Recipe of the week: Stuffed burger

I did not make this up, I’ve seen it a few times over the last 10 or so years, but it’s my method that will guarantee the burger doesn’t ‘explode’ when you are cooking it

I don’t always put this on a bun (especially lately as I’ve been losing weight avoiding sugar) but when I do I like to brush the inside of each half with butter and toast it in a saucepan … or on a grill pan if that is the method I am using for cooking the burger

Whether or not it goes on a toasted bun, I like to dress the Stuffed burger with mayonnaise, ketchup, Vidalia onion and soft butter lettuce leaf/leaves

Quantities here make 1 Stuffed burger

8 ounces ground NY strip steak
1/2 teaspoon House salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce strip crispy bacon, chopped
1 ounce flat slice Fontina cheese
Pinch of cumin

Special equipment
Lid of a peanut butter jar (see Method) or other mold
Plastic wrap

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently form into a ball and then divide in half

Line the peanut butter jar lid with plastic wrap that extends 4 inches beyond both sides. Press one half of the ground steak into an even layer on the plastic wrap inside the lid. Add the bacon and the cheese to the center of the meat (avoid the edges). Sprinkle the cheese with cumin and then add the second half of the ground steak. Fold the edges of the plastic wrap over the mean and press firmly into an even layer and to seal the ingredients into a burger. Remove the burger from the mold and remove and discard the plastic wrap

Cook the burger in the desired method: 1. Pan-fry in 2 tablespoons just-smoking canola oil, 3 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side OR 2. On a lightly oiled hot griddle pan for the same 3 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side

For both methods, transfer the burger to the oven and let it set for 5 minutes. Remove to a board, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes

Serve immediately after the Stuffed burger has rested

Recipe of the week: Black bean chili

Delicious, easy to make … and vegetarian to boot

4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
House salt
Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
2 medium onion, finely chopped
One 4 ounce can diced green chilies
2 teaspoon chili powder (make sure it is fresh)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed, Mexican preferably
1 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin
29 ounces canned fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juices
30 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Place garlic cloves in an oven proof dish with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and roast 30 minutes

Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Slip cloves from skins, mash into a paste, adding the oil and salt and pepper from the dish

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and season lightly with salt, stir to gloss and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft. Add a touch of water to prevent the onions from taking on too much color during cooking

Add the roasted garlic to the pan, and then everything else but the beans and mix thoroughly. Heat to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes

Add the beans; mix well and heat thoroughly, 20 minutes

Serve with Sourdough cornbread



Recipe of the week: Steakhouse macaroni & cheese

What makes this mac n cheese recipe all ‘Steakhouse’? Its multiple cheeses and crème fraiche for extra-richness and smoked paprika for a hint of smokey heat

1 pound dried bite-size pasta tubes
6 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
6 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1 fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, then to taste (see Note)
4 cups half & half
1 1/4 cups crème fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grey sea salt, plus extra as needed
3 cups freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
1 3/4 cups freshly shredded aged cheddar cheese
3/4 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 4 quart square baking dish

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente

Melt the butter in a 4 quart sauce pan. Whisk continuously and sprinkle in the flour. Continue to wish and cook until the roux starts to take on a lightly golden color. Add the bay leaf and, whisking continuously, gradually pour in the half and half and cook until smooth. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, 14 to 16 minutes. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, cayenne and freshly ground black pepper. Retrieve and discard the bay leaf. Whisk in the crème fraîche and salt and bring the mixture to a simmer

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 1/4 cups each of the Gruyere and Cheddar until melted

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir in 2 cups more of the Gruyere and the 3/4 cup mozzarella. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere and Cheddar evenly over the top and finish with an even sprinkling of breadcrumbs

Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the oven and cook until it is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and let sit for 10 minutes

Serve Steakhouse macaroni and cheese very warm with a vinaigrette salad and Chenin blanc

Note: Smoked paprika is readily available in every major grocery store. If you cannot find or do not have smoked paprika, substitute ground cayenne pepper


Recipe of the week: Cashew rice

Cashew rice is a delicious side dish that pairs nicely with chicken, duck and other water birds, pork and meaty seafood … and it is easy to prepare

Take note that the rice can be steamed up to 2 hours in advance

You can make quick work of removing the spices from the rice once it has been cooked by tying them into a square of all-cotton cheesecloth and securing with cotton kitchen twine


For the rice
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 1/4 cups fresh cold water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
3 bay leaves
Pinch of turmeric
1 teaspoon House salt

For the cashews
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/3 cup chopped salt-roasted cashews
2 scallions, trimmed, cut sharply on the bias

Place the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse until the water runs mostly-clear and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the measured water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, turmeric and salt and stir everything together. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and let sit, without removing the lid, for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours

Melt the butter with the oil over moderately high heat in a saute pan. When the foam from the butter has subsided add the mustard seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add the cashews, stir to gloss and saute for 1 minute

Remove the spices from the rice and fluff with a fork before folding in the cashews and half of the scallions. Transfer to serving bowl and or platter and garnish with the other half of the scallions

Serve Cashew rice hot, very warm, or at room temperature

Leftover Cashew rice, if there is any, can be used for stir-fries the following day or up to 3 days later

Recipe of the week

Spicy chicken tortilla soup

My version of Spicy chicken tortilla soup is easy to make and completely achievable using pantry staples from any American kitchen (or those that can be procured at a typical grocery store)

The spiciness of this great cold-weather soup can be adjusted by adding more or using less serrano and chile in adobo and the adobo sauce, but do not skimp too much

The toppings are as an integral part of tortilla soup as are the toppings at a taco bar so be sure to add a wide variety and plenty of them, especially if you are serving a crowd

14 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 cups chicken stock
1 pound Vidalia onion, root end trimmed, onion peeled and quartered
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
10 sprigs fresh cilantro
House salt
1 sprig fresh marjoram
14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 serrano pepper, de-veined and de-seeded as much as desired
1 chipotle chile en adobo, plus up to 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil

Lime zest
Lime wedges
Freshly picked cilantro leaves
Freshly picked marjoram leaves
Freshly picked Mexican oregano leaves
Finely shredded pepper jack cheese
Minced serrano pepper
Corn tortilla strips or favorite corn tortilla chip
Sour cream or Mexican crema

Bring stock, 2 onion quarters, 2 cloves garlic, cilantro and a big pinch of salt to boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Add the chicken and let steep for 10 minutes (Note: As long as 2 to 3 breasts are used, none weighing more than 7 ounces they should cook in 10 minutes. Check the temperature to make sure cooked white meat registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit) Remove the chicken and set aside; pour stock through fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl (discard solids in strainer). Pull chicken into bite size pieces when cool to the touch

Puree tomatoes, 2 remaining onion quarters, 2 remaining cloves garlic, serrano, chipotle chile, and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce in food processor until smooth

Heat a large saucepan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and heat until shimmering; add tomato/onion puree and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened in color, 10 minutes. Stir strained stock into tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes

Taste for spice, adding additional adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired spice is reached

Ladle Spicy chicken tortilla soup into bowls and let guests garnish as desire

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