Friday, August 30, 2013

Burger Bash

Big plans this long weekend?!?  Need a fresh idea for burgers?!?  This will be perfect if you happen to be a big fan of buffalo wings.  Every now and then that buffalo craving just takes over and thankfully we can get that fix without the fuss of chicken wings.   There are so many recipes out there now that bring you the flavor of buffalo wings that aren't just wings.  Score one for the home team.  Buffalo Turkey Sliders is what we're about this week and I would like to think this version is a bit healthier than regular beef burgers, but with the added blue cheese dressing....maybe not so much. Maybe if you eat a few sticks of celery alongside, the calories won't stick either.

Originally we made our sliders with ground chicken (to mimic the buffalo chicken wing ya see) but we've not been able to consistently find it, so we've moved on to turkey.  The trick with turkey sometimes is getting it to stay together in patty form....and trying to ignore it's mushiness.  Adding an egg and some breadcrumbs definitely helps out here.  Turkey is so mild in flavor you have to actually give it flavor, so pile on the wing sauce.

The burgers are served up on those amazing Hawaiian rolls.  Oh my heavens above.  Who doesn't love those?!?  These sliders are easy to make up ahead and when you are ready to serve, toss them in a bit of buffalo sauce (we love Frank's).  Tear open a roll and lay that puppy on there, drizzle it with some blue cheese dressing (use your fav - Shelby makes ours and yum) and I bet you can't eat just one! We threw in a side of zucchini fries and tried to convince ourselves we were eating healthy, ha!

1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken)
1 egg
1/2 - 1 cup breadcrumbs (we used Panko)

Small rolls for buns (we used Hawaiian rolls)
Buffalo wing sauce (we used Frank's)
Blue cheese dressing (we made our own)

Make up the ground meat with an egg, salt/pepper and maybe some breadcrumbs. 
Form patties until all of the meat is used
and try not to be disgusted by the smoother texture of the turkey.
The colder the meat, the better it cooperates. 
Set patties aside or refrigerate for cooking later.

When you're ready to cook, heat a heavy pan to medium heat
and after spraying with a bit of non stick spray,
pan fry the thin little patties, flipping after several minutes
and finishing the cooking process on the other side.
Set patties aside to drain excess fat.

Slowly pour a bit of buffalo wing sauce over each patty
flip and then repeat on the other side.
You can refrigerate at this point or place in between
small rolls or buns.

These sliders will definitely hit the spot for that burger craving and will be over the top for your wing craving.  They'll be great made up ahead.  Double the amounts and you'll be able to feed a mob.


Friday, August 16, 2013

The Wonder Years

Porch swings, beehive hairdo's, tiny waists and colorful aprons worn in the kitchen...iced tea (sweet of course), and salmon croquettes served up on melamine dishes. Those were the days.  The tiny waist days and beehive hairdo's may be gone, but we can still enjoy the rest.  Did you have salmon 'croquettes' when you were growing up?  I'm guessing they originated in the 50's, but they were still going strong in the 70's and 80's in our house.  One great memory I have of childhood dinners is that our food was placed on the table in cute little bowls and dishes...NOT in the pot it was cooked in.  OH no no no.  And my mother despised the bottle of ketchup even being on the table.  Was your house like that too?  We all sat down and had napkins, place-mats and ate like civilized human beings.  I'm sure I didn't appreciate it then (when there was a million dishes to wash), but I do now.

And those melamine dishes. Ahh. I recently found a pale pink melamine serving dish at an estate sale just like my mom had a million years ago.  Immediately a flood of memories came back to me of the foods that she served only in that dish.  Crazy I know...some people have a thing for shoes, I love dishes.  Recently, we made salmon patties, or croquettes as we called them growing up, and I suddenly remembered I had that pale pink melamine dish and I almost shrieked knowing I would get to serve those little jewels in the same type of dish my mom always did.  Crazy memories.

Maybe it's where you're from if you call them salmon patties or salmon croquettes, but the recipes for them all are pretty similar.  A few ingredients may vary, sort of like meatloaf, but they are pretty forgiving.  You can stretch ingredients or switch and substitute to your liking and they will still be amazing!  If you've never tried any, you should try Mrs. Boney's (a lady from our church),  but if you can't do that, try your hand at making these - you'll be glad you did.

2 - 16 oz cans pink salmon
(drained and picked clean of stray bones and skin)
2 eggs
1 medium onion, diced
1 stack of saltine crackers, crushed and crumbled
1-2 tablespoons mustard (any kind)
2-3 tablespoons dill pickle juice
cornmeal to lightly coat the patties
butter/oil to pan fry

--Yield: appx. 18 patties
You can easily cut this recipe in half,
but the extras are super great as leftovers!

Drain salmon and gently remove any bones from the fish
and place the meat into a medium size bowl.
These bones crumble with the slightest pressure,
if you miss a few, it is NO. BIG. DEAL.
The whole process is kind of fun and gross all at the same time.

Add remaining ingredients to the salmon
and stir with a heavy spoon (or your hands).
Heat a heavy frying pan or skillet on medium heat.
Add in enough oil/fat to come up the sides of the pan
to about 1/2 to 1 inch.  You basically want the fat
to come up halfway to your salmon patties when they are frying.

While the oil comes up to heat,
grab a handful of the salmon mixture and form into a ball
then flatten to make a patty about the size of a soup can
(as was traditional growing up - we make ours a bit bigger these days)
Set the patties aside gently until all are made -
you can also refrigerate until ready to fry.

When you are ready to fry these little treasures
gently coat each side with a bit of cornmeal -
this will add a great little crunch to them after they are fried.
Now, fry those puppies up.
Fry on each side until a golden color.
Drain on paper towels and continue.
These are great served up with a little tartar sauce,
slice of lemon and your favorite sides.
This particular meal we had sauteed okra, tomatoes and bacon
to go along with our salmon patties...mmm.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Dads and Eggs

I've said it before and I will say it again.  I am not particularly fond of eggs eaten alone.  But I love cooking them for my family and am fascinated with them.  They are so versatile.  The list goes on for miles with what you can do with eggs.  But, the expert of all experts on cooking the perfect fried egg is my dad.  He taught me his secrets.  There may be other ways of course, but, cooking the perfect fried egg is all about patience.  What's up with dads and cooking/loving fried eggs?  Maybe it's the bacon grease.  Yes, ours involve bacon grease.

Dad. Happy.  Must have had a fried egg for breakfast :)

A while back, my youngest daughter wanted to make a fried egg for breakfast.  It was approximately high noon, which was the usual time for her first meal of the day.  Since I was on a limited lunch hour, I verbally instructed her from across the room.  Small saute pan on the stove to heat up, check.  Eggs out, check.  Jar of bacon grease....uhhh, this is where she got a bit confused.  "You want me to put THAT much bacon grease in the pan?" she asked.  "Yes" I explained.  "So you're taking something healthy and turning it into something UNhealthy?" she said shockingly.  "Most definitely" I answered proudly. 

The trick, see, is to place just the right amount of fat in the saute pan and heat it on a low-medium temperature and once the egg is a bit 'set,' you begin to slosh the fat onto the top of the cooking egg to give it that little layer of white on top of it's bright yellow center.  Some diners and restaurants simply use a griddle, no fat, and cover the egg with a domed lid to cook the top of the egg.  Often times they may even give it a spray of water and cover it with a lid.  If you are on a bacon grease free diet, then by all means go this route.  But if you want to enjoy a good old southern breakfast once in a while, a little bacon grease will be a-okay.

Eggs (room temperature work best)
Bacon Grease (for this particular recipe)
Small Saute Pan

Place a small saute pan on a burner of equal size
and preheat on low-medium heat.
Add enough bacon grease in the pan to come up the sides
by about 1/4-1/2 inch.
Let the fat come up to heat a bit before cracking your egg into it.

Next trick is to crack a whole egg directly into the grease.
Do a little tap tap with the egg
on the edge of the counter to barely crack
and then dump it's contents into the hot bacon grease.
I've cracked many an egg in my life and have mastered
doing this with one hand.
Don't worry about bits of shell -
the quicker and better you become, this will rarely happen. 
When it does, just use the same shell to scoop the piece out with.
Works like a charm.
If your grease spits and spatters too much,
turn your heat down a bit.
You want to gently cook your egg, not flash fry it.

Once your cute little egg is resting in the bacon fat,
leave it there for a minute or two
until you start to see white all around it -
then you can begin sloshing the bacon grease
up over and around it using a good heat proof spatula.
Continue doing this until your egg is cooked to your liking.
Slosh, slosh, slosh.  Ever so gently.

Gently remove to a plate and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper,
a pinch of salt, and you are ready to dive in.
Gobble it up with some bacon, toast
or biscuits to accompany that little piece of sunshine
and you are in southern heaven.
Adding several shots of pepper sauce
will just be the icing on the cake.  MMM.
Please pay no attention to that horrific blob of CATSUP
on that plate.  Who does this?  Eggs with CATSUP???

Thanks Dad for teaching me your tricks!
You are indeed the master fried egg cooker and more! :)