Hawaiian Luau Burger

Hawaiian Luau Burger

So for today’s recipe I was thinking, it’s so hot out, I might as well fantasize a proper locale to go with the heat…. I know, Hawaii! I can picture it now, white sandy beaches, beautiful crashing waves, large erupting volcanoes… ahhh, scratch that last one. Well, most of my heart is in the right place, so I thought why not a burger that is fit for a luau? I knew I wanted the different Pan-Asian flavours, with the ginger and pineapple, and the hit of teriyaki in the glaze will really kick this burger up a notch. Normally, this would be topped with cheese and honey glazed ham, but seeing as we’re a kosher site, we’re skipping the cheese, and using a honey glazed deli turkey instead. I also kinda liked having a drink with yesterday’s recipe, so I thought, why not, and added a mai tai recipe at the bottom today. I figured, no luau is complete without a mai tai! Again, there are alternatives for those you don’t wish to imbibe. Enjoy everyone, hang ten!

Ingredients:
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 pounds lean ground beef
6 tablespoons pineapple juice
6 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
12 slices honey glazed deli turkey
12 slices red onion
lettuce*
mayonnaise
6 big sesame seed hamburger buns

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce.

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick! In a small bowl, mix the pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce together, and then set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, ginger and garlic powders, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Divide into 6 balls and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Baste your burgers with the pineapple teriyaki sauce as your burger cooks. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger! While the burgers are grilling, grill the pineapple slices until pineapple have golden brown grill marks on both sides.

Toast the hamburger buns by placing on grill until grill marks form.  Do not walk away during this process; toast can turn to ash in the blink of an eye! Spread mayo on bottom bun, then top with lettuce, burger, grilled pineapple, red onion and the honey glazed turkey. Serve and enjoy!


Mai TaiClassic Mai Tai Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the rum and top up with a bit more pineapple and orange juice. You can even top up with seltzer instead for a fizzy treat!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons spiced rum
1 ½ tablespoons coconut-flavoured rum
1 teaspoon grenadine syrup
⅓ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
orange slice and maraschino cherries, to garnish

Directions:
In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

Bloody Mary Burgers with Horseradish Dressing

Bloody Mary BurgersSo for today’s burger, I thought I’d go for something a little different. Bloody Mary’s anyone? Admittedly, this has to be hands down my favourite cocktail. Now while I’m not too particular over the brand of vodka used (or tequila for what I call a Bloody Maria), I am quite particular that I only like hot sauce used, and NOT horseradish! Horseradish is for gefilte fish and roast beef! Which is why I make the exception in this recipe using horseradish with this beef burger. There is something about the sharp bite of the root, mixed with the dense meat of the burger that just works well together. As a bonus to today’s recipe, I’m going to throw in a quick recipe for Bloody Mary’s to accompany your meal. You can always skip the alcohol for those who are underage or don’t drink. I’m sure everyone will enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 ¼ teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
6 to 12 dashes hot sauce, plus more as necessary
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of medium and lean)
A little canola or olive oil, for brushing

For the dressing:
1 (1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inch piece) fresh horseradish root, freshly grated
3 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
6 good bread buns, ciabatta rolls, or thick slices of baguette
A few romaine lettuce leaves*
A few tomatoes, sliced
ketchup, optional

* Click here to learn how to clean romaine lettuce.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce in meat dishes.

Directions:
For the burgers: In a medium bowl, mix together the tomato paste, horseradish, celery seeds, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Add the beef and mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure the seasonings are spread throughout the meat. Let stand for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Meanwhile, make the horseradish dressing.

For the dressing: Mix the grated horseradish, non-dairy sour cream and vinegar together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Break off a small piece of the beef mixture, the size of a walnut, and fry in a little oil until well cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

To serve: Heat a grill. Shape the meat into 6 patties about ¾ inch thick. Lightly brush each one with oil, then place on a grill over high heat. It’s hard to give exact cooking instructions due to variables such as the thickness of the burger, the heat of the grill, and personal preference. For a medium-rare burger, you will probably need to grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. If you’re cooking the burgers indoors, use a lightly oiled grill pan set over medium-high heat. Let the burgers rest for a minute or two while you prepare the buns.

Toast the buns or other bread lightly on the cut side, then top with the lettuce leaves and tomato slices. Add the burgers and smear with horseradish sauce, and a dollop of ketchup if you like. Top with the other half of the bread.


Bloody Mary Cocktail

Classic Bloody Mary Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the vodka and top up with tomato juice.

Ingredients:
¼ cup vodka
¾ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
celery salt, for rimming the glass
salt and pepper
lemon wedge and celery stalk, for garnish

Directions:
Pour some celery salt on to a small plate. Take the lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the glass. Turn the glass upside down, and dip it in the celery salt on the plate. The celery salt will now coat the rim of the glass. Pour the tomato juice and vodka into the glass, and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce , hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add ice if desired. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge and a celery stalk. Enjoy!

Wineries & Vineyards (Ontario)

Niagara Region Winery

So one of Ontario’s pride and joys is the Niagara Region in the southernmost tip of the province. Not only is it simply beautiful, but it is home to Niagara Falls and unbelievable soil and climate for growing grapes. Because of this, wineries and vineyards are a major attraction, both for tourists and economically for the province. The Ontario growing region lies between the 52° and 41° parallels, placing them in the middle of the northern grape growing belt. This is the same latitude as Bordeaux, France and the Northern wine regions of California! Because of this, we are able to grow a vast number of grapes, producing excellent award winning wines. Today, instead of a recipe featuring wine, I thought I’d give a little Wine 101 – Breaking down some of the types of wine, and how to use them in cooking. I will be also posting this information as a separate page on this blog so that it’s easy to refer back to. Remember, as always; check the label of your bottle before using it to confirm that it is kosher. If you would like to see more alcohols that are kosher, check out our Kosher Alcohol List by clicking here. Enjoy, and drink responsibly!


Wine 101
A basic introduction to wine, plus pairing suggestions to make every dinner special.

The Whites
Chardonnay is a versatile wine grape: its flavour and aromas are easily influenced by where it’s grown and how it’s made. Fruit flavours range from apple and lime in cooler climates to tropical fruits in warmer places. When barrelled in oak, it takes on a richness characterized by honey and butter flavours. When barrelled in stainless steel, it often retains more mineral flavours and comes across as fresher on the palate. Chardonnay excels in Burgundy, France.

Riesling is a crisp, clean wine with green apple, pear and lime flavours. The best offer pleasing mineral qualities as well. With age, Riesling takes on honey flavours and attractive oily aromas. Riesling grows well in Germany, the Alsace region of France, the Finger Lakes region of New York, and parts of Australia and Washington State. Riesling pairs nicely with spicy foods, and poultry.

Pinot Gris is made from grapes that generally produce different styles of wine depending on where the grapes are grown and how they’re handled in the cellar. In the Alsace region of France, and in places like Oregon and New Zealand, Pinot Gris typically makes rich wines marked by a bit of spice. The Italian style (Pinot Grigio) tends to be fresh, crisp and refreshing. This either style of this wine goes well with seafood and pasta dishes, vegetarian food and poultry.

Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, crisp, aromatic wine with grapefruit and grassy flavours. This wine is the star of the Loire region of France. It also shines in the Bordeaux region, where it is often blended with Semillon. In the New World, New Zealand has emerged as a prime spot for Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a food-friendly wine that goes well with many seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes.

The Reds
Merlot is a soft, supple wine with nice fruit flavours of plums and blackberries and occasionally mint, chocolate and eucalyptus flavours and aromas. Typically, it is ready to drink earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, which sometimes needs a few years for its astringent tannins to mellow. Outside of Europe, New World Merlot shines in places like California, Chile and Washington State.

Cabernet Sauvignon is more assertive than Merlot, with more tannin and greater ageing potential. It can have flavours of blackberries, plums, black currants, and cassis. Aged in oak, Cabernet Sauvignon can take on flavours of vanilla, cedar, chocolate, and coffee. Beyond Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon does well in Napa, California, where it produces smooth, ripe wines. Washington State, Chile and Australia are also making excellent Cabernet. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are very nice with meat dishes like beef and lamb.

Pinot Noir, a notoriously difficult grape to grow, made its mark initially in Burgundy, France. The grape continues to deliver single-varietal wines that are among the best in the world. Pinot Noirs are delicate wines that taste of red fruits like cherries, raspberries and strawberries. With age, flavours and aromas become more complex, developing earthy notes like mushrooms and decaying leaves. Burgundy in particular is noted for developing these earthy flavours. In the New World, tasty Pinot Noir is being made in Oregon, New Zealand, and some of the cooler appellations of California. Pinot Noir is a versatile food wine, great with poultry, salmon, meat and vegetable dishes.

Syrah is at home in the Rhone region of France, where the grape makes spicy, rich, darkly delicious wines that increase in complexity as they age. Syrah also makes delicious wines in Australia, where it is marketed as Shiraz. Australian versions are typically big, bold and spicy with jammy fruit and aromas of leather and black fruit. Syrah also excels in Washington State, where it often displays an attractive acid balance, and in California, where the styles vary significantly. Syrah is a very versatile wine that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It’s terrific with grilled meats.

Other Reds to Consider
Sangiovese is the wine grape that makes Chianti, a tremendous food wine with flavours and aromas of cherries and rose petals.

Nebbiolo is the grape variety that makes Barolo and Barbaresco, the noble (and pricey) red wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. With age, flavour notes of plums and cherries are enhanced by flavours of smoke, tar and roses.

Malbec is a star in Argentina, where it produces inky wines with an attractive smoke and leather quality. It also stands out in Cahors in southern France.

Tempranillo is a famous grape of Spain, where it is used in wines of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions.

Gamay makes the fresh and fruity, raspberry-flavoured wines of the Beaujolais region of Burgundy.

Zinfandel has found its home in California, where it produces big, fruity, often spicy red wines.


Cooking with Wine:

Wine’s complexity of flavours and aromas is one reason it works so well as an ingredient for cooking.

The Flavour Factors

Alcohol
Alcohol itself doesn’t add flavour to dishes so much as it helps release flavour molecules in foods and assists in dissolving fats, allowing ingredients to reveal their own unique flavours in ways that other liquids (like water or broth) or fats (like butter and olive oil) cannot.

When adding wine to a sauce, make sure you allow most of the alcohol to cook off; otherwise, the sauce may have a harsh, slightly boozy taste. How do you know when enough is enough? After adding the wine, cook the sauce uncovered until it reduces by about half. As the alcohol burns away, the flavour of the sauce will concentrate, becoming more delicious.

Tannins
Tannins come from the grape’s skins, stems, and seeds. Thick-skinned grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, produce more tannic wines than thinner-skinned varietals like Pinot Noir. And red wines have more tannin than whites. This is because the juice of red grapes spends more time swimming around with their skins than white grapes whose juice is separated from the skins soon after pressing. The juice of white grapes just doesn’t hang out with its skins long enough to pick up tannins.

Tannins affect the texture of a wine. We often experience them in the mouth as a drying sensation, rather than as a specific taste. In a young red wine with lots of tannin, they can come across as astringent and pucker-inducing, but the tannins will mellow with age, and are, in fact, one of the compounds that allows red wines to age gracefully.

How do tannins affect our eating experience? Well, let’s take Cabernet Sauvignon. Beef dishes are a classic pairing partner for Cabernet Sauvignon. In large part, it’s because Cabernet Sauvignon is a highly tannic wine. The tannins in the wine become attracted to the proteins in the meat rather than the proteins in your saliva, which makes the wine seem less astringent, a softer experience in your mouth.

When you make a pan sauce with Cabernet Sauvignon, the tannins become concentrated as the sauce reduces. If the sauce does not also contain enough protein and fat to handle those tannins, the end result could be a sauce that is a bit astringent for your liking. A vegetarian sauce, then, will probably work better with a less tannic red wine, like Pinot Noir, or a white wine.

Acidity
Have you ever paired a tomato sauce with a red wine like Merlot? The acid in the tomatoes can burn right through the wine, making it seem flat. That’s because Merlot, which is typically on the low end in acid, can’t compete with the acid in the tomatoes. Chianti Classico, on the other hand, is a terrific choice for tomato-based pasta dishes: the sangiovese grape (the main grape in Chianti) has enough acid to stand up to the acid in the tomato sauce.

Of course, all wines have acid. So when cooking with wine, use non-reactive pans and skillets (like those made from stainless steel or enamelled cast iron) to avoid discolouration when the acid hits the pan.

Flavours and Aromas
When you’re making a dish that has one or two dominant flavours, it’s worth thinking about wines that share those basic taste characteristics. Pinot Noir, for example, particularly Pinot Noir from Burgundy, is known for having flavours and aromas of mushrooms; it might pair up nicely with a dish that features lots of fresh, sautéed mushrooms. A bright dish with a healthy splash of citrus might respond well to a wine with a nice, bright citrus flavour–like Sauvignon Blanc. A cream sauce with fish will likely match up well with a creamy, buttery Chardonnay.

Preserve Your Cooking Wine
Once you uncork a bottle of wine, and oxygen is introduced into the scene, the wine slowly begins to change. No matter how good or expensive the wine was to begin with, it will eventually turn to vinegar.

Bear that in mind when a recipe calls for wine. It’s easy to reach for that half-full bottle you’ve kept in the cupboard for a month. But before you pour it into the pan, take a moment to determine its condition. Cooking with this wine could make the dish taste sour.

One way to make the wine last a bit longer is to refrigerate it. The cold climate will slow the chemical changes that are conspiring to turn your wine to vinegar. Another method is to transfer the leftover wine into a smaller bottle. This helps because a smaller bottle will have less air in it. You can also buy fancy vacuum contraptions that suck the air out of the bottle. An even easier solution, of course, is to drink the wine before it goes bad!

Cowboy Beef & Bean Chili (Alberta)

Beef & Beans ChiliSo in Canada, Alberta is known as our “Cowboy Country”. Wedged between the Rocky Mountains to the west, and the plains of Saskatchewan to the east, Alberta has a great mix of highs and lows, literally. Known for its bountiful cattle trade, as well as its vast natural gas and oil reserves, Alberta is a rich province. Every summer, Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, hosts the Calgary Stampede, a rodeo, exhibition and festival held annually every July since 1923 (though its roots date back to 1886). So what better to celebrate the cowboy spirit than a nice big bowl of chili? This dish will hit all the right spots, goes great with cornbread, and will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 pound medium ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, diced (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce*
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (see note below)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 (540ml) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups beef broth
1 12-ounce bottle lager-style beer**
½ red onion, diced (for garnish)
1 avocado, diced (for garnish)

* Click here to see notes about the use of Worcestershire sauce with meat products.
** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.
Note: Ancho chili powder, made from dried poblano peppers, has a mild, sweet spicy flavor. Look for it in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets. Other mildly spicy chili powder can be used in its place.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot with a lid, or a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, ancho chili powder, regular chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in kidney beans, then pour in broth and beer, and then bring the chili to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 50 minutes. Garnish with diced red onion and avocado. A great accompaniment would be corn bread with caramelized onion jam!

Purim Themed Cocktails

Please note, two important things before starting on these recipes. Firstly, if you have concerns regarding kosher alcohol, I suggest checking out the rather complete list published by the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc). The list can be found on their website, or directly by clicking here. Secondly, and no less important, please remember to drink responsibly. Know your limit, and stay within it! If you have had too much to drink, please consider staying over at your host’s house, taking a cab or public transportation. Do not drink and drive.

Rise of MordechaiRise of Mordechai

This is a sparkling pomegranate margarita that celebrates the elevation of Mordechai from condemned man to hero of the Purim story. The pomegranate seeds will rise up on the bubbles from the sparkling water, just like Mordechai did!

Ingredients:

2 ounces Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
1 ½ ounces Tequila
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounce lime juice
1 ½ ounces simple syrup (see below for instructions)
coarse salt for the rim
lime + pomegranate seeds for garnish*
Sparkling water

* Click here for tips on seeding a pomegranate.

Directions:

For simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely.

Rim the ridge of a large glass with a lime wedge and dip in salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and top off with cold sparkling water and a few extra lime slices. Add some pomegranate seeds for decoration.

Heart of HamanDark Heart of Haman

This drink takes on the dark colour of the blackberries and their tartness, just like Haman’s heart! The hint of sage, the “wise herb” adds to the vanity of Haman, who thought he was so smart! This syrup and puree will make enough for a couple of drinks. You’ll need about 6 ounces of sparkling water and 2 ounces of rum per serving.

Ingredients:

15 medium sage leaves*
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
8 ounces of frozen blackberries*
Sparkling water
White Rum

* Click here for instructions on sage and blackberries.

Directions:

Bring the water and sugar to a boil over high heat just until sugar dissolves. Crush the sage leaves with the back of a spoon and add to the syrup mixture and set aside to let the sage infuse for 15 minutes and then remove the herbs.

Meanwhile puree the blackberries in the blender and then strain the mixture through a fine strainer.

To serve place a tablespoon of the blackberry puree in the bottom of a glass, add a tablespoon of the sage syrup, 2 ounces of rum and then top off with about ounces of sparkling water.

Esther's SecretEsther’s Secret

The heroine of the Purim story had many secrets… most famous though was her Jewish identity that she kept hidden until the time was right. This drink represents Esther, both in its beauty, and it’s hidden strength… it packs quite the punch!

Ingredients:

2 ounces rum
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce triple sec

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the rum, sweet vermouth and triple sec. Shake for about 30 seconds and then pour into a chilled martini glass.