Leek and Bacon Burgers

When I started blogging I was nudged by a friend to just go ahead and do it.  Instead of just thinking about it and worrying whether it could be successful or not.  For a few months now I’ve been wondering about starting a YouTube channel.  Of course I have been trying to figure out if I could pull it off, what would I do, how would I do it, that sort of thing.

I’ve been inspired by Stéphane of My French Heaven who has started his channel.  He has already uploaded a few videos and he is doing a great job.  It’s a bit of a learning curve for me as I don’t have a Mac and we don’t use Windows.  So I found an open source video editor Kdenlive to try out.  I took a few videos to practice and boy did I feel silly!  It’s one thing to have in your head what you want to do and another to actually press record and do it.  So I’ll do a bit of practicing and see what I can sort out.  I have iMovie on my phone but that screen is too small for me and I don’t have enough space on my iPad.  Then I have to figure out camera set ups.  I think this could be fun, once I learn the ropes.

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous so we did a lot of outdoor projects.  Which meant easy dinners was the name of the game.  My husband wanted burgers.  I wanted to do them with a twist.  For the actual burger I did the same ones as I did in my gourmet burgers.  Though instead of goat meat I used beef.

Leek Bacon Burger 1 2016

Instead of buns I bought large portobello caps to grill.  Just prep them with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Set aside while you prep the burgers.  Slice about half a cup of leeks and a few button mushrooms.  Cut up a few rashers of streaky bacon.

Leek Bacon Burger 2 2016

Start cooking the bacon in a skillet.  Once it is half cooked add the mushrooms and leeks to the skillet.  While this is cooking grill the burgers and portobello caps.

Leek Bacon Burger 3 2016

Stack the burger on the mushroom caps, add goat cheese, and top with the leek and bacon mixture.

Leek Bacon Burger 4 2016

For this you can pick just about any cheese you like, my husband likes jarlsberg. You don’t need much more than this as it is quite filling.

Please let me know if you have a YouTube channel or any advice on having one.

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Roasted Beets with Burgers

I know a lot of us who blog have figured out the balance of healthy delicious food with budget.  And I don’t think it is that difficult to do.  But very often in cooking competitions there is invariably a challenge that involves cooking on a budget. Time and again the reaction is it’s impossible to get flavour on a budget.

For example, I am watching season 4 of Top Chef which I believe aired about 6 years ago.  They were given a challenge of cooking a healthy delicious meal with a budget of $10 for a family of four.  You might as well have told them to climb Mount Everest!  I don’t understand the disconnect for a lot of people when it comes to this balance.

Given that our food budget is about $150 a week which includes things like kitchen roll, soap, etc, I need to be creative with the dishes.  We actually do pretty well during the summer because of our veg garden but it gets a little tricky in the winter.  I sometimes skate over the line.  The big budget buster is meat, especially if it is important to buy local, humanely raised meat.  It just goes back to portion control.  I’ll take a breast of chicken and use it for the four of us.  And it’s plenty.

I also try to use an ingredient a few different ways during the week.  This week it’s beets.  I had some bacon fat left over from the chicken avocado dish I made so I thought I would roast them.  I had half a pound of ground beef leftover so it was perfect for two burgers for my husband and I.  To round it of I bought 2 large portabello mushroom caps.  When I was doing research into the Paleo diet I was so overwhelmed by all the books on this subject, it was insane. I saw in one book a suggestion to use the mushroom as the base to a burger. I cannot remember which book it was though. I looked at about 30 of them!

This is an inexpensive easy dish to make even with the grass fed beef.  I kept the burgers simple and used garlic chives and thyme from the garden.

Roasted beet burgers 1 2014

I chopped up the thyme and chives with a couple of cloves of garlic. I mixed them with the beef and a dollop of stone ground mustard.  Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted beet burgers 2 2014

Set this aside.  Peel and slice the beets about 1/4″ thick.  Beets are so messy!  Getting the stain out of my fingers is such a pain.

Roasted beet burgers 3 2014

Set the oven to 400F/200C and place the baking dish with a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat.  Allow it to melt then add the beets with salt and pepper to taste.  Roast until they are tender.  In the meantime, form the beef into patties.

Roasted beet burgers 4 2014

Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill the burgers and mushrooms.  Be careful not to grill the mushrooms so much that they aren’t firm anymore.  Place the mushrooms on the plate and top with the burger.  Spread goat cheese on the burger then place the beets on the cheese.

Roasted beet burgers 5 2014

I’m not a fan of beets but the bacon fat helps.  🙂  Of course after I did the photos and cut into the dish I thought I should have added some greens on top for presentation.  Too late at that point!

Leek and Mushroom Puff Pastry

Our kids are coming home tomorrow!  They’ve been gone for nearly two weeks visiting grandparents in Florida.  While I’m thrilled they are having a blast swimming, getting ice cream, and being goofy, they are missed.

I asked what they are requesting for dinners for the few days they are with us before they dash off to overnight camp.  My son is asking for chicken cordon bleu.  And my daughter would love something Italian.  I think I can handle these requests.  🙂

When I posted about the roasted veg with crepes I said there was another dish to post about from the French restaurant we went to at Terminal 3 Heathrow.  I did find out what the restaurant was called, it’s Oriel Grande Brasserie.  My husband ordered a puff pastry dish with leeks, mushrooms, and goat cheese.  It was delicious so I knew I would try to recreate it.

I confess I buy the puff pastry.  I do want to try to make some but I can get decent store bought and it’s one of the few ingredients I buy so what the heck.  🙂  For this dish I used the puff pastry shells which need to be baked ahead of time.  Follow the directions given.  For mine I baked them at 425F/220C for about 20 minutes.

Leek and mushroom pastry 1 2014 Leek and mushroom pastry 2 2014

Set aside. This recipe is for two servings. In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute 6 sliced mushrooms.

Leek and mushroom pastry 3 2014 Leek and mushroom pastry 4 2014

I wanted a nice roasted flavour from the mushrooms.  As Julia Child taught the best way to do this is not mess about with the mushrooms.  In other words, don’t stir.  After the mushrooms are sauteed for a minute or so, let them “roast” on each side until browned.  In the meantime, finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and add to the skillet with a 1/4 cup of dry white wine.

Leek and mushroom pastry 5 2014

After a few minutes add a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and about 3/4 cup of sliced leeks.  Bring to a simmer.

Leek and mushroom pastry 6 2014

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Once the liquid reduces about half add a dollop of goat cheese and melt it into the sauce.

Leek and mushroom pastry 7 2014

Spoon into the pastry shells and grate fresh Jarlsberg or a similar cheese on top.

Leek and mushroom pastry 8 2014

Bake until the cheese is melted and golden.   The side dish that was served when my husband had the dish was a potato salad of some sort over greens.  I roasted some potato in olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper.  I served it over mixed greens with a lemon thyme dressing.

Leek and mushroom pastry 9 2014

This was a light summer meal but would also be great as a starter or a party dish.  I really wish my son liked mushrooms as I’d like to make this for the kids.  It would be hard to pick round the mushrooms though!

Fig Pizza and Big Victories

A few years ago the leash that we used to walk Guinness wore out and my husband made a big mistake in tasking me to go online and see what hours the humane society was open.  Suddenly he hears me call out to him to come and look at the photo of the cutest dog.  We had been thinking about getting another dog but we were having a hard time pairing one with Guinness.  Guinness had been termed an inappropriate punk.  He is a lovely dog but is insecure around other dogs and tries to dominate them.  So we kept failing.

But this day we trooped down to the humane society to meet this goofy dog.  They did warn us that he was on prozac and that was my big oops.  We don’t know Murphy’s history but we do know he spent 6 months in 3 different humane societies.  But I thought we should take him off the meds.  Try training, that sort of thing.  It’s been a tough few years.  It took him a long time to trust us, understandably, and while he was a sweetheart in the home, he was a nut job on the walks.  His anxiety overran any attempts for him to listen.  He isn’t malicious just a big nut job.  We were despairing with my back being thrown out and my husband starting to feel it as well.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel!  We found a new harness that fits him better and a low dose med that takes the edge off of him without making him a drooling fool.  We still wanted Murphy to be Murphy.  I was able to take him back to training this past week and it’s been amazing.  He’s listening and we aren’t being jerked around.  I can’t tell you how big a victory this is for us!  I’m not dreading the walks, woot!

In the midst of all this the kids were getting ready to head to Florida to see their grandparents so for their last night here I made a light meal for us.  Given that figs are in season I thought it would be fun to do a pizza with naan using the figs.

I grilled the naan on a cast iron grill until it was almost cooked.

Fig pizza 1 2014 Fig pizza 2 2014

While the naan is cooking chop up a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Saute in olive oil until softened.

Fig pizza 3 2014

I am late to the whole fig thing.  But now I love it when fig season swings round.  It works so well with many different recipes.  And I love it with the saltiness of prosciutto.

Fig pizza 4 2014

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Layer the naan with the shallots and garlic, figs, prosciutto, and goat cheese.  Fontina also works for this.

Fig pizza 5 2014

Bake until the cheese is warmed and melty.

Fig pizza 6 2014

This is perfect with a small side salad.  The tomatoes in the picture are the last we’ll buy in awhile as our tomatoes are starting to ripen.  Can’t wait to start eating them!

And oh get this!  I finally have a preview button.  🙂  They never responded to my note to support but at least I’m seeing positive changes.

 

Don’t Let It Get Your Goat

Reading other blogs definitely helps spark the imagination.  I come across ingredients that I would never think of using or trying.  Goat is one of them.  I love goat cheese but never thought about the meat.  I found some ground goat meat at our local co-op and thought now was a good a time as ever.

Of course then I had to figure out what to do with it.  Because I knew I wanted cheese to be one of the components I had to come up with something that would work with jarlsberg as my husband doesn’t like goat cheese.  I found this recipe for goat burgers and I adapted it to make it mine.  For the burger bread I made the baguettes that we like.  The crumb on it is getter better and better with practice.

I started with the carmelised onions first as those need to be cooked slowly.  Heat some olive oil and toss in the onions.

Goat burgers 1 2014

Don’t cook them fast or on high heat otherwise you’ll burn them instead of carmelise them.  For the pound of goat meat I chopped up a few garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and thyme, seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Goat burgers 2 2014

Mix together without overworking the meat then add a few squirts of brown mustard and a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce.  Form into patties and set aside.

Goat burgers 4 2014

Add a few teaspoons of brown sugar and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the onions and stir well.

Goat burgers 3 2014

While this continues to cook heat up some olive oil in another skillet and brown both sides of the burgers.  I cooked them about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove and put them on a baking tray.  Add the cheese to melt.

Goat burgers 5 2014

Bake in the oven at 375F/190C until the burgers are cooked to the desired doneness and the cheese has melted.  Place them on the buns and top with the onions.

Goat burgers 6 2014 Goat burgers 7 2014

Serve with the veg of your choice.  We found these enormous asparagus and they turned out to be lovely even though they were hard to cook without overcooking them.

Goat burgers 8 2014

We really enjoyed the goat meat.  I’ll have to find goat chops to try something else but we’ll definitely be making goat burgers again.

Setting up the iPad has gone well.  I found an app to let me put a watermark on the photos which I’ll be trying as soon as I get the adapter delivered that will let me take the photos off the SLR.  The only app I need to find now is one that allows me to resize photos taken with the iPad or iPhone.  Haven’t figured that one out yet.  Any suggestions?

 

Weather or not…

There are times when everything lines up and comes together for a flavourful experience.  And when the weather behaves so it makes sense for this meal, well life is really good.  November can be really dreary up here.  The autumn colours are long gone, the city has picked up the leaves, days are no longer crisp and clear, no beautiful snow shots at the moment to ease the cold.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anxious to start shoveling the white stuff.  But this past Saturday?  Gorgeous.  Bright sun with a warmth in the air.  Salad weather if you can believe it.

Which is just what I wanted.  I had several ingredients that would make a perfect salad but it is soup weather.  So Saturday was a real treat.  I had posted about pomegranates and two bloggers gave me a great idea to use in salads.  First Richard from REMCooks mentioned his wife likes the pomegranates in a salad and then Claire from An Eye For Food mentioned pomegranates with smoked salmon.  Plus I had figs to use up.  Perfect!  🙂

I made a quick fig jam, very rustic but very good.  I chopped up the figs and in a small saucepan heated them up.

Fig salad 1 2013

I mushed them as they started to heat up and added about 1/2 cup of organic apple cider.  While that was cooking I started plating the salad.  I used mixed spring greens, yellow and orange peppers, smoked salmon, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and then once the jam was done I spooned that round.  Finished with a lemon chive dressing.  I confess, I bought the dressing.  But it looked good and it was.  🙂

Fig salad 2 2013

This was the best salad I’ve made.  All the flavours came together so well.  It was, I fear, the last hooray for salads until spring now.  This Sunday we’ll wake up to temps of 10F/-12C with wind that will keep us in the negative wind chills most of the day.  I have a feeling the snow pants will be making their first appearance when we walk the dogs.

 

I Don’t Give a Fig, Actually That’s Not True….

As many of you know I do my best to buy local foods but because some ingredients can’t be grown here and we’ve been spoilt by having them available anyway as I’d be hard pressed to give up real Parmesan cheese.  And wine.  But there are some ingredients that either we just can’t get or are strictly seasonal and we may get lucky here and there.  Figs are such an ingredient.  I have come across many a fig recipe that just makes me envious and I can’t do anything about it because we can’t get figs!  So you better believe when I saw some at the co-op I grabbed them.  They are very expensive so I only got one pack.  Wonder how many I would need to get to make fig bars?

In any case I wanted to do something simple for dinner.  I came across Taste Spotting on Pinterest that has loads of crostinis.  Their version of crostini used brie which I did for my husband but for me I used goat cheese.  I also made up so more buttery mushrooms and baked brie to have with crackers.  Perfect after a long day!

This is super easy but the flavour is amazing.  The ingredients needed are figs, goat cheese, salad greens, prosciutto, and crusty bread toasted.

Fig crostini 1 2013

You can grill the figs on a proper grill but it was really cold so I took our cast iron grill and did it stove top style.  Slice the figs and place on the hot grill.  I did spray some cooking oil on the grill before heating up.  Cook on each side until grill marks start forming.  You want them to soften and warm through.

Fig crostini  2013

After you toast the crusty bread spread the cheese, layer on prosciutto and salad greens, then top with the fig.

Fig crostini 2 2013

As I said this was amazing!  This is now one of my favourites by far.  The sweetness of the fig against the savory of the rest of the ingredients was a great balance.  And it takes less than 10 minutes to make.  Perfect!

Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche

I don’t know what my expectations were for the food on the ship.  I don’t think they were high or low but maybe just hopeful.  We enjoy good food and it’s part of our experience when we travel or just live.  Overall it was fair to middling but I did get some inspiration here and there to try at home.  One starter my husband ordered was a goat cheese and leek tart. I had a small bite and thought I could come up with something that we’d all like.

We got back home late Tuesday night after a nearly 20 hour day of traveling.  Now you would think that would mean we needed a good long sleep.  Oh no.  Bright eyed at 4am.  Why?  The only good thing was we managed to get a ton of stuff done before 7am.  Unpacked, laundry started and all!  Picking up the dogs is always an adventure after a trip.  They love the kennel and get excited when we pack their things but they are equally excited to come home.  They barrel down the hallway leaping about like idiots.  Trying to get the harnesses and leashes back on them is like wrestling an octopus!

Then the day dragged as we had to wait until school was over to get the kids.  We missed them so much!  I wanted to do a home cooked meal for them but I needed something simple as I knew by the time dinner needed to be made I would be struggling to keep my eyes open.  This quiche would do the trick.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C

I prepped the veg first.  I chopped several mushrooms, couple cloves of garlic,  and a small leek from our garden.  And sauteed them in some olive oil.  As they soften I added just a smidge of veg bouillon and a few splashes of water to the mix.

Goat and leek quiche 1 2013 Goat and leek quiche 2 2013

In a small bowl I prepared the rest of the mixture.  Mix together 4 eggs and two cups of milk.  We use 2% milk and that works just fine.

Goat and leek quiche 3 2013

I crumbled up 4 oz of soft goat cheese and added it to the egg mixture.  To season salt and pepper to taste and add a few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce.

Goat and leek quiche 4 2013 Goat and leek quiche 5 2013

Set this aside and make the pastry dough for the pie shell.  Spoon in the leek mixture and spread along the bottom.

Goat and leek quiche 6 2013

Pour in the egg mixture on top and bake for 15 minutes.

Goat and leek 7 2013

Reduce the heat to 350F/175C and bake for another 30 minutes or so.  Until the toothpick test comes out clean.

Goat and leek quiche 8 2013

If you are not jetlagged, hungry, and wanting a pillow let it set for 5-10 minutes.  I barely made it 5 before I was ready to serve so it was a bit soft but the flavour was there.

Goat and leek quiche 9 2013

This was perfect comfort food after a very long day.  But it was wonderful to have a sit down dinner with the kids again listening to how their day went.  I missed that.

Gourmet Cheeseburgers

We enjoy a good cheeseburger from time to time.  Earlier this year I was feeling creative and we had some fresh ground beef from a local farm.  So I didn’t want to do a basic cheeseburger.  It needed some pizzazz!  I came up with this recipe.

In a medium bowl, put in the ground beef, a few cloves of garlic minced, about 1/2 a cup of grated parmesan, 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper, a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.  I’ll admit it is hard to tell if you put enough in as you can hardly taste the raw meat.  So occasionally I find I didn’t use enough Worcestershire sauce.  Which is a shame as it really makes this burger.

Mix with your hands but be careful not to overwork the meat.  It will mess with the texture.  If the meat isn’t sticking together enough add a bit of olive oil.  With meat from local farms it can be a toss up on the moisture level.

Form into patties and get the grill going.  While the grill is going, butter some baguettes and toast for the buns.

Also while grilling the burgers I saute up some mushrooms and onions in a bit of olive oil with some salt.  I cook them until the mushrooms are nicely browned.

Once the burgers are done, let them rest a few moments.  Now we use different cheeses.  My husband prefers Jarlsberg on this so I melt the cheese on the burger in the grill.  I spread goat cheese on mine when it’s resting.  Then it is time to put it all together.  I like to layer ketchup, then the burger, the goat cheese, mushroom and onions for my burger.

Yes it does get to a silly height!  🙂  So I just smush it a bit and enjoy all the flavours.  It is messy eating but who cares!  🙂