Monday, January 20, 2014

Parmesan Mayo Burger Sauce [Zack]

If you're tired of the same ole burger toppings, give this creamy parmesan mayo a try.  It's rich, creamy, and tangy and it will perfectly compliment a medium rare burger patty.

We don't have a meat grinder with European plugs, so we hand-chop the beef.  No, it's not fancy.  And no, it's not difficult.  You can control the fat content, and you know where the meat comes from.  I decided to saute shitake mushrooms and add 2 thick slices of bacon on top.


Here are the ingredients for the parmesan mayo sauce:

Grate the parmesan cheese with a micro plane so it's fluffy.  Measure out 1 cup of the cheese (or 1/2 cup of normal gated cheese), and mix in the 4T mayo, 1T mustard, and 1T cream.  Crack some black pepper in there too.

To finish the rest of the burgers:

Chop the beef to your desired texture on a cutting board.  If you want to add more fat, you can intersperse bacon.

Mix in whatever you like in your burgers.  I did some garlic powder and black pepper.

Start the bacon in a cold frying pan with a little bit of oil.  Slowly fry it until crispy brown.  Cook your chopped mushrooms in the same pan.

Toast the buns, and put your parmesan mayo burger sauce on the bottom bun.  Start the burgers in a screaming hot pan and cook until medium rare.  Serve alongside fries and a salad.  Oh, and maybe a beer.

4 T mayo
1T dijon mustard
1T cream
1 cup microplaned parmesan reggiano (it's fluffy), or 1/2 cup grated
Freshly cracked black pepper

Song:  Kavinsky - Odd Look (Feat the Weekend)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wild Boar Stoofvlees [Zack]

Stoofvlees / Carbonnade Flamande is my all-time favorite Belgian recipe.  Imagine a warm, comforting beef bourguignon, but instead made with the famous Belgian dark beer.  Dark beer and carrots add a small amount of sweetness, but all of the rest of the ingredients are designed to umami bomb you.  The combination of fresh and dry mushrooms, fish sauce (only thing that’s not traditional), and browning the meat will add depth to the stew.  Cooking everything slowly in a pot will make the meat impossibly tender, and also develop the flavors.  You’ll get a small herbal note from the bay leaves and the clove.

But, the coolest part of the recipe is how to thicken the sauce.  You place 2 slices of bread smothered with mustard on top of the stew.  It will get absorbed as the Stoofvlees cooks and thicken up the sauce like a roux.

It’s always served with a side of world-famous Belgian French fries and a small cup of mayo (no ketchup!!).  Accompany the stew with a cold dark beer, and there’s really not much better in life.


Start by prepping everything - cube the wild boar or beef into ~1 inch cubes.  Finely dice the 2 onions and the carrot. 

Put a pot (with a cover) on the stove on medium heat and add the 1T butter and 1T canola oil once it heats up.  Brown the meat on one side, in batches.  Extract to a plate.

In the same pot, saute the diced onion and carrots until they develop a small amount of browning.

Throw the meat back in, along with the dried mushrooms.  Pour the 2 dark beers in the pot.

Stir everything up.  Slather about 2T of mustard on top of 2 slices of bread.  Place them on top of your stew, along with the aromatics:  2 bay leaves, 3 juniper berries, 2T onion flakes, and the clove.  

Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for about 3 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  It's finished when the meat is very tender (test a piece).  Stir in the 1tsp of fish sauce, a bunch of freshly cracked black pepper, then adjust for salt.

Serve hot french fries with mayonnaise alongside the stew.  I cheat and go to the local Frituur.  I like french fried onions on top of my fries :)

1.5 lbs wild boar (or beef), cubed
1T butter
1T canola or other non-olive oil
2 onions
1 medium carrot
.5 cups dried mushrooms
2T dried onion flakes
2 bay leaves
3 juniper berries
1 clove (more if you're into that)
1tsp fish sauce
2 bottles Belgian brown beer
2 pieces of bread, with 2T mustard spread on top

Song:  My favorite Belgian artist should accompany this recipe:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lentil Veggie Harissa Soup [Zack]

We just got back from vacation, where we over-indulged (to say the least).  We are always looking for something healthy and comforting to welcome us back into the house.  Lentils are most often our go-to play.  They are easy to cook, and since they are dried, you can keep them in the pantry to be available when needed.  Toss in some other veggies, add some stock, and you have a quick meal to return some sanity to your diet.


Chop and dice your peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  Start your pressure cooker or pot on medium heat with a little bit of oil on the bottom.  Saute the red peppers, onions, and mushrooms until they develop a bit of browning.

Add 1T of harissa powder and the chopped garlic, and stir until fragrant.  Harissa powder is a Tunisian mix of chiles, cumin, garlic, coriander, caraway, and cinnamon.  If you can't find the powder, just use chiles, cumin and garlic powder in even quantities.

The tomatoes go in next, along with the lentils.  Stir in your chicken (or veg) stock and water.  Cover the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes.  If you're using a normal pot, it will take a bit longer, but just taste the lentils to make sure they are cooked through.  Don't forget to shake the pot around so the lentils don't burn on the bottom.

When it's finished, stir in some keffir or yogurt and sprinkle some extra harissa powder on top if you're feeling brave.  An avocado will boost your veg count.

2 red peppers
2 cups brown mushrooms
3 red onions
4 medium-sized tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1.5 cup lentils
2 cups chicken stock (or veg stock)
2 cups water
1T harissa powder
keffir or plain yogurt
1 avacado to garnish

Song:  The Cardigans - Love Me
Love me by The Cardigans on Grooveshark

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Garden of Fire Cocktail [Rhonda]

At Craftbar, Tom Colicchio's restaurant at Broadway and 19th in New York City, they serve a refreshingly delightful cocktail called Garden of Fire. It pulls its deep vegetal tones from cucumber, flecks of pink peppercorn and jalapeno-infused vodka splashed with an Italian aperitif, Cocchi Americano.

Cocchi (pronounced co-key) is a white wine from the Asti province of Italy. It's infused with citrus peel, botanicals and cinchona bark, which adds a subtle bitter note missing in its citrusy French cousin, Lillet.

In playing around with jalapeno intensity and flavor additions, I found that gin, with its hints of juniper, works well as the base. (Slice a jalapeno and drop it into a half-full bottle of gin, store in the fridge.) And to soften the alcoholic content, a splash of grapefruit juice and/or lime-flavored seltzer is marvelous.

2 ounces jalapeno-infused gin
1 ounce Cocchi Americano
Splash of grapefruit juice, lime-flavored seltzer (optional)

Serve chilled or over ice.

Suggested soundtrack: "Falling" Haim