I’ve never been a “Bed & Breakfast” kind of person, always preferring the anonymous consistency of a larger hotel when traveling. I think part of the reason might have been that I never came across the right one. This summer we found it, tucked up the side of a mountain in Woodstock, NY. The amenities were nice, it featured all sorts of earthy-crunchy touches that my wife appreciated, it had great food and a truly nice owner, but the one thing that has stuck with me since our stay, and what has me thinking about returning, was the library in our room which featured a ton of old cookbooks. Odds are they were chosen as much for kitsch as they were for food dreamers, but their mere appearance hinted at a new culinary world for me and I have been on a mission to find some old cookbooks for our own book stacks. I finally had my chance a few weeks ago at our local library’s annual book sale and I felt like I scored big time with a copy of Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls. Now, of course, the first thing I did was search for a burger recipe and I was rewarded with a few in this 1957 time capsule. The first one I cooked up is above and I must admit it looks like your basic hamburger, but it has a juicy twist.
The recipe is all of 3 ingredients long, but the results were pretty impressive.Combine in a bowl and then form into patties
- 1 lb. of ground beef (we used 85/15 grass-fed beef)
- 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
- 1 tbsp. salt
I know what you’re saying. Looks kind of boring, and on paper it is. I have never even considered using evaporated milk in a burger before and to be honest I wasn’t sold after combining the ingredients. The concoction had a really loose consistency and I panicked a bit and ended up tossing the patties in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up for fear that they would disintegrate while cooking. Me of little faith. 6 minutes per side under a broiler set to high is enough for the higher side of medium (in reality I had them under for 8 minutes per side in hopes of getting a bit of a crust on them which resulted in an incongruously moist solid grey middle). Tossed on squishy rolls with a slather of mayo, mustard and a tomato, these retro treats were legit. The evaporated milk does impart a bit of creaminess to the burgers, but it is not off-putting. I think the selling point of these burgers is you can satisfy the “well-done” folks at your BBQ with a juicy burger – something they may never have experienced before (especially at 160°).
I have poured over tons of burger recipes over the years and have never seen evaporated milk on the ingredient list. Have you? It made me wonder what other ingredients have fallen out of favor. Thankfully I have a small stack of 50′s, 60′s and 70′s cookbooks now to cook my way through in hopes of finding out the answer to that myself.
Click here for extra pictures from the cookbook.
Retreat At TreeGap in Woodstock, NY (the original inspiration for this post).
The blog has been a bit quiet lately, due in no small part to some dietary changes around our household. My wife has committed to a life of vegetarianism and the rest of us are going along for the ride, sometimes begrudgingly, often times (believe it or not) excitedly.
Our once meat-centric diet has now been turned upside down. Our chicken parmesan is now eggplant parm (not even fried, Oy vey zmir), our hoisin chicken is now tofu’d up. Bok choy, kale, beets, collard greens and kohlrabi are now frequent visitors to our kitchen, and along with various seeds, end up in a dizzying array of smoothies, juices and soups.
The burger shown above came to us by way of CuisineNie, who borrowed it from the Cookin’ Canuck (recipe). This darn tasty twist on the traditional veggie burger draws “beefy heft” from a combination of black beans, brown rice, onions, jalapenos and garlic. A cilantro lime mayo and a slew of avocado slices gave it a nice creamy finish. It was completely filling and we used some of the leftover patties to make other variations which were equally as satisfying. (The mini peppers stuffed with quinoa in the background were pretty good, too. No recipe for those, just improvised with a bunch of ingredients from our CSA share.)
For those of you looking for burger reviews of the beef variety, have no fear. I will (and have) fall off the wagon, plus I have tons of photos and half-written reviews to get to. Stay tuned for posts on some great new burgers in Philly and the ‘burbs, as well as a few from our recent travels.
Quick dinner from a few weeks back when a 1/2 day at work gave me the opportunity to hit up two different farmers markets for ingredients. A Le Bus Whole Wheat Burger bun was the perfect foundation for our burger mix of natural, (primarily) grass-fed beef and chopped bacon ends (oddly shaped, wildly fatty slabs of deliciousness from the Lancaster County Farmers Market in Wayne, PA). Add blue cheese, a fire-engine red tomato and some extra whole bacon ends on top and the urge to go out to a restaurant and spend $15 for a fancy burger is officially curbed. When possible serve your burgers on plates with pictures of surgeons on them – its a karma thing and it fights off the bad cholesterol.
Not too much to offer by way of recipe on this one, more along the lines of advice…we find the beef available at farm stands tends towards the lean side, so chopping up bacon and adding it to the mix prior to forming your patties keeps the burgers moist (in addition to adding flavor). We tested a new (and cheap) cast iron skillet from Ikea and were happy with the results.
Beef from Hillacres Pride
Bacon Ends from S. Clyde Weaver
Tomato from Good Harvest Farms
As the days get shorter and the air a bit crisper up here in PA, the odds of foregoing preparing a home cooked dinner and ordering Chinese takeout instead have increased. This quick recipe came about the day after a recent takeout night and we resurrected it this evening for dinner with some friends. It is a dead simple recipe which produces a quirky take on familiar fare and, when combined with Sriracha Ketchup, makes for a darn good burger.
The taste? Take everything you love about bacon on a burger and then sugar that up about 200%. By itself, honey boneless spareribs may be the most addictive item on any Chinese menu (and easily account for 2/3 of my repenting on Yom Kippur) and as served here (chopped up and mingled with high quality beef) it follows along the lines of the trend led by so many “name chefs” adding different cuts of meats into their burgers (not just on them). The spicy ketchup cuts down the sweetness a bit and provides a tease of heat to take this burger to the next level.
Rough #’s here, but any combination of these ingredients will produce more than passable results.1 lb. ground beef (we used “all-natural” Hillacres Pride beef purchased at our local farmer’s market) 1/4 lb honey boneless spareribs from Pak Yue (which is a fun name to say but always sounds confrontational when they answer the phone)
2 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
Dice the pork into very small slivers then combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix lightly but well and then form patties (we made slider sized burgers). As mentioned earlier on this blog, and ripped from the pages of John Torode’s book “Beef and other bovine matters,” when using the oyster sauce you can omit salt from the recipe. The oyster sauce provides you with the tang you are looking for and keeps the burgers incredibly moist.
Siracha-Ketchup3 parts ketchup 1 part Sriracha
As shown cooked on the gas grille and served on Martin’s Whole Wheat Potato Rolls.
To put it lightly, I am not a fan of Oprah and as such I had an immediate prejudice against this recipe when my lovely wife mentioned she was going to prepare some for me to grill for dinner the other night. Not sure of the complete back story on this…apparently Oprah ate this burger at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, begged for the recipe for herself and then shared it with her TV audience.
The best part of this burger might be the use of the mango chutney. Clearly not a common burger ingredient, it keeps the burger juicy (which is often an issue when cooking a turkey burger and relying on your mom’s advice about cooking turkey until it is done aka completely dried out) without imparting too much fruity flavor. The apples and scallions are nice touches, too.
Additional notes: Finally got the BBQ up to a high enough temp to land some grill marks on the burgers – a geeky thing that fills me with pride…Potato rolls are the bacon of the baked goods industry, they just make everything taste better…Pull back on the salt a bit, you aren’t going to draw out any beefy flavor by loading up the sodium so you might use this as an opportunity to back off…Bought the corn at Root’s Market the other day, which is a completely chaotic Amish/Farmer’s market nowhere near where you or I live (which is a shame)…For those that know me personally, the addition of a mini-van to our driveway and now my reviewing a recipe promoted by Oprah means that yes, I have officially given up. The old Marc was a lot of fun – remember the good times and pour one out for me.
As much as I love iBurger (and the hilarious sounds my daughter makes while playing it) I haven’t found a truly useful burger app for the iPhone (note to self – get off high horse and invent truly useful burger app for iPhone). To the rescue comes a new app from foodie grocery chain Whole Foods featuring a full slate of burger recipes presented in a truly slick interface.
Over 25 burger recipes are featured ranging from the uber-healthy (beef and bulgur burgers) to the truly decadent (stuffed burgers with gorgonzola and smoky bacon).
Nutritional info is provided (and thankfully placed strategically so it is easy to ignore) as are diet keys which help point you to offerings that may/may not fit into your diet (you’ll be happy to know that Sliders are good for those who are “sugar conscious”).
One of the best features (though not burger specific) is called “On Hand” which allows you to type in up to 3 ingredients you have “on hand” and then suggests recipes in the library based on that. Pretty handy to have when you are scraping the refrigerator bottom before shopping day.
We’ll be testing out the slider recipe soon and probably checking in on the app while out shopping to see what we can create.
Whole Foods annual “Buck A Burger” sale ends tomorrow (July 7th) I think. We loaded up and cooked off some of their bacon and blue cheese burgers for lunch yesterday (tweet – Rounding out a weird weekend with some Bacon & Blue Cheese burgers from Whole Foods Buck A Burger sale. http://twitpic.com/9eezw10:41 AM Jul 5th from TweetDeck ) – pretty tasty.
ps: If you are a budding iPhone app designer and are interested in helping create the burgatory iPhone app (and enjoy working for free) drop me a line…we actually do have a neat idea!
Sunday night is burger night around the house and this weekend’s version was inspired by a viewing of a PBS The American Experience episode about Buffalo Bill Cody, which when trying to cook and tweet at the same time somehow morphed into a reference to Dabney Coleman’s early 1980′s sitcom Buffalo Bill (see tweets here – heck, sign up to follow if you wish).
What made these burgers even more special was that the beef and bacon were procured from our local farmers market. In most parts of the North East farmer’s market season has just kicked off and that is great news. Within walking distance of our house are a bevy of delicious, seasonal options produced and sold by the person behind the till. Stories, suggestions, recipes and heart are all within easy reach of the consumer and we are all a bit better for taking the time to slow down and interact on a more personal level with our food and those that grow it. Of course these markets are famous for their veggies but we have found that many offer great quality meats as well. Whether “farm-raised,” “grass-fed,” “organic” and/or “natural” meat, options abound and include not only beef from cows, but good quality bison and small-batch bacons.
Not so much a recipe on this one…more a parts list:85/15 all-natural ground beef Thick-cut all-natural bacon Ultra-sharp cheddar cheese Onion rings BBQ sauce Whole-wheat Telera rolls
Bobby Flay calls his version a Cheyenne Burger.
Carl’s Jr.’s call it a Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
Dabney Coleman Fever movie on YouTube (kiss 8 1/2 minutes of your life goodbye before clicking)
More than a little hat tip to the gents over at BBQ Addicts whose invention, the “Bacon Explosion,” was the creative jumping off point for this monstrosity.
No shot of getting this thing in the New York Times, but my concerns (and those of our crew of culinarily curious friends) were in getting this in our bellies. The idea just seemed like the logical next step and although it took about 3 hours start to finish, it is more than worthwhile trying it out at home for your next get together. This one is guaranteed to stop people in their tracks. As always, I will note that I am not a professional chef and though these directions worked for me, they may not work well for you. This recipe is fairly forgiving so as long as you are certain to cook these beauties all the way through I can see little danger in making a minor misstep (and tons of upside in creating your own variations).
I actually made a Bacon Explosion alongside the Burger Explosion for comparison’s sake. The recipe for the “Bacon Explosion” which is packed with pork sausage is best picked up at BBQ Addicts, though I will note that I tweaked that recipe a little, swapping out the bbq rub for a home spun mixture of salt, pepper and rosemary. The rosemary worked out very well.
Burger Explosion (serves 8-10)1lb 80/20 ground beef 4 slices of white American cheese 9 slices thick cut bacon 3 slices of regular bacon 1 butt of whole grain bread – toasted
1 large egg 2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (any kind will do)
Step 1 – Fry up the 3 slices of regular bacon on a griddle as you would for morning breakfast, when done remove from griddle and pat dry (don’t worry about getting too much grease off, this ain’t health food!)
Step 2 – Take the butt end of the whole grain bread and sop up the rendered bacon fat from the griddle.
Step 3 – Place the bread into a food processor and whir it up for a few seconds to make breadcrumbs (yes, even the breadcrumbs are gonna taste like bacon!).
Step 4 – Put your ground beef, egg, oyster sauce and 3 tablespoons of the bacon-y breadcrumbs into a bowl and mix thoroughly by hand.
Step 5 – Make a 4×5 lattice pattern with the bacon (this may be the most fun part of the recipe)
Post holiday weekend and we’ve got an impenetrable wall of leftovers in the fridge from Saturday’s Passover Seder and Sunday’s Easter dinner. Tons of great food prepared by family and friends and lots of late night snacking and experimenting opportunities.
This burger was pretty much inevitable after the first bite of haroset at the Seder. On the Seder Plate haroset represents the mortar which the slaves used to build the pyramids in Egypt. The almost too simple recipe of chopped apples, nuts and wine is available everywhere on the web (see here, here and here) and is ideally prepared by your mother/grandmother. The version we had was just on the happy side of “too sweet” and as used here was the perfect burger topping.
The burger itself was an 80/20 mix of ground chuck and was produced using “The Great Burger” recipe from John Torode’s new book “Beef and other bovine matters.” The secret to Torode’s recipe (and how these burgers are served at his Smiths of Smithfield restaurant in London) is his use of Chinese oyster sauce instead of salt. His theory that salt dries out the burger too much and that this side-effect outweighs the benefits of the taste it imparts is an interesting one and I have to say I kind of agree. We grilled the burgers and I purposely left one patty on to the point of overdoneness and it was still juicy. More side-by-side tests are necessary, but I’m willing to buy into the logic. The oyster sauce doesn’t overpower the burger either. In the end it was much more subtle then the sniff from the bottle might have suggested.
At this point I am not sick of matzo…that will come soon enough though. Sadly, as anyone who has eaten a Hillel sandwich knows, matzo is not the best sandwich delivery vehicle, but even as it crumbled to bits with the first bite it remained the only logical choice for this burger and the rare bites that did include burger, haroset and matzo were perfect.
Our pantry will be filled with matzo for months (do they sell it in anything but 5 lb. boxes?) so this dish will pop up again in our house very soon…just have to make more haroset but that is easy and is a great use for any leftover wine you might have laying about.
By the way, the perfect beverage for this burger is of course Passover Coke. The local Genuardi’s supply was waning considerably the other day…load up while you can!
Next up is an Easter burger with cabbage roll topping on a potato roll! Stay tuned.
Almost a year ago I gave up watching TV. With only minor exceptions I have avoided the giant glowing orb in our living room, having instead spent my time in other more high-brow pursuits (like writing a burger blog). But when I do break down and turn on the tube I tend to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator (i.e. Cheaters). These forays back into TV land never go well and I always end up redoubling my resolve, having decided that all programs must be this bad (especially since Joey Grecco replaced Tommy Grand as Cheaters host/staff psychologist, but I digress). After tonight, however, my mind has been changed.
Last week while watching an episode of Man Vs Food (yes, it’s come to this…) I caught a glimpse of a burger whose toppings I have never seen nor imagined. Toppings that conveniently exist in my refrigerator 365 days a year, but whose combination and placement on ground beef has never even been considered.
Host Adam Richman dropped by Duffy’s Cherry Cricket, winner of Best Burger Bar in Denver (2008), and among the 21 different toppings (and myriad of combinations) we catch a glimpse of what I am calling a “Game Changer” for burgers (at least in our house because I swear I have never seen cream cheese offered as a topping at any burger joint anywhere).
What stared back at me from the screen was a humongous burger topped with a thick slab of cream cheese and a handful of chopped jalapenos.
Oh yes, cream cheese and jalapenos on a burger! Where have you been my whole life?
Cream cheese, like burgatory.com’s reigning best friend bacon, has the innate ability to “make anything better” and in this application is the perfect foil providing a critical antidote to the overbearing hotness of the jalapenos.
We grilled our burgers inside and once we broke through the seared crust the cheese commingled with the loose meat, filling pockets of empty space with a blast of dairy to offset the beefiness of our 93/7 grind. As if that weren’t enough, the cheese hit the trifecta by matching the pillowiness of the Martin’s Potato Rolls.
Denver natives have known about this topping combo for some time and according to the Cherry Cricket’s website, the cream cheese/jalapeno combo is the # 1 burger topping by a whopping margin. 80% of respondents called it their favorite, easily distancing such mundane fare as smoked cheddar and bacon or swiss and mushrooms. I worked briefly in the Denver metro and have extreme remorse recollecting that the only burgers I ever ate in the Mile High City were from Red Robin. But I can’t dwell on the past, especially because this one is so easy to recreate.
I’d provide a recipe, but it is too simple to get technical. Just do what we did and open the fridge, pull out the slab o’ cream cheese buried in there, chop up your jalapenos and when the time is right, apply generously and consider the game changed.