Thursday, May 27, 2010


I was on a burger kick for awhile and now every where I turn I seem to see articles about burgers. It's  grilling season and Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I don't usually eat a lot of beef burgers but was inspired to try Kathie Lee Joel's patty melts from the New York Times. Only because she was being interviewed by the recently retired NY Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, whose book 'Born Round' I was reading at the time. I did like how thin they were, but I refused to use  the "american cheese" for them.  I drew the line there. Cheddar or swiss was wonderful on them.
I've also made salmon and tuna burgers recently. A great, fast weeknight meal if you buy them frozen. For tuna burgers try a little wasabi mixed with mayo and for the salmon just a nice dijon/mayo mix or curry is nice.
Then I  decided to try lamb burgers.
There are so many great recipes out there but I made these with lots of feta, onion, garlic and parsley. I thought they were terrific.
This week in the NY Times Mark Bittman covered pork and fennel burgers.
I  made buffalo burgers years ago and recently venison burgers which I  blogged about. (April blog)
A stand by dinner for us for a long time has been turkey burgers. My daughter Madison made them years ago from her Williams Sonoma Kid's Cookbook and we've been making them ever since. Keep a pound of ground turkey in your freezer with a bag of sweet potato fries and you always have a back up dinner ready. These are so simple but really make for a super moist burger. I usually do them on the stove top.
Deluxe Turkey Burgers

In a bowl mix 1/2 cup bread crumbs ( I use italian seasoned) with 1/3 cup milk. Stir with a fork and then add 3 T. ketchup, 1 egg, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper. Add 1 lb. ground turkey, mix ingredients just until blended. Divide into 4 burgers.
Add 2 T. vegetable oil to a frying pan over med/low heat. Add burgers and cook about 5 min. per side.
So good with your standard cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion!

And for locals, I hope at least once in your life you've been to The White Spot for the Gusburger. It's infamous in Charlottesville! It's a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Harvest

This year's garden is coming along. There are some gaps that make me suspicious of possible predators. I don't get deer..... there are a few rabbits..... but ok I think the chickens ate the seeds. There, I've said it.
I started everything but the tomatoes from seed. The fennel and beets are sporadic, the basil didn't come up at all so I bought some plants. The lettuce row is splotchy but what's there is great!
My first harvest was of the radishes.
Washed up and they are delicious!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strawberry Madness

I've always loved strawberries. When I was little my dad planted a strawberry patch in our garden just for me.  It is strawberry season around here, so a friend and I went a pickin this week. We headed out to Critzers Family Farm in Afton. It was a great day for picking because it was cool and misty, always better than hot and buggy. When you're picking with a friend the time can really fly because you're picking and talking and next thing you know you've filled two flats of strawberries!
I came right home to start canning. It's a really rewarding process once you've done it a couple of times. I was a bit ambitious and got through three batches. Those three batches only used up one flat of strawberries!
I made regular strawberry jam, strawberry balsamic jam and strawberry sauce. I ended up with 18 jars.
Now what to do with the rest.....
Well I gave some bowls away to neighbors, then I made strawberry ice cream and went looking for some more fresh rhubarb. I made a strawberry rhubard pie last week and the family loved it and wanted another one.

We were so indulgent we had strawberry rhubard pie with strawberry icecream topped with strawberry sauce. I highly reccomend buying up some local rhubarb and making a pie or a crumble. The tart and the sweet together is incredible.
I love the unusual ones. Get pickin!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Iron Chef Darden

We went to a fun event last week at Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar.  Darden (UVA Business School) put together their own Iron Chef competition. There were three groups of four competing. First up were the professors, then the second years, and then the first years. Each group got 50 minutes in the kitchen to put together an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. The secret ingredient they all had to use in each course was pork. I think they got to make a plan ahead of time and bring one bag of groceries. They had to work quickly and were working up a sweat while we stood around sipping wine and cheering them on.
There were three judges, one of them was Charles Roumelioties a co owner of Orzo. It was very nice of him to let them use his kitchen. It was perfect for this because it's open to the restaurant. The other judges were the owner of Feast and another gentleman that runs a local farm that sells meat.(maybe he provided the pork?)
Here the professors are plating their entree.
After the judges tasted each course, we tried to get our hands on it to get a taste too.
Here's the beautiful dessert from the professors.
And the winning team was....... the first years!!
We're trying to figure out how to recreate this with friends at home. Each couple gets a certain amount of time and has to use some kind of secret ingredient to put together different courses for a meal. Should be a blast!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pad Thai

One of my daughters loves Pad Thai whenever we go out for Thai food, so I decided to try making it at home. Mark Bittman did a piece on it in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. The first time I made it I didn't have all of the exact ingredients, so next time I stopped by C'ville Oriental because I knew they would have everything.
It's in Seminole Square Shopping Center and has everything you could possibly need for making Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai. They have fresh asian produce too.
It's really fun to look around in there. For this I needed rice noodles and tamarind paste. Here's the recipe I followed for Pad Thai.
It's quite easy and quick once you assemble all of your ingredients.
Add extra spice if you like an extra kick.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cornbread Topping

Next time you're planning on making chili and cornbread. Try this: after making your chili, put it in a baking dish, mix up your corn bread and smooth it over the top. Bake however long the cornbread needs. I would only put it over chili that is pretty thick. I think if there's too much liquid in your chili the cornbread mix might soak down into it.

I used Trader Joe's cornbread mix here, and it baked up nicely on top of the chili.
It would be yummy over black beans too.