Classic Beef Burger

Classic Beef Burger

I’m actually out of the office today, but I couldn’t leave my readers hanging on such an important theme week! Okay, maybe it’s only important in my head, but my head is a cool place to hang out, y’all should come over some time! Anywho…. Today’s burger! I thought I’d end the week off with a classic “All Canadian” burger (yes, I said Canadian). This is your straight up, nothing fancy, plain, honest, but delicious burger. You can rely on it to hit the spot, and please all that try it. The only sort of spin that I do is that I add onion to the patty itself, but I hate biting into chunks of hard onion in my burger meat, so I nuke the onion (with some garlic, ‘cause, why not?) first for a minute or so, so that it gets a head start on cooking before hitting the grill. This way, the onion is nice and soft in the burger, and is not sharp in taste or texture. For those that aren’t fans of onions, feel free to skip this step. I would suggest going for the bonus round though, and grilling up some verscht (salami). It is SOOOO good and makes a nice pre-burger nibble or hipster topping to your burger! Either way, it’s a win!

Ingredients:
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
3 eggs
1 – 1 ¼ cups matzo meal
2-3 tablespoons onion soup mix
3 tablespoons ketchup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 buns
Optional: 1 log beef salami
tomatoes, pickles, onions, condiments, etc.

Directions:
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the diced onion and minced garlic for 1-2 minutes, so that they are almost cooked through. Once done, set the garlic and onions aside to cool down so that they can be easily handled. Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick!

In a large bowl mix together the beef, eggs, onion soup mix, ketchup, salt and pepper. Add the cooled semi-cooked garlic and onions. Mix together to combine. Slowly add the matzo meal, just enough to bring the mixture together without making it overly “crumby”, you want your burgers to be mainly meat, not filler! Divide the meat mixture 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. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger!

Bonus Ingredient: If you like, after removing the plastic wrapper, slice up a log of beef salami into ¼ inch slices, and make a slit half way into the slice (so your slice looks like Pac-Man). Grill these alongside your burgers; they are delicious on their own, but will make a yummy “topping” to your burger as well!

Serve your burgers on some fresh buns, along with your favourite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!

Fresh Herb Burgers

Herb Burger

So I was wondering what to blog about this week, when I realized that I haven’t done a week on the almighty burger! This is definitely an error on my part. So seeing as we have a long weekend coming up, and people will definitely have their barbeques out, I thought, why not hit you up with a few yummy meat treats? One thing that I love to use when making burgers is a hamburger patty press. Yes, I know you can make a burger without a gadget. However, and hear me out on this one, the press is just awesome! We have an old, plain one that you can get at your local hardware/home supply store, but they make a million different kinds these days (as witnessed by late night TV infomercials). What I personally like about the press is that it allows a couple of things to happen:

  1. Uniform circumference on my burgers. You’re not going to get one that over takes the bun, while another looks like a slider.
  2. Uniform thickness. You won’t have one thin leathery burger, and one super thick meatloaf one.
  3. It allows the burgers to set up and chill. Once you’ve formed the patties, sometimes they just need to relax and bit and mellow out. Stick them in the fridge, and let the flavours get to know one another while you get the grill heated up and the toppings ready.
  4. Easy grilling! It makes it really easy to pop the patties out of the tube (the maker we have is tube shaped) and plop them on the grill. I’m not trying to delicately peel a patty off a plate, have it break, or lose its shape, or any other culinary disaster. It goes from maker to grill, in one step. It’s a thing of beauty.

So that’s my personal take on the hamburger patty maker, without an official sponsor! Hint, hint! You should see me when I’m actually being paid to endorse something! Starfrit? T-fal? Ron Popeil, I’m talking to you!


Fresh Herb Burgers

Ingredients:
2 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
¾ -1 cup matzo meal
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced*
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, minced*
Salt
Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these fresh herbs.

Directions:
Lightly oil your grill and set the heat on the BBQ to medium. In a large mixing bowl lightly whisk the eggs with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Crumble in the ground meat, mixing it with your fingers to combine it with the eggs and herbs. Add the matzo meal as needed to bind the meat mixture. Try not to overwork the meat, you want it to just come together, but not be overmixed.

Using your hamburger press or your hands, shape the mixture into about 8 patties, about ¾ of an inch thick. Using your thumb, make a shallow depression in the centre of each burger to prevent puffing up during cooking.

Place the burgers on the grill, close the lid, and cook the burgers until they are no longer pink inside, turning once, about 6 – 8 minutes per side. An instant read thermometer should read 160°F.

Don’t abuse your burgers by pressing with a spatula, pricking with a fork or turning frequently as precious juices will be lost! Tuck into a warm crusty bun and add your favourite toppings!

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple Kugel

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple KugelThis recipe was passed around the office as a “keeper” on a scrap of yellowed newsprint. Wanting to track down the original source, (thank you Google!) I was able to find that the recipe was first published in the Baltimore Sun back in December of 1991*. It was part of an article written by Colleen Pierre, R.D. entitled “Veggies Don’t Have to be Bland, Boring”. While yes it is a bit old (23 years!) the article, and the recipe, still hold true. If you would like to read the original article, please click here.  This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

¼ cup margarine
1 cup grated, peeled sweet potatoes (1 medium/large sweet potato)
1 cup grated, peeled carrots (2 medium/large carrots)
1 cup grated, peeled apples (1 large apple)
½ cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sweet wine
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon oil (to grease pan)

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with about 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ingredients, and then pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.

* According to the article, the actual recipe comes from “Life After Schmaltz,” a book for heart-healthy Jewish holiday cooking by Rosalind Trieber, M.S., Ann Sussman and Janet Brigham, Ph.D., published in Baltimore by Trieber Associates.

Leeks – כרתי

Leek in Hebrew is כרתי related to the word כרת—to cut, and so with that in mind we make the following request when eating these symbolic leeks:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G d and the G d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

In addition, the braised leek dish calls for carrots which the Hebrew word is גֶּזֶר and sounds very much like g’zar, the word for decree. Eating them is meant express our desire that G-d will nullify any negative decrees against us. Interestingly, the Yiddish words for “carrots” and “more” — mern and mer, respectively — are strikingly similar. So among Yiddish speakers, carrots symbolize the desire for increased blessings in the new year.

Leek Latkes

Leek Latkes
Yields 14-16 latkes, depending on the size you make them!

Ingredients:

4 large leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour or matzo meal, or a combination of both
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried basil (optional)
oil, for frying

Directions:

In a large soup pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Add leeks. Cover. Turn heat down to low. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks are bright green and just tender. Drain the leeks in a colander, and let them cool a bit. Place leeks in a mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add flour or matzah meal. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Mix well.

On medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, drop batter by spoonfuls into pan. Flatten the latkes a bit so they are not too thick to cook well in the middle. Fry approximately 3 minutes on each side, until browned on both sides and firm in the middle. Remove from frying pan onto paper towels to drain excess oil and cool. Repeat, starting with hot oil and then dropping spoonfuls of batter, until all the batter is used.

Tips:

  1. Adjust the heat when frying so it is just right. If you fry on too high heat, the pancakes might burn. But if you fry on too low heat, the latkes will be mushy rather than crisp.
  2. Use enough oil when frying so that the latkes won’t burn, but don’t use so much oil that the pancakes are oily.
  3. Don’t make the latkes too large that they fall apart when flipped over.

Braised Leeks and CarrotsBraised Leeks & Carrots

Ingredients:

2 leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
⅓ cup chicken/vegetable broth
2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine leeks, carrots, broth, margarine, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper in a deep skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes. Cook and stir mixture until leeks and carrots are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes, adding a touch more liquid if needed so the vegetables do not burn. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve warm.