to be cooked.   I just didn’t want grilled steak and salad, however good that might be, I wanted something different.   And as I pondered the steak, I realized I had a couple of peppers in the fridge that needed to be eaten, and I thought Fajita’s!!!   I’m always up for something Mexican.  So I get the peppers out, slice them, slice an onion, get out the avocado, take a picture of them sitting so pretty on the cutting board.   After taste testing a couple of green pepper strips that is.  You have to make sure of your produce, it has to taste right.

Then as I got my stuff together, sorta, I got interrupted a couple of times, and I realized what I really wanted was something vaguely Chinese.     Actually I got the idea as I was slicing the meat, and getting interrupted a couple of times, while doing so and forgot to take pictures, grrrrrr.    So imagine me slicing the steak on an angle in thin slices.    Then imagine me dumping a tablespoon of cornstarch over the beef and mixing it together while I’m sautéing the peppers and onions.  (this is a neat trick by the way, it tenderizes the meat a little, giggle)    I also added a thinly sliced garlic clove to the mixture.

And some of the mushrooms that were hiding in the fridge, they thought they could escape, but I found them, sorry, it was a long week and I’m feeling a little silly here.     At any rate, I finished it off with a splash of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil and served it over a bed of rice.   I had such a good dinner.

Such a simple meal, but tasty.     And if I’d wanted to I could have made this into fajita’s by omitting the soy sauce and sesame oil, and adding a sliced jalapeño or three, and sautéed them all together and stuffed into a flour tortilla.   With the aforementioned avocado and some cheese as well.   OK, I know you’re not supposed to put cheese on fajita’s but I think cheese goes with everything.

Now to go and clean house and get ready for Tapa’s night.    I’ve got something in mind for that, just have to get it all together, and yes, I will take pictures.   In fact I’m going to go and change the batteries in the camera right now so I can do my thing.