Old Fashioned Hamburger

Jun 07 2010 Published by under Food

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor cooking. One of my favorite recipes is a good old fashioned hamburger. Today there is a large variety of toppings and condiments that are placed over a hamburger. I like to experiment with new flavors, but sometimes I preffer something that brings me back home. It is easy to forget the genius and simplicity of a regular hamburger. Buns, beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, it needs nothing more.

Old Fashion Hamburger

Old Fashion Hamburger

When people share their hamburger recipes, I am amazed at how many ingredients they use to prepare the meat. After trying several recipes, I settled with the simplest one. Based on my cooking experiments, the best prepared hamburger meat only requires two ingredients, black pepper and kosher salt.  When I share my recipe nobody believes it is that simple. One thing I have noticed over several years of cooking is that some of the best recipes require the least amount of ingredients. One thing is for sure, a grilled hamburger taste better than anything cooked in a pan.

For Old Fashioned Hamburgers

1 1/2 Lbs Gorund Beef
4-6 Hamburger Buns
American Cheese Slices
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Divide the meat into 4 or 6 pieces depending on the size you want for your hamburgers. Form the hamburger patties trying to press the meat the less than you can. Season the patties liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the meat on the grill for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. If you don’t have a grill you can pan fry them until the meat crust has formed and is brown on each side. Place the meat on the bottom part of the buns, and add the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and the top part of the bun. Condiments like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise can be added by the guests. Variations – You can add bacon, onions or pickles.

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Sunomono Salad

Jun 04 2010 Published by under Food

One of the lightest most wonderful salads of the Japanese cuisine is the sunomono salad. The frase sunomono means “vinegared food.” When people think of vinegar they think of some foul tasting. The Japanese use rice vinegar which is not that sour as normal vinegar. The dressing used for this salad is called Amazu which means Sweet Vinegar, which precisely describes the taste.

Sunomono Salad

Sunomono Salad

This salad is really light and crisp. It is perfect for hot summer days when you need something that tastes fresh. I made mine with shrimp and surimi, but you can use other fish ingredients. The dressing is a sweet sauce that also very fresh. The idea is to add barely enough dressing so you taste the salad, not the sauce.

For sunomono

2 Cucumbers
6 Cooked Shrimp
2 Surimi Sticks
4 Tablespoons of Sweet Vinegar dressing (recipe follows)
1 Sprinkle of Toasted Sesame Seeds

Peel and core the cucumbers. Julian the cucumbers into small spaghetti like strips 1/8 of an inch thick. If you have a mandolin this process is much faster. Cool the cucumber in the refrigerator. Cut the surimi into small pieces. To assemble the salad make sure all the ingredients are cold. Add the cucumber strips into the bowl. Add about 1 Tablespoon of sweet vinegar. Add the surimi and the shrimp. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Variation — You can also use cooked octopus, and furikake as toppings.

For Sweet Vinegar dressing

1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar
1/2 Cup of water
1/2 Teaspoon of Dashinomoto

Add water to a small sauce pan. Dissolve the dashinomoto. Add the sugar and vinegar. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. Cool down. Place in the refrigerator to make it cold. For this this you need the dressing to be cold.

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Crepes

Jun 03 2010 Published by under Food

Crepes are the original pancake but much thinner. They were largely forgotten in favor of the much thicker pancakes you enjoy today. They were reintroduced by the French with the famous Crepes Suzette. This dish is served with much flare as it usually prepared in front of dinning guest. The end of the preparation, the crepes suzette is set on fire to flame the alcohol and sugars. When this dish was invented this happened by accident.

Creamed Mushroom Crepes

Creamed Mushroom Crepes

Crepes are a very versatile dish. You can serve them with sweet or savory fillings. There are endless combination that can be made. This can make crepes the main dish, a breakfast item or a dessert. Today I am making Creamed Mushroom Crepes, and it is going to be my breakfast.

For Crepes

1 Cup of Flour
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Water
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons of Butter
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Leave the batter to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Heat butter in non-stick pan. Pour two tablespoons of batter into the pan. Quickly rotate the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter all over the pan. If the batter is too thick, add a little more milk. Cook until the bottom side is golden brown. Carefully flip the crepe with a spatula. Cook until the second side is golden brown.

You can fill the crepes with all types of fillings. Here are sum suggestions:

Strawberry Marmalade
Penut butter and Bananas
Apple Sauce
Fresh Fruits and Cottage Cheese
Chocolate
Ice Cream
Cajeta
Ham and Spinach
Ham and Cheese
Creamed Mushroom

For Creamed Mushroom Filling

1/2 Large Onion
1 Cup of Mushrooms
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup of Cream
1 Teaspoon of Tarragon
1/2 Teaspoon of Thyme

Heat the butter and the oil in a saute pan. Dice the onion. Add to the pan and cook the onion until transparent, but not browned. Add the mushrooms to the pan, cook until soft. Add the finely minced garlic, cream, tarragon and thyme and cook on low heat for 1 minute. Salt according to taste. Serve over the crepes.

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New England Clam Chowder

Jun 02 2010 Published by under Food

Every time I have this chowder, I am reminded of the ocean. Clam Chowder has silky taste of the cream blended with the potatoes that is accentuated by the salty sea flavor of the clams. When I make this chowder my whole kitchen smells like I am just blocks away from the beach.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder is probably the world’s most recognized chowder. Chowders are usually considered soups. This is because commercial chowders you buy in restaurants are thin, flavorless and laking all heartiness. I believe that chowders are much more than a soup, a chowder is a complete meal.  A homemade hearty clam chowder can be served as the main course and none of my guests will leave with an empty stomach.

For New England Clam Chowder

4 Lbs Small Cherrystone Clams
1 Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Large Potatoes
5 Strips of Bacon
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Stalk of Celery
1 Teaspoon of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cups of Cream
2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
Parsley
Croutons

Wash the clams from dirt and mud. In a steamer, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the clams to the steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the clams. The water will now contain clam juice. Reserver the clam juice for later. Remove the meat from the clams, discarding any unopened clams. Dice the bacon in a 1/4 inch die. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is crisp and brown. Meanwhile, dice  the onion into a 1/2 inch die. Cut the celery into 1/4 inch pieces. Remove all the fat from the cooking of the bacon and butter only leaving 1 Tablespoon. Add the onions and celery with the bacon, and cook until the onions are transparent. Peel the potatoes. Dice the potatoes into a 1/2 die. Add the clam juice, potatoes, thyme and the bay leaf. Cook for 10 on boiling or until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat. Dice the clam meat. Add the cream and diced clam meat into the pot. Add the black pepper. Let it cool down and serve with garnish of celery and croutons.

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McDonalds Egg Muffins

Jun 01 2010 Published by under Food

I learned to make this dish a long time ago. It was fashioned after my favorite breakfast item from the Mcdonald’s menu, the Egg McMuffin. It is a very simple dish to make. You can have it ready in less than two minutes. After this recipe, there is no excuse for missing the most  important meal of the day.

Egg, Ham and Cheese Muffin

Egg, Ham and Cheese Muffin

The simplicity of the dish requires the use of a microwave and a toaster oven. It is the only way to have the breakfast that fast. You start  toasting the muffin in the toaster oven. Then you nuke the egg in the microwave. By the time the toaster oven finishes, the only thing left to do is to assemble.

For Egg Muffins

1 Egg
1 English Muffin
1 Ham
1 American Cheese
1 Teaspoon Butter

Slice the English muffin in half to get two pieces. Toast them in the toaster oven on medium. On a microwave safe cup,  add 1 teaspoon of butter. Melt in the microwave for 20 seconds. Move the butter around to coat the bottom part. Be careful the cup will be hot. Crack the egg. Add the egg in the cup with the melted butter. Cook for 1 minute on the microwave. Put the bottom part of the muffin on a plate. Place the cheese on top of it. Turn over the cup over the muffin and the egg should slide off. If it does not slide off you did not coat the cup with butter correctly. Add the ham. Place the top part of the muffin. Variations — You can use bacon, or other types of cheeses. You can also add a slice of tomato, or onions. The cooking time for the egg will differ according to your microwave.

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Tortas

May 27 2010 Published by under Food

So you baked the homemade bread. Your kitchen is smelling great. Now what to do with your rustic bread loaf. Well how about some tortas. Tortas are the Mexican variant of the Hero Sandwich. You can make them in all sorts of flavors and fillings.

Torta

Ham and Cheese Torta

Traditionally, a torta is not a torta without out some chicharon. Chicharon is fried pork rinds, which taste better than  how it sounds. The best quality chicharon can be found in Mexican butcher shops. The stuff they sell next to the potato chips is made from flour, and not real chicharon, so it should be considered a poor substitute. For the fillings you can use cooked chicken, ham, bacon, or basically any kind of cold meat.  You can also top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and especially avocados. Go crazy with the cheese. This is my recipe for Ham and Cheese Tortas.

For Ham and Cheese Tortas.

1 Loaf of Homemade Bread (or store bought French Bread)
3 Pieces of chicharon
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
3 Pieces of ham
2 Slices of American cheese
2 Pieces of Lettuce

Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf of bread lengthwise to the size of torta that you want. Put the Bread sideways and slice to make two pieces. Spread the mayonnaise to the top part of the bread. Break the chicharon pieces and add to the bottom part of the bread. Layer the Ham over the chicharon. Top with the lettuce and cheese. Bring the top part of the bread to complete the sandwich.

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Homemade Bread

May 26 2010 Published by under Food

A friend asked me the other day where to find good bread. Most stores where I live sell a tasteless, textureless, substance which they want to pass on as bread. Then it gets stale and hard the following day after you buy it. This would not do, so I decided to look for a good, and simple bread recipe.

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

I had noticed something was wrong with the bread you buy in stores a few years ago. One day I needed to buy yeast to make a pizza dough recipe. Since I could not find it in the supermarket, I figured the next logical place to find yeast would be at the bakers. After visiting several stores, no one had yeast to sell me. I asked about how do they make the bread without yeast, and they told me they had ready mixes, and a special powders to rise the bread. That explained why the store bought bread had something wrong.

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread aroma filling the kitchen. Here is a simple recipe, to make good homemade bread.  It requires very little preparation time, although a long resting period. The most important tip for this recipe is to use high protein flour, or bread flour. That gives the bread a better taste, and a better crumb. The recipe will work also work with regular flour.

For two loafs of bread

2 Cups Bread Flour
1/2 TableSpoon Yeast
1/2 TableSpoon of Salt
1 Cups of Water

Heat the water until it is barely warm. Add yeast to the warm water and wait for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix the salt and the water. Add the yeast and the water to the bowl. Mix. The flour should be almost pulling off from the bowl. If the flour is too watery add a little more flour. Form the dough into a ball. Flour a large tray or your working table. Knead the dough by pushing it with hard with the palm of one hand, then folding over itself. Knead the dough about 10 times. it should be a smooth ball by now. Clean the mixing bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for two hours. After two hours the dough will have doubled in size. Flour the working area again, and knead the dough five times. Cut the dough into two pieces. Form each half into a cylindric roll. Punch down the dough and form  into a roll again. The idea is to get the roll longer each time to about 1 foot long. Add cooking oil to a baking sheet. Place the two rolls separate from one another over the baking sheet. Cut 3 o 4 diagonal slices 1/2 inch into the bread. Let the rolls rise for 3 hours. The rolls will look like baguettes at this point. Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Leave the bread a few minutes to cool down.

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Pizza Hut Quepapas

May 25 2010 Published by under Food

Every time we order pizza from Pizza Hut, there is a side order that is preferred more than the pizza itself. They are crunchy, small and spicy. They are called Quepapas. Quepapas are basically tater tots filled with cheddar cheese and a jalapeño bite to them. They only send out twelve Quepapas per order, so there is always a fight to see who gets the last one. I decided to learn how to make them so everyone in my house can get enough.

tatter-tots

Pizza Hut Quepapas

Quepapas are very simple to make, and they are a great side order for a lot of dishes. You can vary the amount of jalapeño in the recipe to make them spicier. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

For QuePapas

1 Large Potato
2 Eggs
1 Jalapeño Pepper
6oz Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup of flour
1/2 tsp of salt
1 Cup of Breadcrumbs

Peel the Potato. Using the smaller size  in a grater (1/8 inch holes), grate the potato. You should have about 2 cups of grated potatoes if not, grate another potato. Put the grated potatoes in a towel and try to wring out as much liquid as you can. Using the same size, grate the cheddar cheese. Combine in a large bowl the grated potatoes, grated cheddar cheese, jalapeños, eggs, salt and the flour. The mixture should be thick enough to form small 1 inch balls. If it is too soft, add a little more flour. In a separate bowl put the breadcrumbs. Coat the formed potato balls with the breadcrumbs. Let the coated balls rest for 5 minutes so that the mixture sticks better. Add to a fryer at 400F and fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown. If you do not have a fryer, you can cook them in a large skillet with 1/2 and inch of cooking oil turning them over once.

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