An Unapologetic Turkey Burger

burger with runny egg 625 sqThe popularity of hamburgers continues to soar and our desire for novel and sometimes bizarre burger concoctions knows no bounds. Have you sunk your teeth into a Luther Burger yet? Hot on the heels of the Ramen Burger comes the Spaghetti Burger. And although you gotta give the guys at Slater’s 50/50 in Huntington Beach California some credit for creativity, I won’t be trying the peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger any time soon.

I have often felt that turkey burgers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the burger world. They just don’t get much love and respect. People look down on the lowly turkey burger. Not exciting, bland, boring and often dry as dust. I aim to change all that.

These are turkey burgers with nothing to apologize for. They are spiced with cumin and just a hint of chipotle chile powder. Lightly oiled and heavily salted just before they hit the grill, they are cooked through with just the perfect amount of char and crunch on the outside. Delicious as this burger is, it’s really all about the toppings here. I thinly sliced several onions and cooked them low and slow in a bit of olive oil, for almost 40 minutes until they were sweet and caramelized. A pinch of sugar helps the process. Patience please. Do not try to rush this process by turning up the heat. You will end up with burned onions.slicing onionsSome thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes, sour kosher dills and buttery avocado, sliced into wedges round out the toppings. I toasted a multi grain bun and spread it liberally with some chipotle mayo.  toppings The cherry on top is a fried egg. It seems that fried eggs are showing up on top of everything these days. There’s a very good reason for the fried egg trend. It just tastes freaking amazing. The crispy edges and the runny yolk of a fried egg are really one of life’s simpler pleasures in our ever increasingly complex world.

The richness of the yolk is the ideal way to counteract the natural leanness of the turkey.burger with egg 2 625 sqFrom that very first bite when you chomp into the burger and the yolk dribbles down your chin and the side of the burger, happiness will ensue. with sweet potato friesThe flavours and textures of this burger are something very special. The contrast of the cool crunchy sour dill with the warm tender egg will get your taste buds very excited for a second bite. Slow down and notice the sweet-acid zip of the tomato and the smooth buttery avocado. Take note the heat of the chipotle mayo, thickly slathered on the bun and the smoky accent of cumin in the burger. It all just works.

Click here to print recipe for An Unapologetic Turkey Burger.

Butterscotch Toffee Salty Oatmeal Cookies

with cake stand 1The fact that I have made these cookies four times in the past two weeks would lead you to the inescapable conclusion that I have a humungous sweet tooth and a total lack of willpower. And you would be correct! However, each time I made them I tweaked the recipe slightly until I came up with what I believe to be an outstanding cookie. So you could say that it was all in the name of research.

I made them exactly as the original recipe was written. I had seen these cookies on seriouseats.com, and was intrigued. They are essentially an oatmeal cookie but with some butterscotch chips mixed in. I baked the first batch but found them to be a bit too sweet and one-dimensional. So I baked a second batch and added some Skor bits to amplify the toffee flavour. They were good but not perfect. Something was missing. My daughter suggested I add dried cherries to the dough. Jackpot!

I love the way the Skor bits melt and ooze out of the cookie as they bake. There is a tiny bit of crunchy toffee on the edge of each cookie as they cool. The textural contrast between the crispy edges and the chewy center is what keeps you going back bite after bite. Tart dried cherries  temper the sweetness of the butterscotch and toffee. The occasional ping on your tongue, from the Fleur de sel crystals sprinkled on top keep everything in check. These are a perfectly balanced (albeit, not nutritionally balanced) cookie!mise en placeUsing an ice cream scoop to portion the cookies ensures that they will all be the same size and shape and bake evenly. I like the #24 size scoop  (about 1.3 ounces). I was able to get 12 cookies on my baking pans (13 x 18 inches). scooping dough Pour a cold glass of milk and prepare to be enchanted. These are quite addictive.overhead 625 sq 2 Click here to print recipe for Butterscotch Toffee Salty Oatmeal Cookies.pink cookies in circle

Greek Farro Salad

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Savvy contemporary chefs have a secret ingredient in their cuinary tool box. If you remember this treat from your childhood, you might guess what this mystery ingredient is.Lik-m-aid packagesLik-m-aid, a sweet-sour treat was eaten by licking your finger, sticking it into the little envelope and coating your wet finger with the crystal-like powder inside. Then you would lick your finger to eat the tart-sweet goodness. It came in several fruit flavours; lemon, lime, strawberry, raspberry, grape and orange, but a quick look at the ingredient list (dextrose and citric acid) revealed that this treat contained no actual fruit. Today Lik-m-aid is sold under the name of Fun Dip and it comes with a candy dipping stick so modern kids do not have to use their fingers. I hope that kids today appreciate how good they have it. fun DipChefs in the know are using citric acid to create pucker-inducing flavours that consumers are starting to embrace. Sour is no longer a four letter word.  Sour beers are gaining in popularity, and the pickling craze is not about to die down any time soon. I fully expect Carla Hall to introduce “Can you Pickle it?” based on her wildly amusing (well, amusing certainly to my sisters and I ) game, “Can you Blend it?

Citric acid occurs naturally in lemons, limes and other citrus fruits. It is also manufactured in a dry powder form by adding a special mould to glucose and letting it ferment. The dry powdered stuff is the one that chefs are using to elevate flavours and bring harmony and balance to a finished dish. It is easily available in small bags at most bulk food or health food stores. Food writer Shawna Wagman calls it the “fairy dust of flavour amplification.”

Here in Ottawa, Chef Kevin Mathieson, founder of Art is In Bakery, is creating magic with it. He sprinkles a touch of citric acid and confectioners sugar on citrus peel or wild Quebec blueberries and lets it dry out for a week. Then he grinds it all up in a coffee grinder and adds it to jellies for filling house-made chocolate truffles and marmalade that gets thickly spread on their buttermilk multi-seed bread for Sunday brunch.

The Food Section of the April 9 2014 Globe and Mail featured a recipe for a Greek salad dressing using citric acid. Chef Carlotte Langley learned to make this from the  French-Lebanese mom of the very first chef she worked for. I decided to creat a Farro Greek Salad to showcase this fantastic dressing. Tart and full of bright zingy flavour it plays very well with the nutty, chewy farro and all the fresh crunchy vegetables. mise en place 2 I usually just cook farro in boiling water, but I learned a great method over at Food52. I added half a red onion, a clove of garlic, parsley and salt to the water to infuse the farro with more flavour. flavouring farroI am not a huge fan of raw red onion, so I thinly sliced and pickled it. A short 20 minute bath in red wine vinegar, water, salt and sugar are all that’s needed to tame the harshness.pickling onions

Click here to print recipe for Greek Farro Salad.

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Check out what Lindsay over at Love and Olive Oil made using citric acid! 

 

 

Three Pea Coconut Rice and Chicken

in pan 625 sq 1Just did a quick check and discovered that coconut has been featured 15 times on my blog.  To  the coconut haters out there, “I’m sorry”, and to the rest of you lovely folks I say, “you’re welcome”.

When I saw this dish on serious eats last month I bookmarked it immediately. This recipe checked all the boxes for me; one pot complete dinner, flavourful moist chicken thighs, coconut milk and jasmine rice. Since we are trying to limit our intake of white carbs, white rice has been scarce around here lately. But every so often, I get a craving for Basmati or Jasmine rice. The nutty, popcorny aroma that envelopes my kitchen makes me believe that all is right with the world and that I am very loved.

Yasmin Fahr, creator of this recipe asked “Why I don’t cook everything in coconut milk is beyond me.” Well Yasmin, in answer to your question, I would bathe in coconut milk if I could, but if I cooked everything in it, I would surely weigh 200 pounds. The sweet luxurious coconut milk in this recipe  is saved from a cloying fate by the addition of cumin and a strong hint of cayenne. The finishing touches of lime and cilantro produces a dinner that packs a wallop of flavour.

You must exercise great patience when browning the chicken thighs. Put the pan on high, add the thighs, skin down and leave them alone for a good 8-10 minutes. The brown caramelized bits and pieces of chicken that get stuck to the pan, known in French as “fond” should not be thrown out.  The chicken stock and coconut milk  will help you to to scrape up all those flavourful dark bits. They will dissolve and become the foundation for the luxurious sauce that the chicken and rice are cooked in.browning chicken

zesting limesdicing onionsThe original recipe called for adding snow peas during the last few minutes of cooking for some crunch and gorgeous colour. I went with a triple pea crunch and added snow peas, sugar snaps and some frozen green peas, because that’s how I was raised. I come from a home where more is better. When my mom made banana bread, if the recipe called for 3 bananas, my mom added 5.  It produced a loaf with the heft of a brick, but heck, that’s just  how mom rolled. sugar snaps

Click here to print recipe for Three Pea Coconut Rice and Chicken.

Rhubarb Coconut Scones

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on lace 625 sq 1Upon waking each morning, I peek through the drapes to see if any buds have appeared on the  bare limbs of the Norway maple tree outside my bedroom window. Seeing none, I am overcome with the urge to burrow right back into my hole (or under my covers). Mother nature has a perverse sense of humour this year. This long cruel “polar vortex” winter seems to have segued into a particularly nasty spring.

When I finally saw the first buds materialize, followed by a thatch of chives popping through through the earth, I knew that local rhubarb was not far behind. I’m not a rhubarb fanatic, but I do like to create with it at least once a year to celebrate the season. Last year it was this gorgeous tart. This year, I had had my heart set on rhubarb scones. I was inspired by Midge over at Food 52. When I told my husband about my plans, he frowned and grumbled, “What a way to ruin scones.” Clearly I am married to a Spring Grinch. Blueberry scones would make him purr, but those come in July. Get with the program honey.rhubarbMy favourite scone recipe is from the bible Baking Illustrated, created by the same geniuses over at Cook’s Illustrated. These scones use heavy cream which contributes to a rich and tender crumb that  buttermilk or whole milk would never achieve. They are not overly sweet, just 3 tablespoons of sugar are called for in the recipe. Knowing that rhubarb is super tart, I decided to add an additional few tablespoons of sugar to macerate with the sliced rhubarb, before adding it to the dough. adding sugarWhen I went to make them, I discovered that I didn’t have quite enough heavy cream. Feeling too lazy to run to the store, I topped up the measuring cup with a bit of coconut milk.  To ramp up the coconut flavour I added about 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. butter in food processorin bowlkneadingThe dough gets pressed into an 8 inch cake pan to give you a perfectly round circle for dividing into triangular scones. A bench scraper or sharp knife work well for cutting the scones.pat into round pancuttingA final brush of heavy cream before they hit the oven gives the finished scones a lovely glossy surface. brushing with creamThey were the height of scone perfection. Moist and flaky with a lightly crisped exterior. Even the Spring Grinch enjoyed one with butter and jam.sliced 1

Click here to print recipe for Rhubarb Coconut Scones.with butter and jam 1