Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade bread always beats bread from the store. Last night when I wanted to make hamburgers I opted to go through the tedious process of making my own buns rather than use the store-bought buns, even though they were on sale for 99¢. For once, the at-home method would cost more than buying from the store. But when I glanced at the ingredient list for the store buns, I saw high fructose corn syrup, shortening and crazy 13 lettered words. Forget about it! Homemade was the better, healthier way. After all, the hamburger bun recipe I found in this month's issue of Saveur contain actual real ingredients like milk, flour, sugar and BUTTER! Beats any 99¢ pack of hamburger buns anyday!

I found this recipe from the September issue of Saveur magazine. The recipe makes 12-3 oz. buns. They are light and fluffy with a nice sturdy exterior, perfect for holding any juicy burger and all the toppings. However unlike the store-bought variety, these hamburger buns will go stale the next day, so you better use them up! But they are pretty tasty with just some butter so I'm sure you and your friends will gobble them up. If you happen to have some leftover, throw the extra buns in the food processor to make fresh bread crumbs and freeze them in a bag.

Hamburger Buns from Saveur Magazine

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)

1 1/3 cups milk heated to 115F

1.5 tsp. + 2 tbsp. sugar

4 cups flour

1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lightly beaten egg

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

3 tsp. sesame seed

  1. Mix yeast, milk and 1.5 tsp sugar; let foam.
  2. Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt and egg. Mix with paddle on low speed until dough forms.
  3. Replace paddle with hook and add butter. Knead on medium high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.
  4. Let rest in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 2 hrs.
  5. After bulk fermentation, divide dough into 12 and shape into tight balls about 3 oz each.
  6. Let balls rise in parchment-lined sheets, covered with oiled plastic, for about 1.5 hrs.
  7. Spray tops with water, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake in 400F oven until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mobil Mart Restaurant

I've been in Mammoth Lakes the past week which explains the lack of posts. I did a lot of hiking with my dogs and cooking. In fact, I did a stagiaire at the White Bark restaurant at the Westin Monache Resort. For those of you not versed in culinary lingo, a stagiaire is a fancy French word for a try-out. Basically, you work a shift and the chef sees if he likes you. My friend Dan is the executive chef at the White Bark, so if I can find a place to live, the job is mine. So keep your fingers crossed!

Matt and I went to Yosemite last week since it is only an hour and half from Mammoth. It was actually my first time to Yosemite! From Mammoth Lakes, you take the 395N and then Tioga Pass, Highway 120. When you pull on to the 120 from the 395N there is a Mobil Gas Station. If going to Yosemite, you better stop and get gas there because there is only one other gas station on the 120 and it is about 40 miles away. And if you don't need to get gas you should stop anyways because there is a fabulous restaurant inside.

The Mobil Mart Restaurant is run by Dan's fiancee Denise and her family. The food is not your typical gas station fare. There are fish tacos with a fresh mango salsa, BBQ ribs with a huckleberry BBQ sauce, jambalaya, and grilled pork tenderloin. They even serve beer and wine. Along with the gourmet grub, you can pick up camping and backpacking staples like dehydrated food and goos for your wilderness trek into Yosemite.

The Mobil Mart is only open during the summer months (May-November) so if you are ever in Mammoth Lakes during the summer, I highly recommend you drive north the twenty minutes. The food and the view from the dining area are unbelievable!

The Menu

The dining area

the view of Mono Lake from the dining area

Putting the final touches on the fish tacos

the Fish tacos. One comes with a ginger slaw and the other with the tropical fruit salsa

BBQ Ribs with Huckleberry sauce.
Everybody needs to try huckleberries at least once in their life.
If you can only get it in sauce form, so be it. Huckleberries are DELICIOUS!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cheesy Grits with Coca-Cola Red-Eye Gravy

To continue the theme of pantry cooking, here is the ultimate pantry meal, Cheese Grits with Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola Red Eye Gravy. Actually it sounds like the ultimate white trash meal. I didn't feel like going to the grocery store so I just threw this dinner together. In the South, grits are often served with ham and red-eye gravy for breakfast. Red-eye gravy is traditionally made with black coffee but can be made with Coca-Cola. It sounds totally weird but Coca-Cola is acidic like beer and wine and is great for deglazing and making sauces. I use it in my Pulled Pork recipe. Hamsteaks are usually used for the red-eye gravy but I didn't have any so I just used some sliced up hot dogs. The grits recipe serves 4-6 people (so if serving more than 2 people, double the ingredients for the gravy). I like to make extra grits and put them in a loaf pan, then slice it up and fry it in butter for breakfast the next day. Or maybe pour some chili over it. I use Bob's Red Mill Coarse Ground Cornmeal which can be found in most grocery stores. The Albertson's near my house has it in the "Organic" aisle alongside the gluten-free products. If you can't find the Coarse Ground, the Medium Grind Cornmeal will work, which can be found in the baking aisles of most grocery stores.

TBC Cheesy Grits with Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola Red-Eye Gravy
serves two

2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded
3 hot dogs, sliced
1 TBSP butter
1/2 onion, small diced
1 cup Coca-Cola

Place the milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time.

While the grits are cooking, start the Red-Eye gravy. In a saute pan, add the butter over medium-heat. When it stops foaming, add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Add the cut up hot dogs and cook until lightly browned. Add the Coca-Cola and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until desired consistency.

Divide grits and hot dogs among two bowls and then ladle gravy on top.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Goat cheese stuffed Turkey Burgers with red pepper apricot relish

So my MacBook malfunctioned again last week! :( It is the 4th time in a year. First I lost all my pictures. A few months later, the DC board went out so I wasn't able to use my laptop unless it was plugged in. In February, my hard drive completely died. It just literally stopped working. And just recently, the computer screen went blank. Luckily I have a good friend who works at Apple and he is able to get my MacBook running, usually with only a little damage to my pocket book. That is what I love about Apple! Had this been a PC, I would probably still be computer-less and dealing with Geek Squad or whoever you deal with when a PC malfunctions. When my computer screen went blank on Tuesday, I simply made an appointment at the Apple Genuis Bar for Thursday (when my friend worked) and my computer was fixed by Sunday. So Thanks Torey and Thanks Apple Genuises at Fashion Island! That explains my Internet absence last week. And now on to better and tastier things!

A while back, Albertson's had some crazy sale on ground turkey. Being budget conscious, I stocked up and froze a couple pounds. After making several dinners, I had a mere 1/2 lb. left. I also had about 2 oz. left of goat cheese from the Beach Blanket Blackout Bingo Birthday Bash. So I made goat cheese stuffed turkey burgers. I had the perfect amount for 2 burgers and a slider. To accompany the burger, I made a roasted red bell pepper and apricot relish from the bell peppers I bought from the Irvine Farmer's Market. The relish recipe is more than enough for the burger recipe. It taste delicious in grilled cheeses and an accompaniment to any BBQ'd or roasted meat.

This meal is a perfect example of how budget cooking can still produce a gourmet meal. I actually had all the ingredients on hand except for the dried apricots. Lucky for me I have a lemon tree. I made my own bread crumbs by toasting a piece of bread and then grinding it in the food processor. Chicken broth, vinegar, Dijon mustard and hot sauce were all in my pantry. Just because you are poor, you don't have to eat poorly!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Red Pepper and Apricot Relish
adapted from Culinary Institute of America Grilling
makes about 2 burgers

1/2 lb. ground turkey,
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
pinch of dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz goat cheese, sliced into 1/4" medallions
hamburger buns or sandwich bread (I used Trader Joe's Cheddar and Garlic Sourdough Loaf)

For the Relish:
Makes 2 cups

2 roasted red peppers
2 TBSP cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup diced red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 drops hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Divide into two or three portions. To make the patties, take a 3 inch cookie cutter lined with plastic wrap and press 1/4 of the turkey mixture into the cookie cutter. Place the goat cheese medallion next and then top with 1/4 turkey mixture. Pressed the edges to seal the patties together and lift out of the plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining turkey mixture and goat cheese. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Preheat pan or grill to high. Brush burgers with oil and cook fro 7-8 minutes on each side.

Red Pepper and Apricot Relish

1. Roast the bell peppers. The easiest and fastest way to do this is by directly placing the bell peppers on the burner and charring the skin. After the skin has blistered and turned black all over, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off under running water. Seed and dice the peppers into 1/2 cubes.

2. Heat oil in medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add apricots, onion, and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the diced red bell peppers and broth. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar, mustard, and hot sauce. Cook until liquid has almost evaporated. Check the seasonings. Chill. The relish should be served at room temperature or chilled.

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