Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

One of my blogging goals I set for myself is to post three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), except on those really busy weeks when I can’t meet those goals. To help me continue motivating myself and working towards my blogging goals, I’ve decided to start participating in What’s Cooking Wednesday – a weekly blog hop/link party hosted by The King’s Court IVTurning The Clock Back, and Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I’m excited to be participating!


As you can probably tell, I’ve been making a lot of burgers lately. Earlier this week, I shared the chicken burgers with smoked paprika and rosemary that my brother and I prepared for mom’s birthday.

Bryan visits a friend on weekends who owns a barbecue. The get-together is of the ‘bring your own food to throw on the grill’ sort. So, I’ve used this as an opportunity to play with adding various seasonings to burgers. This burger with Asian-inspired flavours is his favourite so far.

I kept a few at home to try myself and it is quite tasty! I especially like it topped with avocado mayo. I would have preferred avocado slices, but none of the avocados at the grocery store were ripe and I didn’t have time to wait for them to ripen.

Bryan has asked me to make this again (even though he ate them just the other week). While I enjoyed these as well, I declined so I can experiment with a few more types of burgers. Surprisingly, he is ok with this (I was half expecting that he would be disappointed). Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when he complimented my saying he loves when I experiment while dreaming up what we will have for dinner.

What are your favourite flavours to add to (beef) burger patties?

Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.35
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or white wine) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you’d like it spicy) – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 hamburger buns – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, dark soy sauce, mirin (or white wine), lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame oil and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly using your hands (but be careful not to over-work the meat, that will make it tough).
  3. Divide the beef mixture into 4 portions.
  4. Shape each portion into a burger patty.
  5. Cook the burger patties any way you like!
    1. Barbecue the burgers until cooked through and slightly toast the buns.
    2. Fry the burgers over medium-high heat.
    3. Grill the burgers on a counter-top grill.
    4. Broil the burgers in the oven, turning once to cook both sides.
  6. Serve on hamburger buns with your favourite toppings!

Serving Suggestions

Serve with slices of your favourite vegetables and condiments.

Vegetables

  • Red onion
  • Green onions
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado

Condiments

  • Mayo
  • Japanese mayo
  • Avocado mayo
  • Ketchup

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.85 per serving + toppings and condiments).

Shrimp and Fiddlehead Pasta

It’s just about the end of the season to purchase fiddleheads. They have such a short season, I’ve only seen them available in stores and markets in the spring. Particularly, the month of May. After that, they disappear for another year. I tried fiddlehead ferns (or, frequesntly referred to simply as fiddleheads) for the first time last spring. Not because I was cautious of trying them, but mostly because I didn’t know how to cook and enjoy them. I gave them a try anyway, and sautéed them with garlic and butter. They were delicious!

They look like this:

That’s the first batch of fiddleheads, sautéed with garlic and butter, that I made this season. Before I had read more about preparing and serving them. They tasted wonderful despite not trimming the brown spots.

This spring, I decided to browse recipe blogs for more exciting ideas for serving fiddleheads and more information on preparing them.

To prepare fiddleheads:

  1. Soak fiddleheads in a bowl of cold water to remove dirt.
  2. Remove from  bowl using a slotted spoon.
  3. Empty bowl and rinse out dirt.
  4. Repeat at least once more.
  5. Trim the brown spots from the cleaned fiddleheads.
  6. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  7. Blanch fiddleheads for 2-4 minutes.
  8. Remove from boiling water and place in an ice bath.

My favourite was the Fiddlehead Pasta from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes. The original recipe is vegan, so I made quite a few adjustments to suit our meal preferences.

This isn’t the most cost-effective dish I’ve made. In fact, it’s a bit more on the expensive side of what I would usually cook… but it’s delicious and perfect to serve if you happen to have an occasion to celebrate and want to cook at home instead of eating out. (I think my excuse was making it through my first conference.)

Shrimp and Fiddlehead Pasta

Adapted from Fiddlehead Pasta (Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, shells removed (otherwise it takes a long time to eat!) – approximate cost $10.00
  • 1 pound fiddleheads, rinsed and brown spots trimmed – approximate cost $5.00
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 lemon, sliced into four wedges – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 package of whole grain spaghettini (or your facourite type of pasta) – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Prepare the fiddleheads (clean, trim, blanche, and move to ice bath).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Add salt and pasta.
  4. Cook according to directions on package.
  5. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  6. Add olive oil and minced garlic, cook for about 1 minute.
  7. Add shrimp and fiddleheads and cook until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through (about 5 minutes).
  8. Add chili pepper flakes and lemon juice.
  9. Serve fiddleheads and shrimp over pasta and with a lemon wedge on the side.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $5.18 per serving).

Day 26: Spices

I had trouble choosing just one favourite. Here are a selection of dried spices from my cupboard:

Top row: paprika, Adobo all purpose seasoning, seasoned salt, sage leaves, rosemary leaves, Italian seasoning

Bottom row: white pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, thyme, red chilis, chives

Beef Liver with Indian Spices

When I purchaned Jennifer McLagan’s book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal the other week, I could hardly wait to sift through it and try out a few recipes. I rarely buy brand new cook books. I like browsing the used book store for cook books that look like they’ve been loved by their previous owner, hoping to find some fantastic recipes. I made an exception in this case because B and I often enjoy what McLagan refers to as the “odd bits.” The prices are reasonable, they are tasty, and they tend to be easy to cook. While I frequently prepare these cuts of meat, I looked to McLagan’s book as a way of making the odd bits interesting to cook because of often rely on cooking methods I know we’ve enjoyed in the past.

This book is fantastic! McLagan not only provides delicious looking recipes, but prefaces each section with stories and interesting facts describing the various foods about which she writes. My favourite anecdote is about food trade between China and the United States. McLagan write “Well, China has now threatened the United State with chicken feet.” When I first read this statement, I imagined Chinese and American Soldiers on a battlefield, with the Chinese soldiers waving chicken feet and shouting angrily. A bizarre image indeed! You’ll need to read the book for yourself to know the actual context of this statement (or don’t and continue to imagine soldiers angrily waving chicken feet).

I’ve read through the book a couple of times now and decided the first dish I would try to prepare was the Sautéed Liver with Indian Spices. Why did I choose this particular recipe? Because I had a package of liver in the freezer and this particular recipe seemed interesting. I had to make quite a few modifications because, as I was cooking, I found that I was out of or didn’t own some of the spices called for in the original recipe. I remember buying turmeric recently and putting it in a jar… but where did I put that jar, because it’s not in my spice cupboard!

beef liver

Beef Liver with Indian Spices

(adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s cookbook Odd Bits)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of beef liver – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I bought a prepared jar from the grocery store) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili flakes (more or less depending on the desired spiciness) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon of beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10

beef liver

Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili flakes, curry powder and 3 tablespoons of water until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or pot.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the beef liver and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Melt the butter.
  6. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.
  7. Add the beef bouillon and water, then simmer until the liquid thickens to a sauce-like consistency and the liver slices are cooked through.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add the lemon juice.
  10. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Serve over Basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.29 per serving).

Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup turned into Pasta Sauce

Ever since the Raw Food Workshop, I’ve been searching for ways to incorporate raw food into my repertoire. I’ve started following a few new-to-me blogs looking for ideas and searching through their archives.

If you’re interested in learning how to prepare raw foods, check out:

Please send me your suggestions if you know any other raw food blogs that I should look into!

Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Raw Food Passion

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 4 tomatoes – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 dash of sea salt (more or less to taste) – approximate cost $0.10

raw cucumber and tomato soup

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving)

Unfortunately, this soup didn’t go over very well. Neither B nor I seem to be fond of cold soups. I made a Gazpacho soup last summer and our reaction to both of these soups was about the same: it seems more like a sauce or a chip dip than a meal itself. I’m sure this is very tasty if you have a taste for cold soups. However, I will not be making this again.

We both dislike wasting food, so I attempted to transform this soup into a pasta sauce. I can no longer call it raw, but at least everything will be eaten. This sauce very much tastes like the remnants of the soup, but with a few adjustments, I think we will be able to finish it off in the next few days.

Cucumber and Tomato Uncooked Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 5 tomatoes – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 dash of sea salt (more or less to taste) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 cloves of garlic – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ teaspoon of chili peppers – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 pint of assorted tomatoes (grape, cherry, yellow, etc.) – approximate cost $3.00
  • 200 grams of prosciutto slices, cut into strips – approximate cost $3.00
  • Spaghetti noodles – approximate cost $1.50

uncooked tomato and cucumber sauce

Method

  1. Combine avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, sea salt (or, the Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup), garlic, and chili peppers and blend until smooth and move to a mixing bowl.
  2. Slice assorted small tomatoes and add to the blended mixture
  3. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package and drain.
  4. Assemble pasta – I let the noodle cool slightly before placing them in my bowl, followed by a generous helping of sauce and topping with a few slices of prosciutto.

Makes about 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.71 per serving)

Turning the soup into a pasta sauce wasn’t a perfect solution. It tasted better than the cold soup and prevented waste. If I have make just the sauce and wasn’t trying to salvage a dish, I would have left out the cucumber and avocado. I also found that the flavour was better the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch. (Or maybe I’m imagining it?) B was not a fan.

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