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!

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Here is a throwback to the old types of pasta salad that you used to see at big picnics. I’ve upped the flavour a bit by adding both tuna and eggs, as well as pickles, their brine and a dash of paprika. I hope you enjoy! This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups macaroni
1 can tuna, drained
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
4 green onions, sliced*
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 pickles, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons pickle brine
less than 1 cup mayonnaise (add enough to bring together, but not to overwhelm)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (yellow, Dijon or honey)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the directions on the package, until al dente. Drain the noodles, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, tuna, eggs, green onions, celery, pickles, green and red bell pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, paprika, pickle brine, mustard, salt, pepper, and about half the mayonnaise. Taste for flavouring.

Add the sauce to the pasta mixture, and mix well to combine. Add more mayonnaise if needed to help bring it together, or if you’d like it creamier. The salad should be a little “wet” at first, as the noodles will soak up the moisture in the dressing, and you want it to be a little wetter at first, so that it is not too dry later. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

1 six-quart basket of small cucumbers
6 tablespoons coarse/kosher salt
6 large garlic cloves (more if you like them extra garlicky)
2 bunches fresh dill
6 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
6-12 chili peppers (optional)

Directions:

Wash cucumbers thoroughly in cold water and pack firmly into sterilized jars. Want a quick and easy tip for washing all those cucumbers? Run them through your washing machine (without the Tide!), just on the gentle cold cycle. It will give them a quick scrub, and save you the time. Once the cucumbers are wash, by man or machine, place 1 clove of garlic, 2 sprigs of dill, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of mixed spices in each jar. For spicier pickles, add 1 – 2 chili peppers in each jar.

Fill jars with cold water, seal tight, and shake well. Store in a cool dark place for 2 weeks then put in refrigerator making sure the seals are tight. If new dills are desired, store in refrigerator immediately after preparing. Then watch out! You’ll never buy another pickle again!

Refrigerator Dilly Beans

Dill Beans

Ingredients:

2 cups of green beans
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
2 ½ tablespoons of sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt
½ of a medium onion, sliced thinly
2 sprigs of fresh dill
½ teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
¼ to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you want them) – you
can also add a whole dried chili if you have one.

Directions:

In a saucepan, add your water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it off and set it aside to cool down to room temperature. Trim the beans. You want them all to fit in your jar with about an inch at the top so the brine covers them completely. You can trim both ends, or just the stem end. Next you need to blanch the beans. Bring a separate saucepan of water to a full boil, then dump the beans in and boil them for thirty seconds. Drain them, and quickly add them to a bowl of iced water to shock them and stop the cooking process. You want your beans to be brightly colored and still crisp. Drain the beans and set them aside. Add your onions, dill, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns to your jars. Now add your beans to the jars. They look prettiest standing upright, but don’t worry about being perfect. The easiest way is to lay the jar on its side, or hold it horizontally, and place the beans inside. Go ahead and pour your brine in once it has reached room temperature. Fill the jar to ½ inch below the top of the jar, and put the lid on. Place the jar of dilly beans in the fridge, and let them sit for at least two days before eating them. They’ll keep for up to six months in the fridge, if they last that long!

Easy Refridgerator Pickled Green Tomatoes

Dill Tomatoes

This recipe will make 1 quart jar of tomatoes, but you can always (and should) make more!

Ingredients:

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt (If you use table salt you must to cut the quantity in half)
1 pound firm green tomatoes (about 5 plum tomatoes)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
4 tablespoons dill seeds
½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns

About the tomatoes. They can be any kind, but they must be all green, no orange allowed, and they must be cut in half or quarters. I have done this with cherry tomatoes, but for some reason they are not as good as Romas or other pear shaped tomatoes. They must be close to full size meaning those little green pellets that have not begun to form seeds will not work.

Directions:

Make sure you have a really clean bottle and lid. The lid must have a good rubber seal. The best thing to do is buy canning jars and lids, which are available in a lot of hardware and grocery stores. Sterilize them by submersing them in a boiling water bath. Add the garlic, dill seeds, and peppercorns to the jar. Thoroughly wash the tomatoes and slice them in halves or quarters. Cut out all bad spots and the stem ends. Cram them in the jar leaving about ½” – ¾” of space at the top. Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water, and salt in a non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil, and stir until all the salt is dissolved. Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within ¼” of the top. Wipe the jar top, put the lid on and tighten. Age for at least 1 week in the refrigerator. Beware. The brine will taste very salty at first, but don’t panic. The juices from the tomatoes will dilute the concentration of salt in a week or two.

Bumper Crops Day 2 – Dill-licious!

Dill

Ahhh the dill pickle… could anything be more Jewish? Be it a new dill or an old dill, people love a pickle (say that 10 times fast!). With bushels of dill cukes coming in, now is the time to start putting up jars of pickles to last you until Pesach. While we are on the topic of dill however, some kashrus notes: The eating of fresh dill is not recommended due to possible insect contamination. With the pickles, since you are not eating the dill directly, rather just flavouring with it, it is recommended to either use dill that has a hechsher (some Israeli or NYC area herbs have them) or use greenhouse grown, and then rinse off the pickle before eating it. If neither of these options appeal to you, you can always use dried dill instead of fresh, I promise, I won’t tell a soul!