I was a “vegetarian” for about ten years (i.e., I focused only on consuming pasta and cheese, and found that adopting the mantle of “vegetarian” was helpful in my quest to avoid all foods that were not pasta and cheese).
Burgers put an end to that.
The year was 2002, the setting, a 4th of July BBQ at a high school friend’s house. Two (vegetarian) friends and I, bowled over by the smell of the grill, steathily helped ourselves to a burger. We made our way to the garage so no one could see us, and carefully passed the stolen burger between the three of us, sharing bites, until it was gone. Incidentally, so was my vegetarianism.
Thirteen years later, I actually love vegetables and eat far more than pasta and cheese. (Side note: YAY!) And at least once a summer, I get that BBQ smell wafting under my nose and I just know: tonight is burger night. Thanks to Husband for always indulging me.
Gorgonzola Sausage Burger
1 pound high quality ground beef
optional but delicious: one hot Italian sausage link
big dash Worcestershire sauce
big handful crushed red pepper
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
good buns, toasted
Sriracha mayo (i.e., one part Sriracha sauce to two parts mayonnaise, whipped together)
pickled onions and/or cucumbers – we used the basic method outlined here
In a large bowl, mix your meat, Worcestershire, spices, onion and garlic together. Form four large patties (don’t overwork the meat). Note – the fattiness from the sausage and the ground beef will help to bind the patty together. If not, add an egg and some breadcrumbs to help your cause!
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add your patties – cooking two at a time, or so – and cook about four minutes per side. I like to tent the pan with aluminum foil in order to help the middle cook through a bit.
Prep your buns! Add Gorgonzola to the bottom of each bun – this will help it melt. (You can also add to the top of the burger as it cooks, either way.) Add the meat patty and your favorite toppings. Obviously, don’t forget the chips.
Dear Husband, who prepared these last night: these are even better than the garage burger. Now, if only we had a backyard grill…
I love getting dressed up. I love drinking champagne. I love rocking out way too hard on the dance floor with the Husband. I love the many, multiple reasons to come home to Boston and see my friends.
And I love going to bridal showers hosted by my mom.
A little over a year ago, my mom called me in a panic. She’d offered to do the bridal shower for her BFF’s daughter, but now she didn’t know what that actually entailed. Food? Decor? Drinks? She was supposed to figure out GAMES!?! She asked me if it’d be appropriate to call in sick, citing European-ness. (According to my mom the German, Europeans just don’t DO showers.) She made her delicious Beef Bourgouignon, and needless to say, the shower was amazing.
Last night, my mom hosted a shower for another friend’s daughter. As we cleaned up the kitchen, she turned to me and said, “this is just the most wonderful tradition.”
Agreed, Mom. Made all the more wonderful by this lobster paella. That’s right. Lobster paella.
Lobster Paella (Recipe adapted from Ina Garten)
2-3 chopped yellow onions
2-3 red bell peppers, sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt & pepper (about a teaspoon each)
1/3 cup Pernod or Ouzo
1.5-2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 pound cooked shrimp
1 pound kielbasa, sliced
1 package frozen peas
for serving: parsley, lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in large, ovenproof Dutch oven. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook an additional 5 minutes. Lower heat, add minced garlic and cook another minute. Stir in rice, chicken stock, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover pot and place it in the oven.
Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes, remove, stir rice gently, and return to the oven to bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes (or until rice is fully cooked).
Remove from oven and transfer back to the stove top. Add Ouzo or Pernod and cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat; add lobster, shrimp, kielbasa, and peas. Cover and allow to steam through, about 10 minutes, so all of the protein heats through. Sprinkle with lemon and/or parsley and serve hot.
That was one happy bride-to-be. And for an extra bonus round, we sent guests home with peppermint patties from Chequessett Chocolate and felt mighty pleased with ourselves. (We kept the leftovers for us!)
Let’s just say we won’t have high electricity bills stemming from time spent in the kitchen this month. I’ve had more important things to worry about…like, HOW in the world are we going to keep up with a bunch of 25 year olds this weekend?
And, almost as important, what do you wear while doing it? Full disclosure: I shop at Talbot’s and I LOVE it. But I’m guessing they haven’t necessarily penetrated the 25 year old market segment. (To the 25 year old’s detriment, to be quite frank. Talbot’s is amazing. And Talbot’s sale rack? Don’t even get me started.)
In the meantime, I did take a break from these important questions to whip this up last night.
Sausage and Sage Vegetable Rigatoni
half box pasta
1 onion, roughly chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper & crushed reds
8-10 leaves fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 big handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 carton mushrooms, sliced
3 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
most of a bag of baby spinach
grated Parmesan cheese
In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, a bit of salt, pepper and crushed reds, and lower the temp; cook for about 8-10 minutes to get them nice and translucent.
While the onions cook, boil water for the pasta and cook pasta according to the directions for al dente. Reserve a little bit of the starchy water for making a sauce.
Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and sage to the onions. Cook down 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic. Add the apple cider vinegar and a bit off wine; cook of the alcohol.
Add the sausage, crumble it in the pan, and cook all the way through. You may want to drain off a little bit of fat – if you do, you might consider adding more wine for a little bit of a sauce. Pasta water will also work well, if you want to add that. When the sausage is cooked through, add the pasta and give the mixture a toss. Add Parmesan and spinach and cover, letting the spinach wilt into the mixture a bit.
Season to taste and serve, maybe top with a little more sage and Parmesan.
According to the Husband – someone who actually doesn’t like sausage – this was “awesome.” Make it from any combination of pasta, meat and veggies in your fridge for a little frost living action. And it made plenty for lunch…giving me more time to prep for our weekend in Cincinnati!
The Husband and I came home to my parents’ last night, where the food feast has already begun. My parents now live about 2 1/2 hours from the airport, so by the time we got in, we were very, very hungry. My mom had this cassoulet – really just a rich, white bean-based stew – waiting for us in the fridge. Add a salad, some crusty bread, a wedge of blue cheese, and a (few) glasses of wine, and this was more than a meal – it was a celebration.
Welcome Home Cassoulet
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced
4 celery sticks, grated
4 carrots, grated
optional: about a pound of chicken or pork sausage, crumbled (my dad pretty much insists it’s not a meal without meat)
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 15 oz cans of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
about a cup of dry white wine
vegetable bouillon and 4 cups water OR 4 cups veggie broth
3 sprigs thyme
4 bay leaves
a large handful parsley, chopped
large handful basil, chopped
a good dash black pepper
a good dash red pepper flakes (even though my mom says this is “so not French”)
In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onions, carrots and celery, until softened.
If using meat, this is a good time to add it, making sure it crumbles all the way through.
Add garlic, saute a minute or two, and then add beans, wine, spices and the veggie broth/bouillon + water.
Bring the stew to a boil and then turn down the heat; cover and simmer for an hour minimum. NOTE: This is even better reheated, when the different elements have had a chance to come together.
Whether it was the flavors melding together in the fridge, our hunger, or just the fact that it was so nice to taste my mom’s cooking again, the cassoulet was amazing. Credit for the original recipe goes to one of my dad’s business partners. YUM.