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.
Hours of work but an incredible payoff. Light and airy, these eggy buns are hearty enough to stand up to the juices of your burger and most importantly they are delicious. I’m loathe to give Martha too much credit (for fear that she will become even more omnipresent in our home life), but this recipe is really straightforward and within reach of pretty much any level baker.
Hat tip to (and recipe via) Serious Eats click.
Recipe made (12) 4″ round rolls, only (11) of which made it to the cooling rack. The scene around the first roll out of the oven was akin to one of those Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom shots of a pack of lions eviscerating a wildebeest. It wasn’t pretty but damn it tasted good.
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!
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.
I am a firm believer that a great burger experience doesn’t necessarily mean trekking across state lines in search of some hole in the wall spot conveniently located on the one road that Google Maps hasn’t identified yet.
In fact, I tend to believe that with proper equipment and motivation, the average home cook can produce a burger that rivals any of the “big names” in terms of quality (of course, ambiance and history are hard to match, so we’ll still get in our cars and explore). To that end, where I can I’ll present some tips, tricks, techniques and recipes for the burgers we make at home. First up, a sauce recipe created on the fly and named (after-the-fact) “Big Island Burger Sauce.”
Prep time: 2 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup pineapple chunks (I used frozen chunks from Trader Joes – you could use fresh or another brand of frozen chunks
- 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce (I used low sodium, mainly out of necessity, but also because we tend to heavily salt our burgers to bring out their inherent flavor…so save sodium where you can)
- Small piece of fresh Ginger Root
In a saute pan, brown the pineapple chunks over medium heat (3-5 minutes)
Once browned, place the chunks on a cutting board and allow to cool for a minute or two. After they are cool enough to touch, rough cut them. I left a few big chunks to please to palate.
In a mixing bowl place the cut chunks, mayo and teriyaki sauce. Mix until combined into a chunky sauce. With a microplane grater, add about 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger root and then stir again to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
To serve, place a generous portion of the sauce on top of your burgers. For the picture above we grilled burgers on an electric griddle with Havarti cheese served on Stern’s Kosher Hamburger Buns (if you can find these buns in your store they are amazing!!). Enjoy. (Refrigerate unused portion for up to 24 hours)
- I am not a professional chef, not even close. This recipe worked very well for us, your results may vary (but it is hard to go wrong with this ingredient combination).
- I have never been to Hawaii, and as such the reader should be skeptical of my naming of this sauce.
- Why yes, bacon would be awesome with this burger! Some carmelized onions wouldn’t hurt either.
- Havarti and Hawaii look very similar, but Havarti cheese does not come from Hawaii.
- And finally, your cardiologist would not approve of this recipe (despite all the veggies on the plate!)