Monday, May 27, 2013

Dude Food: How to make a GREAT Burger (Memorial Day BBQ favorites)

No ketchup, ever, seriously.

Ketchup masks flavor and that's why it is on Fast Food Burgers. When you use good meat ketchup is not desired.

Let's talk about the meat.

Whether you grill or sear do not buy grocery store hamburger. As you have read it can be anything these days and worst of all this meat has no flavor. Grass fed is best, home ground is best. A food processor can grind a blend of meats and give you a beautiful patty. Otherwise go to a good butcher and ask him to grind the cut(s) you choose. Never buy what is in the case.

Fat is key. Lean beef is death to burgers. I chose grass fed beef, that I ground with a little pork fat for extra flavor.

Make a loose patty, do not work it too much, place on a plate.

Your burger should be bigger than your bun or roll (I like Kaiser) and you need to indent it with a large spoon on both sides. Salt well and give it a grind of pepper if you like.

I like onion so I saute an onion in a separate skillet to soften.

I used a smoking hot cast iron skillet, I put a touch of sunflower oil on the burger with my finger and tossed it into the pan.

Now leave it alone. Never smash or play, you can watch but don't turn. You want a good strong sear on the burger, give it a few minutes while you make your sauce.

This is the best burger sauce ever, it makes the beef beefier and does not mask the flavor.

Mayo, mustard and soy sauce. See the proportion here, you can make it for any sized crowd just keep the proportions.

Great add ins include chopped chive or green onion and capers. Stir to mix, slice your bun and begin to layer the burger.

After at least 4 minutes you can lift the edge of the burger with a spatula, if it sticks it is not ready to turn, focus on  your condiments.

I build my burger with sauce on both sides, onions on the bottom, then chopped lettuce, tomato and ultimately the beef.

I go for Rare to Medium, I consider well done the death of the burger.

When ready to turn, it needs only a scant time before it is done.

Do the finger test, soft is rare, slightly firm is medium rare to medium, and firm is well done. A hard burger is overcooked.

This is my completed sandwich.

My mouth cannot begin to deal with that, so I cut it in half.

Dude, I am not kidding when I tell you this is one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.

Make this sauce for your next burger event, choosing and grinding meat carefully and get back to me with your reaction.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dude Food: What oil should I use?

Today GMO's are on people's minds as all over the United States there are Marches against Monsanto. I have been on twitter inviting folks to the one at Union Square this afternoon.

One of your readers heard that Canola Oil was GMO and wrote worried because it is in so many recipes and he has been using it for years.

He's right. Canola is bad stuff if you want to avoid GMO's. Many oils are GMO.

So how can you tell?

Those seeking to avoid GMO's can download this app on your smart phone.

You have to join the campaigns you like so do that first or the app won't give you any information. Once you have decided what matters to you,take the app to the store and scan the barcode of the products. It's that easy.

Back to oil...there is no such thing as vegetable oil. Squeeze some broccoli and see for yourself. Vegetable oil is typically cottonseed, corn, soy, and canola blended.

Corn and Soy are the other two big culprits in the GMO sequence.

What oil can you use?

Sunflower, Grapeseed, Peanut and carefully chosen Extra Virgin Olive Oil. counterfeit-products-we-commonly-consume yea, much EVOO is fake.

It's  a tough world out there.

Make the choices that are right for you, and if avoiding GMO's is on your list use the linked app.

If you want to come to the NY March against Monsanto it is at Union Square 50 East 17th at 1 p.m. Come say hello, look for the little short guy with the blue back pack.

Tomorrow, we get to a great burger as requested.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dude Food: Eat Your Vegetables

This Dude got busy, sorry for the delay in posts.

Asparagus: It is in season from early spring to early summer.

What did your mother tell you? Eat your vegetables. Mom was right. In addition to fiber our vegetables are loaded with good nutrition and the more we learn the more we find out how important they are. Asparagus specifically is a great source of A ( you thought it was only carrots?) and K.

Yes it makes one fluid smell and there are rumors of other impacts, but so what? Have some strawberries to counter it an get a dose of C in the process.

How beautiful is this?

Simply trim off any woody/thick ends after washing and then put in a bowl.

Add some olive oil and toss. See how easy this is...any dude can do it. Now a touch of salt.

Lay out on a baking sheet and put in a hot oven. Check after 8 minutes, you want it to get a little crackly and begin to brown at the tip. As soon as you see that...take it out.

Roast asparagus. It looks beautiful tossed on a plate, no need for a formal composition.

Serve it as a 1st course instead of salad, burgers and strawberry shortcake would make a great way to close the meal. I always eat my vegetables first when I have a burger, the side vegetable or side salad will end up ignored next to a meaty, juicy burger.

So dudes, eat your vegetables.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dude Food: Filet Mignon is the Lucy Lui of meats

Filet Mignon is the Lucy Lui of meats.

It is pretty and tender but it is tasteless and without careful preparation it sits on the plate looking pretty and bringing nothing to the meal.

If you don't believe me watch an episode of Elementary and then eat one.

My e mail has been filled with questions this week on making 'The perfect Steak'. I guess grilling season trumps Mother's Day and all you men are taking her out to a restaurant tomorrow and not cooking.. Don't forget it whatever you do.

My favorite cuts: skirt steak

 Onglet (aka hangar steak)

and Ribeye.

Fat is flavor, fat is flavor, fat is flavor.

Go to a good butcher and don't settle for grocery store meats. The best will be grass fed/finished as the taste will be much more intense.

Buy your steak 2 or 3 days before you plan to grill.

When you get it home unwrap it. Season all over lightly with kosher salt and put uncovered in the refrigerator turning over once a day.

Osmosis: The salt will move into the meat and some of the moisture will move out (don't worry, not too much) leaving you with a tender, perfectly seasoned steak. It will look a bit dry and dark on the outside.  Do not trim it.

Now get your grill or pan smoking hot, even for rare meat (my preference) you want a serious char.

Place meat on the grill and leave it alone. Don't lift, or touch or move for at least 3 minutes. Now lift gently and see if you have that char, if you do and you want it rare or medium rare, turn it over.

Then cook to desired temp.

An electric thermometer is a fool proof way to determine temp.

Another way is to touch the meat with your finger.

Soft meat is rare.

Slightly firmer is MR.

Soft firm, Medium.

When your meat gets stiff it is well done. (stop laughing)

I find well done to be the enemy of good meat. I am a big steak tartar fan myself.

Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Steak sauce and ketchup are flavor maskers and to me, ruin meat.

However a slice of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil will give you the tang of the sauce without the flavor masking.

The simplest way to complete the meal is to serve the meat on a huge bed of greens surrounded by halved tomatoes. I like to slice it first, but whole is fine.  You don't really need that baked potato.

And if you are thinking of this for Mother's day, unless your wife or mother is a big meat person, sub out salmon and save the steak for next week. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dude Food: Mother's Day


I need help. Our daughter is now 7 and wants me to help her make a Mother's day brunch. Neither my wife nor I were born in America. Saffron was born in America and she eats everything, including many things which to me sound disgusting. 

Typically in the morning we eat a little pita with cheese, or olives, sometimes cucumber and always strong coffee. It is very light. 

With co-workers I have had eggs and toast, but for me this is heavy and not so palatable in the morning. 

To make my daughter happy without making my wife gag is the dilemma. 


I got you covered. Explain to your daughter that Mother's day is all about her mother and it is important to make what Mom wants to eat, not what Saffron wants to serve. 

I feel your pain, to me pancakes and waffles are gag inducing, as is cereal. I am no fan of those heavy, gloppy, carby, American breakfasts. 

Here is your basic platter for three. 

Make a nice bed of chopped lettuce. Slice a large tomato and a block of feta cheese, alternate them and place olives at the side. 

If you have not introduced your daughter to the healthier breakfasts of other cultures this is a great time to do it. 

Serve this with a basket of whole wheat pita, warmed in olive oil (giving Saffron the opportunity to 'cook') and some boiled eggs. 

This is incredibly similar to the recipe I just posted for Shopska Salad and leftover Shopska is one of my favorite breakfasts. 

If your daughter is one of those who absolutely refuses to consider this, and you are indulgent, chop the cheese and tomatoes, lay in a small casserole and top with 3 eggs for a Frittata  and serve with the pita and olives. 

It doesn't sound as if you can make them both happy...I vote for Mom as it is Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dude Food: How to make a great Salad

Every dude needs to know how to make a great salad and by this I don't mean lettuce in a bowl with dressing from a bottle. I mean an actual salad that starts with whole vegetables. 

The Bulgarians know salad, they eat everything, but mostly vegetables and every meal begins with several salads and vegetables. Michael Pollan would approve.  This is a Bulgarian Shopska, it means chopped salad. 

Tomatoes, the first tomatoes of the summer are the cherry. Cut 25 (or more) in half. The easiest way to do this is to take two plastic lids, hold the tomatoes in place and using a sharp knife cut them all at once. 
1 medium red onion chopped, small but not tiny. 

 Juice of one lemon
2 Persian or one large cucumber cut into chunks. 

 Red, yellow, or Orange pepper, one large. Clean and cut into small cubes and add everything in a small bow. 

To the bowl add 1/2 lb of  feta cheese crumbled and a splash of good olive oil. 

Stir it all together, give a couple of shakes of salt and stir again. 

Let it rest, hang out, for up to an hour outside of the refrigerator and serve. It makes a great base for grilled shrimp or chicken and is light and refreshing. 

To really shake it up...once watermelon begin to appear in your area, chop up some melon to add. 

In the winter when the vegetables have less oomph, toss in some black olives. 

Dude....see how simple this is, you really can cook.