Monday, February 28, 2011

Outdoorsy cooking in a little NYC apartment

Becca and I were cooking together (yet again) and we didn't have a specific craving - which is odd - usually one of us requests something.  This time I suggested burgers - so we looked up many different recipes.  While I realize we don't have a proper grill - I also realize that where there is a will, there is a way.  My first go was the recipe from serious eats for In and Out burgers.  Too boring.  We wanted EXCITEMENT.  We decided to mix it up with portobello burgers and a burger infused with basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

We scoured serious eats, food network and epicurious for the perfect burger.  Something from Napa sounded intriguing - Becca was just mentioning how much she loves basil, and this had basil mixed into the burger.  We figured we'd also throw a veggie burger in too for good measure - portobello mushrooms work wonders with some veggies and cheese thrown on top!

Fresh patties!


Here is the portobello mushroom hot out of the oven that it melts the cheese!

Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers, adapted from Epicurious/James McNair's Build a Better Burger

Serves 6 (or 2 hungry girls 3 burgers each)

  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1/4 cup zinfandel 
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed minced basil
  • 1/4 cup minced red onions
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • Hamburger buns
  • 6 slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 6 large tomato slices
  • 2 tbsp. prepared basil pesto
Well, of course neither of us have a BBQ grill so we had to improvise.  I just used a skillet type thing.  I know, I know...sacrilegious...but we didn't really have many other options.  I put some olive oil on the skillet and let it heat up over medium-high heat while I prepped the patties...

In a large bowl, combine the sirloin, zinfandel, minced basil and onions, bread crumbs and sun-dried tomatoes together.  Try to handle the meat as little as possible to avoid over-working the burger.  Form into six patties.

Your skillet should be hot by this point, so put the burgers on - I did 3 at a time.  I cooked each side about 6 minutes each - I don't really know how to make medium rare burgers at home so these were more medium-well.  I guess I should get a meat thermometer.  In the last few minutes of cooking the burgers, top each of the burgers with cheese while they are still cooking on the skillet.

Meanwhile, in the last few minutes of the burgers "grilling", toast the buns either in a toaster or toaster oven.  

Top one side of the bun with the pesto*.  Once your burgers are prepared, you can assemble your delicious meal.  I just added a few slices of red onion and a tomato to finish mine off.  

*The original recipe called for pesto mayonnaise but we just used pesto.  

Portobello Burgers, adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 2

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and dark gills removed
  • Olive oil
  • Sauteed bell peppers* 
  • Muenster cheese*
  • 2 tbsp. pesto
Instead of a BBQ grill, this time we used the broiler function in my oven.  So we set that to high, and prepped the mushrooms by washing and removing the gills.  

We lined a baking pan and spread some olive oil on top of the mushrooms.  We popped them into the oven for about 5-7 minutes to cook.  I'd probably err on the side closer to 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, we toasted the buns and sauteed the bell peppers to accompany the burger.  

Once the burgers were finished broiling, we took them out and topped them with a slice or two of the muenster cheese.  We then put them on the toasted buns, topping them with some pesto and some of the sauteed bell peppers

*The actual recipe calls for roasted red peppers and provolone - but we improvised to our tastes.  

You have no idea how stuffed to the brim we were after this.  The beef burgers, with the sun-dried tomatoes and basil, were a delicious mouthful and I didn't want to stop stuffing my face.  The portobello mushroom burgers were equally mouth-watering - the second we put the cheese slices on top of the steaming hot mushrooms, they started to melt...and if you know anything about know how much I love melty, gooey cheese.  

Oh we didn't stop at the burgers.  No dinner is complete without...dessert.  We opted for a simple one: s'mores.  Yes, the "let's sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories" s'mores.  I don't have a fireplace, and I don't know where I could light a campfire in New York without getting arrested, so the best I could do was my gas stove top.  I picked up some graham crackers, theo's chocolate (woo seattle), and marshmallows.  We used my fondue "forks" to "roast our marshmallows over an open flame".  Some of us may have gotten carried away (cough...Becca...). 

Couldn't ask for a more satisfying meal than home made burgers and s'mores!