Friday, July 15, 2011

Barbecue - Glazed Turkey Burgers

I like turkey burgers. Actually, I like burgers in general. Turkey burgers seem to be the easiest to experiment with, since they can take on a huge array of seasoning and flavorings. My only frustration is that the leanness of the meat can be tricky when you're trying to reach the correct temp for poultry and skill keep the meat moist. When I received Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, she claimed that her turkey burgers always stayed moist and juicy. I was intrigued. I was skeptical. I was hooked.

In the "serious food community" (which sometimes equals a lot of elitist snobbery, in my opinion), this cookbook has been mostly panned or laughed at by the critics.  I happen to love Gwyneth. I find her funny (sometimes unintentionally), self-deprecating and whether or not she wrote most of the recipes in the book, the recipes are solid. This isn't the first of her recipes I've made and it won't be the last to appear on my blog. I like how she includes child-friendly or vegetarian options for many of the dishes.  The turkey burger recipe is nothing fancy. In fact, it's downright simple. And it's very good. Even a kid can't object to barbecue sauce and cheese, right? Yet it's still easy enough to dress the recipe up to grown-up standards as well.

The rundown:
  • Flavor/Texture: These burgers were exactly what they claimed to be, and they were definitely the juiciest turkey burgers that I have ever made. I especially liked the glazed barbecue sauce on the outside of the patties. I dislike both jalapenos and pickles, so I skipped that topping.
  • Difficulty: A handful of ingredients and a few minutes on the grill.  Doesn't get easier than that, folks.
  • Pros: A winner all around. East, great tasting, friendly for kids and adults alike. 
  • Cons: The recipe calls for seasoning the meat with salt and pepper only. Next time, I'd add a little bit of garlic powder and perhaps some hot sauce.
  • Misc.: I actually made this recipe twice, because the ingredient list called for "ground turkey". Did that mean the ground all white meat or the mix of white and dark? I bought one package of each and went turkey vs. turkey. The lean white meat came out the best.  The light/dark mix ended up being a very squishy mixture and I actually ended up adding some breadcrumbs to help hold it together so that I could shape it into patties. Definitely go with the all white meat for this one. It's healthier anyway.  I forgot to look for brioche buns, so I just went with regular wheat hamburger buns. I served the burgers with parsnip fries.
  • Repeat Performance: I definitely see myself making this one again.
Barbecue-Glazed Turkey Burgers
by Gwyneth Paltrow
makes 4 servings

1 lb ground turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp jarred barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet Vidalia Onion)
Canola or vegetable oil, for brushing
4 brioche buns, split and toasted
Pickled jalapeno slices, Swiss cheese and pickle chips, for serving

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan.

In a bowl, season the turkey with salt and pepper and gently knead in 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce. Shape the meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush with oil and grill over moderate heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, 7 minutes. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce and cook for 1 minute longer, until cooked through and lightly glazed.

Transfer the burgers to the buns and top with pickled jalapeños, Swiss cheese and pickle chips and serve.

Roasted Parsnip Fries
makes 4 servings

3 medium parsnips
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash parsnips and cut into sticks (1/2 inch wide at the most). Smash garlic cloves and discard skins. In a medium bowl, toss parsnips, garlic and olive oil until the parsnips are coated.  Spread into a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes and then turn the fries. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.  Serve hot.
*I like mine with some malt vinegar sprinkled on them.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Riviera Salad

Strawberry season may be my favorite two weeks of summer. To me, it's the true sign that summer is finally here. In Michigan, we're lucky to have U-pick farms and farmers markets in abundance, so it's easy to get your hands on the berries at their peak.  I make jam and freeze berries, but it's impossible to resist snacking on the little beauties as well.

This year, I happened to be going to a birthday party on the same day that I picked up a flat of perfectly ripe, locally grown strawberries. A Riviera salad was a natural next step.  The salad went over very well at the party. Who can resist fresh fruit and a creamy dressing?

The rundown:
  • Flavor/Texture: I love this salad because it's a mix of textures and complimentary fresh and bright flavors. You get a great crunch from the Romaine and walnuts, while the berries and oranges give it a sweet twist. The dressing has some savory notes, which is a nice balance.
  • Difficulty: It's a salad, so it's bound to be pretty easy. There aren't many ingredients, so quality really matters. Make sure your fruit is perfectly ripe, the lettuce is fully rinsed and dried, and that you choose a good quality cheese.
  • Pros: Quick and easy to put together. The ingredients are things pretty much everyone likes. The colors in this dish are also amazing. It's much more fun to eat food that's visually appealing.
  • Cons: The dressing will wilt the Romaine fairly quickly in the summer heat, so dress it just before serving so you don't end up with a soggy salad.
  • Misc.: The dressing is quick and easy, but if you must, you can use a store-bought version. Locally, you can get Arnie's, which is the best. Marie Callender's is good as well.
  • Repeat Performance: I have made this salad many times in the past and it will continue to be a summer favorite.
Riviera Salad

2 Romaine hearts, torn or sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 lb Swiss cheese, finely shredded
1 small can of mandarin oranges, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced strawberries

1/3 cup mayo (don't use Miracle Whip, it will NOT taste good)
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vinegar (you can use any kind, but I prefer something milder, like champagne or sherry vinegar)
1 Tbsp of poppy seeds
1/4 of a small sweet onion
salt to taste

Whisk the mayo, milk, sugar, vinegar and a dash of salt together in a small bowl. Using the finest side of a box grater (or a microplane, if you have one), grate a tiny bit of the onion into the dressing.  Mix well and then taste. Add more onion if necessary. When you're satisfied with the dressing taste, mix in the poppy seeds and stir well. 

Put half of the Romaine into a large bowl.  Layer half of the berries, oranges, walnuts and cheese.  If serving immediately, add dressing the the layers and toss.  If not, store the dressing in a separate container. Repeat the layers with the rest of the ingredients and toss.

Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate

There's not much that I love more than a good lemon dessert. I've always had more of a liking for citrus or more savory desserts than for true sweets. With its thin layer of dark chocolate, this recipe is the best of both worlds. I'll admit that I was skeptic about the combination at first, but it came out great. I needed a dessert with a "wow factor" for Father's Day, and I think I inherited my lemon affinity from my dad. When I was young, he always shared his lemon drop candies with me on long car rides. A lemon tart seemed like a natural way to go.

The tart was a huge hit. After sneaking a taste, my dad was so eager to dig in that he wouldn't let me do my usual fussing to get a good picture! I had to use a stock photo from the cookbook, which was less than ideal, although it said a lot for the tart itself.

The rundown:
  • Flavor/texture: The flavors in this tart were amazing! I was a bit worried since I had to use regular lemons (the sweeter Meyer variety are out of season here), but it turned out great. The chocolate was subtle and really enhanced the lemon curd. The curd itself was very silky and in all honestly, it's the best one I've ever made.
  • Difficulty: More time consuming than difficult. I did have a rough go of it with the crust at first, but that was because making butter-laden pastry in summer is often difficult.
  • Pros: Amazing flavor and it looked great, too!  It was a very impressive dessert. Both the chocolate and lemon lovers in the crowd were happy, which is hard to accomplish in a single dish.
  • Cons: Oh, the crust. I knew that the heat and humidity of summer really don't condone making a butter crust, but I was determined.  In order to get a perfect crust, some of the butter pieces should remain solid in the dough. When the pieces melt, they leave spaces and make the crust beautifully flaky.  To accomplish this, all of the ingredients need to be cold and you have to be very careful not to overwork it. It can be accomplished even during the summer, you just have to be more patient and chill the dough a couple of times during the process. When I figured that out, my crust was light and flaky. If your butter gets too warm or you overwork the dough during rolling (as I did), the butter dissolves into the flour and the crust will be very dense. Just be careful and you'll get it right. 
  • Misc.: The chocolate layer is very thin. Next time I would use three ounces instead of two. I also added a bit of superfine sugar and a splash of vanilla to the whipped cream, just because that's how I like it.
  • Repeat Performance: It's not something I'd make every day, but I can definitely see myself putting another one of these together for something/someone special.
Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate
by Suzanne Goin
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, 2005

For the pâte sucrée (makes enough for two crusts)1/4 cup heavy cream
2 extra-large egg yolks
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter
For the tart2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
A pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream

Make the pâte sucrée
Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter on medium speed until you have a coarse meal. Gradually add the cream and yolks and mix until just combined. Do not overwork the dough.

Transfer the dough to a large work surface and bring it together with your hands to incorporate completely. Divide the dough in half, shape into 1-inch-thick discs, and wrap one of them to freeze and use later.

If the dough is too soft, put in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up a little. If the dough is manageable, place it on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle a little flour over the dough, and roll it out into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, flouring as necessary. Starting at one side, roll and wrap the dough around the rolling pin to pick it up. Unroll the dough over a 10-inch tart pan. Gently fit the dough loosely into the pan, lifting the edges and pressing the dough into the corners with your fingers. To remove the excess dough, roll the rolling pin lightly over the top of the tart pan for a nice clean edge, or work your way around the edge pinching off any excess dough with your fingers. Chill for 1 hour.

Make the tart:
Preheat the oven to 375°F

Take the tart pan with the pâte sucrée from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom with a fork and line it with a few opened and fanned-out coffee filters or a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights and bake 15 minutes, until set. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the paper and beans. Return the tart to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is an even golden brown. Set aside on a rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Spread the chocolate evenly on the crust and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate has solidified completely.

While the crust is chilling, make the curd. Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, alternating between a whisk and rubber spatula, until the lemon curd has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream and coats the back of the spatula.
Remove the lemon curd from the heat. Add the butter a little at a time, stirring to incorporate completely. Season with the salt. Let the curd cool about 8 minutes, and then strain it into the prepared tart shell. Chill the tart in the refrigerator.

Just before serving, whip the cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it holds soft peaks. Cut the tart into six wedges, plate them, and serve with dollops of whipped cream.
Grab a fork and get to it!

Baked Lemon Tart