The Star Trek officer found her favorite alien and brought him home!
October is coming to an end. The last couple of years have been so busy for us! Months go flying by, each one bringing new challenges, but the last Monday of each month is always special: it is reveal day for The Secret Recipe Club, the best group event in the cooking blogosphere. Food bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each others’ site in search of a recipe, cook it and blog about it at the exact same time. The group is very popular now, there is a huge waiting list for new members, so if you are interested, send your name in. Just keep in mind you need to be blogging for a while so that you have enough recipes in your database, and also a recipe index in your site.
This month I got a GREAT site to cook from: Cooking Whims. Megan is funny, witty, her cooking style similar to ours. I love this little bit she wrote about herself:
“I love goat cheese, all things pumpkin, chocolate, and dancing to Sinatra while I experiment in my kitchen”.
Awesome! Now, back to my assignment. The fact that we were away for 10 days on a trip to California and that our kitchen was still undergoing hellnovation made this month’s participation a bit of a stretch, but by now I am used to cooking stresses of many kinds. Several recipes called my name during the stalking period. For instance, her Oatmeal Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes… or Fish Tacos with Spicy Tomato-Cucumber Salsa… but I also flirted with her Beet Hummus, and the Hungarian Paprika Chicken. So, what did I choose in the end? A turkey burger. I could not resist that one, made ultra special by home-made marinara sauce and a stuffing of mozzarella.
MOZZARELLA-STUFFED TURKEY BURGER
(slightly modified from Cooking Whims)
for the marinara sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
for the burgers
1.5 lb ground turkey (50:50 dark and white meat)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
4 thin slices of mozzarella cheese (optional)
For the marinara sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes have broken down. Pulse a few times in a food processor. Set aside on very low heat to keep warm.
For the turkey burgers: Place the turkey, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, oregano, parsley, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Mix with your hands, then shape into 8 thin patties.
Combine 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and basil. Divide evenly on the center of 4 patties. You may not need all the cheese. Cover each patty with the remaining patties and crimp closed.
Grill the burgers turning once, for a total of 8 to 10 minutes on a medium-high grill. When the burgers are almost cooked through, top with a slice of cheese and allow the cheese to melt before serving with a helping of marinara sauce on top.
We enjoyed our burgers “naked”, but for a real burger experience, have some toasted buns ready… and
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Megan’s description of this recipe started with “This burger belongs on a show called burger wars.”. Then, she says that another version from her blog would fight for the number one spot, the “Hummus Turkey Burger with Cucumber & Feta Cheese“. Of course I intend to make that one soon. Stay tuned.
We loved these burgers! She is absolutely right, the lemon zest is a key component of the recipe, but everything comes together in perfect harmony, including the simple but tasty marinara, that calls for sun-dried and regular tomatoes.
I slightly modified the recipe by mixing dark and light ground turkey, and using about 50% more meat than she did to end up with 4 stuffed patties. Since we were going to enjoy them without buns, I wanted each to be slightly bigger. I also included fresh Italian parsley because I had some in the fridge and it seemed like a good herb to incorporate in the mix. Once you have the mixture ready, portion 8 equal amounts over parchment paper, flatten them, add the cheese to half of them, cover with the other portion.
Pinching the sides seems hard to do, but don’t worry, it will work. I cooked my burgers on the grill, as it would have been impossible to cook them in our improvised kitchen.
Now, as if I did not have enough grievance in my life, when I was getting ready to take the first photo, I could not find the lemon. Keep in mind that the fridge was still in the garage, to get to it we needed to jump over a few pieces of wood and squeeze through some furniture. So, I am going crazy searching for my lemon. The thoughtful man I married suggested that “maybe you think you got it from the fridge but you didn’t“. His remark caused me to go into a blazing hot monologue that traumatized for life two of our three dogs. Chief was spared thanks to being deaf. A second lemon quickly showed up at the scene, and we put the citric incident to rest. Later that evening, Phil calls me in the TV room: cozy inside a dog bed between the sofa and the wall, a lemon was peacefully resting.
Never a dull moment, folks. Never a dull moment…
Megan, I loved getting your blog this month, and hope you had fun with your own assignment too!
For those who want to see what Group D cooked up for the final Monday of October, click on the blue frog at the end of the post. She loves a little click! 😉
ONE YEAR AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
TWO YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast
THREE YEARS AGO: Panmarino
FOUR YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken
A beautiful, blue, star-shaped fire! Consider this just a teaser, a full post on our new kitchen will be published next month… for the time being, just a few shots of our new range, a Blue Star with a very sexy coral front panel… We named it SUPERNOVA…
and you can find it here….
Can you picture me doing a happy dance?
Coming soon to a food blog near you… full disclosure of the New Bewitching Kitchen!
Post dedicated to the memory of my Dad, who today would be 93 years young…
When the weather chills down, we always have a bowl of miso soup to start our sushi dinners. I’ve never had a bad miso soup, but some are definitely better than others. Considering the very few ingredients that go into this soup, it’s clear that technique matters. Last Friday we were so tired that the idea of going out to eat seemed like too much effort, so we resorted to take-out sushi from one of our grocery stores, which is actually pretty nice. Since they don’t offer miso soup, I decided to make my own. Read a bunch of articles, and felt ready for the challenge. It turned out delicious: soothing, with a mild flavor and smooth consistency. That is actually the most important aspect of a miso soup: it should not be grainy.
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
4 cups water
1 tsp instant dashi (see comments)
4 Tbsp white miso
firm tofu, cut in cubes
green onions, light and green parts, thinly sliced
Boil the water in a large saucepan, add the instant dashi and mix until dissolved. Turn the heat off, keep the pan with the lid on to retain heat.
Place the miso in a small bowl, add a small amount of the very hot water/dashi, whisk to completely dissolve the miso, so that no lumps stay.
Add the miso to the original saucepan with the rest of the dashi, mix. Add the diced tofu, let the pan covered for a couple of minutes as you place green onions inside the serving bowls.
Laddle the miso soup with pieces of tofu in each bowl, and serve immediately.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Obviously one cannot make miso soup without miso, but apart from that, lots of variations are out there. Some recipes use water, some vegetable stock, others call for chicken stock. However, for the real, authentic Japanese flavor, dashi is the way to go. I admit to using a shortcut in my version, though. I used instant dashi instead of making a broth with its two traditional components: seaweed and bonito flakes. I had both ingredients at home, but when I made this soup they were somewhere in that twilight zone of boxes kept in the garage, as our kitchen is waiting for the green light from the crew working on its hellnovation. Sanding floors and cabinets generate an amount of fine dust that you simply do not want to have over every little item in your pantry. So, I took the easy way out and bought a little bottle of instant dashi. It is actually a very nice ingredient to have laying around, a handy source of the funky-elusive fifth flavor, umami.
Once you have dashi (or make it from scratch), all you’ll need is some miso and firm tofu. Green onions are a great addition, but not mandatory. You can use either type of miso, white or red, they differ in the fermentation time, and resulting flavor. White miso will be milder. Follow the instructions to a T, because the main thing to avoid is boiling the miso once it’s added to the dashi: that leads to an unpleasant grainy texture. I also like to cut my tofu in small pieces and add to the pan for a couple of minutes before serving the soup. That allows the tofu to absorb the flavors of the miso more efficiently. With those two tips in mind, you will be on your way to a great bowl of soup to warm you up on the chilly evenings ahead.
(No, he would not touch miso soup even if his life depended on it… ) 😉
ONE YEAR AGO: On my desk
TWO YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree
THREE YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna
FOUR YEARS AGO: Brazilian Pão de Queijo
In this world, we have dog people and cat people. We have early risers, and those who are not themselves until past noon. We have those who worship the sun and those whose heart sings with the first snowfall. We have East Coast people, and West Coast people. Phil and I are early rising dog people who worship the sun, and between East and West California is the jackpot. 😉
(image from Wikimedia)
California holds a special place in my heart, because that was my destination the first time I left Brazil, back in 1986. It was my first contact with a country that decades later, would become my new, permanent home. For Phil, California is beautiful, diverse, and progressive, a perfect trilogy. We have wonderful memories of all our times spent in that gorgeous state, and cherish every opportunity to travel back. A couple of weeks ago we flew to Los Angeles, visited UCLA and the lab of our friend and mentor Ron Kaback, and also got together with my stepson and his fiancée (= the coolest couple of LA ;-)). We kept our rental car busy, first going to San Diego where Phil had a meeting to attend, then driving all the way to San Francisco. The trip ended on a high note: we spent a couple of days in wine country paradise, around Mendocino and Navarro. We stayed with a couple of KSU Biochemistry alumni, who after retirement from business decided to grow Pinot Noir grapes, and are now one of the most successful Pinot growers in the region. They took us to a couple of wine tastings, to several amazing restaurants (Stone and Embers was perhaps our favorite), and also arranged a surprise visit to Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. We’ve been to many farmers markets in the past, but it will be very hard to top this one.
Tomatoes do not travel well in a suitcase, however, a 25-year-old bottle of white balsamic found a nice spot in mine, wrapped in plastic and surrounded by cozy sweaters… You can bet it will be featured on my next “In My Kitchen” post.
Maybe my favorite spot at the market was Spicery, owned by a delightful woman called Evelyn. Our friends are serious gourmet cooks and familiar with the best sources of spices, including Penzey’s and Spice House. So, when they told me they rather buy their spices from Evelyn, I listened very carefully. My favorite way to test a spice store is to ask for “pimente d’Espelette“. Very hard to find. I posed the question, she opened a huge smile and said she has it but did not bring to the stand because not very many people ask for it, and she sells most of that precious item to restaurants. I will be placing my order soon! And you can too… Just follow this link and have fun browsing her products.
Of course, wine tasting was part of our weekend.
Can you imagine tasting wine on this setting? This is the view from Copain Wines that processes the grapes from our friends’ vineyards.
We also visited Twomey, because according to our hosts, they do a wonderful job with Pinot grapes too. Equally beautiful setting!
Until next time, California, we shall miss you!
ONE YEAR AGO: An Orange Frame of Mind
TWO YEARS AGO: San Francisco Sourdough
THREE YEARS AGO: A Real Oscar Winner (dog lovers: don’t miss this!)
FOUR YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano