delicious discourse

friday burgers & corn

Posted in recipe by delicious:discourse on September 9, 2008

There really is nothing like ending a long week with a comforting meal in preparation for the leisure of the weekend. This week, even though it was only four days, felt like forever; odd, considering usually getting a magazine ready for press results in a shortage of hours. But, this week would not end, and when it finally did, Matt and I decided to cook an easy, but scrumptious meal in order to celebrate.

I usually make 99 percent of the culinary decisions in our household. This is no secret and I am sure Matt would agree. However, he must be credited with the genius outline of the menu: burgers with grilled corn, cuban style. We hoped to recreate the grilled corn served at Cafe Habana in SOHO that is garnished with chipotle seasoning, cotija cheese, and a lime wedge. In a collaborative spirit, I filled in the details by choosing buffalo burgers with a spinach arugula pesto, fresh mozzarella, and sliced tomato in addition to a spinach salad with dried figs, walnuts, and locally made goat cheese (Pure Luck Farm & Dairy).

There really is no way to describe the satisfaction one simply good meal can provide. I am a very simple cook and I often find the dishes I admire most are simplistic nature. Of course, I have an appreciate for fine cuisine and hours-long processes, but fresh and rustic can really not be beat.

Matt executed the corn beautifully. Consulting Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Matt peeled back the corn husks keeping them attached and rubbed the ears with butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, and chipotle seasoning. Putting the husks back in place, the corn were placed back on the grill until the kernals were tender, but crisp. To serve, Matt removed the husks and sprinkled the corn heavily with cotija. To serve, we drizzled with lime juice. It could not have been better with the spice of the chipotle and the salty kick of the cotija followed by the sublte citrus of the lime. The only difference between ours and Cafe Habana’s version was grill marks, and that we can easily remedy.

Trying to avoid high-fructose corn syrup in any form, and that includes store-bought ketchup, I needed a burger that would be complete without the traditional tomato paste. This burger not only made my mouth water, but it was aesthetically pleasing with the crisp white, red, and green—it could have been a Christmas burger in September, and in that regard, it truly was a gift. The tablespoons of homemade pesto that you mix into the meat, keep the burger very moist and juicy, while adding tons of flavor from within the heart of the burger. I used bison meat instead of beef, which is by nature leaner and therefore dryer than beef, but this burger oozed that sought-after juice. And yes, it does taste as good as it looks.

I found the burger recipe on

8 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 10 cups packed)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
4 cups (packed) fresh arugula leaves, divided (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 3/4 pounds ground beef (20% fat)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 hamburger buns, split horizontally
6 1/3-inch-thick slices fresh mozzarella cheese
(about 10 ounces)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Rinse spinach; drain briefly, then place in large glass bowl. Microwave spinach, uncovered, on high just until wilted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine garlic, lemon peel, and crushed red pepper in processor; blend until garlic is finely chopped. Add spinach, 2 cups (packed) arugula, pine nuts, and lemon juice; process until coarse puree forms. With machine running, gradually add oil in thin stream and blend until almost smooth. Mix in cheese. Transfer pesto to small bowl; season with salt.
Do ahead: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.
Combine ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 6 tablespoons spinach-arugula pesto in large bowl; mix lightly with fingertips or fork just until incorporated. Form meat mixture into six 3/4-inch-thick patties. Place patties on platter.
Do ahead: Beef patties can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill burgers to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Grill buns, cut side down, just until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Build burgers with pesto, patties, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and arugula. Cover with bun tops.


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Breakfast for dinner

Posted in recipe by delicious:discourse on August 20, 2008

Since Bon Appetit’s photography is so much better than my amateur attempts at food photography (I would assume so, they have been doing this much longer than me), I chose to use their snap of my latest favorite dish I call egg toasts and they call “Poached Eggs and Parmesan Cheese over Toasted Brioche with Pistou.” For as many times as I have eaten this in the past three weeks, it is a good thing I shortened such a name, even though the dish is more than deserving of the description.

Excited about my first Bon Appetit since I subscribed, it was about time, this dish popped out at me because of a) the short ingredient list b) easy of assembly c) I love breakfast for dinner and d) what is not to love?—eggs, bread, cheese, and pesto ( pistou, please forgive me). So, Matt and I made it for dinner one night accompanied by a salad and we were hooked. We had it again last night and I can’t tell you how many nights before that because it is embarrassing. I have made a couple of substitutions from the recipe below. I use fresh French bread instead of brioche and since we have had some difficulty with the delicacy of poaching we have just been frying the eggs. Also, on my last trip to the grocery store, there was no basil, I know, unthinkable, so I bought some hatch chile pesto that has added a nice spicy, smoky twang. Once again, the options and combinations are really quite endless. Savor and enjoy.

Egg Toasts aka. Poached Eggs and Parmesan Cheese over Toasted Brioche with Pistou

1/3 c. packed basil leaves
1 garlic clove
6 T olive oil
1 egg per toast
brioche/french bread
thin parmesan slices

Combine basil, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Set aside. Fry or poach eggs in a pan while toasting slices of French bread of brioche. Once toasted, spread pistou on bread slice, place a parmesan slice on top of pistou and finish off with the egg.

Yes, that easy.

Bon Appetit!

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