Monday, September 28, 2009

Fast Burger: Five Guys

We don't eat a lot of fast food, so I was hesitant to try Five Guys. I'd read the reviews on Zagat, though, so we decided to give it a go. Immediately upon entering, you'll notice bags of potatoes stacked around the place. A large whiteboard announces the location where the potatoes were grown. We've been to Five Guys twice now and our first potatoes were from Idaho and the most recent visit gave us potatoes from Washington. In both cases, they turned into yummy fries.

When we ordered our burgers the first time, we both ordered regular cheeseburgers, Jeff added bacon to his. You're then asked what toppings you want and there's a huge list of free toppings: the typical lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles are obvious ones. But there's also fried onions, sauteed mushrooms, A-1 Steak sauce, BBQ sauce, and many more. I went with lettuce, pickles, ketchup, mushrooms and fried onions. Jeff got all those and a few more.

We also ordered a regular-size fries to share and a soda. We were given a number and went to await our burgers. What we got was a bag of hot, freshly-made food that weighed a ton. We removed two burgers, each with a number stuck on it so we could easily find the right burger. The rest of the bag was full of fries. We're talking enough fries to feed about 6 people. They were hot and crisp and not too greasy.

Upon unwrapping the burger, we realized that regular is two patties! I could barely get my hands around it, let alone my mouth. But it was tasty (and more than a little sloppy.) You could tell the ingredients used were fresh - lettuce was still crisp, onions crisp tender, and mushrooms just right.

On our second visit, I went with a single patty burger and was still stuffed. And we opted for Cajun fries instead of regular. Spicy and full of flavor, they're a great change from regular fries.

Five Guys is not a place I'd go to frequently, simply because burgers and fries aren't the healthiest option, but when I'm in the mood for a burger, it'll be one of my first choices. Visit their website to find one near you.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back in the kitchen: Grilled asparagus soup

After a relaxing vacation, I was happy to settle back into my kitchen. As temperatures get cooler, I thought soup would make a great first course on Saturday night. Weber Grilling has a recipe for Grilled Asparagus Soup. It's been an off year for asparagus, but my local store had it on sale last week so I decided to try it out. Before I even started, I'd made the decision to change the recipe quite a bit. It calls for a hefty amount of tarragon and we just aren't big on tarragon so I added a bit of thyme, some Parmigiano-Reggiano, among other things... My version follows. Give it a shot, and leave a comment with your favorite soup ideas. I'll definitely be looking for some new ones this fall!

Grilled Asparagus Soup
adapted from Weber Grilling
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup packed spinach leaves
  • leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • pinch of smoked sea salt (use regular sea salt if you can't find smoked)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 slices Prosciutto (optional)

Rub the olive oil on the asparagus and scallions. Grill both 4-6 minutes - you want grill marks, but you want the veggies to still be firm. Remove to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature.

While it cools, place prosciutto slices on a wire rack on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for a couple minutes until it starts to turn darker pink. Remove from oven. It will crisp as it cools (I did this in my toaster oven to avoid ehating the whole oven.) Set aside.

Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces. Reserve 4 asparagus tips. In a saucepan, combine the asparagus, scallions, spinach leaves and stock and bring to a boil. Add the sea salt and pepper to taste. Boil for about 4 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender.

Return the soup to the stove and stir in the heavy cream and cheese.

Serve warm. Crumble one slice crisped prosciutto over each and garnish with reserved asparagus tips. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.

Makes 2 servings and can easily be multiplied.

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