Monday, June 25, 2012

Beef and Andouille Burgers with Asiago Cheese

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With another little one on the way, I've been trying out lots of new ideas and recipes for quick meals: sandwiches, pastas, burgers, etc. By the time my tiny one arrives in September, I'm hoping to have a nice repertoire of quick meals so we can keep eating delicious food while taking care of our new little girl and her big sister... (Leave a comment with ideas for meals!!!)

When I had the first one, I was more than a little delusional about how much time I would have to cook. I thought I'd be making three-course meals while she slept the day away. She did sleep a lot, but in fits and spurts (and her preferred location was on top of mommy!), allowing little time for extravagant meals. More than once we resorted to take-out... This time I know what I'm in for!

These burgers had me at the title. Beef, andouille, cheese... And they're topped with a delicious sauce made from sun-dried tomatoes, mustard and mayo. Add some fire roasted peppers and this is a burger I'll eat again (and again).

Beef and Andouille Burgers with Asiago Cheese
adapted from the Bon Appetit Cookbook

4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

6 ounces andouille sausages,* cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
1 large shallots, minced
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

4 large sesame-seed hamburger buns
Sliced Asiago cheese
1 7- to 7 1/2-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
Lettuce and sliced onion, if desired

Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes in processor. Blend in mayonnaise and mustard. Transfer to small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Finely chop andouille sausages in processor. Transfer to large bowl. Add beef, shallots, salt, pepper, and crushed fennel seeds. Stir with fork just until blended. Form mixture into 4 1-inch-thick patties.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill hamburger buns until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to platter. Grill hamburgers to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Place cheese over top of burgers and allow to melt.

Spread cut sides of hamburger buns with sun-dried-tomato mayonnaise. Top bottom halves of buns with hamburgers, then red peppers. Top with lettuce and onion slices. Cover with top halves of buns and serve.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Composed Salad of Mixed Greens, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Pecans

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Even though Mother's Day is already almost a month behind us, I'm still trying to find time to dig into the gift my husband got me (best husband ever!). He got me 4 books - not cookbooks, but books known for their exquisite passages on food. Two are foodie books: Heat by Bill Buford and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee; and the other two are more literary: The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola and When You Lunch with the Emperor by Ludwig Bemelmans.

Before I dive into them, I promised myself I'd finish the book I'm currently reading: Mockingjay - the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The book's an easy read but it's slow going because I cannot find the time to read. I'll get there though.

Anybody read these books? thoughts on them? I can't wait to dive in. I think I'll start with Heat and go from there. But my summer reading list is all set.

In the meantime, I've started my weekly visits to the Scotch Plains Farmers' Market. Each Saturday, I head out with my little one in her stroller. At 5 1/2 months pregnant, I'm hoping I can make it through most of the summer walking... we shall see. But my findings at the market inspire delicious summer salads like this one...

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Composed Salad of Greens, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Pecans
From Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin
Serves 4

CARAMELIZED PECANS
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne

1 medium apple, preferably russet or Golden Delicious
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

DRESSING
1 1/2 tablespoons oil, preferably a mixture of walnut, hazelnut, and/or canola
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups salad greens, preferably mesclun
1 ounce semi-dry or hard goat cheese, crumbled into pieces about 1/2 inch in size

For the pecans:
Put the pecans in a skillet and cover (barely) with water.
Bring to a simmer over high heat, and immediately drain. Return the pecans to the pan and add the oil, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the nuts brown and the sugar mixture caramelizes. Transfer the pecans to a plate to cool.

Halve the apple and remove the core. Cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices and cut them into 1/2-inch wide strips. Mix the apple strips with the lemon juice and set aside.

For the dressing:
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

At serving time, toss the greens with the vinaigrette, and arrange on individual plates. Sprinkle with the apple strips, crumbled cheese, and pecans. Serve immediately.
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